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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Renewal’

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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Assessing our Discipleship / Forming Disciples

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

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

Are you being Conformed to Christ’s Image?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<5> Nicodemus, in trying to understand this saying, asks Jesus: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:4-8)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brethren in Christ …

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

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

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Important Links Relevant to the Current Article

Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Cost Of Discipleship

Cast Your Net On the Other Side

Blog Comments On Sherry Weddell’s Book

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

Contacts Regarding Discipleship

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

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Seek the Spirtual Renewal of Our Minds

Finding our True Self

Finding Our True Self

“Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us …

that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 Jn. 3:1-2)

therefore …

…Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life [your true self] is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.… (Col. 3:2-4)

And, so that …

“… you [may] be renewed in the spirit of your mind, …put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Eph. 4:23-24)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the human realm an inferiority complex is defined by some as:

“An inferiority complex is a lack of self-worth, a doubt and uncertainty, and feelings of not measuring up to standards. It is often subconscious, and is thought to drive afflicted individuals to overcompensate, resulting either in spectacular achievement or extreme asocial behavior. The term was coined to indicate a lack of covert self-esteem.[ For many, it is developed through a combination of genetic personality characteristics and personal experiences.”                   (as excerpted from Wikipedia)

In the natural world an inferiority complex derives from a form of the sin of pride. That is, when this problem is manifest in us, it is because we are focusing our attempt to assess “who we are” on what we think that others think of us. We normally react to this deviant self-centered form of self-analysis by overcompensating in our response to others in a social or worldly activity or venue. It also usually results in a self-demeaning valuation of ourselves, usually resulting in a depressive attitude which further complicates our own well being.

If we fall into such a situation in our lives we definitely need spiritual or psychological counsel.

However, what I wish to discuss with you today is NOT this type of inferiority assessment that come from determining our own adequacy by comparing ourselves with our peers, but rather an inferiority that comes by comparing ourselves with the Holiness of God to the point that it deters our being able to enter into an intimate personal relationship with Him because we feel we are NOT “holy enough” to approach the Divine.

In this discussion it is my intent to demonstrate to you from the Word of God that our true self-worth is in Christ and that the only way to find our true self, our spiritual self, is to “die to our natural self” and yield ourselves to Him for as the scripture says…. “our lives are hidden in Christ and when Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.…” (Col. 3:3-4)

When we begin to truly “live” in the “spiritual” realm we have a tendency to bring our “natural” baggage with us – we assume that our natural reaction to worldly events are applicable responses to events in the spiritual realm.

Nothing could be father from the truth! That is why, in order to be truly active in spiritual things our mind and soul must undergo a transformation. The Father, Himself tells us that ” His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts.” So, if our desire is to grow closer and closer to the Father through Christ, we must permit the Holy Spirit to renew our minds through His Word so that we may understand the Father and his calling and purposes for us!

In the world we strive for acceptance by others based on our own performance or traits that we deem to be acceptable by our peers. Likewise, we think that in order to be loved by others we need to “do something” or have standing as “someone” in order to earn their love.

We incorrectly bring this mentality into the spiritual realm by incorrectly thinking that, in order for God to love us, we need to “earn” His Love through our “good works”. And, extending that attitude, we also think that we cannot approach God’s throne through prayer because we are not “holy ” enough and therefore we look for a “holy” intercessor to pray for us to be able to access God with our petitions.

What we forget, is that, we who are truly converted and baptized Christians are the Father’s Children in Christ and, that in Him, we are New Creation and co-inheritors with Christ of the Father’s Kingdom. We approach His Throne, not in our own righteousness but with the righteousness of His Son, whose Spirit dwells in us. When we are in Jesus, the Father does not see our old “carnal’ self, for that self was crucified with Jesus. What the Father sees is the Glorified Jesus that dwells in us – and it is in His Righteousness that we present ourselves before His throne!

However, in order for us to be able to act in Jesus’ Righteousness we must deny our “old” self and yield our “new”self to His Spirit by presenting ourselves as a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1-2) to Him and His Will for us. When we thus surrender our will to Him, His Holy Spirit begins His work in us to conform us the image of His Son through the renewing of our minds and the purification of our spirits and thus transform us to Jesus’ image.

As our transformation progresses, our renewed mind begins to understand God’s ways so that, in understanding, we can, by being obedient to His Word, act in accordance to His purposes in our lives for His Glory, and His Glory alone! Praised be His Holy Name!

