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Posts Tagged ‘Pentecost’

1313373916_fire_book_800x600_618x463_xlarge“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1: 3-4)

Therefore…“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised)” (Hebrews 10:23)

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Understanding and Receiving God’s Promises …
              – And, on Pentecost, especially, “the Promise of the Father”

My Fellow Pilgrims …

In my prayers and meditations on His Word as presented in the post-Easter liturgy of this past 3 weeks I begin to think about Jesus’ Promises that were centrally embedded in the scriptures of that period …

For instance, as Jesus was about to endure His passion and crucifixion, He was preparing His disciples regarding the events that were about to happen and His return to the Father (cf, John 16ff), saying …“In that day you will no longer ask Me anything. Truly, truly, I tell you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” (Jn 16:23-24)

Here we hear Jesus promise the disciples that “On that Day … Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be fulfilled”. I asked myself, what is this “Joy” that Jesus speaks of and what or where is that “Day” and when I can ask for anything in His Name and receive? Through His spirit, I was led to understand that, for me, that “Day” is the day I grow spiritually enough to the point where I enter into an intimate union with my Lord, and my Joy will come from my union with His Spirit deriving from my obedience to the Kingdom of His Love in me!

As the Lord continues to conform me to His image I have come to experience this promise of “asking and receiving” more and more – yet there always remain unanswered prayers in my life. Through His Spirit in me, however I am beginning to understand more and more the the reason why some prayers are not realized.

It is not that  I doubt in Him and His Promises. No, my doubt is in myself and my current spiritual state – versus the state that the Lord has predestined for me – that is a state of selfless dedication and separation unto Him! And, as I asked the Lord about my failing state I began realize the real reason why I am not always able to “ask in His Name” is that although He is slowly drawing me into Himself, I am not always totally “in Him” – because me “flesh” still occasionally still interrupts the Holy Spirit’s work in me.

The understanding given me by His Spirit being, that I, a mere human cannot truly speak “in Jesus’ Name” unless He abides in me and speaks through me! The reason being that it is the Father’s purpose to “conform us” to the image of His Son so that He can work in us an through us as He did with Jesus to initiate the manifestation of His Kingdom of LOVE in us so that His Will may be done here in this world as it is in Heaven!

The process of being conformed into His Image is a varying process depending on my cooperation in yielding to His Spirit in me – the more I empty of my “self” the more “His self” manifests in me. The reverse also being true – thus it is clear that my fleshliness, lack of faith and cooperation deters me in my ability to enter into a deep communion with Him so that He may manifest Himself through me!

When I repent of my fleshly episodes, and turn back to spiritual union with Him, His peace and presence begins to flow into me again. Not only that, His Spirit in me enables my faith and frames the content of my prayer so that in that in that immersion in Him, my petition becomes His petition so that when I ask, I truly receive!In the Word I am referencing, Jesus continued his directives to His disciples, telling them what I am now experiencing. That is, when I am truly come into spiritual union with my savior, I know that I am in Him and He in me so that I am enveloped in the Father’s Love and when I abide in that Love I can truly ask as Jesus Himself would ask the Father!

Jesus continues to prepare His Disciples by sating, “I have spoken these things to you as illustrations. A time is coming when I will no longer speak to you this way, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world. In turn, I will leave the world and go to the Father.” (Jn 16:25-28)

Brethren, I am sharing this with you because the Father Himself desires for all of us to enter into this type of spiritual union through the Spirit of His Son. For He truly is the Way the Truth and the Life. And it is only through Him that we can approach the Father!

However, the scripture I am focusing on here tells us that although the disciples responded in a positive manner, it was only in a “human” manner, because by their presumptive attitude they thought that by merely understanding his words as one human through another they could understand the spiritual meaning of his words necessary to take root in their spirits.

Continuing on … His disciples said, “See, now You are speaking plainly and without figures of speech. Now we understand that You know all things and that You have no need for anyone to question You. Because of this, we believe that You came from God.” (Jn 16:29-30)

As we can see from this scripture Jesus’ disciples were accustomed to Jesus’ continual use of figures of speech in His preaching and teaching, so when He begin speaking to them more straight forwardly, they told Him that because of this they had no trouble believing that He was sent from God.

In response Jesus amusingly responded to their fleshly inspired response… “Do you finally believe?” Jesus replied. (i.e., “do you really think you have moved into spirit-based faith from human-based faith?”, Jn. 16:31).

“Look, an hour is coming and has already come when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and you will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” (Jn 16: 32-33)

Jesus of course knew their hearts and that although they thought they understood what He was telling them in their minds, He knew they really could not comprehend the spiritual reality of His Relationship with the Father, the promises He was declaring to them, and the events that were about to happen. So much so, that they would, in fact abandon Him.

We must realize from this analysis brethren that we are as human as the disciples, and we also initially tend to interpret the Word of God in a human level of faith, only to find out later in our lives, as we grow in the gifts of the Spirit, that there was something missing in our preliminary understanding – mainly the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is always through this inspiration that we enter into the depths of what God was trying to tell us personally through His Word, rather than what we perceived in the flesh that past moment.

As an example of how we, like the disciples, sometimes use our human-based faith in trying to interpret what God is telling us through his Word.
One of the cases we most tend to understand and thereby fail to experience is that of “the Promise of the Father” and its manifestation on the day of Pentecost.
In the Book Of Acts, for example, the apostle Peter explains to the crowd that gathered outside the upper room at Pentecost that what just happened to the 120 believers in the room was a fulfillment of the Promise God made to the Prophet Joel, by citing the actual word of the Promise which states that …

‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
(Acts 2:17-18)

This then defines “the Promise of the Father” that Jesus told His disciples they were to wait for in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4) and that, from the manifestation of this Promise they would receive Power so they could act as His witnesses to the world! That is why the spiritual gifts associated with the “Promise” are sometimes termed “the empowerment gifts”

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

In Chapter twelve of his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul describes for us these Empowerment Gifts that fulfilled the “Promise” on the Day of Pentecost. Look around you, how many Christians in our culture today believe, receive and operate under the spiritual gifts provided by this promise of God in their lives or in their churches? Could it be because we are not properly informed?

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed… Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” (1 Cor. 12 ; 1-11)

Now, all christians certainly believe that the “twelve” received Power at Pentecost and that this power was manifested in the variety of spiritual gifts (ie., the empowerment gifts or charisms) that were distributed among the Apostles. But how many of us know and believe that not only were these gifts given to the apostles but also to all of the 120 persons in the upper room?

And how many of us Christians believe that the 3000 who converted after Peter’s speech also received a portion of these Empowerment Gifts, as distributed by the Holy Spirit?

Advancing my questions further, how many Christians today know and believe that all baptized Christian are eligible to receive these empowerment gifts in order to truly be empowered to fulfill the “Great Commission” and be His witnesses?

Remember, that Peter also told the crowd that “the Promise of the Father” (and the Gifts) are not just for the apostles but that … “the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39)
So then, my final set of questions for you is: Have you answered your calling and received the Promise by unpacking the Empowerment Gifts that have already been made available to you?

If not, why not? If the Holy Spirit has inspired you at this moment, then, just …
pictures-of-jesus-baptism-holy-spirit“Ask and you Shall Receive!” (Jn. 16:24)
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)

 

 

I leave further understanding of this to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and your personal discernment of the Word. Your understanding of this message that I share with you today depends not on me but on your faith in God’s Word and what His Word states about the Promise of the Father!

Your fellow Pilgrim and Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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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Has Jesus Arisen In Your Heart? (part 2)

From Enlightenment to Empowerment and Consecration

Jesus receives the Anointing

Jesus Baptized in the Spirit

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

Jesus Welcomes Children

Jesus begins teaching us as children

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

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

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

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

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

Stage 2 – Spiritual Awakening to Spiritual Empowerment and Consecration

Stage 3 – Spiritual Consecration to Spiritual Union With Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<> Consecration as  a Disciple Requires a Decision

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

The Way of  True Discipleship

The Way of True Discipleship

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

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

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

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

(Jn 14:6)

and …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your brother and fellow pilgrim in Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

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

Important Related Articles:

Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit

Cast your Net on the Other Side

Sweet Yoke of Love

Husbands Love your Wives

Read Full Post »

THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER  (Part 2)

The Promise of the Father

The Dove of Promise is For Real

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And [then] you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [ For…] The Promise [of the Father] is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

My fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

Continuing from where Part 1 left off, we remind all believers that….

We are the future generations that were indicated and thus the “Promise of the Father”, as manifested in the nine Empowering Gifts of the Spirit (cf., 1Cor.12 ff), is clearly meant for us today, as baptized Christians, as much as it was for the original believers at Pentecost!

The question I ask all baptized believer’s today who have not yet experienced the Baptism of the Spirit, which is the manifestation of the Promise of the Father, is: Why Not?

