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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer of Commitment’

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

“In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:11-1)

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

By now most of you have read my previous articles on the Sanctifying Gifts and Empowerment Gifts (cf. Resource Links, below) and have been sufficiently stirred up by the Word of God and the inspiration of the Spirit referenced in those articles so that you now want to know how you may personally receive the “Promise of the Father” and activate the Spiritual Gifts in your lives.

As Christians “The Promise of the Father” and the Nine Empowerment Gifts are part of the Legacy we have in Christ Jesus.  When we are converted, repent of our sins, and are baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit (cf., Gal. 3:27), not only are our sins forgiven and given new Life in Christ but we also receive the Seven Sanctifying Gifts of the Spirit through which the Holy Spirit conforms us to His image (cf., Rom. 8:29) and covers us with the cloak of His Righteousness (cf., Rom. 4:5).

We are Heirs to the KingdomBut as if that were not enough, the Holy Spirit, through the immeasurable grace of redemption also makes us new creations in Christ (cf., 2 Cor. 5:17) and provides entrance into the Kingdom where, by the unmerited grace and Love of the Father, we are seated at His right hand of Christ to share in His reign forever (cf., Eph. 2:6). By this grace granted us through His sacrifice on the cross and His victory over death, we are, upon acting on our faith, made heirs of the Kingdom and the adopted children of the Father. Praised be His Holy Name!

“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Eph. 2:4-10)

The “..good works” spoken of here are those works through which Jesus contines His ministry in us and through us for the Glory of the Father and the benefit of the community (cf., Acts 10:38). As His adopted children, then, we form the Body of Christ and, thus, are also the Father’s representatives or envoys in world to continue the ministry of His Son so that the Glory of the Father’s love may be manifested through us to all humanity.

However, in order to fulfill this calling on our lives it is necessary that we also share in the empowerment that was on Christ when he was in the world. This is the mantle that He passed on to us at Pentecost (cf., “The Double portion Anointing”), this is what the “Promise of the Father” is all about. And, it is in accepting and receiving the Promise of the Father through the baptism of the Spirit that we reclaim the fullness of our spiritual inheritance in Christ (cf., Eph. 1: 16-18).

At Pentecost, “The Promise of the Father” was purposely given to the body of Christ, a body composed of all who believe in Him and are called according to His purpose, specifically to empower us to carry on His ministry in this world. The Spirit endows all believers with this empowerment from generation to generation until Jesus comes again to judge and to reign over His Kingdom (cf., Acts 2:38-39).

Because He gave us a free will, He does not impose these latter gifts upon us, but instead, they are offered to us free of any obligation or condemnation. Our salvation is not contingent on our acceptance of the Promise of the Father – it must be by our own choice – our choice of becoming His partners in the work He continues to do in this world to bring more of humankind to Himself. There is only one pre-condition, you must be a child of God through repentance and baptism (cf., Acts 2:38) in order to be considered an inheritor of the Kingdom and the empowerment that comes with it (cf., “The Kingdom of God Our Spiritual Inheritance”).

Now, normally, we receive this “empowerment” or “strengthening” when we receive the sacrament of confirmation. However, as with all things of faith, if you receive without faith, the manifestation of the sacrament remains latent in you (cf., Heb. 4:2). For instance, in my case, I am a cultural cradle catholic and have been baptized and confirmed, but I never manifested the empowerment gifts on the receipt of the sacrament because I was never taught to expect these gifts at confirmation, so my faith was not awakened. If I had been taught from the Word, and my faith had been awakened appropriately, I would have received them, then and there. It was not until later in my adult life that the Holy Spirit worked in my life through His Word and circumstances to bring me to conversion, accept Jesus as my personal Lord and savior, and baptize me in the Holy Spirit. It was not until then that I began to manifest the special supernatural gifts the Spirit had destined for me.

As the empowerment gifts were realized in me, the Spirit opened up the Word of God in a deeper more intimate way so that I began to understand the gifts I had just received (cf., “The Key to the Kingdom”). This understanding clearly led me to the knowledge that these gifts a were part of my legacy in Christ Jesus and that they were there, not for my benefit but so that Jesus Himself could minister to the community through my person (along with others who have been likewise blessed).

In responding to the prayer for renewal of Pope John XXIII (ca.1962), the Lord has, in His own sovereign power, initiated a work of spiritual renewal in His Church that permits us to reclaim the fullness of our legacy in Christ (cf., “The Charismatic Renewal”). By His Grace, I am a participant in this movement of His Grace and I am here to proclaim to you the Good News that the grace of God is here for you also – the Kingdom of God is here for you to enter into the fullness of His blessings and receive the Empowerment Gifts of the Spirit through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, just as was prophesied by the Apostle Peter at Pentecost (cf., Acts 2:38-39).  As the Apostle Paul once said, “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor. 6:1-2)

If your faith has stirred you to action then the next step for you is prayer. Faith without action is “dead faith”(cf., James 2:26) so by asking we are taking action and thus activating the faith that the Holy Spirit has placed in us. This is in accord with what the Lord told his disciples,

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

In order to facilitate your asking, I present to you in the sections below, two prayers that encompass re-dedication to Christ and Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Normally this type of prayer(s) are presented at the conclusion of what is called a “Life in the Spirit Seminar” conducted within a Charismatic Prayer Group or a Charismatic Parish. This seminar is the usual venue where one is prayed for to receive the “Baptism in the Spirit”. The community setting is appropriate because it is within such a community that the spiritual gifts are, fostered, nurtured and practiced.  However, in the global outreach of these articles there are many who do not have direct access to a charismatic community, thus these prayers are provided so that you may, in private or in your own small group pray for the Baptism In the Holy Spirit.  You do not need to wait to find a prayer group – activate your faith as soon as possible, while the fire of your faith is strong. Later when you do encounter a Charismatic community you can revitalize your commitment at their services (see Community Links below). And, I might add, if the Spirit leads you, begin your own prayer group!