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Below are Some of the basic scriptural precepts of the “Good News” that underlie our transformation and help us to understand these truths, not just as a theological concepts but more importantly as elements of a “spiritually” experienced awareness.

<>       In Christ we are a “New Creation”

“…Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,…” (2 Cor. 5: 16-18)

<>       In Christ, we are the Father’s Children

We who repent and believe in Him, become the Father’s Adopted Children and have become joint heirs with Christ … “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom 8: 14-17)

 <>       In Christ, we receive His strength and are transferred into His Kingdom …

Empowering us to “… walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,…” (Col. 1:11-13)

 <>        In Christ, God’s Love works patiently with us and in us,

… regardless of our current state. And if we maintain a continuous state of repentance for our daily failings, the Holy Spirit will continue His work of molding us to the image of Jesus, whose spirit dwells in us, for the Glory of His Name! –“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35). The answer is that Nothing and no one can separate us from His Love! Praised be His Holy Name!

<>        As His Children, we are His partners in bringing forth His Kingdom

… we are not only inheritors of eternal life in Heaven with Christ, but are also given the opportunity to be partners with the Father in bringing forth His Kingdom in this world so that His will may be accomplish here as it is in Heaven.

“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (James 2:5))

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.…” (Col.3:1-2)

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Phil. 4″13)

<>        As His Children, we may approach His Throne without Fear

“…For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4: 15-16)

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As His Children we must come to an awareness that He desires nothing more than, through intimate and personal dialogue, to maintain an active, living relationship with us in every aspect of our lives. Yes, brothers and sisters it is time we understood what it really means to be “Adopted” Children of the Father so that we can also come to understand who we are in Christ and thus become aware of our NEW SELF IN HIM! praised be His Holy Name!

First of all we must realize that without the sacrifice of the Father’s Son we would be spiritual orphans, without a spiritual parent, without a spiritual inheritance, destined to Hades for eternity to serve, Satan , and live a life of despair an torture without end.

Secondly, we must realize that just as pride brought Satan’s downfall, so also the human original sin of pride will bring us to our downfall unless we die our self-willed human tendencies and turn to God salvation. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, the Father offers us, eternal life with Him as our Father, as well as deliverance from the sin and its consequences – a deliverance only for those who believe in Him and accept the Gift of Redemption from sin and its consequences. But if we persist in thinking that our salvation depends on our own works and performance, are we not still simmering in the filthy trap of human pride and rejecting God’s sacrifice of His Son for us?

Think now, if we live our lives as self-centered narcissists – living only for ourselves – and spitting in the face of our Savior and Lord, are we not glorifying Satan and dishonoring Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross? If our lives our lives are centered only on ourselves and a not on God our Creator are we not only idolaters but also blasphemers of the Holy Spirit who presents us the Word of Eternal Love that delivers us from the consequences of our blasphemy? (see Heb.10:29)

As a third consideration, is it not, then, time to lay aside that carnal form of thinking, that leads us to all sorts of pride-filled attitudes, including that of spiritual inferiority, and humbly accept the infinite and merciful gift of redemption that is being freely offered, by putting aside that old nature and putting on our new nature as that of adopted children of the Father? A nature so overcome by the Father’s Love that our only focus is on Him and Him alone. A focus that transforms us so that His Love and His Love alone rules over our hearts so much so that we lose any awareness of our old selves and desire only to fulfill the Father’s purposes in our lives.

How are we then to response to this message of love? Listen to what the Apostle Paul proposes to us: “…the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Rom. 13:12-14)

Putting On the Lord Jesus Christ – our New and Spiritual Self

I conclude my exhortations by presenting you the message that the Apostle Paul gave to the Philippians regarding emptying themselves as Christ emptied Himself, so that the Holy Spirit may being His Work in them and thus begin placing the conformance of their “self” to that of their Savior and Lord …

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.

 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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. 2:1-16)

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May the Lord Bless you and empower you as you come into your true “self” in Him! Praised be His Holy Name!

Your Brother In Christ … Bartimaeus

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

Related Text Article Links …

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

It All Begins with Relationship

Cast Your Net On the Other Side

I Stand at the Door an Knock

Related Video Links …

Disciples Rejoice in the Spirit

About the Holy Spirit

A Catholic Pentecost is Here

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Are you Living God’s Love?

