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Posts Tagged ‘The Word of God’

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

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

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

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

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

Here is what Jesus said regarding this matter:

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

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His Kingdom is Near

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Started: Decide to Be His Disciple

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

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

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

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

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus.

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

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

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

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

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

<> Related Links                                                                                                                                                        Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart?

Cast Your Net on the Other Side!

Jesus, The Source of Living Water and Us!

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

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Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart? 

 —- Are You Being Conformed into His Image ? (Part 1)

He Is Risen!

He Is Risen!

“… 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.8:29-30)

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We have just celebrated the solemnity of the Resurrection of Christ – a feast which, along with His crucifixion an burial are the keystones of the Christian Faith. However, in the practice of our faith, some of us tend to overlook the fact that the Resurrection took place on the Jewish feast of Firstfruits and that Jesus was indeed the first fruits of a new creation. You see, Jesus not only died to pay for the sins of humanity but also so that He might be the first among many brethren (Rom. 8:29). So that He, living in us and through us beleivers, might continue the work of bringing the Good News of God’s Kingdom here amongst the people of the world. He was leaving, but He was passing His anointing unto us so that we might continue His work.

In order to fulfill this, our role in this world, we need to be conformed to His image by the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:29) and yield ourselves to His rule so that we can be empowered to be His instruments in bring in forth the Kingdom. However, this cannot happen unless we, of our own free will, permit the Son of God to “arise in our hearts” so that we can experience His resurrection presence in us – only then can we be His partners in being instruments of the Father’s Will here on this earth!

Because the Father will not impose Himself on us, our salvation is NOT contingent on our decision to become His bondservants – it must be a free will decision of “agape” Love to give ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Father, in Jesus’ Name! (Rom. 12:1). Our decision will then allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us to renew our minds and empower us for the work of the Kingdom and for the final transition to union with Him!

To begin this spiritual transformation the Holy Spirit begins by first awakening our spirits to His leadings – an awakening that can only be accomplished by Him, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus (a leader of the Sanhedrin). In essence, our spirits have to be re-born from above so that the Spirit of Christ may come into us. This, the Arising of Jesus in our hearts, is the first step in being conformed to His Image.

jesus_nicodemusNow there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

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.” (Jn. 1:1-8)

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We ended this Lenten season with the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior from the dead and as the harbinger of our own spiritual transition that begins with our transition from unbelief to a Living Faith and a renewed Life in the spirit as Children of God – a renewed awareness, which permits you to sense the “wind” of the Spirit.

In this series of articles I will be discussing the various levels of transitions we must all go through in our journey to spiritual maturity as the Spirit Conforms us to the Image of Christ. Besides laying the groundwork for an understanding of the nature of these transformative stages, the first stage I will be discussing will be our coming to the awakening of our spirit. If you can sense the “wind” of the spirit then you have an awakened spirit and are beyond this first stage. If not, then you need to ask God to send His Holy Spirit to renew you.

We cannot live in this world without undergoing transitions – in fact, natural life, itself, is a process in which transitions are of the essence. What we don’t realize or sometimes take for granted is that the development of our spiritual life itself requires a series of transitions in order to mature our spiritual nature sufficiently so that we may enter into a true and fulfilling intimate living relationship with the Divine through Christ Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

We all are tripartite beings composed of body, soul, and spirit (1Thess. 5-23). Our body and soul are designed to permit us to interact with our natural and time constrained environment in order to be able to subsist and procreate to thus fulfill our natural role in this world. Our spirit, is, essentially, our inner sanctuary, designed to permit us to interact with our creator so that He may partner with us in the living out of our our lives, and thus be His instruments in bringing forth His will into this creation in our God-intended role for us.

However, as natural descendants of Adam, and victims of his rebellion against being ruled by God, we are born with an inactive spiritual connection to the Father – with an empty and desecrated sanctuary, so to speak. In this, our natural state, we are, of necessity, controlled by the physical and emotional necessities of the world around us as well as the forces of darkness which utilize our weakened state to foil the Father’s true purpose for the human race and, essentially, attempt to bring us to a final destruction.