Prayer of Dedication

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

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

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

Prayer for Empowerment in the Holy Spirit

Father, as your child in Jesus I desire to be totally an instrument for Your Kingdom to manifest through my life. I desire to receive your Promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. Jesus, my Savior and King, baptize me in the Holy Spirit so that the power of your resurrection will work in me and transform me according to your will. Holy Spirit, empower me and fill me to overflowing. I hold nothing back from you. Work your gifts in me and through me so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen!

Now, begin praising and worshipping God with all your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, renew you, and praise God through you. Release yourself from all the inhibitions you have and raise your voice in songs and psalms. Express those longings you have held in your heart for so long but were unable to let loose because of your inhibitions. As you sing and worship release yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can pray and worship through you.                    

As you enter this time of praise and worship you will begin to experience a sense of the presence of the Lord. You will begin to lose your self-consciousness and you will sense that the flow of your prayers and song is coming as if from out of nowhere. In fact, as your praise increases you sense that you are uttering words that are no longer in your mother tongue. But you know in your spirit that these words are honoring God so your flow in these phrases increases. You have just received your prayer language. You are feeling so blessed, you find that you don’t want to stop. Don’t stop. Pray and sing your heart out, glorifying God!

Praised be His Holy Name! You have now ”Entered the Kingdom” of the Father! Walk in the leading of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to His call! May the Lord Bless you and anoint you with the Holy Spirit in all that you do!

Your Brother In Christ,

Bartimaeus

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

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Resource Links In Preparing for the Baptism In the Spirit

# Catholic Charismatic History

§ Releasing the Spirit

§ The Double Portion Anointing

§ Jesus, the Source of Living Water, and Us

§ Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

§ The sanctifying Gifts (Part 1)

§ The Sanctifying Gifts (Part 2)

§ Praying in The Spirit

§ The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

§ The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

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Challenges to Discipleship: The Role of Suffering

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1Peter 4:12-13)

One of the great barriers to entering into true discipleship with Christ is our problem in understanding the role that suffering plays in those who, through faith, have dedicated their lives to follow Jesus.

Shall we not suffer with Him?

I am Crucified with Christ ..

The first thing that hinders us about accepting the role of suffering in discipleship is that our natural selves cannot comprehend it. If Christ Suffered for us and took on our sufferings why then should believers still endure suffering as part of our calling? The second thing which hinders us is that, even upon beginning to understand the Lord’s calling for us to endure (certain types of) suffering, we cannot receive it because we lack sufficient faith to enter into and willingly receive the suffering to which we have been called.

After all, why would a good and loving God, insist that those He loves pass through the trials of suffering, especially when that suffering comes on us seemingly without cause or seeming justification. Wasn’t Jesus’s suffering sufficient?

This of course brings up the topic that the citation from Peter’s Epistle alludes to, that is, our participation in the sufferings of Christ. From this brief mention we begin to surmise that we, His Body, like the apostles, are destined to drink the same cup as he drank from, that is , the cup of suffering. That is, the suffering caused by His rejection and torture by the world and the establishment for the proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom.

This then is the main theme of Peter’s Epistle to the suffering church at Rome. To encourage them to endure their persecution in Love, as Jesus endured His persecution in Love.

The Testing of our Faith

In the beginning of this first epistle, the Apostle Peter indicates that the primary reason that the father permits this type of suffering to enter into their lives (and therefore ours as well) is that, through their endurance, through faith, that same faith may be proven to be genuine, just as Gold in order to be assayed must be tested as if by fire.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:3-7)

Just as Jesus’ faith was tested through suffering so our faith also will be tested to determine if it is genuine. For there is such a thing as false faith and many have been deceived by their own human desires into presuming that their misdirected human zeal is the faith needed for discipleship. The Apostle Paul himself decries that, “ .. Demas has abandoned him for this present world” (2 Tim: 4:10), and in his first letter to Timothy he says: “… By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:19-20).

In the Deuterocanonical literature we have the challenge for discipleship clearly stated :

“ My son when you come to serve the Lord prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity. Cling to Him, forsake Him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, for in fire Gold is tested and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation”. (Sirach 2: 1-5)

Discerning the Types of Suffering We are to Endure

Peter makes it clear in his epistle that the type of suffering that he is exhorting us to endure is the unjust suffering imposed by others on us because of our faith or stand for righteousness. For this, he says, is consistent with our calling. Note that he does not include that suffering which comes to us because of our own unjust ways and sin.

“For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:19-23)

We also note that Illness or disease is not listed as the type of suffering we need to endure as Christians, In fact, he concludes the above paragraph as follows:

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1Peter 2:24-25)

Because of Jesus’ suffering and atoning work on the cross disease is not deemed a suffering that we Christians must endure as part of our path to discipleship. For this reason we attend to medical doctors and for this reason we are exhorted to pray for each other healing. Jesus did not have any sick disciples. It is not the Father’s will for us.

No! The types of trials we are to endure as disciples is how others treat us because we are outspoken disciples of Jesus. Not those who hide in a corner and are afraid to express their faith but those who openly confess Christ not only by their confession but also by the fruit of their confession – that is, the very lives they live!