In my case, the answer is, “I did not even know what the Promise of the Father was and especially that it was manifested as the “Baptism in the Spirit” on the day of Pentecost.

As a baptized Catholic Christian, I went through the usual rite of initiation. As a child, I was baptized shortly after birth and then taught about baptism when I entered elementary school. I went to catholic schools through high school and then spent my first two years of advanced education at a Jesuit University. In all that time I was never taught about the Baptism of the Spirit and the Spiritual Gifts as being something we Christians were entitled to receive in today’s world.

The teaching I received for Confirmation (at age 13 years) basically brought me to the understanding of the basic doctrines of our faith in Christ as the Son Of God, the redeemer and savior of the world, so that I could reinstate for myself the vows my parents had made for me at baptism.

In my further instruction for the reception of the sacrament I was taught the primary doctrines of the catechism, especially that, at confirmation we are strengthened through the reception of the Seven Gift of the Holy Spirit (cf.,Is. 11) so that, through help of the Holy Spirit in me, I can live a full and holy Christian Life. Even though I studied the Acts of the Apostles and the birth of the Church at Pentecost, I was NEVER taught that the Nine Spiritual Gifts (cf., 1 cor.12) that the disciples received on that day were for me and for every Christian today. I did not know that these gifts were available and, in fact, needed by me, and very other Christian, to empower us to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel with signs following. The only thing I remember was that that we were taught to pray for a renewal of the Seven Gifts (the gifts stated in Is. 11) at every celebration of the Day of Pentecost.

As a faithful and compliant adult Catholic I was never taught that every Christian needs the Holy Spirit in order to truly encounter God in “Spirit and in Truth”. Yes we were taught that there were special people who had encounters with Our Lord and some very spiritual gifts but that was because they were chosen by God to be “Saints”. Of course, since I was well aware that I, and every one I new was not a “Saint”, I could never expect God to choose me to experience the Holy Spirit and His Gifts. After all, according to what I was taught, the most we lay persons could aspire to was to get into Purgatory.

How wrong and misguided I was! And how miraculous was God’s working in my life through His Word to rip off the veil of religious darkness that enveloped me and opened my eyes to the Word of Truth and the Light of the Fullness of His Salvation.

Jesus became real to me

Jesus became real to me

Through a series of events that I cannot go through in this article (cf.,Recommended Links, below), the Lord opened the eyes of my spirit (yes, I found out that I had a spirit) so that I could encounter Christ in the spirit and receive the fullness of my inheritance in Him, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit – an encounter that changed my life forever. Truly it was an encounter that permits me to say today that … “once I was blind but now I see”. That, my brothers and sisters, is the reason I took on the persona of “Bartimaeus” in initiating this web-log, to tell everyone that The Promise of the Father is For Real! If you are a converted and baptized Christian, all you have to do is ASK!

To God Be the Glory Forever!

In order that you too, through the Word of God, inspired by His Spirit, may also come to receive the Promise, I now append the second part of the booklet I have been sharing with you and which I believe will remove some of the barriers that may be keeping you from the fullness of our inheritance in Christ.

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus …  Bartimaeus

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

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UNDERSTANDING THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER (Part 2)

 

(Continuation of an excerpt from the booklet, “Understanding the Promise of the Father”,  by  Jorge Alfonso Madrid Sr., with the author’s permission)

What About Water Baptism?

Now here is where we moderns encounter a bit of confusion. It is commonly understood by most Christians that we receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized with water. So when Peter says “… you will receive the Holy Spirit” isn’t he referring to water baptism? Why then do some people claim that this refers to another reception of the Holy Spirit?

In responding to these questions it should be pointed out that the scriptures and church tradition clearly indicate that the Holy Spirit is received in the two main impartations of grace[1] involved in Christian initiation. A third impartation usually associated with the initiation of adults into the body of Christ is the Eucharist. The first impartation of grace occurs when a person hears the Gospel, is converted, repents and submits to be baptized into Christ by immersion in water. In Church tradition and scripture[2], this impartation was, historically, sometimes referred to as the “Enlightenment” or “Illumination” where the initiate receives the life of Christ to enlighten or bring new life to his/her soul.  The second impartation occurs when the baptized person is anointed or empowered in the Holy Spirit to be a witness to Christ in the building up of His church. This impartation is sometimes referred to as the “Empowerment” or “Strengthening”. Jesus modeled the first two impartations when first he submitted himself to be baptized in water by John the Baptist and then was empowered or anointed for ministry by the Holy Spirit immediately after baptism with water. It is, by its nature, assumed to be a completion of baptism.

Similarly for us, through baptism and confirmation, we receive the Holy Spirit in both of these impartations with the correspondingly distinct modalities of operation of “enlightenment” and “empowerment”, both of which are direct manifestations of the Holy Spirit in us. In one we are “baptized into Christ” (Gal.3:27) by the Holy Spirit and in the second we receive the empowerment of the Spirit to carry out the ministry of Christ in our community and the world (Acts 1:8).

At this point, our discussion brings up another question. If the fullness of the deity dwelt in Jesus why would He need to “receive” or be “anointed” by the Holy Spirit after He was baptized with water by John the Baptist?

Jesus receives the AnointingAccording to prophetic scripture the anointing of the Spirit was a necessary attribute for the Ministry of the Messiah. It was this prophesy that Jesus read at the synagogue at the beginning of His Ministry when He said to the congregation, :  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”. (Luke 4: 18-19).

The prophet Isaiah, speaking for the Father about the Messiah says: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations”  (Isaiah 42:1 )

From these and other such scriptures we understand that the Messiah was to receive the Holy Spirit in order to empower Him to fulfill His ministry as Messiah (CCC 1286-1289). It was this anointing that Jesus received immediately after His water baptism by John and which was symbolized by a dove coming to rest on Him (John 1:32). It was through this anointing that Jesus performed the works of power and healing indicating that the reign of God was amongst men demonstrating the Father’s compassion and love.

What may still not be clear is why would Jesus, who is God incarnate, need to be empowered to do anything?

To begin with, we understand from scripture that when the Son of God took on human form, He relinquished the use of His divine prerogatives, that is, He emptied himself[3], so that in His saving work of atonement He could legitimately act as a substitute for mankind as a “second Adam”.  Thus, as a pure and sinless human being He would submit himself completely to the will of the Father, even to His substitutionary death on the cross on behalf of all mankind, In order to accept this role as a stand-in for all humanity, Although sinless, He first had to identify with us in our fallen nature and submit to God’s judgment on the sin inherent to our nature. This Jesus accomplished when he submitted Himself to water baptism at the hand of John the Baptist.

Secondly, since He had emptied Himself (from the Greek: kenosis) of His divine prerogatives, He could only act in the Father’s behalf to open the doors to the Kingdom if he was empowered by God as a human being to fulfill God’s purposes and will. That is, He needed to be anointed by the Holy Spirit so that God, the Eternal Father, could manifest Himself through the person of Jesus. That is why Jesus, As Messiah, needed the Spirit Anointing, and why it could only happen after He accepted His role as Messiah and as a substitute for the humanity He was destined to save.

Thirdly, since His was to be an eternal throne or empowerment that could not be removed, He had to impart the Holy Spirit Anointing to His church (his Body) so that His ministry would continue unimpeded through His body, the church, through all time. That is why he told His disciples to go to Jerusalem to await the Promise of the Father so that they might be also be empowered with power from on high (Luke 24:49).

Thus, when Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born of water and the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom[4] He was merely indicating to Nicodemus that in order to be a true and effective disciple and participate in His ministry, which He sometimes termed as “The Kingdom of Heaven”, one must be baptized with water, as he was, and one must also be baptized (or anointed) with the Holy Spirit, as he was.

While He was still on earth, He and His disciples operated under this personal anointing that was on Him. In meeting with them prior to His passion and death He told them that after He went away they and those who believed through them would continue working under the anointing  “ …  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). And that they would be able to do this because,  “… it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7). In this way, by imparting the Spirit Anointing to the disciples and to those who became believers through them, Jesus, the Messiah would continue His Ministry through His church here on earth.  Thus we see why believers need to “receive” the anointing of the Holy Spirit after their water baptism in order to effectively fulfill their God-given roles in life.

Thus when Peter exhorted the crowd at Pentecost to be baptized in Jesus’ name and then “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” [5] he was using the word as to the reception of the Holy Spirit Anointing in the same way as we have stated before that, Jesus “received” the Holy Spirit as an anointing to empower Him to act in the name of the Father.  The Holy Spirit already indwelt in Him so the word “receive” did not mean an inward reception but more of an outward reception of an anointing that was placed “on” Him to empower His Ministry. This is borne out by other usages in scripture of the word “on” when referring to a receipt of the Holy Spirit Anointing, or empowerment.

