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Let Love Prevail – Love Never Fails!

painting-picture-image-jesus-christ-love copy“Listen, stay alert, stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and be strong. Let love prevail in your life, words, and actions” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).


My fellow pilgrims and bothers and sisters in Christ,

In reading the words of the opening citation some of us who are struggling to move forward in our spiritual lives might be tempted to say: “easier said than done”.

Without realizing it, we are actually stating  a realization of a truth that God the Father wants us to be fully aware of. Namely, that when we attempt to grow spiritually out of  our own human zeal and drive, no matter how well intentioned, our devotions, we will always be disappointed.

The main reason being, that somehow, because of the lack of inspired catechesis and prayer, we do not realize that spiritual growth CANNOT come from within us. It must come from the the Holy Spirit giving us Spiritual Birth, Spiritual Food, and Spiritual Energy. I say this, remembering what Jesus told His disciples… “ [only] Spirit can beget spirit” (see Jn 3:6) and “without me you can do nothing” (see Jn 15:5) , we begin to understand that there is nothing in our unredeemed human nature that can generate or maintain spiritual life, we must totally rely on God for all that is spiritual.

That is why Jesus also told us that He was “the Door” and that “no one can come to the Father But by Me”

True Spiritual Life can only come when we, through an act faith willingly acknowledging that Jesus died for our sins and, through believing in Him in repentance for our sins, we repent, yielding ourselves to Him and accept to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Now, what we also don’t understand is that if we are baptized as babies and confirmed at 13 years of age, the Spirit of Christ may be in us but has not necessarily been activated through a deep personal knowing and willing act of our will. Without such an activation the Holy Spirit may work around us or through the circumstances of our lives but He will not be active in the inner sanctuary of our lives, “our spirit”, because He respects our inner self so much that He will not force Himself on us.

This lack of understanding will prevent us from establishing a true and living personal relationship with Jesus. There may be various reasons and circumstances why this happens, but the main one being that we don’t come to “know Jesus”  as a living person, who loves us and  lives in us. Such a personal relationship with Jesus begins when we open the our hearts to Jesus the Son of God, not only as Our Savior but also as Our Lord who earnestly desires for us to know Him and dialogue with Him. Remember Jesus, Himself, expressed His desire to commune with us as follows…

jesus-knocking-the-door

Jesus is knocking at your door …

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20)

Incited by His Word, we may ask ourselves, “I want to yield to Him and activate His Presence in me – how do I go about doing that?”

First of all, I suggest that we put ourselves in the right state of heart and, meditating on His Word and especially, what the Lord said through Jeremiah, and speak out His promise:  , “And [if] you shall seek me, [you] will find me, when you search for me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)

We do this in such a manner that we express our utmost desire to be with Him with all our heart …. Then,as you sense His Presence before you, in your spirit, open the door and let Him into your heart by praying  smoethiung like this …

(Prayer of Commitment)
Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship of discipleship that I can know the Father.


It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger. At this moment I yield myself to your love. Enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father.


Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. Permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace I receive you and I receive your word. Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you! Thank you for giving yourself for me. Amen


Admitting Him in this way, personally into our lives, also means that not only are we are yielding ourselves to His reign, but also we enter into His Kingdom – The Kingdom of His Divine His Love. And it is His Love that must prevail in our lives if we are to fulfill the Father’s for each of us!

That my brothers and sisters, is why at one point this is what Jesus was emphasizing to His disciples when He told them about seeking the Kingdom (of Divine Love)…

“… seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and everything else  in the Father’s purposes for you will follow” (see Mathew 6:33).

This Kingdom – the Kingdom of Agape Love – is what Jesus was referring to, not only to His disciples then but to us,His disciples today. This is the Kingdom of Love that you have just yielded yourself to.  Praised be His Holy Name!!

We also should note that the prayer that we call the “Our Father” was, in fact, intended by Jesus to be a prayer for his disciples teaching them on how to dedicate themselves to the “Kingdom of Love” and how to maintain themselves in that “Kingdom” so that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Here is prayer Jesus taught them….

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread,
 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6:9-13)

However, because we believers sometimes practice our devotions with such a routine of custom and tradition that we lose sight of  the inner depth of what Jesus was really teaching in this prayer.

First of all we must remember that this was NOT Jesus’ exact prayer to His Father. If it were His prayer it would have begun with “My Father”, since He always made the distinction: “my Father and your Father” to indicate their adopted status versus His as “only Begotten”. So the prayer that He taught them should really be termed the “disciple’s prayer”, since it was tailored for them, so that, in praying to the Father, they made clear that the person they were praying to was so Holy or hallowed, that they should not even pronounce His Name! However, the Key point was that as His adopted children in Christ they now could petition Him as “Father”.

The second thing to remember is that the first petition of the prayer was not just  a petition that the Lord sovereignly bring about His Kingdom on Earth. NO, the petition He was asking His disciples to make was to yield themselves totally, body,soul and spirit to the Father so that by His Spirit of Love working in them and through them His Will could be accomplished in this world “as it is in Heaven”. Rephrasing the prayer accordingly it could be more appropriately stated as follows:

“Our Father… [Let] Your Kingdom come [into me so that the Your LOVE will reign in me and through me, so that] Your will may be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

This brethren, is the key offering or dedicating of oneself, totally to God – it is how one truly enters into true discipleship under the kingdom of His Love. It is the same as St. Therese give herself fully to God’s “Agape” Love, which she termed “Charity” and entered into her discipleship following Jesus. (“It was December 25, 1886, that I received the grace of leaving my childhood, in a word, the grace of my complete conversion . . . I felt charity enter into my soul, the need to forget myself and to please others; since then I’ve been happy!” – St. Therese of Lisieux )

For you see, the “Kingdom” that Jesus referred to in the “Our Father” was not an apocalyptic “kingdom” to come in the future but a Real Spiritual Kingdom that all believers can enter right NOW! And it we enter it when we yield ourselves totally to the Father’s Love that is in us (Rom. 5:5) and submit ourselves to His reign, the reign of Divine Love in us and through us every day of our lives. This is what St.Therese did and why she manifested God’s Divine Life through the remainder of her life!

Now, in order to fulfill our yielding to the Divine each day of our lives, our commitment to God needs to be strengthened and affirmed on a regular basis. That is why the Disciples Prayer continues by asking for the Spirit to re-affirm His Love in us through a frequent, if not daily, reception of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Love! And also to forgive us our sins that tend to weaken our fellowship with the Divine and thus our ability to truly be a channel go His Love to others. For, Jesus told His disciples (and us) that we are to “Love one another as I have Loved you” (John 15:12). And not just the human kind of love, but the Divine kind… “As the Father has  Loved Me so I have Loved you” (John 15:9).

The common way we understand Jesus’ directive to “Love one another as I have Loved you” is to think we are to force or discipline the natural love with which we have been endowed to imitate Jesus’ love for his disciples. We take to this understanding because the real spiritual meaning is too hard for us to believe. For you see the Love which Jesus is asking us to place into action in our lives is the Divine Love that the Father has placed in us for His Glory, not ours.

This kind of love is the supernatural Divine Love that flowed from Jesus to His disciples through the Holy Spirit, who is the Divine Love. It is a Love that can only be experienced through a relationship with the Divine. It is such a Love that He is now asking to flow between each of us as the manifestation of His Kingdom.

This is the Divine Love that has been poured into our spirits. However, Living out our lives in this type of Love is not easy. The following is what the Apostle Paul says about living out the spiritual pathway to this type of Love…

“ … we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His [divine, agape] love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us”. (Rom. 5:3-5)

This kind of Love cannot be forced through any natural discipline it can only come when we Christians enter into a personal relationship with the Father through the Son and surrender ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit so that we are totally free to be channels of this Divine Love to each other. In order for His Kingdom of Divine Love to come in us we must, out of our faith and will, come to the awareness of this divine type of Love and, surrender our human selves to its embrace, and the dying to self that it entails.

Now, besides our Faith and the free will offering of ourselves, there are conditions placed on our entering and maintaining ourselves in His Kingdom of Love.

<> The first of these conditions is that we Love One another:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. The word that you hear is not My own, but it is from the Father who sent Me.… (John 14:22-24)

We must rely continually on His Spirit to strengthen us in our resolve – that is why we need to repent, and receive our daily bread from the Sacrament of His Love – the Eucharist.

<> The other condition being that we express our Love by forgiving others in the same way He has forgiven us.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14 )

<>  If we are faithful to His Command of Love Jesus will ask the Father to empower us with the Holy Spirit so that we can fulfill our role as the messengers of His Love.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” (John14:15)

In conclusion brethren, I pray that His Kingdom Of Love come into each one of us so that, in yielding to His Reign, we may become His instruments in seeing that His will is accomplished, here on earth as it is in heaven! Praised be His Holy Name!