Yes! They will revile us, persecute us, censor our prayers, expel us from their fellowship. We will lose many whom we formerly called “friends” but in being bold to proclaim Christ to the world we will be drawn into a new community, a new family of brothers and sisters in Christ who are not afraid of being called Christians and who live their lives in the truth of the Gospel, empowered by the Holy Spirit!

“Baruch haShem” – Praised be His Holy Name! Amen and Amen!

Bartimaeus

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

Related Links to this Article

Assessing our Discipleship

Discipleship: Accepting the Challenge

Prayer To Receive the Holy Spirit

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Christ in Us is Our Hope of Glory  (… His Glory – Not ours)

CrossSt. Paul in exhorting the Colossians says: “I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature [complete] in Christ. For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.”  (Colossians 1:24-29 )*

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

true_repentanceOne of the obstacles we encounter within ourselves that hinders our spiritual growth is that of a spiritual inferiority complex – a weakness which derives from our lack of depth in truly understanding what God’s word tells us of what the Father has destined for us His adopted Children.  Namely, that He sent His Son not only to die for our sins and save us from eternal punishment, but foremost to recreate us spiritually so that each believer may be transformed inwardly into the likeness of Christ and act as His “agent” in our every day lives to bring forth the Glory of His Kingdom in this world.

It is as Paul says, that by Spirit-inspired preaching and teaching the Word of God he may present every man “complete in Christ’. This brethren, is what the Father desires for us, so that Jesus may be the first of many brethren, thus permitting us to act in His stead in bringing God’s Kingdom to manifestation in this world.

Here is what Jesus said regarding this matter:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16 )*

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His Kingdom is Near

Is it not clear then,that we are envisioned by God to be a city on a hill and a light to the nations, that we are to be spiritually transformed beings only awaiting  the stirring of our faith in order to begin our transformation to be molded into the image of Christ. Should we not then, by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, rise to the occasion?  Why then do we hold back?

When I say we, I mean people like me, regular everyday “Lay People”. Now, it is my assumption that this topic is not news to those in religious orders or the priesthood. But knowing myself and other lay people like me, I can say that we have never been taught that all believers are included in Father’s desires to form us into the image of His Son, and that we all need to do is cooperate with God’s Spirit and surrender to Jesus completely, not only as savior, but as Lord, yielding our person completely to Him so the Spirit can begin conforming us into His image! Praised be His Holy Name!

Yes, I can understand why we are hindered, because I am in the same boat as all of you. I am a sinner and since encountering the Lord I have become extremely aware of my weaknesses and failures that move me to sin against God and my neighbor. It is this awareness that holds me back – with the question im my mind:”how can God use me”? Yet, because of Scripture, it is obvious that most of the people God Chose were certainly “not worthy”, nonetheless, because they yielded to Him and the Holy Spirit He not only used them but molded them to fulfill the assignments they were given. So it will be with me, as long as I obediently abide in Him in Faith and His Word abides in me! praised be His Holy Name!

In my case, because of my conversion experience and sincere repentance, I, by the grace of God have been strengthened in my will more and more to remove myself from my sinful responses and turn more and more of my life over to Jesus, my Lord and Savior, who intercedes with the Father for me and leads me along the path He desires for me. This happens because, as He told us, that since He overcame the World, when we surrender to His Spirit in us,we too, by his strength and inspiration can also overcome the World (if we remain in Him)!

One might ask, what is the scriptural basis for the assertion that “Christ in Us” is the doorway to “our “Hope of Glory”.

<> First of all, it is St. Paul that clarifies that out “hope” is in  God permitting our sharing in His Glory.

Results of Justification : Our Hope is in Sharing the Glory of God
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
(Romans 5:1-2 )

<> It is  also clear that only through our becoming a New Creation in Christ that we can have access to that sharing.

We who believe are a New Creation
So if anyone is in Christ, [he/she] is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17 )

Being a New Creation is what matters in order to be conformed to Christ
For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!  (Galatians 6:15 )

<> And how do we become a New Creation? – Through the Living and  Enduring Word God!

Obedience to God’s Word Brings you to the New Birth ( a New Creation)
Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.  [ For] You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring 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 endures forever.”
[and] That word is the good news that was announced to you.
(1 Peter 1:22-25)

<> As His new creation we are predetermined to be Conformed to our Redeemer.

The Spirit then uses all the circumstances of our lives to transform us.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn of many brethren.” [… of those having His spiritual DNA]
(Romans 8:28-29 )

I don’t know how the Father’s purpose for us could be made clearer  than what is stated in the scriptures above, that is, that He plans for us to become spiritual descendants of His Son, and therefore also His Sons and Daughters in the the spirit.

When we commit ourselves to walk along the path of Discipleship to our Lord and Master, Jesus, we must always keep in mind that, as disciples, we are all predestined to be conformed unto Him so that He may be the Firstborn of many brethren. This means that in order to permit the Holy Spirit to continue His transforming work in us to form us into true, Spiritual “Brethren” of Jesus, we must willingly cooperate with God’s Grace by emptying ourselves of our self-willed approach to living for Christ and, instead, die to our own self-will and begin to permit the Spirit of Christ that is in us to operate sovereignly through us so that it is His Will and NOT ours is what is accomplished through us.  Or, as John the Baptist would say, the “I” in me must decrease so that the “HE” in me may increase.

Getting Started: Decide to Be His Disciple

The first step we must take in order to cooperate with God’s Grace is to “yoke” ourselves to Christ by making a free and sincere commitment of our will to take on his yoke by yielding to Him as “Lord” and “Master” of our lives. in so doing, we surrender our right to ourselves so that every aspect of our lives is placed under His Reign. This is the “cross” that Jesus said anyone who wishes to be His disciple must carry daily.