Similarly, at Pentecost, the converts who were first baptized in water received the Spirit of Christ “inwardly” to bring them eternal life in Christ Jesus. But now they needed the outward anointing of the Holy Spirit “on” them so that Jesus could continue His ministry to the community and to the world through them[6].

Regarding the inward anointing of the Holy Spirit, remember that, before His passion and death, Jesus told his disciples: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John14:16-17). Thus referring to the inward grace received at water baptism when the spirit of Christ comes to dwell in us.  It is this grace, which enlightens and sanctifies us, that is, sets us apart from the world to bring us into conformity with Christ. This sanctifying grace is distinct from the outward grace which St. Thomas Aquinas terms “free (or gratuitous) grace” in his Summa Theologica.[7]

John, in his epistle, reiterates this implication on the inward or sanctifying grace when he states: “ As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:27)

The outward grace, or the empowering of a believer through the Anointing of the Holy Spirit, sometimes called the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, corresponds to the grace defined by Aquinas as “free (or gratuitous)” grace, that is meant, not for the person who is a channel of that grace, but for the community and the world, as the empowerment by the Holy Spirit, required by the person receiving it to fulfill his or her calling as a participant in Christ’s ministry here on earth.

It is of this latter type grace that Paul refers to in his letter to the Corinthians, when he says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good”[8], that is, for the benefit of the community. This clearly indicates why the “empowerment” gifts are classified as the “free grace” defined by Aquinas.

Early church tradition regarding the Christian initiation rites rightly maintained both these impartations of grace: “enlightenment” and “empowerment”.  Before child baptism was the norm and when the Christian communities were small and locally organized, adults who believed the Gospel and converted, usually received both forms of these impartations at the same ceremony (rite of initiation). Although baptism could be conferred by a deacon or elder, the Anointing of the Holy Spirit, or empowerment, could only be conferred by a Bishop or overseer.

Later when child baptism became the norm, and the Christian communities larger and more dispersed, the impartation of the two forms of grace were separated, sometimes not only for cultural and logistical reasons, but so that the children receiving the Spirit Anointing (called Chrismation in the Eastern Churches) would have reached the age of reason so that they could, after adequate catechesis (teaching), be able to “confirm” the baptismal promises made in proxy for them by their parents. This “confirmation” was essential because, by tradition, the Spirit Anointing could not be conferred except to those whose had heard and understood the proclamation of the Gospel and thus willingly and freely converted and accepted to be baptized[9].  Another understanding of the term “confirmation” is that the Greek word from which the term is derived is that it also means “strengthening”.  And, of course, this is another indication of the  “empowerment” which we all need to proclaim the Gospel and manifest the Ministry of Christ through the nine empowerment Gifts of the Spirit.

The “Confirmation” ceremony, then, became an amalgam of the formal public announcement of a person’s own personal decision to renounce evil and accept Christ (conversion) followed by the concomitant empowering Anointing with the Holy Spirit.  Through the haze of history, the special graces (the charisms) received at rite of the Spirit Anointing (Chrismation) were deemphasized and the spiritual gifts indicated as received were more related to the rite of water baptism and the Christ-presence in the believer.

Why we need the Empowerment Gifts Today

This is why, today, the “gifts of the Spirit” currently indicated at Confirmation really correspond to the spiritual gifts attributed to the Messiah in Isaiah Chapter 11 rather than the “empowerment” gifts experienced by the 120 disciples and the 3000 believers at Pentecost as indicated in the Book of Acts, and Paul’s epistles. Of course, if you have been baptized in water and confirmed, you have access to all the promised gifts. The only reason we fail to manifest all of them is that we can only exercise faith in the promises of God when we are taught those promises and expect them to happen (in faith). If we are only taught a select portion of those promises we cannot exercise the faith we need to manifest those other gifts because we don’t even know they are available to us.

Today, the Holy Spirit is at work amongst us, lifting the haze of history and revealing, supernaturally, through the Word of God, our access to these gifts (charisms) in order to renew and empower the church for a final work of evangelization before the return of the Messiah. The charismatic renewal is not the work of any person or movement but rather the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit in and through the church so that the Kingdom of God will be proclaimed to the whole world before His coming as well as to foster the purification of His Bride through the sanctifying gifts.

This work of world evangelization, which is to precede the second coming of Messiah, has already begun. This wave of renewal has been in evidence since the beginning of the Twentieth Century, and is attested to by the hundreds of millions of persons that have been evangelized worldwide. The extent of this evangelization in the course of a century exceeding even that of the rate of growth the primitive church when the apostles were leading the proclamation of the Gospel, thus confirming Jesus’ prophecy that anyone who has faith in me … will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).

We pray brethren, that through this brief exposure to the intent of the Father in endowing us with the Gifts of the Spirit, both for our inward spiritual formation and our empowerment as channels of His Grace, that you would seek His will in your lives and yield yourselves to His Spirit so that He may fully use you in bringing forth His Kingdom in this world. For His is the Kingdom and the Power, and the Glory Forever and Ever. AMEN!

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      Understanding the Promise of the Father  ©2008 by Jorge Alfonso Madrid Sr.

All rights reserved.  Permission is granted to any individual or group to reproduce this document (via photocopy or the internet) and to imprint no more than 1000 copies at each instance under the following conditions:

1.              For the purpose of Building up the Body of Christ (the church)

2.              No changes or additions are made to the document

3.              If a fee is charged it must only be to cover printing costs

4.              Not to be used for personal or corporate profit

Appropriate credit be given to the author, contributors, and publisher

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[1]Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)

[2]It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened [baptized], who have tasted the heavenly gift [Eucharist], who have shared in the Holy Spirit [confirmation],…”  Heb.:6.4

[3] Phil. 2:6-8 (see also CCC 472)

[4] John, Chapter 3

[5] Acts 2:38-39

[6] When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:14-16)

[7] There is grace through which a man is himself united to God, which is called sanctifying grace. There is also grace whereby one man cooperates with another to lead him to God. This latter gift is called “free” grace. (Summa Theologica, Vol XI, Nature and Grace, 12 ae, Q111, Art.1, Par. 3)

[8] I Corinthians 12:7

[9] Paul when traveling through Ephesus encountered some believers who had been baptized by John the Baptist but had not received the Holy Spirit. He then baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus, and laid hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit. They then spoke in other tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:1-6)

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Recommended Links

Regarding my own conversion

Releasing the Spirit

Praying in 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) 

A Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Read Full Post »

THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER  (Part 1)

The Charismatic Gifts are for All Believers:

The Promise of the Father

The Dove of Promise is For Real

“While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [Then…] When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-20)


My fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

Are you one of those that have never experienced the Holy Spirit?

As we approach another memorial of Pentecost I believe it is appropriate to bring to your attention some matters that require you prayerful discernment regarding the manifestation of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Unfortunately for too many of us, this Holy Day does not carry the spiritual weight it ought to have; this mainly due to the fact that we have never experienced our own personal Pentecost.

Yes, we all believe that one of the reasons this feast is celebrated is that it is considered as the birthday of the church, and that through the gifts that were imparted on that occasion on the 120 disciples in the upper room the Gospel began to be preached and witnessed with power to the whole world, multiplying its members by the thousands day-by-day.

What is sometimes lost in our celebrations is that the impartation of the Spiritual Gifts at Pentecost was not meant to be a one time affair – it was meant to be a notice to us all that the Promise of the Father – the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, that the apostles, disciples and their converts all received was a promise to be experienced by all Christians throughout the generations to come. Listen to what Peter preached on that day …,

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

 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

and your young men shall see visions,

and your old men shall dream dreams.

Even upon my slaves, both men and women,

in those days I will pour out my Spirit;

and they shall prophesy.

And I will show portents in the heaven above

and signs on the earth below,

blood, and fire, and smoky mist.

The sun shall be turned to darkness

and the moon to blood,

before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.

Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

(Acts 2”14-21)

And, continuing …

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

(Acts 2:38-39)

This promise He mentions is the promise of the Father that Jesus passed on to them when, before His Ascension He told them…

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)

It is through this promise, the Promise of the Father, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, that we all are to be empowered to be His witnesses. It is by the Great Commission (Mark 16:15, Matt. 28:19) that we are all called to be His witnesses.  Yet it is this very promise for our empowerment that is neglected in our celebrations and our sacramental practices.

Yes, at these annual celebrations we are led to acknowledge of the Seven Enlightenment Gifts that represent the Spiritual virtues of the Messiah (cf., Isaiah 11), whose Spirit indwells us through baptism. Yet, It is notable that this Old Testament scripture about the Messiah is used to specify the “gifts” received at Pentecost but the New Testament Scriptures regarding the actual “spiritual gifts” are never mentioned. This odd attitude that pervades proclamations the feast of Pentecost seems to neglect entirely the Nine Spiritual Gifts (cf., 1 Cor.12) that were actually manifested at Pentecost and thereafter by the newly converted (Cf.,Acts 10:42-48; Acts 19:1-6 ).