<>   Letting God’s Divine Love work in us and through us.

Spirit-Of-Love -by B.R.Timeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

My fellow pilgrims …

In walking the narrow path of discipleship with our Savior and Master, Jesus the Son of the Living God, we must remember that the utmost characteristic of a disciple is “Love”. Not just a brotherly type of love, but a God-ordained type of Love, “agape” or selfless Love. This type of love is the “Love” that characterized Jesus; it is the Divine Love of the Father Himself that is in us through our immersion in His Spirit, through baptism (cf., Rom. 5:5).

This is the “Love” defined by Jesus: “As the Father has loved me so I have loved you” (John 15:9) and “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). It is the manifestation of this type of love, in us and through us, that distinguishes us as true disciples. It is NOT a love that we can release out of our own human efforts. It is a love that must flow from the Spirit of God that is in all baptized believers. But the problem being, that not all believers have come to the point in their faith-lives where they have released that spirit of God’s love into their everyday lives.

Unless we can place the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ above our own lives we cannot lay claim to that kind of love as guiding our everyday lives. As an aspiring disciple, the most I can say is that, on certain special occasions, the Spirit of God working in me has unexpectedly brought me to that point, but upon realizing it I become aware that it was not me, so much as the Spirit of Christ working in me and through me, that manifested in a particular instance. I constantly struggle against my flesh to bring Christ into every moment of my everyday life so that His Kingdom of Love may manifest itself continuously through me.

It helps me to understand that Peter, the apostle, had to struggle with this as well. Before Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion, Peter, out of his inflated ego and pride, attempted to stake out his love for Jesus by saying that he would defend Him to the end. To which Jesus, knowing Peter full well, responded, “… Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” (Mark 14:30)

Later, after Jesus’ resurrection when he appeared to the disciples as they were fishing, He took Peter aside, to help him overcome his self-guilt, and asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”(John 21: 15). Note that here, Jesus addresses Peter as, “Simon”, and uses a verb derived from the Greek word “agape” for “love”.

Peter, now humbled from His prior denials and recognizing that Jesus was inviting him to restore fellowship, responded … “Lord, you know that I love you”, but using a derivative of the Greek word “phileo” (ie., brotherly love) for the word “love”. Thus now indicating that he could not, at this point, overextend himself by stating that he, in his human weakness, was able to commit himself to the divine level of “agape love”.

Jesus, after asking again, then asked the third time “… do you love me?”(John 21”17), but this last time He used the verb “phileo” for ‘love” thus indicating to Peter that He was accepting His response at the level he could offer because he was being sincere and placing the level of love he could genuinely muster. However, Jesus also, at the end of that conversation, told Peter that at the end of His Life his “love” for Jesus would, by the Spirit be brought to the ‘agape” level because he also would be crucified as a manifestation of that “Love”.

As it was for Peter so it shall be for us, if we also respond sincerely to begin our walk with Jesus at the level of love that we are confident we can offer. It is with that level of love, then, that we begin our consecration to our master, with the door of our spirit open to the work of the Holy Spirit in us to conform us to the image of Christ and move us into the “agape” level of love.

The Way of  True Discipleship

The Way of True Discipleship

Yes, just as in Peter’s case, personal suffering will ensue. Because ‘agape” love always means carrying our cross of denying our own self-will and ripping off our attachments to the “world” and to “self”. This is part of the cost of discipleship. For as Jesus said…

 “If any one 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. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14:26-27)

and …

“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 15:19)

<> If we abide not in His Love we can do nothing

 Jesus made it clear that if we do not abide in Him and His Love we will not be able to bear fruit for His Kingdom …

 “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. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:4-8)

Of course the inherent interpretation is that without the empowerment of His Spirit of Love abiding within us, and obedience to His Word, nothing of spiritual value for His Kingdom can be accomplished. We may be very pious an religious, but if we are not acting out of selfless Love they will not be of service to the Lord and His Kingdom. In other words, in order to serve the Lord, our will must be submitted to Him and not our own ambitions and purposes.

But the saying may also be understood to indicate that we, as believers, are only branches of His Vine of His Love, and, if we do not maintain an intimate relationship with Jesus, who is the Vine, nothing of spiritual value for His Kingdom can be accomplished since He alone is the source of Divine Love.