Of course, such a transition does not take place immediately, and without God’s Grace it would be a tortuous and seemingly impossible challenge. But, because of God’s mercy He provides us the Grace and strength to fulfill our commitment by being yoked to Jesus who submitted Himself to the Father. Remember what he told us, … “my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matt, 11:30) .

In case you may have not understood scripture properly, this is the same commitment that Jesus asked His disciples to make when the taught them the “Disciple’s Prayer,” (or what we call the “Lord’s Prayer) where the commitment part of it may be understood as, “… may you as my King, Reign In Me and Through Me, so that Your Will May be done today in this Earth as it is In Heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

I pray, brethren, that the words I have shared with you may cause you pray about them and ask the Lord to  indicate you what action, if any, He would like of you that you may strengthen  you walk with Him. Praised be His Holy Name!!

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus.

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

PS:  The following are some additional items that may help you in making your decision:

<> A Quote from St.Ignatius:
“There are very few people
who realize what God would make of them 
if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

<> A prayer of personal commitment:
“Lord Jesus, I am deeply aware that my sins have separated me from you and from the eternal life which you have promised to those who believe. I also acknowledge that these sins impede me from fulfilling the Father’s purposes for me. I, therefore, repent of my sins and turn to you in faith for the salvation and forgiveness you won for me on the cross through the shedding of your blood even when I was yet a sinner and without merit before God.

In addition, I abandon my life to you totally, body soul, and spirit as a Living Sacrifice So that Your Spirit in me may be the driving force to let your Love work through me.  Come into my heart, be the Lord of my Life, as well as my Savior and my King.  Live in me and through me so that I can truly represent you in my service to others in your Name.” Amen.

<> Related Links                                                                                                                                                        Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart?

Cast Your Net on the Other Side!

Jesus, The Source of Living Water and Us!

<>*Note: all scriptural quotes are taken from the “New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition”.

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From Repentance to a Renewed Life

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)

 

 

 

My Dear Brothers  and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

Self assessment

Assessing Our Inner Self

Yes, God does make a distinction between “Soul” and “Spirit”, but it takes the inspired Word of God to help us discern between them.

The inspired Word of God is key to discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Without access to the inspired Word and prayer we cannot fully come to the sincere self-assessment appropriate to this season of Lent.

As we enter the season then, let us remember that the main objective of this liturgical season is to stir our minds and our hearts to look at ourselves in God’s spiritual mirror and, upon seeing what God sees in us, to turn to Him in sincere and deep repentance, asking not only His forgiveness, but also for His transforming grace to conform us to the image of His Son.

This is, a transformation that activates the Spirit of Christ in us so that His will, His thoughts, and His desires become one with our own. This transformation does not happen automatically – one must yield and permit the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us!

We must also remember that the traditional group or personal devotions we observe during lent are only meant to act as spiritually inspired  catalysts to enable us to go deeper into our very spirits and hear what His Word is telling us about where we need to change.

The Holy Spirit must also lead us to open ourselves for Him to work in us and through us, to effect the changes that will enable Him to fulfill His purpose in our lives – that is, to permit God to use the circumstances of our earthly lives to form us to His Image, thus fully becoming another of Jesus’ spiritual brothers and sisters.

<> This Season we need to Re-affirm Our On-Going Transformation

“For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren.”  (Rom.8:29)

As always we should never enter this season with fear and trepidation regarding our sins and failures for the Lord has already reconciled us to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son on the Cross. All we need to do to continue our progress is to sincerely repent and reaffirm our commitment for Him to continue our transformation.

Because of God’s Mercy at our sincere repentance, our sins and failures can no longer impede us. As St. Paul indicates to us, “Therefore there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” ( Rom. 8:1).

And again, we find words of encouragement in the Letter to the Hebrews:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

<>  Confession and  Sincere Repentance Is Gateway to Reconciliation

In order to ensure our access to the reconciliation procured for us in Christ Jesus we must come before the Father in Faith and sincere repentance.

Listen to what scripture tells us about our ability to enter into fellowship with Him if our sin  get in the way: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”—Psalm 66:18

So it is that  without confession and repentance our sins impede God’s ability to hear our prayers and thus hinders us from cooperation with His Grace for His purposes.

“If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true;  but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 Jn 1: 6-10)

Thus Scripture makes it clear that Repentance is key to the  Good News of His Reconciliation that is feely offered through His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross and His Resurrection. As Jesus told His Apostles …

“…Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24: 46-47)

Since our sins have already been forgiven by Him in eternity, All that the Father wants us to do receive His Reconciliation is to reach out to Him in sincere repentance, as an act of faith – to freely draw in His eternal forgiveness for the salvation of our souls to meet our present day need for justification through the Blood of Jesus.

<> Our Practice of Repentance Needs to be Continuous

Saint Paul, in order to help us cooperate with the Father’s Grace in conforming us to the image  of His Son, explains our need to continuously receive the Father’s Reconciliation …
“…namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  (2Cor. 5: 19-21)

And, at the same time he (Paul) exhorts them (and us), that because of the above we are to consider every day of continuous repentance as a day of “Salvation”…
“Working together [with the Spirit], we entreat also that you not receive the grace of God in vain, For he says, “At an acceptable time I listened to you, in a day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation. ” (2 Cor. 6:1-2)

Our main challenge, then, to freely and continuously to receive this Grace of Reconciliation, is to remain in Christ, as branches on the Vine, so as to maintain our attachment to the Vine, through Faith, otherwise,unless we repent, we may fall from Grace and be be cut off and cast into the fire (cf., Jn. 15:5ff).