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

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

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<> Scriptures Related to Dedicating our Renewed lives to Christ!
pictures-of-jesus-baptism-holy-spirit
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life [in Him].” (Rom. 6:4)

“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.” (Galatians 2:20)

“Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.”  (Galatians 5:24 )

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.“ (Matthew 7:13-14 )

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matt 10: 16)

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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,and fellow Pilgrims,

As lay Christians, we certainly understand that “…while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.  But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.  But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:6-11)

But what we sometimes fail to realize is that the God’s purposes for saving us through the offering of His Son go beyond the majestic demonstration His Love and Mercy. It goes beyond that so far as His desire to conform us to the image of His Son, right now, in the lives we are living in this world. .  Here is what the scripture tells us about the Father’s desire:  “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, 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 firstborn of many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30)

In reconciling us to Himself, the Father also called us to be conformed to the image of the Spirit of Christ He that He has placed in us at our conversion and baptism.

The response He expects to His call is, that we, through the gift of our free will and out of agape Love, offer ourselves totally to Him so that through the transforming power of His Holy Spirit He bring to life in us the very Spirit of Jesus, His Son. And so, through that transformation we can truly  become His instruments in bringing forth His Kingdom into this world — for in this way Jesus can continue fulfilling His Mission through our dedication (consecration) of ourselves to Him and His Purposes (NOT ours). Praised Be His Holy Name!

ascending-temple

Dedicating ourselves to Christ

On several occasions I have written of the need for us to formally dedicate (or set our lives apart for God’s use) our lives to Jesus at least every every New Year so that the life we live out will continue to be His Life in us and not just our own self-willed vision. In this way, though our dedication (or consecration) , His Spirit will continue working in us and though us to empower us in bringing forth His Kingdom in to this fallen world, thus conforming us more and more in the image of His Son.

The need for dedication should be obvious to us. For as we walk our path with Him in this world the more the “world system” attempts to make inroads in us to deviate us of from our “narrow path” with Jesus as we grow spiritually in our fellowship with Him. When the purity of our intent begins to weaken through the incursions , we begin to confuse our divine directives more and more and thus losing our ability to hear His Voice and follow His Spiritual Directives for our lives. Our ability to walk in His Word also begins to fail us as we become distracted by the World and the circumstances the Evil One begins to throw at us to dislodge our faith.

That is why the Apostle Paul exhorted the newly discipled Roman believers to consecrate themselves as the first step in opening themselves to the transforming help of the Holy Spirit in maintaining the holiness to which they had been called :

st_francis_of_assisi

St. Francis giving Himself Totally to God

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”   (Romans 12:1-3)

And similarly he instructed the Ephesian community on how to respond spiritually to the incursions of the evil one in their lives, saying, “… be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  (Eph. 6:10-17)

Now in order to be strong in the Lord and maintaining the strength of His Power in us an through us, we must always be alert that we do not fall into letting our fallen humanness ( the flesh) control us. For this reason, our self-dedication helps us to avoid complacency and always be obedient to God’s commandments as we live our our lives dedicated to Him.

It is usually for lack of dedication that we become complacent in our walk that we fall into our fleshly tantrums. As Paul tells the Galatians (and us):  “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Of course, the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are there to keep us on the right path. However even there the enemy may still intervene through His deceptions when we are not careful as to the examination of our consciences. But consecration lets the Holy Spirit work in us to strengthen us by an act of our will to be partners with the Divine by submitting ourselves to His Reign in us, so that as the “disciples prayer” states, “His Will may be done through us, in this world was it is in Heaven”.

Without an intentional dedication (or consecration), it difficult to be spiritually alert for the enemy’s deceit and snares that easily divert us from the Father’s perfect will for out lives. For we know the enemy will use even the smallest of our weaknesses to disempower us from fulfilling Christ’s calling for us.

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing

For instance. the enemy may introduce a person into our lives who appears to be one of us but is in reality  a wolf in sheep’s clothing whose intent is to cause us to falter. Therefore,We must always seek discernment and wisdom whenever a new person enters our select relationship group. Consecration releases these necessary gifts in our lives so that we can truly “imitate Christ’  in our spiritual walk with Him. Praised be His Holy Name!

Also we must remember that the Lord has upgraded His command for us to “love” one another. Yes, what He is seeking in us is not just to love (philos) our neighbor as ourselves but to love (agape) one another as He has loved (agape’d) us. Yes, He wants to transition us from a purely human  brotherly love to his divinely implanted agape Love that is in us (see Rom. 5:5). In John’s Gospel here is what He tells His disciples (and us) : “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). It is by and through this agape Love exhibited in our fellowship that identifies us as His disciples.  Again, without an intentional dedication to Him , we cannot on a human level attain to the “agape” level of Love He is asking us to live out.

As disciples, however we also have responsibilities. The main one being obedience to His Commandments (ie., directives). Not just the ten commandments but personal directives where He instructs you to do something in His Name. Obeying such directives usually requires the exercise of Agape Love, where you negate your own will to do His will.

“Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; ( 1John 2:3)

Here is the sad news, then,  if we disobey the directive of Agape Love for one another, we are no longer considered as belonging to His Kingdom of Light and have re-entered the Kingdom of Darkness!

“Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.” (1 John 2:9-11)

The good news is “… that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”   (1John1: 5-10)

So, if we fall in our walk with Him, we should always remember that His forgiveness is always available through faith and sincere repentance.  All we have to do is … “ask and you shall receive”.

In our walk with Him just keep in mind the word of encouragement that the Lord gave to Joshua:  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9″Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9)

Remembering that, as Dedicated Lay Christians, the strength we receive comes directly from the Indwelling Spirit of His Love that unites us with Him when we believe and obey His Word, for …“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,  for whatever is born of God conquers the world.  And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.  Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5: 15)

When we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit through an intentional (formal) dedication, the work we do in following His leadings is NOT our work but HIS! So prepare yourselves for the New Year ahead by intentionally offering yourself as a “living sacrifice” to His Spirit and learn to follow His leadings so that His Will is done and NOT yours as you walk the path of true discipleship.

In this coming New Year, brethren, I leave you with the following list of things that will help you know whether you are indeed walking in the Spirit and NOT in your fallible human flesh. So that as you walk the walk with Him in as disciples in full Obedience to His Word and His Love, you need to be be aware of the following…

Incorrect Attitudes to be Avoided :
Complacency (taking everything for granted without first checking with His Spirit), Naivety (unwarranted trust in yourself and others),  Prideful Self-Assurance

Repentance from Soulish or Fleshly emotions:
Hate, Slander, Anger, Bitterness, Resentment, Un-forgiveness, etc.

Daily asking for the Godly Virtues needed to persist in your walk:
Prayer, Humility, Obedience, Faith in God and His Word, Repentance, Forgiveness. And, above all – LOVE – the Love of God, and the Love for one another as God has loved us.

To this end I attach a prayer (below) of Dedication that you may amend or use, as the Spirit leads, to formulate your own personal response for your resolution to enter into Life. I pray that you will listen to what the Spirit is urging you now so that you may take your first step into the Kingdom of God’s Love!

Praised be His Holy Name! To Him be all the Glory Forever and ever . Amen!

Your brother in Christ Jesus …. Bartimeaus
© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20017].

~+~+~+~+~ Prayer of Dedication ~+~+~+~+~

Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship that I can know the Father.
It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger.At this moment I dedicate myself to your love. Enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father that will bring forth your kingdom in my life.
I yoke myself to You Lord Jesus, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. I yield myself entirely to you, permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace I receive You and I receive Your word.
Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you!    

Thank you for giving yourself  for me. Amen!
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Related Links …
# Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit
I Stand at the Door and Knock
Sweet Yoke of Love
Releasing the Spirit
The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance
Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ
Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It
Pentecost and the Promise of the Father
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)


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

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The Mystery of Christ In Us!
Letting Jesus Live in us and through us

Baptism-of-Christ-xx-Francesco-Alban“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”(Rom.6:3)

“… the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” (Col. 1: 26-28)

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

St. Paul tells us that one of the main themes he proclaims and teaches about the Kingdom of God is the hidden “mystery” of “Christ in us”, the hope of Glory. It is One of the mysteries of the “Good News” that we need to hear more of in order that to grow spiritually in Christ Jesus.

As a lifelong Catholic, I can attest about my need to hear more teaching on this subject. I certainly can confirm my need because I often heard the words above spoken in church but had never fully understood them sufficiently. I failed to realize that what God the Father was saying all along was, that the “Good News” that as preached by the Apostles not only to told us that Jesus, His anointed One, died to pay the penalty of our sins (atonement) to save us, but that He also died so that, Jesus His Son, might live anew in us, His Earthen Temple.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (in Him)”. (Rom. 6:4)

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Col. 2:6-7)

Living in the Spirit is Letting Jesus Live through you.