It is this omission, which we Christians need to remedy, and for which I have intended this article so that, through prayer and discernment, the Holy Spirit, in His Wisdom, may guide you and lead you to the fullness of our inheritance in Christ.

Remember this, The Father NEVER repents of His Promises(2 Cor.1:20; 2 Ptr.1:4)! All you need to do to receive His Promise is to ask (Luke 11:9), in Faith – then you shall receive the Promise yourself!

With the consent of the author, I am presenting to you an article which I believe will instruct you further in this matter so that you may take action as the Spirit leads you. The article will be presented in two separate postings of which this is the first.

May the Spirit of Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding guide you through His Word and lead you into His Truth – For He is the Spirit of Truth and he will NOT deceive you!

Your Brother in Christ, Bartimaeus

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

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UNDERSTANDING THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER (Part 1)

(Excerpted from the booklet, “Personal Reflections on the Holy Spirit Baptism”,  by  Jorge Alfonso Madrid Sr., with the authors permission)

 

“The LORD is good to all;

he has compassion on all he has made.

All you have made will praise you, O LORD;

 your saints will extol you.

They will tell of the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your might,

So that all men may know of your mighty acts

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

and your dominion endures through all generations.

The LORD is faithful to all his promises

and loving toward all he has made.”  (Psalm 145:9-13)

God’s Gifts and Call are Irrevocable[1]

The Word of God is unequivocal about God’s faithfulness to His promises, it is only we humans who equivocate in how we believe and act on His promises. Because we Christians are human we sometimes have a tendency to gloss over or take for granted the fact that our salvation and continued flow of graces from our heavenly Father hinge on His promises – promises that are at the very core of our Judeo-Christian tradition. Here is what the Apostle Peter says regarding the Divine Promises: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2Pet. 1:3-4)

            Among the more direct of the Lord’s promises that His people are to participate in His nature is one found in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, speaking about how, in the latter times, the Lord promises to put His Spirit into those called by His Name: “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws’”. (Ezek. 36:24-27)

As Abraham’s Children through faith in the death and resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we Christians experience a fulfillment of that promise when we are grafted into the trunk of the cultivated olive tree[2] (Israel) through baptism into Christ, being sprinkled clean with water and receiving His Spirit in us. Soon, at Jesus’ coming, our brothers and sisters descended from Abraham, the branches of the cultivated olive tree by natural descent, will be grafted back into the divinely ordained olive tree so that we may all be gathered as one under the Messiah, Our Lord Jesus the Anointed of God.

And just as The Father, through this promise, sanctifies us and endows us inwardly with the Holy Spirit, so also there is another promise through which He also empowers us to be channels of His grace and power to the community of believers and to those who have yet to believe. It is this divine promise that is termed by Jesus himself as the “Promise of the Father” as cited in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: “And, he (the resurrected Jesus) being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, you have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1: 4-5) (see also, CCC 1286,1287)

Is the Promise of the Father for Believers Today?

After His Resurrection Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for “the Promise of the Father” which would be fulfilled by what Jesus called “baptism with the Holy Spirit”.  Then, just prior to His ascension, He further told them that, “…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.(Acts 1:8), thus making it clear that the intent of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, as manifested at Pentecost, is to empower the church to carry out the mission to which it has been entrusted by Jesus.

After His ascension, in obedience to Jesus’ command, the apostles along with the other disciples (about 120, men and women, in all) went to the upper room in Jerusalem there to pray and wait for the Promise of the Father. Ten days later,

… when the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2: 1-2).

The people in the area near the building, who were in Jerusalem to celebrate Jewish feast of Pentecost, heard all the commotion and in their astonishment they rushed to the house to see what was happening and saw people streaming from the building and acting extremely disoriented, loudly praising God and speaking in other tongues. “Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:  “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:12-18).

Thus, on the day of Pentecost, when the Promise of the Father was fulfilled, we see the process the Holy Spirit used, through the disciples, to bring forth His church and empower it. The Apostle Peter proclaimed the Good News to the astonished crowd, then on calling them to conversion he tells them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And [then] you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

In these two citations we see that the Apostle Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, was telling the believers at the original Pentecost event that what they were witnessing (ie., prophecy, speaking in tongues, etc. ) was  the manifestation or verification of the “Promise of the Father” and that this promise was not only for the 120 disciples that gathered in the upper room but for all believers and their descendants for future generations, whom the Lord will call.

We are the future generations that were indicated and thus the “Promise of the Father”, as manifested in the nine Empowering Gifts of the Spirit, is clearly meant for us today, as baptized Christians, as much as it was for the original believers at Pentecost!

 

+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+To Be Continued~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+

Understanding the Promise of the Father 

Copyright ©2008 by Jorge Alfonso Madrid Sr.,

All rights reserved.  Permission is granted to any individual or group to reproduce this document (via photocopy or the internet) and to imprint no more than 1000 copies at each instance under the following conditions:

1.              For the purpose of Building up the Body of Christ (the church)

2.              No changes or additions are made to the document

3.              If a fee is charged it must only be to cover printing costs

4.              Not to be used for personal or corporate profit

Appropriate credit be given to the author, contributors, and publisher

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Recommended Links

Releasing the Spirit

Praying in 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) 


[1] Rom. 11:29

[2] Rom. 11:24

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House on Rock

Built on Rock

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came,and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” (Matt.7:24-27)

My Fellow Pilgrims,

When I was going through engineering school I thought I had mastered the basics of a subject when I took the “101” course in that subject, like “Physics 101” or “Chemistry 101”. But in each case, to my dismay, when I took “laboratory course in that subject I found that just knowing the basic principles is not enough! You have to actually do something with the intellectual knowledge and learn to experience and manage the effects of these principles before you can really begin to say that you understand them. And then, when you do, you find that you don’t really need to memorize the equations because now you “really” understand where the equations came from, and you can reconstruct them intuitively!

The same is true of the spiritual principles on which true discipleship is based.  Just hearing the Word of God and deriving a set of spiritual principles from the Word is not enough! You have to let the Word come be activated in your Spirit by acting, in Faith, on that Word. When you do you will experience that Word in its spiritual fullness and thus have it become an unshakable reality in your life! That is why the Lord Jesus tells us that, unless you act on the Word you hear from Him, the basis for your discipleship is built on shifting sand. Only when you act on that “Rhema” Word in Faith will it become a Rock for you in your discipleship.

I have written much to you regarding entering into a true discipleship through a personal relationship with Jesus and the spiritual basics behind following Him. Now, however, it is time to talk you a bit about how to put your faith in God’s Word by putting Jesus’ Word and teaching into practice so that the Word can manifest and bring forth fruit in your lives – fruit that will endure for His Glory!

Like all apprenticeships, we learn the most and fastest by putting what we learn into practice, that is, through on-the-job training. Although most of us Christians are routinely exposed to the Word of God in our religious services, our ability to put the Word we hear into practice in our lives is not usually very consistent. And even when we attempt to put what little we do into practice we are every selective about what we choose to do – and it is usually those items in which we feel comfortable doing.  Just read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) and ask yourself “how much of this teaching am I comfortable putting into practice?”

In order to make you more aware of our failings in putting Jesus’ words into practice, I will pose a few more questions so that you can grade yourself on your progress towards discipleship.

[1] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” (Matt. 5:38-39)

[2] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”  (Matt” 5:43-45)

[3] “ … bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:28)

[4] “Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” (Jn.5-19)

If we are truly His disciples and are following Him, can we truly say that we only do what we see the Father or Jesus doing? If not, why not?

[5] “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.”(Jn 14: 12)

If we are truly His disciples are we doing the works of power that he did? If not, why not?

From what we read in the Gospels, it should be clear to us all that Jesus expected ALL his disciples to follow after him in how He related to the Father and how He, in obedience to the Father, manifested His Kingdom in all that He said and did.

[6]“They who have my [directives] and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”  (Jn. 14:21)

[7]“If you keep my [directives], you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s [directives] and abide in his love. (Jn. 15:10)

Here is one of the “directives” He gave to his disciples when He sent them out – a directive that has been termed “the Great Commission” and which we have been told by our church leaders applies to all Christians:

[8]“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16: 15-18)

Do you consider yourself in compliance in putting this “directive” into action in your lives?  If not? Why not?

In doing all that the Father expected of Him, Jesus himself modeled the ideal type of apprenticeship He wanted us to follow. Admittedly, we are NOT Jesus, so our individual ability to emulate Him is limited. However, He did not intend that we would merely attempt to imitate Him out of our own human strengths and abilities. No, His intent was that He would send the Holy Spirit to empower us, just as He was empowered, so that we could live out our discipleship totally dependent on the Father’s power. In this manner, it will be clear, that all that proceeds out of our willing service is attributable only to Him! Thus through faith and our obedience, He would manifest His Kingdom, His Power and His Glory.