Now, even though the Father has eternally reconciled  us to Himself, we can only cooperate and receive that reconciliation in our present “today” through the continuous practice of sincere repentance. This is so because we can only “sincerely” repent of our past and present sins and, thus, we must also continue in our practice of repentance to receive our share in the “eternal” reconciliation until we come into the heavenly realm where day-to-day “time” no longer reigns.

<> Our Continuous Repentance Reaffirms Our Continuing Transformation

The Father cannot begin His process of conforming us to His Son as His adopted Children until we have first been reconciled to Him, and since it is beyond our ability to do so, He, through the death of His Son, has paid the price for all the sins of humanity, to reconcile us to Himself for all eternity. So, since in order to remain in the sanctifying Grace of Reconciliation, we must likewise practice continuous repentance in order for the Holy Spirit to continue His work of Conforming us to the Image of Christ, whose Spirit Lives in us.

If we break this process through our sinfulness, The Father has graciously provided provided us the necessary Graces through the sacraments of Confirmation, Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. These sacraments restore us to the necessary state of Reconciliation and provide us the spiritual strength to overcome the World and the evil spirits that control the world system that surrounds us.

<> Understanding Sincere Faith-Inspired Repentance

From the above reasoning we understand why “repentance” is most certainly one of the Keys for entrance into the Kingdom.

The only condition placed on our repentance is that it must be a sincere act of faith on our part.  That is, it must be a result of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts through His Word to give us the awareness that we done something that is against God’s will for us and, at the same time, an awareness that by turning to The Father for mercy we immediately receive access to the “eternal forgiveness” which has already been obtained for us through Jesus’ death on the Cross.

“Repentance in faith”, then, is the manner which the Lord has ordained through which we humans are to access the eternal blessings of His eternal forgiveness for all humanity. This, without doubt qualifies, the grace of repentance, as a primary Key to the Kingdom.
Just remember that we can only sincerely repent of our past and present sins – we cannot sincerely repent of the sins we commit in our futures. Thus the Lord has ordained that through such a faith-inspired repentance we can continue to draw on His forgiveness as we live out the span of our lives.

Also, Remember that “True Repentance” includes a sincere commitment to turn to God and His grace to keep you from committing, not only the sin(s) you are confessing, but also all thoughts, words, and actions that are counter to God’s will for you. Without such a commitment your “repentance” cannot be considered  “sincere”.

<> Carrying Out Our Commitment

Since we as fallible human beings are not capable of living a transformed life out of our own effort, the way the scripture indicates for us to truly live a life surrendered to Christ is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Him so that the the Spirit of Christ that is in us  may live out His Life through us, in our submitted body and soul.

St. Paul expresses this commitment to a New Transformed Life in Christ as follows:
“ 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.” (Romans 12:1-2))

He also tells us the effects such a commitment had on him and, through inference, the effect it will have on those of us, who commit ourselves to live a New Life In Christ.

Jesus-crucified

It is finished!

“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)

 

 

<>  Living out Our Renewed Life In Christ

In conclusion. I add the exhortation Paul gave the Colossians about how to begin to live out this Renewed Life in our Communities:

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

May the Lord Bless You and Keep You and may the Holy Spirit inspire you, to not only make this commitment (see below), but also provide you the faith, strength and graces you need to carry out the Father’s purposes for you in your Renewed Life in Christ Jesus.
Praised Be His Holy Name!  Amen and Amen!

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus.

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

PS:  The following are some additional items that may help you in making your decision:

<> A Quote from St.Ignatius:
“There are very few people
who realize what God would make of them 
if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

<> A prayer of personal commitment:
“Lord Jesus, I am deeply aware that my sins have separated me from you and from the eternal life which you have promised to those who believe. I also acknowledge that these sins impede me from fulfilling the Father’s purposes for me. I, therefore, repent of my sins and turn to you in faith for the salvation and forgiveness you won for me on the cross through the shedding of your blood even when I was yet a sinner and without merit before God.

In addition, I abandon my life to you totally, body soul, and spirit as a Living Sacrifice So that Your Spirit in me may be the driving force to let your Love work through me.  Come into my heart, be the Lord of my Life, as well as my Savior and my King.  Live in me and through me so that I can truly represent you in my service to others in your Name.” Amen.

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Overcoming the World: The Making of  a Disciple

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

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

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ and Fellow Disciples,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Brother in Christ Jesus,

Bartimaeus

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

Related Links

The Crucified Life

The Cost of Discipleship

The Renewal of Our Minds

The Sweet yoke of Love

Husbands Love Your Wives

Enter in by the Narrow Gate

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§ The Transforming Work of the Cross

The Way of True Discipleship

The Way of True Discipleship

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

Dear Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

One of the problems we Christians have in growing spiritually as “disciples” of Christ is that we take discipleship for granted and lack an awareness that discipleship is the work of the Holy Spirit in us – not something we do of ourselves for God. And, what we also have trouble realizing is that this work of God’s Spirit in us and through us has to begin with a conscious, free,  and willing decision to offer ourselves up to the Father as a “living Sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1-2) , a sacrifice which entails the surrender of the right to our “self” to the Divine, so that He can enter our inner selves and conform us to the image of his Son.

This decision is separate from our decision to accept Jesus as Messiah and our Savior. However what sometimes  is undetermined is our decision to submit ourselves fully to Him as our “Lord”.  In our conversion we receive freely the Father’s gift of salvation that was won for us by Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross. But then , It is only as “freemen” that we can then, out of “agape” love, freely give our “self” to God – not out of obligation or compulsion but totally as a free gift of ourselves to permit God to set us apart for His service to humanity.