Brethren, notice how Paul emphasizes the term “IN HIM”. He does this because our new life is “IN HIM” and “without HIM we can do nothing”. It is in this way that the Father determined to establish His Spiritual Kingdom in the spirit of all who believe, birthing us as brothers and sisters of Christ, with His Spiritual DNA in us, to enable us to act in His Name, literally, so that the Father’s will might be done on Earth as it is in Heaven! Conditioned , of course, on our receiving Him through repentance and Baptism — and through an additional act of faith and love (agape), giving up ourselves to Him so that He could continue living through us!

St. Paul, in fact, urges the Baptized Roman believers about the manner which this additional act of Love may be enacted, namely, by consecrating themselves just for this purpose — to give their living selves to Jesus so He could continue His life in theirs.

Here is how Paul exhorts them on how to let the Spirit of Christ live in them and through them:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

So when Paul speaks of our “walking” or “living” in the Spirit, in his other writings, he is referring to letting Christ live in us and through us so that the Father’s will will be done here on this earth as it is in heaven. Here is some of  Paul’s exhortations in this regard…

“… so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom: 8:4)

pictures-of-jesus-baptism-holy-spirit“… and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells (lives) in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. …” Rom. 8:8-17

We, indeed may be truly Christian and Catholic, but without this consecration we cannot fully mature to the fullness of Christ to which the Father has called us so we can be His instruments on this earth. The Corinthians believers were indeed baptized but here is what Paul said to them …

“… brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:1)

and
“ … for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?” (1 Cor. 3:3)

It is implied by these scriptures, and others, that believers are to derive their holiness not of our works but out of the Spirit of Christ that abides (lives) in us and that it is only by consecrating ourselves to His Spirit in us, that we can be conformed into His Image, and to the renewal of our minds in Him! Works affirm the changes that are being made in us by the Spirit, but our works do not perform the changes. Praised be His Holy Name!

My Own Experience

After years of a spiritually fruitless life, I, by the Grace of God, came to this understanding. And when I yielded myself to His Holy Spirit and encountered Jesus personally, my personal relationship with Jesus grew, and I became more and more detached from the flesh and more and more in consonance with the Spirit of Jesus in me. This encounter and my subsequent conversion permitted me to truly let Jesus “live in me and through me” changing my life forever, and it is the reason, why today, I am able testify to His work in me on this cybernetic medium that the Lord provided.

The problem we all face in growing spiritually is two-fold. First we fail to understand the spiritual meaning and power of the Word of God, and the Father’s desire to activate the Spirit of Jesus in us through His Word. So that in activating the mind of Jesus in us, we may become His instruments to bring His Love into the world in which we live. Secondly, because of our spiritual insensitivity to the dynamics of His Kingdom we fail to make the critical decision we need to offer ourselves to His Spirit as a “living sacrifice” so that His Holy Spirit can begin to transform us into the image of The Son!  “Baruch ha Shem Adonai – Blessed Be His Holy Name!

Why would the Father do it this way? If the Spirit of Christ in us at Baptism why is there need of a special commitment?

The answer is simple, He wants our commitment as a living sacrifice to be an act of Agape Love, an act of the will that has to be freely given. If it were a condition for our salvation, then it would be conditional on us and Not on Jesus’ sacrifice the cross. When we repent, concert and are baptized we freely accept the gift of salvation that is offered without any sacrifice or conditions on our part.

Now, because we have accepted the gift of salvation without any conditions, we are free to give ourselves to the Father without any obligation – this is what makes our commitment a “Living Sacrifice” on our part.

nativity3

This Christmas, Let Christ Live in You

What I recommend we all do this Advent Season is that each time we receive the Eucharist we meditate on the Spirit of Jesus in us, in our cleaned up inner “human stable”, and praise and thank Him for the sacrifice of His very self (body, soul, and spirit) to the Father, taking on the guilt of all humanity thus paying the price for every sin ever continued by man – including my own, so that we could all be reconciled with the Father as His adopted sons and daughters.

In thanking Him tell Him that, on Christmas Day, as an act of Agape Love, in gratitude for His sacrifice, you will be offering your very self, to the Father, so that He, Jesus, can live and act in you and through you for the Glory of the Father! All you ask is that through the Eucharist, He prepare you to be be conformed by the Holy Spirit to reflect His Image in your Life.

Then, on Christmas Day formalize your commitment and sacrifice of your self so that you set yourself apart to be His forever!

When you hear the Call, all you have to do is say as Mary said, ” I am the servant of the Lord, be it done to me according to your Word” (Luke 1:31))

You can be sure this is the best present you could give Jesus on His Birthday!

Praised be His Holy Name!

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

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed …continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” (Phil. 2:12-15)

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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


Related Links
<> Sweet Yoke of Love
<> Husbands Love your Wives
<> Walking the Walk
<> Discerning the Spirit’s Call
<> Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It
<> Discipleship: Accepting the Challenge

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Overcoming the World: The Making of  a Disciple

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (Jn 1:1-5)

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ and Fellow Disciples,

The terms “Overcome … ” or “Overcoming …” are used in very important scriptures in the new Testament, but the Apostle John appears to me as really providing inspired insight into its meaning.  An understanding that carries great weight for the disciple, and especially for those of us who are just becoming aware of the Spirit’s call to discipleship and are in the process of opening our hearts to the challenge of following our master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The terms, I have just mentioned, are used by St. John, in his Gospel and Epistles, in two primary senses: “Overcoming the World” and “Overcoming the Evil One” or, its equivalent, “Overcoming the Darkness”.  He even begins His Gospel with this theme – the tension between God’s Light and the Darkness of Evil. (cf., Jn.1:5).

John further indicates to us God’s eternal purpose – to bring us His Light, His Life, the Light of the Living Word, His Son!

“There was the true light which, [by] coming into the world, enlightens every man.” (Jn. 1:9)

In John’s revealed understanding of God’s intentions in redeeming His creation, the key dynamic behind His plan was the restoration of the Light of His Love into the darkness into which it had fallen due to the deception of the Evil One. In his Gospel, John clearly states that it is this light, the light of God’s Eternal Word that was still shining in the darkness and it was this true light that he was bringing to the world [system] to deliver man from the darkness that envelops us.

Now, the light He provides is the freedom of the light of life, but mankind is darkened to this by the Evil one so he can control us. Because of our fallen state and the deception of Satan, we prefer to live in the darkness of our sin rather than the light of God’s Love.

“And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.” (Jn. 3:9)

In order to “Overcome” the darkness God sent his only Son, The Word of Life” to bring us to the Light of the Father’s Love. So that in bringing all creation under His Light the darkness that envelops us may be dissipated. Jesus tells His Disciples (and us) …

“I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness.” (Jn.12:46)

Knowing, however, that those who follow Him would be resisted by the world as He was resisted, He prepares His disciples for their calling by telling them…

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (Jn.15:19)

He also encourages them by disclosing to them that, because He has “Overcome the World”, they are to be at “Peace” in this world  as long a they are “IN HIM”.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33)

The Apostle John further exhorts those whom he has discipled (and thus us) to stand against the World [system] by informing them they also are covered by this same Peace Of God (THE SHALOM) that was promised also applies to them because the “Overcoming Spirit of Christ” dwells in them.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 Jn.4:4)

The apostle Paul, in a similar manner, tells his disciples that we are no longer to serve the Kingdom of darkness because …

“… He [the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…” (Col. 3:1-13)

From what has been said, brethren, it must be clear to us now, that if we aspire to follow Jesus as His Disciples, we must also overcome the World and the Evil one who controls it, as he overcame it. The first step we take in entering this “overcoming” state is to turn away from the world [system] and place our faith in Jesus, the anointed Son of the Living God.

Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1Jn.5:5)

In the Book Of Revelation, John relates Jesus’ promises pertaining to those who “overcome”…

“… To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev.2:7)

“…  He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Rev. 2:11)

“… To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he that receives it.” (Rev. 2:17)

Brethren, I truly believe that many right now are being called by the Spirit to enter into a true and overcoming discipleship under Our Lord and Teacher, Jesus, the Anointed of the Father. Are you one of these? If you are, then this article may give you some guidance. And, even if you do not sense a call right now, I feel the themes I will be touching on will greatly enhance your spiritual life, permitting you to go a step closer to hearing and understanding God’s call on your life – a leading to yoke yourself to Him in loving obedience to His Call.

As we enter into a New Year in Christ Jesus it is important to remember our call to discipleship and rededicate ourselves to make Jesus the very center of our lives.

Return to Jerusalem

In attempting to live our lives for our Master we will find that the closer we come to Him the more stress the world and the evil one puts on us. The tension between world system of darkness and Our Lord’s Kingdom of Light is becoming ever more stressful for us believers as we draw closer to His Coming.