He taught His disciples the manifestation of power through the working of miracles, healing and deliverance intermixed with preaching and teaching so that is was clear that The Kingdom He was proclaiming was more than just holy rhetoric but a spiritual reality that could be observed through its power manifesting itself among men. He also taught using parables intermixed with explanations that related the works of power to the Kingdom of Heaven.  His private teaching to His disciples was centered on teaching them how, to enter the Kingdom (that is, the reign of God) in their own lives so that they could act as the Father’s instruments, under the empowerment that was on Jesus, to bring forth fruit for the Kingdom. When He gave them a directive and sent hem out to carry it out, He also empowered them with the Holy Spirit so they could fulfill that directive.

So I suspect, brethren, that one of the reasons we cannot answer the above questions is that, although we have heard the Word and His directive, we don’t have the faith to believe that we have been empowered to carry it out.

If that is the case, no problem, He has provided the empowerment at Pentecost. And, all who believe and have been baptized have the empowerment within them – Jesus, in us, the Hope of Glory (cf., Col.1:27) !

All we need to do is ASK and yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that we may receive the empowerment and the Charismatic Gifts of the Spirit to begin to carry out our calling to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom with signs following! Praised be His Holy Name!!

Everything He did with His disciples was a learning event about how to bring the Kingdom of God into manifestation in the events of God’s people. In their on-the-job training, the Kingdom of God was preached and manifested by them, through faith in Jesus, to the most needy, both spiritually and physically, of the community so that, through their experiences, they understood that the anointing that was on Him was covering them as they ministered in His Name!

It also became clear, through Jesus’ teaching, that the anointing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit that was on Him was merely the Father’s way of attesting to the truth of who He claimed to be (the anointed of the father). Thus Jesus’ works of power affirmed the Good News of the Father’s Love by communicating this Love in a visible emancipating manner so that the proclamation of God’s Kingdom could not be denied! As disciples, He is calling each of us to do likewise, in the very environment in which we live.

It is not recorded anywhere that Jesus taught His disciples religion or how to comply with the religious practices of His day.  He did not come to disregard or negate these practices, derived from God’s Word, but rather to fulfill them in His Person by His example and His actions.

He did make it clear, through His confrontation with the religionists of His day (the Scribes and the Pharisees), that the legalistic keeping of religious statutes was not the ultimate desire of the Father. Rather, the law was given to assist His people in discerning the Love He had for them – a Love that could only be understood by their obeying the teaching of the Torah with a spiritual vision as to what was in the Heart of God.

That is why, in His “sermon on the mount” (Matt. 5-7), Jesus challenged them to go beyond the literal keeping of religious rules and fulfill the Spirit of the Law and not just the letter. In doing so, He also indicated that those desiring to be His disciples needed to realize that they must rise above the literal and human sense of compliance of the Law and operate at the spirit level of their hearts in order to be part of the Kingdom that God wanted to bring to realization through them!

Of course, He would later reveal to them that the only way they could accomplish this is to be attached to the Vine (Himself) so that His Spirit could work through them to comply with the Spirit of the Law and truly bring forth fruit for the Kingdom! (Jn. 15:1-2)

The objective of Jesus’ discipleship program was NOT to make His disciples more religious, but to bring them to the awareness that the Father wanted them to be more and more like himself and thus cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that after His departure they would continue to bring the Ministry of the Kingdom of God’s Love to all humanity.

In this manner, acting as channels of God’s Ministry of Love, they would go out into the world as His yielded instruments to bring the spiritual reality of the Father’s Love into palpable demonstration through the proclamation of the Word and the corresponding works of power that follow the anointed preaching of the Word! This, would validate not only their preaching of the Good News of Salvation, but would also open the door for the Holy Spirit to draw the people to God through conversion and baptism and thus enter the door to the Kingdom through faith in Jesus, the Anointed Son of the Living God!

At a certain point in Jesus’ ministry, the people finally caught on that Jesus’ preaching and teaching was, in reality, an invitation for them to follow Him and thus enter the Kingdom by letting God reign in their hearts. His teaching and accomplishments incited them to ask, “How can we do the Works of God?”, that is, “ how can we do what we see you doing?”.  Jesus’ plain and simple response was… “Believe in Him who He has sent”!

This, then, is also our starting point for discipleship, but it is only the Door to the Kingdom, a door that we must go through to really progress into true discipleship, where we can come to the point where we fulfill Jesus’ further directive to do the works that he did  (cf., Jn. 14;12).

Jesus is the Open Door

Jesus is the Open Door

Isn’t it clear then, brethren, that we who are baptized believers, are standing before an open door to discipleship, a door to becoming more and more like Jesus, to the point here we begin doing the works that He did — the only things constraining us, however, is our unbelief and our fear of yielding to the Holy Spirit, through whom comes the empowerment that was on Jesus.

Well, I shouldn’t say the only things, because we are also constrained by the artifices of our human culture and tradition which restrains us from being more like Jesus and from being fully empowered channels of God’s Love. Oh yes, we are exhorted by our churches to exhibit our Christian virtues of taking care of the physical needs of the poor and the needy and visiting prisoners, which is as it should be, but when the Holy Spirit leads some of us to preach, teach and  lay hands on the sick so that they may recover, we are told that doing so is presumptuous and  beyond our role as laity!  That is pretty much how the world views our acting on our faith! But that is exactly the  attitude we have to go against when we act on God’s Word in our daily living! Praised be His Holy Name!

Yes, brethren, Divine Agape Love (Charity) MUST INDEED be the foundation of our discipleship but such Love does not exclude us from bringing healing, deliverance, and a prophetic word to those to whom we minister. In fact, if we don’t bring them the supernatural help from the Father that they need are we not instead doing them a disservice?

So when we enter into discipleship, we must not be choosy about what we do in obedience to the Lord, doing only what we feel comfortable doing. If the Lord asks us to preach or to teach in His Name, we must certainly do so! If He asks us to cast out demons and heal the sick, then we must do so! Remembering that if He asks us to do something, He will provide the anointing and empowerment to fulfill the task to which he asks us. (cf., 1Ptr.4:10-11 )

Return to Jerusalem

Go into all the world ...

That is why the discipleship that the Lord is calling us to is NOT the type to be practiced in some convent or monastery. The discipleship we laity are being called to is in the rough and tumble of the real world around us. We, brethren, are at the front lines of the battle against darkness and we need all the empowerment we can get to bring about the VICTORY OF THE KINGDOM. In order to FULLY put to practice al that the Lord has asked of us we cannot take NO for an answer! Not from the world and certainly not from our religious communities!  Behold, He says..” I hold before you an open door!” (Jn 3:8), an open door through which you, as He did, will face rejection and obstacles, an open door for On-the-Job Training under Jesus’ yoke of Love. Seek that open door and enter in, no matter what, for He is indeed calling you, but you need first to ask and to seek in order to find the door to His calling!

Every day each of our lives and the lives of those around us there are lives and relationship being broken, there are children with terminal illnesses, there are homeless, hungry and desperate people all around us who, not only are being deprived materially but spiritually – being deprived of the Good News of the Kingdom and its manifestation in their midst! Are you ready to answer the call? Then, get ready, for the Lord is indeed calling for those who have an ear to hear and a sincere and faithful heart, which is the good ground for the Word to take root and flourish a hundred fold!  Be one of the workers the Lord is sending to collect the harvest for His Glory and the Glory of His Kingdom!

May His Name be glorified forever and ever! Amen and Amen!!

May the Spirit of he Father confirm His call in you this day for the Glory of His Name!!

Your Brother and Fellow Pilgrim in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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

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Coming into the Fullness of the Spirit

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

Just recently we celebrated Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church, that is, the day when those who first believed in Christ came together as an anointed community to form the Body of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to act as His witnesses to the world. Today, we continue in community through the anointing that is imparted to us through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation bringing us to life in Christ so that we, His Body, may continue to be His witnesses to the world until He comes to reign as King of Kings and Lord of lords.

However, for some of us, our celebration of Pentecost tends to be that of half-hearted traditional routines that honors the tradition and spirit of the historical event of Pentecost but not a celebration of something that should be an integral part of our lives in that it is something we have personally experienced – that is, the personal outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our own lives. It is in this sense that the “fullness” of Pentecost has not yet “fully come” for many of us today.

Yes, we all, in faith, have come to a new birth in Christ and have received the Holy Spirit in the inward man”, but for many of us Pentecost remains merely a historic event because we have not fully come to a realization of what that “fullness” really means. We have not fully yielded ourselves to the Holy Spirit and His Gifts so that He may truly take His place in our lives and thus have not released Him to complete the work in us for which He was sent, that is, to bring us into full conformity to the image of Christ – both through an inward transformation and an outward empowerment to preach and live the Gospel with His power working in us and through us. Instead we have taken our consecration as merely being a signal for us to use our own self-willed energies to attempt to please God with our own works and ambitions.