Denying our self, then, is the free and conscious commitment we make as redeemed children of God to yield ourselves to Him so that He can separate us to Himself as His instruments of Love to the world. In carrying out this commitment on a daily basis. we  crucify our flesh so that God’s Spirit may truly have full reign over us. That, my brothers and sisters, is, the cross we must carry daily. A cost we must clearly assess if we intend entering into “true” and “intentional” discipleship.

Self-esteem vs. Dying to Self

Once I was discussing “self-denial” or “dying to self”,  as a principle of Christian discipleship, with a friend who had academic training in psychology.. His first take on this concept was that it went against the humanistic principle of “self-assurance” or “self-esteem” that is widely held as the founding principle for good mental health.

I took me several discussions to convince him of the difference between the two.

First of all  let’s begin with the principle of “self-denial” that Jesus was asking of His disciples.

Luke 14: 26“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29“Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30saying, `This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

In the above citation, the scripture author uses the term “his own life” to indicate “his own self”, a term which is alternatively used in another citation, also from Luke,

Where I am -there my dsicple wil be also ...

Where I am -there my dsicple wil be also …

Luke 9: 23And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.  25For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

From this comparison we derive our understanding that what Jesus was saying is that in order to fully be His Disciple a person must make a clear decision to deny (go against) his own self-driven desires and follow the directions that Jesus is giving  him through the Holy Spirit!

Also we note that this decision by the disciples to renounce their own desires in order to follow Jesus is also termed by the Master as “carrying their own personal cross” daily. If our personal desires are based on the self-esteem derived from what others think of us, then, yes, we must die to those desires because they are humanly derived and keep us from the path to true discipleship. Severing our need for human self-esteem is the foundation for true humility.

It must also be said  that our desire to be a disciple of Jesus indicates that we have come got a point in our lives where our personal relationship with Jesus has brought us to the point where whatever self-esteem we have is now being derived from the LOVE He has poured out on us through His Sacrifice on the Cross. Our understanding of that immense gift of Salvation and the Love of the Father manifested through it, for us sinners who deserve NOTHING from God, has so changed our inner man that ALL our self-esteem is now entirely and positively derived from our relationship with Him!

Now, one of the drivers of our human desires,is self-esteem.  And if we let ourselves be controlled by how others esteem us, then it will be one of the determinants of our actions derived from our humanness. This is what the Apostle Paul terms the “old Man” in some of his letters. Our reaction to how others view us can range from the negative to the positive.. We normally react negatively to criticism and positively to praise. If we are too sensitive to the negative we fall into what is termed “depression”, whereas if we derive pleasure from praise we may be driven to narcissism. These are all traits of the “old Man”, the Old Man that we must crucify daily!

What Jesus is exhorting His followers is to bring us to completely put away the “old Man” in us, by severing our need to base our actions on our regard for human self-esteem and, instead,  to base them only on following Jesus out of faith in Him and selfless, agape. Love! This is how we “crucify the Old man”.

Putting on the “New Man” …

From Colossians Chapter 3:
1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you once walked, when you lived in them.

8But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices 10and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.

12 [Instead] Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, 13forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

When we do this, we free ourselves from our self-centered controlled life and enter into a God-centered living existence. This is what Jesus referred to as the “Kingdom of God”, where we surrender the right to our selves and let the Lord truly RULE in our lives.

That is why becoming a disciple comes at a cost. And that is why it is a “cross” that we must carry daily! That is also why the Lord tell his followers that to be truly be committed as a disciple you must first asses the strength of your faith and willingness to follow Him as a disciple through  the sacrifice of your right to your “self” to the Holy Spirit so He can work God’s Divine will in you and through you.

Many of think that just because we are true believers that we are also true disciples. No, although our belief in Jesus assures us of Salvation in Him, we cannot enter into a full state of discipleship unless we make the additional commitment to surrender the right to ourselves and  give God full control over our lives so the Holy Spirit can conform us into the image of Christ that is in us!
Note how Jesus presented this choice to Nicodemus (cf., Jn 3). Jesus told him that although his awareness of the Kingdom working in Jesus’ ministry was a step in the right direction. Yet in order to enter the Kingdom Anointing that was over Jesus and take part in His ministry, he ,”Nikky” had to give up all that he was doing and become a follower of Jesus literally, in order to enter into that Anointing. And he could only do this through repentance, conversion and giving himself totally to the Holy Spirit so that the transformation could begin.

Yes, Nicodemus was a hidden disciple but he did not enter into the fulness of that discipleship until later. So it is, unfortunately,  with many of us!