We are the children of the Light and the forces of darkness are doing everything they can to prevent us from shining forth His Light into the darkness of this world. We must always remember that He has called us as beacons of His Light in this present darkness. In order to let our light shine before men, it is therefore our calling as disciples to overcome this world system just as He overcame. And, because we are in Him and He in us, we have every confidence that He is working in us and through us to overcome the World.

 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  (1 John 5:4-5)

It is through this process of overcoming the world that we are strengthened and progress in our discipleship as the Holy Spirit is continuously forming us in His image.

In another article, I have already mentioned that the “renewal of our minds” is crucial to our overcoming the world. In this article, I wish to share with you some guidance I received in how to bring some of these concepts into practice in our lives.

One of the things I learned is that, once we have yielded ourselves fully to Christ,  we remove our “selves” from the throne of our lives and enthrone Jesus as Lord and King of our lives. We must begin to recognize Jesus is our LORD in all things and that we are merely stewards of every gift and ability The Father has placed in us. We are no longer acting on our own desires and plans, rather, we are literally acting in Jesus’ Name and, in this role, we must seek all of the Father’s desires that He places in us and, in accordance with His Grace, use our natural talents and gifts to fulfill or carry out those desires.

Except in specific situations, He does not normally dictate the details of what we are to do. He does not want robots for servants. No! What he desires is for us to freely use all our gifts creatively to bring His desires to fruition. When we seek His Spirit to work in us as we seek to manifest His will, the Spirit will augment our natural capabilities with His Spiritual Gifts so, that in this manner He enters into partnership with us in carrying out the work of the Kingdom!

A simple analogy to elucidate the manner with which we are to carry our His calling, would be to compare, God as the owner of a large piece of property in a large city, who wishes to build a hospital on that property. Think of yourself as acting for Jesus in accomplishing the Father’s desires, and as the architect whom He hires to design and build this facility and to whom He has delegated al the resources needed to build it as He desires. Yes, you have to check your plans with the owner every now and then to see if your design is compatible with His wishes, but other wise, He has given you free rein to design the best facility your creative and god-given talents can produce in accordance with His will and desires (think of this project as the particular “calling” the Lord has given you).

In this analogy, the world of darkness, however, is intent on keeping the hospital from being built and when the Prince of Darkness sees that you have been delivered from His control and have been appointed to this task, he will come up with every obstacle possible to keep you from building it. So besides the main task of designing and building the hospital you have to also deal with the politics, regulations, and pure stubbornness on the part of the city officials in order to bring the project to fruition. In effect, you will be opposed in carrying out your charge by the world and the Prince of Darkness.

One of the things that must definitely be avoided is to think of this as YOUR PROJECT or YOUR HOSPITAL. No! This Is the Father’s Project and Hospital and you are merely His steward at the service of the Father (just as Jesus was when He was on Earth). So when things get tough you go to the Father and ask Him to intervene to ensure its successful completion. That is, you use the authority and power that has been given you (in Jesus) to move the mountains that stand in the way and to keep the Devil away.

This is merely an allegorical example of how we, as disciples, are called to overcome the forces of darkness that intervene in our lives to keep us from bringing forth the Kingdom of God in our lives and the attitude to which we must take in responding to our calling.  I only bring this to you in this manner so that when you accept your calling and enter into the work of the Kingdom, you will draw on the power of God that has been allocated to you to fulfill your role as Jesus’ stand-in.

Always remember that without abiding in Jesus you can do nothing. The greatest deception the Evil One will place in you way is to think that YOU are the one behind your calling.  NO, brethren, you must NEVER permit yourself to be tempted by pride in what you have been called to do. This is how Jesus was tempted in the wilderness and we see how Jesus resited the tempter through God’s Word. In the same way, Jesus will help you resist if you abide totally in Him and renounce your own self-interest by dying to your “self” and living for Christ only.

You must also be aware that these temptations come even when you are doing what you think are religious or spiritual tasks. In fact this type of temptation is even more deceptive because, since you think you are doing the Lord’s work, it will meet with His approval.  But if your inner motives are for your own self-gratification, these works will merit you nothing and, in fact, may nullify the work of the Kingdom in and through your life. Remember this principle: if you work for your own self promotion, you are not working for the KING and His Kingdom but for yourself and the Kingdom of Darkness!

I share all these reflections with you brethren to save you from stumbling along your path of discipleship. I tell you these things from the experience of my own failures and so that you may achieve union with Jesus in accordance with His Grace and thus fulfill the Father’s will in your lives to the Glory of His Name!

I conclude this message to you with Paul’s exhortation to the Church at Colossus ( and to us who are also being called into discipleship) …

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

May the Lord strengthen you with His Spirit as you progress along the narrow way of His Love.

Your Brother in Christ Jesus,

Bartimaeus

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

Related Links

The Crucified Life

The Cost of Discipleship

The Renewal of Our Minds

The Sweet yoke of Love

Husbands Love Your Wives

Enter in by the Narrow Gate

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How then Shall we Pray? –

                     Reflections Regarding True Prayer (Part 2)

sheepfollowing

My sheep hear my voice …

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“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28)

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My Fellow Pilgrims and brethren in Christ,

In the introductory scripture Jesus makes it very clear that if we are to be His disciples (His sheep) we must be able to: (1) hear His voice, (2) have a personal intimacy with Him, and (3) follow Him by obeying the directives He gives us for our lives.

We cannot do this without prayer – true prayer that is, prayer that enables us to fulfill our roles as His disciples.  The scripture cited also indicates to us that the primary purpose of true prayer is to affirm our spiritual union with Him and establish a clear and intimate channel of dialog so that He can communicate His person and His purposes with us in such a manner that we may come to know Him personally. In this way, by becoming His intimate partners in establishing the Kingdom, our obedience to His guidance will be performed out of a love-enabled spiritual relationship and NOT by obligation!

However, we cannot interact at the spirit level with Him, unless the spirit-self within us has been reborn by the Holy Spirit (Cf., John. 3:3-5). Without such a rebirth we humans are insensitive to the voice of our Shepherd. So the first thing the Holy Spirit does, when He draws us to Himself, is to awaken our spirits and lead us to Christ through conversion and baptism so that He may baptize us in the Holy Spirit and thus revive our spirit nature so that we can hear His Voice and thus enable us to respond to Him as truly His Sheep!

Unfortunately, due to the deleterious influence of the world, the spiritual awareness of all Christians has been dulled into insensitivity so that even most of our churches never really teach us laity how to move into the spirit realm but mainly teach us at the intellectual and devotional level in the hope that somehow our head knowledge will open the doors to a deeper spiritual awareness.

Because of this deficit of a truly reborn and mature spiritual sensitivity in us, our prayer life for most of us, has been stunted in that our prayers never enter the realm of the spiritual but, sadly, remain at the soulish mental and emotional level of expression and awareness, seeking only our own self-fulfillment rather the fulfillment of the Father’s will and purpose in our lives.

In general, for most of us, as a result of our current state, our communications with the Lord has become mainly routine one-way expressions of petitions or supplications for healing or assistance in our very day problems but lack the heart-felt loving intimacy of a child asking his or her father for help. Prayers, that, because of the Father’s loving faithfulness to His Promises, are answered according to His loving providence, but are nonetheless lacking in spiritual depth on our part.

Do not hinder themWhile there is no doubt we are in desperate need of His help in our affairs and, that He, as our Father, is more than willing to come to our assistance, our prayers become for us mainly a routine practice that lacks the intimate yielding, in love, of a child to the Father. And that, above all, is exactly what the Father is seeking of us, in our interactions with Him! It is as Jesus pointed out to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven”(Matt.18:3).

Remember, our spiritual growth is directly related to maintaining our child-like intimacy and relationship with Jesus and His Father – this can only be accomplished through “true” prayer.

In order to help those of you who feel a need to assess the state of your prayer life and are seeking to go to a deeper level with Jesus, I thus present to you a sequel to Jorge Madrid’s previous introductory article on the nature of prayer that may incite you to continue on your spiritual journey and a more intimate and personal relation wit the Divine.

With the author’s approval, Part 2 of his “Reflections Regarding True Prayer” follows this preface.

May the Lord move in you as you pray and read through this latest posting, all the while reconciling everything that comes into your mind and your heart with His Holy Word. Amen.

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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Reflections Regarding True Prayer (Part 2)

By Jorge Madrid Sr. (AMDG)

Faith: The Foundation For Prayer

Faith is the prime requisite for prayer for scripture tells us that “…without faith it is impossible to please God because those who come to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).  Now one might then argue, “How is it then that unbelievers can become believers? Or how is it that God will answer the prayer of the skeptic: ‘God, if you’re there, help me now when I need you’”.