St. Paul reiterates this principle of the need for a disciple to abide in “agape Love” in his first letter to the Corinthians (Chap. 1 vs.1-3) …

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13: 1-3)

Since it is clear that agape Love is essential to discipleship, the question remains as to how is this type of Love manifested in a believer that distinguishes him/her from those in the “world” ?.

Again, Paul tells is how the fruit of true Love is manifested through those who maintain their attachment to the Vine…

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:4-13)

<> Activating the Divine Love that is in us

Now, being made aware of the Father’s purpose regarding abiding His Love, we come to the challenge of assessing whether we are living our lives in accord with His purpose for us.

First of all, we must ask ourselves if we are in an intimate personal relationship with Jesus and are we submitting ourselves in love to His Love so that the Father’s will may be done in our lives as it is in Heaven. Are we walking in such a spiritual commitment and are we involved with a constant dialogue with Jesus as we perform our daily activities in this world. If not, then the first thing we must do is enter into such a consecration.

The consecration that I refer to is termed by St. Paul as that of dedicating ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to the Father, we do this by a total surrender of ourselves to the Spirit of God in us. Paul describes this consecration 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. 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)

If we are already walking in such a relationship, then we need to test ourselves daily regarding these virtues, so that we can, through repentance and communion, maintain our connection to the Vine and thus bear fruit for the Kingdom.

However, if we are unsure of exactly where we stand in our relationship and commitment then I would recommend that you click on the following link for instructions as to how to make such a commitment to Christ.

# PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

Above all Brethren, please ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all that I have been saying and obey His guidance – for it is only through Him and the inspired Word of God that your spirit may be activated to interact and dialogue with the Divine! As you pray, keep in mind this Word about knowing Love …

“We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians.” (1John 3:16)

Above all Brethren, please ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all that I have been saying and obey His guidance – for it is only through Him and the inspired Word of God that your spirit may be activated to interact and dialogue with the Divine!

May the Lord bless you and guide you, and may His Face Shine upon you, and bring you into His Peace!

Your servant in Christ … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20014]

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Recommended Related Articles for Aspiring Disciples:

Sweet Yoke of Love

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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

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Waiting for the Lord and Fasting

On Eagles wings

On Eagles wings

 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to {him who} lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up {with} wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” (Is 40: 28-31)

My dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

At times in the past I have commented on the need for Christians not to act impulsively on everything that comes into their minds, or act out of frustration because things don’t seem to be going their way. I usually refer them to the scripture in Isaiah that tells us that “… they who wait upon the Lord shall rise up as with eagles wings”.

Some responses I get are a bit critical regarding “waiting on the Lord”, implying that if we do nothing until we get an OK from the Lord we will be remiss in meeting the responsibilities of life. Their discomfiture comes mainly because they don’t truly understand the principle of “waiting on the Lord” that the scripture espouses here. They only see it from a human perspective – they separate their secular every day duties from the religious or spiritual activities. Thinking, no doubt, that their day-to-day obligations are more urgent. After all, they think, prayer can wait. They don’t understand that they need God in all aspects of their lives and prayer is the main factor that opens the door for the Lord to be involved in everything we do in life.

The scripture just quoted does NOT indicate to us that we are to do nothing while “waiting”, in fact, it is really an exhortation trust in the Lord as we keep on living a righteous life and meet all of our responsibilities in obedience to the Lord’s guidance and commandments. More than that, it indicates that we need to trust and to seek Lord in all of our affairs, secular or religious, for it is only He that can provide us the strength to fulfill them.

It is also true, that, at times, as we live out our lives there are circumstances that come up that put us to the test by permitting situations that, to all appearances, pose certain challenges that are beyond our ability do anything about. Circumstances that drain us of our energy and effort leading us to become despondent and thus weaken our faith … and our trust.

The Word tells us that as soon as we become aware of our situation and repent, remaining faithful in your trust in the Lord, and enduring in prayer, the Lord will redeem the situation such that not only will He re-energize you but He will provide you the spiritual wings you need to fly over the circumstances and free you to accomplish His purpose for you in the stressful situation you are encountering!

Sometimes the reason the Lord may permit these types of situations to occur in our lives is because, in our attempt to take control over everything we do (even the things we do for the Lord), we have left no room for the Lord to be our helper in the roles and tasks He has called us to act on as His partners.