If you feel the Holy Spirit has nudged you regarding “discipleship”, I recommend that, after praying for the Holy Spirits advise, you look into reading Sherry Waddell’s book: “Forming Intentional Disciples – The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus” *

May the Lord Richly Bless you,
Your Brother in Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus
(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2014])

[* Note:  In her book “Forming Intentional Disciples – The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus” Sherry makes it clear that there are three concurrent spiritual journeys to what one might call “normative” Catholicism.  She lists these as:
    1. The personal interior journey of a relationship with Christ resulting in intentional discipleship.
    2. The ecclesial journey into through the Church through the sacraments of initiation.
    3. The journey of active practice (as evidenced by attending mass, receiving the sacraments and     participating in the life and mission of the Christian community).
She also makes it clear that in a study conducted by her and a Catholic Cleric indicated that the majority of Lay Catholic Christians basically assume that all that is needed to be “Catholic” are to be involved in paths 2 and 3 (the ecclesial journey and the practice of the religious tenets of the faith).  ]

For related comments and links see:

http://marriagepreparation.com/page/?pg=117

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

http://www.amazon.com/Forming-Intentional-Disciples-Knowing-Following/dp/1612785905
Catherine of Sienna Institute
http://www.siena.org/Article/who-we-are

CDM Discipleship Resources
http://www.navigators.org/us/ministries/cdm/about/

CDM Intentional Discipleship Ministry
http://www.navigators.org/us/ministries/cdm/idc/

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

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Praying as a Disciple …

Letting the Holy Spirit Help us in our weakness

Deep Spiritual Prayer - Rises to the Highest

Deep Spiritual Prayer – Rises to the Highest

“… if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for {us} with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to {the will of} God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.” (Rom. 8:25-29)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, I am writing about one of the greatest deterrents for those just entering into a discipleship relationship with Jesus, And here, I am presupposing that you have already gotten past the primary deterrent, and that is understanding what is it that entails a true discipleship with our Lord and Master. It is, of course, more than just believing in Jesus and being Christian, it is a conscious decision to no longer live for yourself but to let Jesus live and reign in you and through you. It is setting for yourself the goal that St. Paul set for himself, namely….

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

About Entering into Discipleship

In this new life we enter when we come into true discipleship, we leave behind, the apparently noble, but yet self-driven independent intent to dedicate ourselves to doing things “for” Christ, to that of yielding ourselves so completely that the Spirit of Christ that is in us takes over all that we do or think or say. In this manner, it is He, and He alone, who is working in us, and who manifests His Kingship in us and through us by using us as His bond-servants to manifest the Father’s Perfect will in this world. That is why the “Our Father “ prayer (Matt.6:9-13) He gave his disciples should really be called the “Disciples Prayer” for in this prayer He clearly states the commitment to the Father’s Kingship over us that brings us to discipleship in the first place.

Unfortunately, this statement of commitment that yields our “self” to God is not truly understood as intended, by us moderns. Restating the commitment statement in modern terms, it should probably be read as…

“Father, I yield my “self” completely to your Kingship, over me, so that Your Will may be done in me and through me, here on earth just as it is in Heaven”

Here, you see, what the term, “thy Kingdom Come” really is intended to mean in the Lord’s prayer.

 So if this meaning is only just being made clear to you, I suggest that you pray about it and let the Holy Spirit bring you to that same understanding so that you may proceed along the path to discipleship.

“If any man comes unto me, and hates not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, even his own “self” as well, he cannot be my disciple. Whosoever does not bear [this] his own [personal] cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

Accentuating our call to discipleship, there is of course, Paul’s exhortation to the Romans:

 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may understand what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”         (Romans 12:1-2)

About Praying as a Disciple

Now, getting back to my other point on the second-most important deterrent to a life of active discipleship, and that is a continuous dedication to deep and intimate prayer with God. And by prayer I mean a life of continuous personal dialogue with the Divine, be it the Father, The Son, or the Holy Spirit. A dialogue where you spend much of your time listening to what the Spirit of God is saying to you and asking Him any questions you wish to ask regarding His purposes for you and your life. Without such a fellowship with God you cannot follow though on your commitment to discipleship.

Here is what Jesus says on this subject:

 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10: 26-30)

Of course, it is a given, that if you hear His Voice, and listen and converse with God, your commitment to Him and His word will lead you to obey and live by what He says.

 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (John1 1: 5-10)

An active and pure prayer life combined with mediation on His Word is essential to keeping on the path to life and maintaining ourselves as instruments of His Love. Prayer is what keeps us in His Kingdom.

Our problem as humans is that not all of us understand how to enter into such a prayerful communion with God and how to bring that communion into our everyday lives. The main reason being that we have been brought up to think that our secular lives are to be lived separately from our religious lives. Oh yes. We understand that we need to behave morally and equitably in the world, but most of us moderns think that God is not interested in our decisions at work and the business world – that all He wants of us is to behave morally.

No! My brothers and sisters. The Father, through His Son Jesus, desires that we invite Him into every aspect of our lives. We have to realize that when we enter into discipleship with Jesus, we are entering into a partnership with the Father so that He is involved in every aspect of our lives. This is the way that the Father uses our persons to bring His Kingdom into this world . For in this way, the Spirit of Jesus, uses us in manifesting the Kingdom of His Love into this world. This is what it means when we pray or act in “Jesus’ Name”. When we do things in our name, we are NOT building His Kingdom, His Kingdom can only be manifested when we act and pray “in His Name!”, and not in ours.

Jesus, does not assert Himself over us. He always asks us to invite Him into our lives and our affairs. He will not violate our free will because His Love can be manifest only out of our “agape” or selfless willingness to yield our selves to Him. Here is what He says to us:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev. 3:20-21)

Now, in order to maintain a prayer life that is fruitful we must take care that our prayer be consistent with His Word. For that reason a part of our prayer life must be dedicated to mediation on His Word. It is through prayerful meditation on the Word that the Holy Spirit inspires our prayer life with the appropriate segments His Word to empower our prayers to be representative of a Holy Spirit empowered prayer for a particular intention.

A Story – In order to make a point

In order to give you a concrete example of how prayer can be brought into our everyday lives, I am going to propose a very real-world type of situation where a young man and his wife are involved in initiating a new business which will be operated mutually between them. They are making this intent because through certain situations in their lives their family economics are in a crisis situation but also because they have entered in to a discipleship relationship with Jesus, they have been led, through prayer and meditation, that Jesus has indicated to them that He wants to join them in the start-up of a new business – He wants to be their partner!