Yes, we are taught and believe that we are recipients of the seven sanctifying gifts that the Spirit of God uses to form the Character of Christ in us. We likewise expect the fruit of the Spirit to be manifest in our lives through the indwelling Spirit of Love that has been poured in us by the Holy Spirit. But, in many of our lives the fruit of the Spirit is unable to come to maturity, mainly because, through ignorance and the gut-wrenching circumstances of our daily lives, our thinking and our behavior is being conformed to the world rather than to Christ. This conformance includes an attitude of pride and self-sufficiency that thinks we can do everything on our own, not understanding that the desire of the Father is that He wants to work through us and in us by the Spirit of His Grace which he so generously places in us. This attitude of conformance to the world also looks to the world for acceptance rather than to the Gracious God who created us.

You can sense this even in how we moderns define the graces received at Pentecost. Note that only the “socially acceptable” gifts of the Spirit (cf., Is. 11, Gal. 6;22) are mentioned in our churches. Whereas, the nine foundational or empowerment Gifts of the Spirit (cf.,1 Cor. 12) which were referred to by Jesus as the “Promise of the Father” and  which were actually the gifts manifested at Pentecost, are hardly ever mentioned in polite religious society. Why do you think this is? I suspect that the main reason is that we don’t want to look or be different from the world. We want to be accepted in the world and so we compromise the Word of God to match the world’s expectations.

This attitude weakens our faith and without faith we cannot please God – thereby hindering us from activating the actual release of the Holy Spirit into our lives and into the lives of those around us.

In this post it is my desire to discuss three of the most common problems (aside from plain ignorance) facing us Christians in exercising the spiritual gifts in the modern world – problems that hinder us in realizing the fullness of the Spirit in our lives. These three problems being: 1) grieving the Spirit, 2) quenching the Spirit, and 3) unbelief or “hardening of our hearts”. It is my hope that by bringing the awareness of these problems to the surface we may take action to repent and ask the Holy Spirit to renew us and restore us to the place in our walk with Christ so that we may truly be fruitful workers in the Kingdom of God! Praised be His Holy Name!

Grieving the Spirit

Grieving the Spirit of God

Grieving the Spirit of God

The Holy Spirit is “grieved” or “saddened” when we turn aside from His leadings in our lives and we instead begin to form attachment to the world and its lifestyles. He is grieved with us just as Jesus was grieved over Jerusalem because their unwillingness to receive Him at the time of His visitation (Matt. 23:37-39).  Let us then not grieve the Spirit by distancing ourselves from the world and welcoming Him and His Gifts into our lives.

Perhaps no one other than other St. Paul is better able to express the need for the Christian community to align itself with Christ and detach itself from the world. Listen to what he says to the church in Ephesus:

“Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:1-2)

You may be sure my brethren that, because God is Love, He, in His compassion for us, will lovingly intervene in our lives to confront us with our sin in this regard, because it is a sin. Indeed, a sin that Paul refers to as “grieving the Spirit of God”. A sin that usually leads to another sin, that of “Quenching of the Holy Spirit”.

Quenching the Spirit

Quenching the Spirit

Quenching the Spirit

Scripture commands us not to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). To “quench” is to extinguish something, like throwing water on a campfire as you are preparing to break camp. The sin of quenching the Holy Spirit is when God’s Spirit is prompting us to say or do a certain thing and we refuse. Quenching the Spirit could also be failing to discover and use the gifts that God has given us.

The reason this is important is because we are ignoring or not using the charismatic gifts mentioned by St. Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians (cf.,1 Cor. 12). It is through these nine foundational or empowerment gifts that the members of the church are empowered to carry out the church’s ministry of taking the Good News to the world, making disciples, and manifesting the power of Father’s Kingdom to the world. The Sanctifying Gifts (cf., Is.11) permit the Spirit to bring us in conformity to the character and spirit of Christ but it is the endowment with the charismatic gifts, however, that permits us to share in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that was on Christ so that His ministry of manifesting or enforcing the Kingdom of God in this world may continue through us, His Body!

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

Because this ministry dethrones the power of the Evil One and the dominance he holds over the world and fallen humanity, he will do everything in his power to extinguish the Holy Fire of the Holy Spirit that has been placed in us, the Body of Christ. He does this on three main battle-fronts: the world, the flesh, and the devil.  We have already spoken of how the world conforms us to its thinking and behavior. This conformity to the world also acts in us to extinguish the fire or leadings of the Holy Spirit in carrying out His purposes for us in this world.

Remember the warning of preparation that Jesus gave His disciples:

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. “This I command you, that you love one another.  “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  “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.” (John 15:16-19)

Thus, you should not be surprised that the world will not accept you if you deviate from what it expects and demands of you. This, of course, includes the “politically correct” suppression of the spiritual gifts that have been distributed to us by the Holy Spirit to accomplish His purposes in us and through us.

In attempting to hinder us, the Ruler of this world takes advantage of our fallacious human reasoning, our weaknesses and our lustful desires (the flesh) so that we might succumb to the lures and demands of this world. And, to our dismay, he sometimes even uses the voice of misguided religious authority to attempt to shut the door to our exercise of the gifts by telling us that they are not needed today or that they (ironically enough) are of the “devil”.

The devil also tempts us by presenting us with counterfeit “gifts” that are really witchcraft under his control rather than from God. He also hinders the use of the actual gifts by presenting skepticism or doubts as to our worthiness or the appropriateness of our exercise of the gifts.

All of the above briefly summarize the means by which we may fall into the sin of quenching the Spirit. For this reason, brethren, it is very important in walking the walk of exercising the spiritual gifts that you keep in mind St. Paul’s exhortation and admonition to the church of Thessalonica:

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Th. 5:16-22)

Hardening of the Heart

Regarding hardness of heart I refer you again brethren to St. Paul’s admonition to the church at Ephesus:

The Hardened Heart

The Hardened Heart

“…. you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness [blindness] of heart. (Eph. 4:17-18)

In this citation Paul makes it clear that the condition he terms “hardness of the heart” (the term “blindness” is used in some translations) alienates us from the life of God. This alienation comes because the “hardness of heart” condition blinds our spiritual understanding, making us ignorant of God, His Grace, and His purposes for us in this world.  In other words it is an attitude of heart that leads to unbelief.

What we sometimes miss in Paul’s exhortation is that he is directing it to baptized Christians with the implication that these Christians, although converted are still living within their un-renewed worldly mindset – that Paul terms the “futility of their minds”. The reason we miss this point is that we modern Christians don’t realize that we are pretty much subject to the same condition, that is, we too are affected by a “hardening of the heart” or “unbelief”, the cure for which involves the “renewing of our minds”.

The main reason we miss this point that Paul makes is, because we consider ourselves faithful Christians, supposedly operating in faith, we find it difficult to understand how there could be unbelief in our lives.

This failure to understand is, in itself a sign of a certain level of unbelief. You see brethren what we don’t understand is that we, as fallible human beings can harbor both faith and unbelief within us at the same time.  The vestiges of our fallen self, although crucified with Christ are still with us, even though we are in the process of transformation into the image of Christ. But we are not there yet and never will we be completely there until we are united with Him in the life to come.

These vestiges of the flesh still mould our thinking into the ways of the world and place a veil over our minds when it comes to understanding the Spirit of God and walking in the Spirit.  Although we may see our spiritual path clearly in some areas of our lives there are some areas where the old way of thinking still holds sway.

For instance, supposing that upon your yearly medical checkup you doctor discovers some shadows in your x-rays and, upon more testing, informs you that you have a variant form, of lymphatic cancer.  The first anxious thoughts and fears you encounter within yourself are those of your old nature. Yes, you believe in healing and Jesus’ promises regarding healing, but you find your heart placed in a test between your faith and your anxieties and fears. If you place more value on your anxieties based on what the doctor said than your faith in what the word of God says, then you have entered the realm of “hardening of your heart” and this places a veil over your faith in the promises of God.

The more our mind is “renewed” in Christ the less influence the world and our “old man” will have on our thinking and judgments because Jesus and His Word will be the center of our focus in life. When our focus is on Him and His Word our faith will overcome the world just as He overcame the world (John 16:33).

There are many instances in the New Testament where Jesus admonishes his disciples for their “weak (or ‘little’) faith” caused by their hardness of heart. This is not because they did not have faith in Jesus it is because their own faith was still linked to what they observed in the world and was thus diluted by the circumstances they were facing, as in the multiplication of the loaves (Matt.14:13-20 and the healing of the demon possessed boy (Cf., Matt. 17). In this latter case, when the father came to Jesus saying that he had taken the child to His disciples and they could not heal the boy, Jesus said, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” ( Matt. 17:17)

After delivering and healing the boy, the disciples asked, “why could we not heal him?”  Jesus answered them saying, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20).