My words are spirit and they are truth

My words are spirit and they are truth

Let us answer the latter challenge first. His word tells us that He has placed the light of faith in every man (Jn.1:9, Rom.12:3). Even though it is as small as a mustard seed every person is born with at least the faith to cry out to God for help. However, each person can ignore that grain of faith and let skepticism and doubt control him/her and so quench the faith needed for prayer. There is a limit as to how far God will strive with man to keep this seed alive. Once this seed is dead through man’s own decision to reject God, the Lord is not obliged to revive faith again in that person. But God in His mercy and grace has given us His Word of Salvation to be proclaimed so that real living faith can be revived in the those who hear the word and receive it into their hearts (1Ptr. 1:23). This answers the first challenge as well because it is through the hearing of the Word of Life that unbelievers are brought to life through faith.

Now, although faith is necessary to enter into prayer, it is also true that prayer is needed for our faith to increase (Lk.17:5). For those who are seeking spiritual growth, prayer is essential. Prayer is the means through which our relationship to the Father comes to maturity, it allows us to be one in mind with Him and thus permits Him to work through us as He worked through His Son Jesus. In this way, true prayer permits us to discard the self and enter in through the narrow gate. Of course, in true prayer, we gradually surrender ourselves to His Grace so that we live out the results of our prayer by His strength and not ours. I say true prayer, because it is possible to deceive ourselves into thinking we are praying when we deny the Lord the privilege of working through our lives to produce fruit. Prayer that is not fruitful is merely quasi-prayer such as that of the Pharisee talking to himself (Lk. 11:18).

The Elements of Prayer

Communion in the Spirit

The next and foremost principle of true prayer is communion with God.  This is a communion that can only take place in the realm of the spirit. It is a communion that is unique because it is derived out of the spiritual relationship that we as Christians have with God as our Father through Jesus, His Son. Unfortunately, that level of communion is not often reached because we are unaware of the distinct modalities between spirit and soul. This lack of awareness keeps us from placing ourselves at the spirit level when we are praying. Children are able to pray more easily in the spirit because they are not hindered by the intellectual inhibitions with which we are afflicted as adults and thus have no problem in doing things strictly by faith (Mk. 10:14). As we mature as human beings, our rational faculties get in the way of interacting in the spirit because our minds begin to demand a reason behind everything we do whereas our spirit is an intuitive faculty. We also have certain expectations, which are engendered by our limited knowledge of God and His Word, and by the experiences we are having in the world.

Just as man is composed of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23), so also prayer may be thought of as comprising of form, content, and spirit. Just as in man, God intended the spirit to be the main driving and motivating force, so also in prayer, spiritual dedication is of the essence.  This is so because God is spirit and it is only in the spirit that we can attain communion with him (Jn. 4:24) situation without really getting down to our spirit level. That is, we are usually only at our soul level (rational or emotional) when we say this type of prayer. Because of this, the effectiveness of our prayers is very much diminished. Remember what Jesus quoted from Isaiah regarding the religious people of his day:  “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts (spirits) are far from me”(Mk. 7:6) When we pray therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we enter into the Presence of the Lord with all our hearts, for it is only in this state that our prayers will be truly effective. It is only when we are attuned to that Heart of God that our prayers will be His prayers. And if they are His prayers we can be assured that there will be a response.

Now, getting to the “spirit level” is where most of us have problems because the distinction between spirit and soul has usually not been clearly made in our religious education. As a result we confuse the “religious” efforts of our soul as being “spiritual” and thus we usually enter into prayer usually at the soul or mental level because that is where our intellectual faculties are focused. Without going into an abstruse theological discussion, just remember that, as baptized, converted Christians, all we need to do to enter into the spirit is to make a decision of the will by “faith” to enter into that dimension where we are in His Presence. It is by faith because we are making the decision not on what we have reasoned or what we feel, but on the Word of God, which tells us “ Come near to God and He will come near to you”(Jm.4:8). As Christians, by making such a sincere act of the will, in faith, can we enter into His Presence, because the Blood of Jesus has purchased the way to the Father.

When we make take this step make sure that you are in a place where you can honor your decision by quieting your soul and placing yourself apart from distractions. Once we are in His presence we should place our desire on Him and Him alone – yielding even the desire we had to pray to Him.

intercessory_prayer-1By yielding to His Holy Spirit, the Spirit himself is now free to pray through us (Rom. 8:26). Even though we begin our prayer in the natural, the Spirit begins to take over our prayer so that by the time we conclude, it has been His prayer and not ours.  The Spirit will do this gradually, thus imbuing our prayer with the appropriate content and form. The Word tells us that the Spirit assists us in our prayer because we are limited in knowing exactly what and how to pray in certain situations. Because we are so used to expressing ourselves in formula prayers, this may at first appear difficult. But once you experience the Spirit working in your prayers you will not only delight in it but you will be edified by what the Spirit is working in prayer through you.

If you wish, you could begin with the prayers you are comfortable with. Invest them with your yielding to the Holy Spirit, only don’t let yourself be bound by them. As you repeat them slowly and meditatively, let the Holy Spirit express himself through your words. Don’t be surprised if you begin praying something different than with what you started, As you continue in prayer, you will also find yourself at a point where there are no words to express what you sense is in your spirit. At this point don’t resist the Holy Spirit if there are words coming out of your mouth that don’t make sense to you. Express the words as they come. Don’t hold back. You will than find that the Holy Spirit is praying through you the sentiments that are in your spirit but for which you don’t have the words. This is called “praying in the spirit”. In this mode your spirit is bypassing your mental faculties (i.e., your soul) to express to God those precious sentiments that God himself has placed there just for that moment (1 Cor.14:14)).

Of course everything I have just stated is with respect to personal private prayer. However, without understanding the basis for private prayer and learning to pray at the spirit level, your ability to effectively participate in group or public prayer will similarly be diminished. In the personal mode of prayer, our conversations are between the Lord and ourselves. We need to set aside quality time for these conversations. If possible we should find a nice quiet spot where we will not be interrupted and most of all we need to quiet our soul so that our spirit is able to discern the Lord and what he is communicating to us. Initially, our time in prayer may be short. However, you will find that the more you practice this mode of prayer, time will become irrelevant to you as you delight yourself in the Lord and lose yourself in the Glory of His Presence. Praised be His Holy Name!

Content

When we pray, the content of our prayer embodies our objective. Underlying that objective, and usually unspoken, is the motive behind our prayer. When I speak of content, therefore, I imply both the objective and the motive of the prayer. When we are praying, even though we are yielded to the Holy Spirit, it is important that we form in our minds the content or objective of our prayer is in accord with the will of God. In judging whether the content is in God’s will, we must also assess our motives. An objective, by itself, might appear to be something that God would approve, but if our motives are self-centered, you can be sure that it is not God’s will (Jm.4:3). In general, if your motives and your objective are not based on love (the God kind of Love), it cannot be God’s will.

Word-of-GodFor this reason, it is very helpful if your prayers come out of your meditation on the Word of God. In this manner God Himself, through the Holy Spirit will form the appropriate content for your prayer so that it is in line with His will. Jesus tells us that “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (Jn 15:7). The key to effective prayer is to lead a life that is in Him. Before we pray for specific objectives for others we need to examine ourselves to ensure that we are “abiding in Him and in His Word”. This is another reason why the daily reading of the Word of God is indispensable. If you still find difficulty in assessing whether your motives are pure or whether your prayer objectives are in His will, you merely, initiate your prayer time with a prayer for wisdom. Asking for wisdom is clearly in His will (James 1:5) and your desire to be in His Will ensures that you will have an answer if you will only open your heart and listen to what he tells you.

Another concept we must also understand is that those prayers of petition that are motivated by the responsibilities the Lord has placed on our lives are usually free of self-centerdness and go straight to the Throne of God. As for instance, the prayers of parents for their children, of pastors for their congregation, and doctors for their patients. In general, prayers for others tend to have purer motives than prayers for ourselves. That is why James exhorts us to “pray for each other that you may be healed”(James 5:16).

When praying for healing we need also to ask for the wisdom as  to how to pray in these cases because, although our God is a Healing God, He alone knows the full circumstances of a person’s life. Pray that the Holy Spirit lead you into the appropriate prayer for that person. Sometimes through a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom you may see what might be hindering God’s work in that person and through your prayer seek release from the bondage holding that person from the fullness of the Lord’s Grace. It may be that in a particular case, He may permit the illness to take its course, not because He doesn’t wish to heal, but because it may fulfill something greater He wishes to accomplish in that person. Like his/her salvation. The Lord does indeed desire healing for all. The only question is how and when that healing takes place. Either here or in eternity.