Instead, we try to accomplish on our own, desires that come out of our own self-directed ambitions, things that are beyond His design for us but that we do because of the glory and pride we deriver from them. Because of this we lose access to the strength He provides when we are in an obedient partnership with Him. In order to restore us to our appropriate state of reliance and partnership with Him, He lets us experience the results of our own self-willed weaknesses so that we may repent and return to Him and His fellowship and strength.

All He is saying through these testing circumstances He permits is: “return to Me; give yourself to Me again and I will restore my strength in you if you merely return to your commitment to Me as the Lord of your life – then, and only then, you will rise up again with the wings of an eagle that I will provide!”

During this period of Lent we, through payer and meditation on the Word, should constantly assess our motives for why we do the things we do, not only in our every day lives but, more importantly, in our religious lives – in our supposed works of holiness, are we really mortifying the flesh? Is our intent truly to mortify or are we doing these things because we think that by doing them we are going to increase our holiness or approval before God? Isn’t this motive in itself a work of the flesh?

My brethren, the goal we need to set for our motives is to humble ourselves and die to our own desire for holiness or approval. Our main goal or aim must be to die to our very selves as true disciples of Jesus. What we sometimes overlook is that “waiting on the Lord” is in itself a form of fasting – where we fast by not acting out of our own human drives and instincts but instead suppressing them so that the Lord’s work in us may take precedence. We are to say and act just as John Baptist said: “He must increase, but I must decrease!” (Jn.3-30)

The aim of any type of fasting must be to put down the human incentives that drive us and divert us from truly walking in the Spirit, and NOT to use fasting as a way to exalt ourselves as spiritual heroes. Similarly, our giving of alms must be in secret in order to avoid self-righteousness and self-exaltation … and even then we may still fall if we are not careful with our inner motives.

The thing of which we must really fast is the feeding of our self-righteous ego and our pride, and the things in our lives which move us in that direction (this may include religious things done for the wrong reasons). Fasting from food, for instance, should be used as an act of faith indicating our willingness to control and deny all our fleshly desires and as an indication that we submit ourselves and ALL our trust and reliance on our relationship with God our Father through Jesus our Redeemer and Savior. Praised be His Holy Name!

Listen to how the Lord exhorts us regarding the matter of fasting…

… (through the words of Isaiah, Chap. 58)

<> [We, the presumed penitents, ask …]

3‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?

Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’

<>[The Lord answers:]

“Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,

and oppress all your workers.

4Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight

and to hit with a wicked fist.

Fasting like yours this day

will not make your voice to be heard on high.

 

5Is such the fast that I choose,

a day for a person to humble himself?

Is it to bow down his head like a reed,

and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?

Will you call this a fast,

and a day acceptable to the Lord?

 

6“Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of wickedness,

to undo the straps of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?

 

7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry

and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover him,

and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

 

8Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,

and your healing shall spring up speedily;

your righteousness shall go before you;

the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

 

9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;

you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you take away the yoke from your midst,

the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

 

To be filled, We must be first emptied out ...

To be filled, We must be first emptied out …

10if you pour yourself out for the hungry

and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,

then shall your light rise in the darkness

and your gloom be as the noonday.

 

11And the Lord will guide you continually

and satisfy your desire in scorched places

and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a watered garden,

like a spring of water,whose waters do not fail….”

Jesus not only confirms these promises but tells us that these promises are fulfilled in Him! Praised Be His Holy Name!

Jesus Offers Living Water

Jesus Offers Living Water

Jesus said to [theSamaritan woman], ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ (John 4:13-15)

So, ask the Spirit of Jesus that is in you to guide you into a true fasting experience in Him! Ask him to  give you a drink of the Living Water unto Eternal lIfe! Wait for Him, obey His guidance and you will truly enter in a fast that honors the Father through Him who is your Lord and Savior! Amen and Amen!

May the Holy Spirit Guide you in your spiritual walk as you yield yourself to Him this Lent.

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

 

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

 

Recommended Link(s)

Jesus the Source of Living Water and Us

Jesus and His Sweet Yoke of Love

Spiritual Growth and the Wilderness Experience

Christ In us The Hope of Glory

<> This Good Friday Video wiil help you into the Spirit of Fasting (skip the advertising)

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

Remember: It’s in the Valleys Where we Grow

IF YOU NEED PRAYER GO TO THESE LINKS

Intercessors of the Lamb

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