In order to understand how this situation suddenly came about and why Jesus wants to be involved, consider for instance, that the husband has just been laid off from his professional job, and the wife, who a year ago just gave birth to twins, is just now getting back to working part time. The income crisis upon them is such that there is no way they can cover their family expenses.

But why are they not panicking? Instead what they do is turn immediately to the person they have been in fellowship and dialogue for the last 6 years.   After breakfast each morning they invite Jesus to join them during their day and ask Him to take over the events of that day for His Glory. They place the entire situation in His hands and ask him to guide each of them in the affairs of the coming day.

Because, they have both entered into a personal discipleship with Jesus, they are not dismayed at the circumstances they are facing. Rather, they know that, for those that love Him and are called according to His purposes (ie., called to be disciples), all the circumstances in their lives can work for His Glory (Rom. 8:28) as long as we discern them and dedicate them for His Glory. In these situations He uses not only our prayers but those of our prayer partners, such as with our parents to work out His plan to redeem the circumstances and not only rescue us from them but to redeem them for His Glory (to understand this read again the story of Joseph, Genesis 37-45).

The Lord works in the life situations of disciples in a variety of ways, but all begin with disciples inviting the Lord into their specific situation. And not only their own personal prayers, but also those of their prayer partners such as their parents,

In this particular instance God, the Father, begins to help the couple by placing in their hearts the desire to start their own business. Their inspired dream is somewhat based on contacts the husband has made and their mutual talents. But they, in their commitment to the Lord, have placed this dream before Him in prayer and, in response, both have received a certain peace about what is in their hearts regarding the fulfillment of this dream or desire.

The wife’s parents, praying on their own, have also received some assurance of the Lord’s favor on their children’s desired venture. In communicating their inspiration to them, they propose to the couple that if this business is His will for them, let them pray that if the Lord provide a client who will provide them initial support, they in turn, for this sign from the Lord, will dedicate themselves and the new business to the Lord and, that through their commitment, more souls may be brought into His Kingdom as they interface with the public.

No sooner had they prayed that, out of the blue, to their surprise one of the husband’s prior contacts tells him that he has a client that is willing to give them the initial support they were praying for. They immediately take that as a sign that the Lord is encouraging them to begin the new business. After meeting with the client, who by the way offers them a place for the business, they go to their lawyers and initiate the business under very favorable conditions.

In order to help them further in satisfying their commitment to Jesus, the wife’s parents provide them with a prayer of dedication to the Lord that integrates the Word of God with their business intentions. They have come to the wording of this prayer through meditation and prayer so they truly believe the Holy Spirit is guiding them to provide this prayer to them. They, then, ask the couple to pray and meditate on what they have provided them in order to complete the dedication of their new business to the Lord.

The couple agree to their proposal and after praying over the materials given them they, as a couple pray to dedicate themselves and their business together for the Glory of the Father and in thanksgiving for what the Lord has done for them.

The following is the material that the couple took to themselves to pray over …

•    Psalm 37 (NASB2)

 1Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.

2For they will wither quickly like the grass, And fade like the green herb.

3Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

4Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

5Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

6And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday.

 •   Prayer of Dedication, in accord with Psalm 37

We thank you Father for placing your desires for us in our hearts.

We also thank you Father for the Blessings you have given us in our new business. We consider this business as the “Land “in which you have placed us to “Dwell”. We therefore dedicate this “Land” to you and we dedicate ourselves to “Delight” in you and your Word through meditation and prayer. We confide in your promise that by being faithful to you and committing ourselves to You, You will guide us in our business by placing Your desires for this business in our heart. And, that, by committing our plans and our trust to You, then, You, and You alone, will bring all our plans to fulfillment thus vindicating our trust in You and Your Compassionate Love.

We pray this in the Name of Jesus Your Son for the sake of Your Glory working in our Lives. Amen and Amen.

 In Conclusion …

This narrative that I have just provided could have been the experience of any faithful believer or believers who acted and prayed in faith on God’s Word. However, if these are not committed disciples, the Holy Spirit would have a harder time working with them because, since they are not in constant dialogue with the Divine, the believers would probably not have been sensitive to the way the Lord was nudging them to pray, especially, in their invitation to the Lord to work in them and through them in their specific situation.

 Discipleship IS NOT a way to earn the Lord’s favor for anything– no, it is our way of yielding ourselves to the Lord to permit Him to work in our life circumstances to fulfill His Purposes and for His Glory, not ours! That is why we have to empty ourselves to Him so that He may fill us with His Spirit so that He and He alone may be glorified in us and through us! Blessed Be His Name Forever! Amen!

 Brethren, I submit this writing to you, mainly to incite you to ask the Holy Spirit reveal Himself to you in a very personal way so that He, and He alone, can teach you what you need to hear so that you may invite Him into the very special circumstances you are being submitted to at this moment in your life, and that in so doing you also may see the Lord’s Glory manifest itself in your lives! May it be so in Jesus’ Name! Amen and Amen

 Now, for your benefit, I re-state Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians …

 “ … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; {and} that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him {be} the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)

May the Lord be truly with you as you continue in your walk with Him. Praised Be His Holy Name!

Your Brother and fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Related Text Article Links …

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Cast Your Net On the Other Side

Hearing God’s Voice and …

Forming Intentional Disciples

Related Video Links …

Disciples Rejoice in the Spirit

About the Holy Spirit

A Catholic Pentecost is Here

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