Form

As one who appreciates the poetic, I find myself admiring well-written formal prayers, wishing I could pray that way.  Although I sometimes use formal prayers, I do not use them without a little bit of preparation. The reason for this is that the Lord wants our prayers to be from the heart and in order for formal prayers to be from our heart, we first need to meditate on each prayer until we can adopt it as our own. When you do that, the form becomes secondary. For that reason, although I may use the formal prayer to inspire me, I usually end up modifying the prayer or making up my own prayer as the spirit takes over. It usually does not read as well as the formal prayer but it is MY prayer from MY Heart and that is what is important to the Lord. Form is mainly important to us because it provides the framework for the content, it keeps us from uttering sheer nonsense, and it permits us to create a beautiful expression that glorifies the Lord. However, there are no explicit guidelines for the form of personal prayer in scripture. Instead we find that the form of the prayer is whatever the Holy Spirit leads us to pray when we are in submission to His leading. Daniel, when He prayed for discernment regarding the Seventy Years of captivity that was prophesied for Israel (Daniel 9:2-3 ), was led into the form of prayer that was appropriate and necessary to intercede for his nation. Similarly when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1), Jesus provided them with an outline for a prayer that would enable them to minister in the Kingdom. In another place, Jesus indicated to His disciples that they needed to pray to the Father in His Name that they might receive. Jesus also told his disciples to keep their personal prayer private (Matt. 6:5-6) and to keep their prayers simple (Matt.6:7), other than that, He placed few constraints on form, His teaching on prayer mainly emphasized a heartfelt purity of objective and motive.

Now, we must keep in mind that praying to the Father in Jesus Name (Jn. 16:23-24) is not just an expression that we can tritely throw out at the end of our prayers without understanding its full implications. In the Hebrew culture, to use this idiom meant that you were the fully authorized representative of the person whose name you were claiming to speak for. So if you used this expression to do business for some important landlord it meant that you could transact any business in his name the landlord would fully support any decision you made. In using the Name of Jesus in petitioning the Father, you are basically asking the Father as if you were Jesus Himself! So before you can pray in His name you must be abiding in Him and He in you. If your spiritual state is such that you are not currently in fellowship with Him (1Jn1:6-7), then quickly and sincerely repent, confess your sin, ask forgiveness, and put yourself back in fellowship with Him. Then restate your prayer and boldly go before the throne because now you approach the throne not with your righteousness (which is garbage) but with the righteousness of Jesus (which is infinite holiness)! This is why praying in the Name of Jesus is all-important and why this should be the main guideline on form that is placed on our prayers. Praised Be His Holy Name!

From the examples of scripture, we see that we have a great deal of flexibility in the specific form of personal prayer as long as we are connecting with God, and our objectives and motives are pure. So be bold in your praying knowing that the Lord is not grading you on grammar, pronunciation, sentence structure, or poetic meter He only wants all of your love and He treasures the personal expression of that love in our prayers.

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

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For those whose spirit has been aroused and are hungry for God, I recommend the following links to continue your instruction in true prayer. May the Holy Spirit Guide you on your way. …  Bartimaeus

Recommended Links to an Enhanced Spirituality

The Promise of the Father

The Promise of the Father is for all that believe.

Prayer of the Inward Man: Praying in the Spirit

Releasing The Spirit

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Spirituality and The Mystic Dimension

The Art of Meditative Prayer

Music as an Aid to Transitioning to the Spiritual

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The Making of  a Disciple: Accepting the Challenge

Regarding Discipleship …

Where I am - there my disciple will be also ...

Where I am – there my disciple will be also …

Jesus said: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. (John 12:24-26)

Paul said: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is 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 2:19-20)

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

 And… “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom. 13:11-14))

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

Coming into a True Discipleship Relationship with Jesus can only come by dying to one’s self-life so that the Christ-life that us in us through conversion and baptism can work through us to bring Forth the Father’s Kingdom in this world. The yielding of our very selves to Him as an act of Love enables us, who are nothing, to be His partners in bringing forth His eternal reign of Love, both in what remains of our life here on earth, and in the next life with Him in eternity.

This post is a sequel to my previous overview on discipleship.  In that discussion I gave an overview to the overall topic of what I believe Jesus meant by the term, “disciple” and what it should mean to us, in whom the Lord has placed a calling to be His disciples. I also made it clear that being a baptized believer does not automatically make you a “disciple”.

While every believer is called to be a disciple, not every believer responds to the call to discipleship. A call to discipleship is a call to yield ourselves to the Spirit of Jesus that is in us so that He can bring forth the Kingdom of God through us! It is a call to place our “old man” on the cross with Jesus and “put on the New Man” (Rom.12:14), the life of the resurrected Jesus, so that He may continue His ministry (service) to humanity directly through us – for the Glory of the Father and In His Name, NOT ours!

The Way of True Discipleship

Those of us, “wannabe” (want to be) disciples, who deep in our hearts, want to respond to the call – are faced with a life-changing challenge – in order for His Life to be manifested through our lives, we must willingly empty ourselves out so that the Holy Spirit may activate His Life in us.

The process of emptying of ourselves is the daily cross we are asked to bear. This is the process by which we die to “self”, that is, to living a self-centered life.! The Way of the Cross is the Way of Discipleship.

Right now, most of us who are sincerely trying to be disciples, are doing it out of our own fleshly zeal – attempting to emulate Christ in our lives. While, our intentions are to be admired, the manner with which we are carrying it out leaves something to be desired. You see, while attempting to imitate Christ with our own internal drive and ambition, we are actually frustrating the work of GRACE the Holy Spirit wishes to work in us and through us!  You cannot have Grace and Works operating at the same time. One excludes the other! You MUST deny your “self” for Grace to be operative!

Let us very clearly understand this: WE CANNOT IMITATE CHRIST! What we are being called to do is, out of “agape” Love, permit the very Life and Spirit of Christ to express itself in us and through us! The only manner that the Spirit Of Christ can be activated and manifest through us is if we willingly accede to Him and lovingly empty ourselves of all our personal ambitions (even though they be religiously motivated) so that His Spirit which is already in us through conversion and Baptism, may use us as earthen vessels to bring His Presence and His Gifts through us. But in order for our earthen vessel to be used by God we must first empty it of our self-willed motivations.  It is just as John the Baptist said:  “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30)! The Holy Spirit can only use us to the degree that we empty our will of our own desires and ambitions. The process of emptying our earthen vessels takes time but it is the process the Spirit uses to conform us to Jesus (Rom.8:29).

This process by which the Holy Spirit conforms us to Christ is a transformation that involves the renewal of our minds. Our minds (and souls) must be cleared of all of our self-centered motivations and reactions to a God-centered and God-directed approach to living to the point where we no longer have to ask: “what would Jesus do” because our “new self” is, in fact, Jesus – for “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor.2:16).

The Father does not want us to be merely imitators of His Son, His desire is that the unique Life of His Only Begotten Son be manifested in us and through us so that the HOLY SEED that was planted at Calvary (Jn 12:24) may multiply and bring forth His Kingdom in this world. We are called, not to be imitators, but rather REAL EXPRESSIONS of the one and only living Christ in every part of the life of this world! This is how His Kingdom will come!

This is a hard concept for Modern Christians to accept, because it involves yielding control of our lives to God – yet this is the fundamental principle behind true discipleship.

At this point, in order to refresh yourselves as to Jesus’ teaching on the phases or steps in approaching discipleship I would recommend you review my articles on the Beatitudes, as this teaching by Jesus summarizes not only the process of transformation but the basic personal cost to those who would follow Jesus as His disciples. The following are links to those articles:

Reflections on the Beatitudes  (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3), and (Part 4)

Assessing the Cost

Now comes the even harder part – assessing the cost to you personally.

Francis accepts his call to dsicipleship

Aside from St. Paul, one of the most astounding stories of how the Holy Spirit working through the faith of one individual led him to not only assess the cost of discipleship but gave him the spiritual courage to accept the challenge and overcome the world and its attachments by giving himself totally to Jesus to the point where it was evident that many understood that Jesus Himself was living through this individual. I am, of course referring to St. Francis of Assisi who literally disrobed himself before the Bishop to emphasize the sincerity of his acceptance of the call to discipleship and his renunciation of the world ( cf., please read the biography of St. Francis in the Catholic Encyclopedia).

However, I do not want you to be discouraged if you feel overwhelmed by Francis’ story. In fact, the less worthy you feel, the more qualified you are to entering into such a commitment – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:3) . The Kingdom of Heaven, being the metaphor Jesus uses to describe His ministry here on earth and the discipleship for those who were called to operate under His Ministry. It is a truth that Francis understood and for which he gave up everything in order to enter in! It was a truth that Jesus offered to Nicodemus but who did not enter in because of His attachments to his position in the Jewish Sanhedrin.

In order that your decision be made lovingly and freely in Love, you need to understand that your salvation is NOT contingent on your decision. – The Free Gift of Salvation is solely based on Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross while we were yet sinners (Rom.5:8) and not on any works or decisions of service that might be attributed to us, so that no man may boast (Eph 2:8-9). All that is needed to receive the gift of salvation is to repent and believe that Jesus, the Only Begotten Son, of the Father, freely and willingly gave His life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice not only for your sins but for the sins of the whole world.