So clearly, if we are to exercise our spiritual gifts fruitfully, as Jesus tells us from the citation above, we cannot afford to have this veil of unbelief or “hardness of heart” be a hindrance to us. That is why it is so urgent that we cooperate with God’s grace not only in discerning and exercising the gifts that have been allocated to us, but also in continuing to grow in the Spirit through the renewal of our minds, so as to minimize the hindrances that so easily disable us from carrying out God’s purposes for us in this world. Praised be His Holy Name!

In conclusion, brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you to take everything I have relayed to you here, that has touched your heart, and present it sincerely, in prayer, to the Holy Spirit for confirmation and impartation so that you may be fully enabled by Him to enforce the Father’s will here on earth as it is in Heaven!

Baruch ha Shem!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Links to Related Articles

<>  Sweet Yoke of Love

<>  Releasing the Spirit

<>  Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

<> The Renewal of Our Minds

<>  Hearing His Voice…. and Obeying it!
<> Praying In the Spirit
<>  Responding To the Spirit’s Call
<>  The Kingdom of God Our Spiritual Inheritance

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Challenges of Faith: Growing in the Spirit

My Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ,

In a previous article regarding “Responding to the Spirit’s Call” I indicated to you the challenge of faith that we are faced with when we first come to a deeper awareness of the Holy Spirit in our lives and thus “enter” the Kingdom of God, that is, sharing in Jesus’ ministry in this world. In this article it is my intent to give you an example of the faith challenges we, as disciples of Jesus will continue to face as we enter more and more into the empowered life of the Kingdom. In fact we will find that the more we enter into our Kingdom empowerment, the more and more we will have to face these challenges. It is the Lord’s intent that only by meeting these challenges head-on, in faith, with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit at our side that we can grow in the Spirit. It is our training camp where we learn to discern the Holy Spirit’s voice, to walk in the Spirit, and to use the spiritual weapons that are available to us to bring the victory of the Kingdom into our lives and the life of the community.

In addition to some relevant scriptural examples I will contribute some examples from my own “boot camp” experiences. The personal examples I will be sharing with you are taken from my own experiences and I present them to you so that it may encourage you and help your faith to grow as you face the forces and circumstances in your lives that are constantly attempting to quench the fire of the Spirit in you. These sources forces, which impede our progress, may be generally indicated as: the World[1], the Flesh[2], and the Devil[3]. All of these forces are at war with the Spirit and will use any means to prevent you from coming to spiritual maturity in bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit into you life and the lives of others – the fruit of the Spirit that comes from the Word of God that has been planted in you by and through the Holy Spirit.

One of the particular impediments I will be referring to today is that of “cultural expectation”. This type of impediment is of the “World” Class of impediments and, is often manifested in religious cultures. Mainly, it evidences itself in the reaction of people, who have been brought up in a specific “religious” culture to limit their expectation of what God can do only to that which falls within the constraints of their traditional or cultural experience and understanding.

There are many examples of this type of behavior by the religious authorities in attempting to impede Jesus’ ministry and discredit Him. Their favorite method was to try to show that Jesus was not complying with the Jewish traditions regarding the Sabbath.  As our first example let us look at Jesus’ healing of the man with a withered hand.

He left that place and entered their synagogue; a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.” (cf., Matt.12:9-14)

Now, Jesus, was not doing anything that was against the Word of God, in fact He was fulfilling it. But the religious folk did not comprehend that because they were limited by the Jewish “traditions of the elders” and thus thought that what Jesus was doing was sinful, at least within the limited framework of their religious cultural worldview.  Jesus Himself said, “I do nothing of myself, but what I see the Father doing”(John 8:28). In this way it is clear that the works of power He was doing were the Father’s work and thus, explicitly, not a violation of His Word or commandments. But certainly we see how such human religious expectations could impede us from accomplishing the work of the Kingdom if we let them override what the voice of the Holy Spirit in us is telling us to do.

Now let me make it clear, in order to reach this level of sensitivity to doing the Father’s specific will in our lives and discerning the voice of the spirit requires a total surrender to the Divine Spirit and obedience to His call (cf., Hearing His Voice …). Such a level is reached only when an intimate spiritual union has been reached with the Father so that we are perfectly attuned to Him and His Word.

Even then, as fallible human beings, we must always “test every spirit” (1Jn.4:1) before we run off doing something that may have originated with the “World”, the “Flesh”, and the “Devil”. Our human religious traditions, developed over time, were not created with the intent of quenching the Spirit, but are a very human attempt to provide guidelines or “fences” to help the community from breaking the actual sacred commandments given in scriptures.  The problem we humans have when we “invent” these supposedly preventative guidelines is that they are usually products of our fallible human wisdom and do not generally reflect the Divine intent of the Word of God and we tend to apply them legalistically to exert control over people rather than teaching how to use them in tandem with the Word of God for discerning the true leadings of the Holy Spirit and responding to those leadings in harmony with the Father’s Will. Thus, whenever we have a conflict between our human traditions and the Leading of the Spirit in accord with the “Inspired Word”, the “Inspired Word” of God must always prevail. (Note that an “Inspired Word” is a Word which the Holy Spirit has brought to life in your heart as a leading expressly from Him for a specific purpose)

Although He was accused of it many times, Jesus never violated any of the sacred traditions given by God to the Jewish people. It was only when the Jewish authorities extended or modified the traditions to burden the people unjustly with these “fences” so that they distorted the Father’s Divine intent, that Jesus would challenge them. Take for example the following passage from scripture,

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,  “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.”

He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:  ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’” (Matt. 15:1-9)

As it was then, so it is today.

Another type of impediment is our lack of faith. This particular impediment is of the class of the “Flesh”, and occurs when we let our human weakness in believing only what we can observe and understand limit the ability to exercise the “mustard seed” of faith we have been given by the Spirit. Take for example the case of the epileptic boy oppressed by a demon whose father brought him to the disciples but who were unable to heal him (cf, Matt. 17).

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt.17:14-20)

With these examples from scripture as background, I now share with you two instances as to how the Holy Spirit has worked in me to help me apply the Word of God to my prayer life so that I might bear fruit for the Kingdom. In the first of the situations, I learned how to go against my human inhibitions and pray the prayer of command, In the second, I failed the test during group prayer by not obeying the Spirit’s leading. I present these to you for your discernment in order to assist you in your pilgrim’s walk with Christ and avoid some of the pitfalls that we all encounter along the way of faith.

CASE 1:  Learning The Prayer of Command

The first experience I have to share is that of my prayers for our son who lost the use of his kidneys through a severe allergy attack. He had graduated from a university and was working in a city distant from us when he called us from a hospital and told us that he was at the hospital for treatment and that the doctors were preparing him for dialysis, which he would have to use until he became eligible to receive a donated kidney in a transplant operation.

Of course, my wife and I went to see him and help him as he entered this phase of his life. Because of his disability, after a year he was not able to continue working because his energy levels were very low.  I left my job, and my wife and I moved to the city where He was living and asked him to move in with us so we could care for him.  All of this time my wife and I were in continuous prayer for his healing and for the availability of a donated kidney, which by the way was very difficult because of our son’s unique blood type.

This situation continued for four years with no prospect in sight for an appropriate kidney donor. My son’s condition was worsening daily, he lost a lot of weight and could hardly stay awake during the day. He was very sensitive to colds and infections and could not eat properly. It got to the point that my wife and I were praying for the Lord to take him if he was destined to live such a life – a life that was no life at all.

My wife and I normally prayed together daily in the traditional manner of posing our petitions to our Lord, using scripture and appropriately selected prayers. After a time I continued praying on my own after my wife had retired for the night. In my personal time I decided to ask the Lord directly to teach me how to pray specifically for our son, since I began to think that one of the things that might be hindering our prayer is that we limiting ourselves by not opening our hearts to God and praying from our hearts instead of from just scripted prayer.

I first asked the Lord to lead me to the scripture He wanted to speak to me through to address my problem of how to pray for our son.  It took several weeks of prayer for me to open up a dialog with Jesus and His Word. I believe the reason it took that long is because I was in a rut, in that I had to struggle against my instinctual need to follow the traditional manner with which I had been taught to pray.  In leading me to selected scriptures, the Holy Spirit began to build up my faith in the Word and how Jesus elicited faith form all those who came to Him for healing.  I began to see that praying in faith did not revolve around the use of scripted prayer but rather prayer that was from the heart.

After the Holy Spirit had prepared me, and I had become familiar in hearing God’s voice through His Word, He led me to the scripture narration on the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44).  As I read the scripture, a sense of anticipation began to stir in my heart. After all, my wife and I had been praying, out of desperation and, admittedly, a lack of faith, that, since our son was as good as dead, for the Lord to take him. I was thinking, “was the Lord leading me to this scripture because he wanted to raise our son from the ‘dead’ ”?