The decision to enter into a discipleship relationship with Jesus is separate from your repentance upon accepting Jesus as your savior. It is basically your acceptance of giving yourself to Him to act as a stand-in for Him in this world, as your response to His loving sacrifice. The gift of yourself must be based solely on a deep desire to give yourself totally to God for the Love the Father demonstrated towards you in giving His Only Son as an offering for your sins.

To be a disciple you must make a choice ...

To be a disciple you must make a choice

In making this free decision you must be totally aware of the cost of your decision and your assessment, in faith, as to whether you can keep it (cf., Luke 14:28). You must determine, in Faith, whether the strength of God’s call on you is stronger than your attachments to the world, the flesh and the devil. You must determine whether you are willing to place Jesus and the Father’s will above your own and above your personal attachments to all interests in your life – including, family, relationships, job, hobbies, intellectual interests, and so on..

At the same time, don’t assume that the Lord, necessarily, wants to separate you from what you consider the primary, and moral, aspects of your life – He may, in fact, want to use you in exactly those things and circumstances which form the ambience of your life. He just wants you to surrender what you believe is your right to them – mainly your over-dependence and attachment to them. He wants you solely depend on HIM! He needs this yielding from you as evidence of your Love for HIM and so that, in whatever situation in Life, He has your total obedience and are completely receptive and free to do His Will in anything He asks. Anything that has a hold on your life beside God is in competition with God and you cannot other gods before HIM and still be faithful to your commitment.

Other fundamental teachings on the cost of Discipleship may be found in the following links:

Walking the Walk, Enter In by The Narrow Gate, The Cost of Discipleship, Yielding to the Kingdom Anointing.

Making the Commitment

I personally, recommend that you make your commitment in private, and not like St. Francis in the city square. There are exceptions, of course, but in general it is best not to call attention to ourselves or to how we intend to live for God. It is best to keep the deepest part of our spiritual development between our selves and God.

The minimal exceptions are those required by your state in life. For instance, before making this commitment, it is wise if you discuss your desire to make such a decision with your spouse, if you are married or, if not, with your parents. As the Lord has said,  “person’s greatest adversaries will be His Family and friends”. When you do so, and obtain their opinions, I guarantee that, like Francis, you will begin to understand the true “cost” of the decision you are proposing to make.

It is also important that you have a person close to you to partner with in making the decision – if married, your wife or husband would be the best choice. The reason for this is that we are all blind to our own mistakes and to the direction the Lord is guiding us. It is best to have someone close to us who can hold us accountable when we begin to deviate from our commitment. Note that when Jesus sent out “the Seventy” He sent them out two-by-two (Luke 10:1).  When we operate as a pair the Lord will work through both of us and permit us to check out our directives from Him with each other.

When you make a decision to enter into this “unofficial” type of discipleship, except for your similarly committed partners, keep your commitment between yourself and God. Do not look upon discipleship as a means of gaining favor or promoting yourself in the church, such motives go completely against the purity of heart you need to be a true disciple. You need to pray for a servant’s heart – heart that is ready to serve the Father in the most menial of daily tasks where you may get rejected and criticized rather than complemented and promoted. This self-denying type of Love is the kind of Love that is required to truly represent Jesus to the world (cf., 1 Cor.13 ff.).

When to make the Commitment

One of the best opportunities to make this commitment is when you receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in your church or parish.  Although your personal commitment to discipleship may be private, you may readily, and silently, incorporate your prayer of commitment at the time you attend a Life in the Spirit Seminar or Retreat, since all of the proceedings are very much oriented to entrance into a discipleship relationship, even though it may not be mentioned.

Jesus receives the Anointing

Jesus Baptized in the Spirit

One of the reasons for the appropriateness of this event to making your commitment is that “the Baptism in the Spirit” represents the time that Jesus Himself accepted His call to ministry in being baptized in water by John the Baptist and then receiving the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry out His Calling (John 1:32) !

Of course, if you feel reticent about receiving the Baptism in the Spirit, you should reconsider making a commitment at all. It is an indication that you have not yet surrendered your own self-consciousness and are not yet ready to give yourself totally to Jesus as His disciple.  If it is just an intellectual hang-up, that can be easily be cleared up by reading some of the following articles on the Sanctifying Gifts and the Empowerment Gifts as our legacy as disciples:

The Promise of the Father (Part 1) and (Part 2) ;

The Sanctifying Gifts (Part 1) and (Part 2) ;

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1) and (Part 2) ;

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

Building on the Rock

Living Out Our Commitment

Living as a true (yet hidden) disciple of Jesus begins right where we are in our lives at the time of our commitment.  Reflections on how one can carry out such a discipleship commitment in a marriage is given in the article: “Husbands Love Your Wives”. (My Postscript on Brother Lawrence and the Crucified Life [below] is another example)

You begin living for Christ as soon as you begin to live every event in your life “In His Name”, NOT in yours. In this way you acknowledge that He and He alone is working in you and through you in all that you do or say or think. Praised Be His Holy Name!

As for living out your commitment in the world I can personally attest that, If you have been sincere in your commitment to “enter into the Kingdom” and not as an ”ersatz disciple”, it will be difficult and, at times, even excruciating to the point of testing your faith. Remember Jesus’ exhortation to His Disciples …

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

Yes, even if you are living your commitment as a “hidden” disciple just obeying the Lord in your current state of life, you will find all these things: rejection, criticism, hatred, envy, and so on. Take these things to be a confirmation that the Life of Christ is coming through to the world and the world will not accept you because they sense the Spirit of Christ in you – stand firm in your faith and love your enemies, forgiving them so that His Love will flow through all the more to them!

The Key to carrying out our service to the Lord is “the obedience of Love” – even in the smallest things. It is to pray, listen to His Voice, and heed the leadings of His Holy Spirit with joy and courage knowing that, as long as you persist in obedient faith, the Lord will bring forth fruit from your labors for His Glory, in whatever task you have been given, no matter how small or insignificant it may be.

In conclusion I leave you with St. Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians:

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

“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Col. 3:1-17)

I pose the following Prayer of Commitment as something you might use to model your own prayer in your response to the “call” , of course, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit:

Prayer of Commitment:

Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship of discipleship that I can know the Father.

    It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger. At this moment I yield myself to your love. Enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father.

    Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. Permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace I receive you and I receive your word. Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you! Thank you for giving yourself for me. Amen

(see also: Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit)

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ, in order to help you make a decision  I add a commentary regarding Dieterich Bonhoeffer,  pastor who was imprisoned by the Nazis for his Christian faith and criticism of their racism:

“Dieterich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who died for his faith by opposing Nazism, contrasted cheap grace and costly grace: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

May the Lord shine His Face upon you and fill you with His Peace …

Bartimeaus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012])

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Postscript: A Note from the Crucified Life

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.practicegodspresence.com/

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I stand at the door and Knock!

Jesus is knocking at your door …

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev.3:20)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The invitation from Christ is clear … “if you Hear my voice (my word) and open the door to your heart, I will come in and have dinner with you.”.  When that event happens in your life, then you have entered into an understanding of what a true, fulfilling spirituality involves and you will begin to live a life empowered by His Spirit.

One of the main problems we modern Christians have, however, is that many of us don’t ever hear that knock at the door of our hearts – we are not even aware of how to open that “door”. That is why many of us are personally in the spiritual doldrums and don’t even realize our sad and desolate state or what to do about it. Some of us do sense something missing in our lives but we can’t quite understand what might be causing our discomfiture. It’s some missing quality in our lives that we can’t quite understand or seem to know how to fill.

Oh, of course, we try to fill that void with activities, entertainment, sports, business, relationships, politics, etc., … but nothing really seems to satisfy that dry, empty feeling we unconsciously within us that seems to leave our lives seemingly without purpose and spiritual energy.

Many of us rightly sense that maybe what we need is to get closer to God, but when we attend worship services at our churches to try to fill that void with religious activities, we, again, for some reason, don’t sense that, our insistent lack is being satisfied.  Because we detect that our need might be a deeper spiritual one, we flail around looking for a “spiritual” solution, and since we didn’t find it in “church” we begin to look elsewhere.

And, if we somehow avoid getting into drugs and alcohol, we end up looking into false spirituality movements such as the occult, transcendental meditation, Yoga, and other forms of spiritual darkness, which the enemy uses to divert us from the real spiritual life that is available to every converted and baptized Christian. Yes, we are all baptized into Christ by one Spirit and the Spirit of Christ is in us, but we must cooperate with God to activate the release of His Spirit in us – it is not automatic- you have to open the door!   The main manner the Lord has instituted to activate our spiritual lives is through what is termed in the scriptures the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”.