I meditated as I read very slowly through this scripture, every verse came to life before me, it was as if He was confirming my initial anticipation.  When I read that Jesus waited for four days before going to see Lazarus, it was as if He was telling me that He had waited four years to come to see our son and bring Him to life!  Every verse began to raise my faith more and more until I came to the last verses that read:

“Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:38-44)

At that point, I was so sure that the Lord was going to do something, but I still did not know how he wanted me to pray or what part he was asking me to take in the resurrection of Lazarus (our son). So I was emboldened by the Spirit to ask, “Lord, I thank you for bringing me in the Spirit to this point but what do you want me to do?”  He answered me (in my spirit), “this is the way you are to pray in this instance, I want you to say and do as I did”.

In my naiveté, I said, “but Lord how do I roll away the stone?”.  He then patiently told me, “Just as I told you to speak to the mountain, you speak to the stone and cast it into the sea and it will be removed for you”.

At this point my cultural inhibitions began to take hold of me and I thought, “it must be my flesh, is this really happening? After all I have NEVER prayed like this and I have never seen anyone from my tradition pray like this, So I stopped my prayer time short asking the Lord to forgive me.

The next night as I was again praying alone, I heard the Lord ask me: “ why did you not pray as I asked you, did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”.  I feebly responded with: “Lord, I thought it might be my flesh”. Then He gently asked me again saying, “but now you know differently, so now stand before the tomb and roll back the stone!

This time I promptly and boldly obeyed and I spoke to the stone that was holding our son in the tomb saying:  “In the Name of Jesus, I command you, the stone that is holding my son in the tomb, be removed and be cast into the sea! At his Jesus now told me, “Now, say and do what I did next”.  Meekly complying, I said, “My son, come out in the Name of Jesus, In His name come out of the tomb of death! Amen!”

I concluded my prayer time by praising God and thanking Jesus for guiding me to the answer to my initial prayer on how to pray for our son.

When I told my wife the next day she also felt led to join me in standing in faith for our son and on the “prayer of command” which Jesus had just taught me.

We then prayed in affirmation every night believing that the prayer was being realized.  One week exactly to the day (September 28, 2005), we received a phone call at midnight from the hospital where he was on the list to receive a kidney.  They told us that a kidney had just been donated for which our son was a candidate and that if we went to the hospital immediately, they would test our son for compatibility and if successful, the transplant surgery would be done at once.

Of course, we immediately knew our prayers had been answered, and gave thanks and praise to God for this miracle of His compassion. We woke up our son, disconnected him form the home dialysis machine and drove to the hospital in the early morning darkness. He was immediately admitted, the testing performed, and upon notifying us of his compatibility moved into surgery for the transplant, which was successful. Praised be His Holy Name!

Of course the story does not end here as my wife and I went to the hospital for days on end, until the doctors told us that our son’s body had overcome organ rejection and accepted the new organ. All of this time my wife and I were in intense prayer but by now our faith had been lifted higher than a kite so our prayers were mainly of thanksgiving and praise to the wonderful Father we have and to Jesus who led taught us specifically how to pray for our Son. Blessed be His Holy Name!

The story with our son continues to this day as the Lord continue to work miracles in his life, but I have only related enough of the story to make my point. In order to pray specifically and properly for our son I had to ask, I had to struggle against my cultural inhibitions to pray as Jesus requested, and I had to struggle against my flesh to continue to stand in faith until the miracle was completed!

Yes, I learned very much about the prayer of command from this experience, and, most of all my faith grew by leaps and bounds. But, as I will share with you in the next case, my struggle against the flesh and the world was not over and as the Lord tested me on this other occasion, I found out that, being successful in prayer, while alone in my prayer closet did not ensure that I would be successful when dealing with a situation in a group prayer situation.

CASE 2: Failing the Test

Dear fellow pilgrims, after the teaching, the Grace, and the guidance I received in Case 1 you would think that I would be ready for any situation regarding prayer. This case demonstrates how easy it is to think that because we have passed one hurdle we the rest of the race will be easier.

Not so, in fact, just like in a military training camp (boot camp), the hurdles and the tests get even harder.  The first thing the Lord wants to rid us of is our self-confidence. In prayer, self-confidence is perhaps the greatest barrier we have to overcome. For, you see, the true prayer of faith is entered only when we have NO confidence in ourselves – our TOTAL confidence MUST BE IN CHRIST! NOTHING in ourselves! So we need to come to every prayer experience just as we came to the first one – acknowledging our total helplessness and aware of dire need of God’s Grace.

So it was that in this next case I will be discussing the Lord detected a little bit of self-confidence growing in me that had to be deflated – and deflate it He did!

This is what happened. About two years after the Case 1 experience, a distraught mother came to our prayer group to ask for help for her daughter (her daughter was not with her).  She had been coming for a few weeks but since we break up into small groups for prayer, I did not become aware of her need until one week I was selected into the same small group with her. Each of us presented our needs in turn, the members of the group then, would all then participate in prayer for the individual requesting prayer, as the Spirit led.

When, her turn came up, this dear lady began to briefly repeat the request she had been making for a the last couple of prayer meetings, but to which I had not been privy because I had not been in her small group. The mother asked for prayers for her daughter who was experiencing emotional and psychological problems, which she took to be somehow due to her recent divorce. The girl, in her mid-teens, was also apparently cutting herself secretly. When her mother found out she tried speaking with her daughter but to no avail, even though the daughter said she was trying to control herself.

The leader of this small group asked that all the members gather around the mother and lay hands on her for the gifts of the Spirit she needed to minister to her daughter and then we all prayed that the Holy Spirit work in the daughter to free her from her compulsive behavior. The leader then suggested that if possible she should bring her daughter to the next meeting so that she could be prayed over directly. I continued praying for them in my prayer closet during the week.

The next week both mother and daughter attended. When we were divided into small groups. I was coincidentally placed in the same small group as the daughter. As prayer began, through the Spirit, I began to sense that the source of the problem was spiritual and that she was under oppression by demonic forces. I also sensed that the Holy Spirit was leading me to pray the prayer of command over her to cast out the spirits of bitterness, resentment and guilt.

When it came for my turn to pray over her, however, I found myself literally paralyzed because this type of prayer had NEVER been done in this prayer group and I sensed that, If I prayed the prayer of command and deliverance, the more conservative members would report me to the pastor. I also felt that I would lose the respect of the leadership of the group. This, of course, was my FLESH at work.

Unfortunately, in this time of crisis, I took the cowardly path, I prayed for the girl, but I prayed in a non-controversial manner, praying that the Holy Spirit would envelop her in His Love and fill her so that her heart would be healed and so that there would be no room in her for any emotional or psychological disturbance, but I DID NOT pray the prayer of command to cast out the evil spirits!

While the prayer that I managed to pray might sound reasonable to you, it really was an act of disobedience on my part, because I had not followed the directives of the Spirit. My disobedience was not due to a lack of faith (cf., Mk.16:17) but because of my cultural inhibitions and cowardice in going against, what I thought were the group’s cultural expectations. Because of this, the moment for the Holy Spirit to bring deliverance to this girl passed and both she and her mother went away disappointed – never to return to the prayer group.

Of course, I was greatly disappointed in myself. I repented of my disobedience and cowardice and prayed intensely that the Lord send someone with more valor and faith than I to minister deliverance to that young lady and strength and faith to her mother.

(Note: In His compassion, the Lord gave me another chance a few months later when, at a Life in the Spirit seminar I was selected to lead one of the small groups praying for the Baptism of the Spirit. As one of the petitioners came forward for prayer I sensed that she was under demonic oppression and this time I did not hesitate to pray the prayer of command to cast out the spirits that were oppressing her.  The spirits departed with some growling sounds coming from the woman and then, as she later told me, with a sense of inner peace she received the Baptism of the Spirit and attended our meetings until she had to move out of the area.)

I pray, brothers and sisters that the information I have shared with you will help you in your spiritual growth and your walk with Jesus so that you may yield yourselves totally  to be His instruments in bringing forth His Kingdom into the world!

Praised Be His Holy Name!! To Him Be all the Glory Forever and Ever. Amen!!

Your Brother in Christ Jesus,

Bartimaeus

 

Related Links:

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[1] By the “World”, I mean those human cultural, social, and governing institutions and customs that are founded and empowered by the Flesh and Pride of human endeavor, controlled by satanic powers, that use their power and influence to bring and maintain human individuals into spiritual and personal bondage in direct opposition to the Freedom of the Kingdom of God.

[2] By the “Flesh”, I mean the basic drives and lusts of our human nature, that war against the spirit, that is, those instincts, drives and thoughts in our fallen nature, that move our will to go against the Father’s will and purpose for our lives and which thus, drive us directly into bondage and the control of Satan.

[3] By the “Devil”, I refer to the personalized Satanic evil power and its minions under which the World currently operates with the intent of establishing itself in triumph over the Kingdom of Heaven.

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