Now, admittedly, some of the problem does rest in the fact that our religious traditions do not properly prepare us regarding “opening the door to our spirits” and consequently neglecting the care, and feeding of our “spirit” nature or the “release” of the Holy Spirit in us. Our modern Christian religious culture blandly assumes that the Spirit of God will work in us and through us without our full consent. Now it is true that the Spirit of God may work around us to bring us to the point where we eventually yield to His Lordship, but He does not force Himself on us inwardly – He waits for us to give ourselves to Him as LORD of our lives – something that most of our mainline religious traditions inexplicably overlook.

The main emphasis of our modern religious structures is to provide an intellectual and theological basis for our faith based on the scriptures. And to ensure that our religious needs and necessities may be satisfied at the “body and soul” levels of awareness through community religious, mission, charity, and fellowship activities. “Spirituality”, if addressed at all is left to the “religious” and “ordained” in their insulated communities, while providing some crumbs like pseudo-spiritual devotions and piety for the “laity’.

This results in the religious communities concentrating their ministry efforts in providing religious services and activities that focus on training us in the “body and soul” basics of Christianity, that is, Bible Study, Worship of God, living the Christian Life, Community services, Fellowship groups, and so on.

Hearing-Gods-Voice

If Anyone Hears my Voice …

Although there is no doubt these are necessary accoutrements to the mission of the church, and are to be considered, yet, there is a dearth of training in what ought to be the centerpiece of the Christian life, the need to understand how to hear His Voice and open the door to our hearts to let the person of Jesus, into our “spirits” so that, through our encounter with Him, “in the Spirit”, we may interact in a more personal and intimate manner with our Lord and thus receive the direct and personal spiritual strength and guidance we need to be “true” witnesses to the Good News of Salvation.

Part of the problem is that our religious culture does not feel comfortable dealing with the “spiritual’ component of our lives directly. All our community effort is focused on reaching the faithful through our intellects, senses, emotions, or through personal participation in rote religious activities that they “hope”, God will use to seep in to our spirit nature or at least get our spirit man involved.

Because God is gracious, this may work for a few people, but, today, because of the enticements of the “World” and the “Flesh”, the Spiritual Life and Energy that the Lord intends us to have is not coming through to us in our everyday lives as it should. This is especially true of our young people and that is why, although they try to remain faithful, are sometimes tempted to leave the fold and seek spiritual fulfillment elsewhere.

In my “catholic” tradition there is a move afoot to attempt to bridge this gap and reach out to those who are culturally and traditionally members of our tradition, but who, for what ever reason, are, like sheep lost in the desert, who are not being watered and fed spiritually, not so much because there is not food and drink available, but because they haven’t been made aware of the Rivers of Living Water and Bread of Life that the Lord has provided for all that believe. This effort to re-evangelize our disenfranchised brothers and sisters is being termed as the “New Evangelization”.

Again, here, from what I have read of this effort, it still falls short in incorporating a renewal in the Holy Spirit and the Word of God as the starting point for renewal. We cannot out of our own human effort expect to bring spiritual life into being or renewal in others. And yet we continue to merely retrench our traditional “body and soul” methods in our attempt to breathe life where there is none. In order for us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and thus receive the renewed Life in the Spirit that we need, our own spirit must first be brought to life.

Here is what Jesus told Nicodemus, when he was enquiring of Jesus about who He was:

Jesus answered,  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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 the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:5-8)

That tells us that in order to be sensitive to the wind or “breath’ of the Spirit, our spirits need to be “re-born” or “re-activated” by the Holy Spirit in order to be sensitive to His “spiritual” leadings. Without this “spiritual” sensitivity we will walk in the motivation of the ‘flesh’ instead of walking in the “Spirit”.

In order to walk in the “spirit” we must have a spiritual re-birth and re-set our minds from the “flesh” to the “spirit”, just as the Apostle Paul, tells the believers in Rome:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:5-6)

The Apostle Peter further tells us that it is through the inspired Word of God that we are to find this re-birth:

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1Ptr.1:22-23)

Jesus is the Open Door

Jesus is the Open Door

This then, brethren, is the doorway into true spirituality – a renewed and true spirituality through which you may find spiritual food and drink- His Word. This is a spirituality that will empower you in living your full Christian life under that energy and power of the Holy Spirit – a spirituality that will permit you to be a channel of that life to others and bring to life your routine participation in the affairs of the Christian community.

The Apostle Paul also chides the Christian Community in Galatia about their intent to put aside their empowered Life in the Spirit into which he introduced them, and go back to mere perfunctory religious performance and rituals of the past by telling them …

“ You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain? Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? “  (Gal. 3:1-5)

This is the question I now want to ask you all…” did you receive the Spirit by merely complying with religious practice or by the hearing of faith that enlivened your spirit?”

And,  “if you were spiritually enlivened by the hearing of faith, why do you now think you can bring about spiritual revival by merely reverting back to religious performance?”

Now, here is the crux of the matter:  Once we have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit and have His Life in us, are we not now impelled by His Spirit to be His envoy to others so that our brothers and sisters may also come to this new life in the Spirit? How can we do this except by the same Spirit that enlightened us?  So then it behooves to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and ask for the Holy Spirit to anoint us as He did Jesus to be His empowered messenger of the Kingdom so that we may also preach and teach the Word of Life and the release of the Spirit with signs following. That, brothers and sisters, is what the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” accomplishes through us!

It is only by yielding fully to the Holy Spirit that we can be useful to him in any revival or spiritual that He may bring. It is then, and only then that we may proclaim to those who hunger and thirst for true spirituality the words of Isaiah the Prophet:

“Ho, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and you that have no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me;

listen, so that you may live.”

(Is. 55: 1-3)

But first we must consciously activate or release the Spirit that is in us from our Baptism and Confirmation.  It is only then that we can be sensitive to His Voice and respond to His Call. With our spiritual ears open, how can we refuse when Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts? For, as scripture says, He is the only one who can satisfy our spiritual hunger and our spiritual thirst.

It is just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman;

Jesus Offers Living Water

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:7-14)

Or, as Jesus proclaimed at the Great Feast Day:

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 

(John 7:38-39)

And later, as Jesus told his critics:

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  (John 6:35-40)

And, later, at the synagogue in Capernaum…

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood…

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

This scripture has, of course, great meaning to those of us of the Catholic persuasion for it is the Word Of God, telling us of the Divine venue Jesus provides for us to dine with Him by actually the offering of His own person in the Eucharist thus permitting us to enter into an intimate abiding in HIM as we commune together. Now Jesus is the “Word Made Flesh” so that here again we have Jesus, the Word, offering Himself as the doorway to intimacy with Him and the Father.

Of course, it is up to us to receive Him in faith and, when we do, He will enter into our hearts and provide the spiritual intimacy we seek.

Jesus is always ready and willing. Now, the question is, ARE YOU READY to accept His offer to dine with you, “in the spirit”, not just in the world of your imagination? Are you ready to satisfy your spiritual hunger and thirst to the fullest and have the world of the spirit opened up to you? Are you ready to yield yourself totally to Him and Him alone?

If you are, then, just as the initial scripture says, open your spiritual ears to his voice and open the door to your hearts by saying, “Yes, Jesus, I open my heart to you, release the Spirit in Me, and Come into my Heart and Be My Lord Forever”, and I guarantee you, you will not be disappointed! For He says:

“And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.  “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.  “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

(Luke 11:9-13)

The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you… and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you … and give you peace.  (Numbers 6:24-26)

Shalom!!

Your Brother and fellow pilgrim in  Christ….. Bartimaeus

© Bartimaeus, BRTimeo and quietplace4prayer, [2003-2012].

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Entering the Inner Stillness

Enmeshed in life’s commotion,

Our ears deadened in the strife

As cries our famished spirit

For the real sustenance of life.

From an inner thirst and hunger

Beyond all the world can impart.

Beyond the parched desert of emotions

For a Love that satisfies the heart

Why then, do we refuse to listen,

If so desperate our plight ?

To words of  Life beyond our hearing

To visions of Love beyond our sight

A Love that knocks incessantly

‘Til our gates we open to its Life.

To drink in the Living Water

And consume the Bread of Life.

Enter then, that inner stillness,

God’s sanctuary, in your soul,

And imbibe that Love Eternal

That fills and makes you whole!

                                                                    Jorge Madrid Sr., AMDG

(By Jorge Madrid Sr., as excerpted with permission from “Thy Kingdom Come” by Jorge Madrid Sr.; © 2003 Madrid Family Trust, all rights reserved)

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Recommended Links:

About Prayer

Prayer: Our Response to His Call

True Spirituality

A Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit

Releasing the Spirit

Hearing God’s Voice …. And obeying it!

Jesus, the Source of Living Water, and us

False Spiritual Practices and Conforming to the World

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