Jesus, the Father’s Only Begotten Son, was sent not only to save us from our sins by satisfying God’s justice but to restore our spiritual nature to its original state before sin entered into human nature and thus reconnect us to the Father via the Holy Spirit and His Word. Because of sin, our human body is destined to return from the dust from which it came. But our soul and spirit are destined for a recreated body at the resurrection of the dead when Jesus returns – no longer as just our savior, but to judge the living and the dead, to determine where we will spend eternity.

Before that day comes, we who have believed in the Christ and the Good News of Salvation must pass through a series of spiritual transformations or transitions, not only to be saved but also so that we may be His instruments in bringing the same Good News to this fallen world. These transitions begin with the first stage: the re-birth of our spirits, just as Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born of water and the spirit” in order to enter into this stage of spiritual renewal.

From the scriptures we can identify at least three major stages of this transformation. The Holy Spirit whom the Father sent to us at the behest of His Son is God’s Agent of Grace and His Word to bring us through this process. I propose that the main stages where Grace intervenes in our spiritual formation to be as follows:

Stage 1 – Unbelief to a Living Faith and Spiritual Awakening

Stage 2 – Spiritual Awakening to Spiritual Empowerment and Consecration

Stage 3 – Spiritual Consecration to Spiritual Union With Christ

If the naming of these major stages surprises you, don’t worry, most people brought up in our traditional religious culture, as I was, would not be familiar with these terms. They are unfamiliar because our religious culture uses other terminology to express them. The reason is that our culture of “intellectual enlightenment” tends to avoid using the terms, “spirit” and “spiritual” – which are considered to be too theologically abstract for the common man.

For instance, in our cultural thinking the term “conversion” is considered as merely coming to a different intellectual understanding or assessment of certain philosophical or cultural tenets and the realignment of our lives to that renewed understanding. It cannot even conceive that the term, as used in scripture, refers NOT to an intellectual change of mind but of our response to hearing the Word of God in our “heart” or “spirit” thus evoking an understanding in us that tells us that we are not walking in harmony with God’s Spirit – a level of “spiritual awareness” that brings a deep desire in our hearts to repent and turn to follow His leading so that we can be in alignment to His will.

Now, About Stage 1

When Jesus told the crowds that “…. unless you are converted and turn [repent] you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5) He was not speaking about them accepting a new philosophy or theology but about something that had to occur in their “spirits”, not their minds through the Word preached to them – a spiritual impartation that would cause them to accept the Good News of Salvation that the Father was offering them through Jesus’ preaching and teaching.

It is true that sometimes a true conversion or “turning to God”” is preceded by an intellectual reassessment of what we believe, but that happens because our intellectual preconceptions are blocking what the Holy Spirit is telling our hearts or our spirit

Jesus Offers Living Water

Jesus Offers Living Water

As an example of this take the instance where Jesus spoke with a Samaritan woman who came to the well to draw water, asking her to give Him a drink. She was taken aback that a Jewish man, especially a rabbi, would ask a foreign woman for a drink…

So Jesus [said to] her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (Jn 3:10)

The woman, of course, did not understand what Jesus was saying about “living water” in a “spiritual” way so she responded, just as we would, in a natural way, asking Jesus, “how are you going to get this water? You don’t have anything to draw water with?”

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn:3-13-14)

Now, the woman’s spiritual ears perked up and, sensing that what Jesus was referring to was “spiritual”. she said, … “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (Jn 3:15)

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (jn 3:16-18)

She now recognized “in her spirit” that Jesus was speaking from His spirit as a prophet of God and so, sensing an opportunity, tried to get Jesus to tell her about where God intended men to worship. But Jesus answered her:

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The woman said to him, “I know [from tradition] that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”(Jn 3:21-26)

Here Jesus, by direct revelation, makes it clear exactly who He is and that the Father desires for us to come before Him “in [a renewed] spirit and in truth”. Jesus came just so that we could have a reborn spirit so we could worship the Father as He desires to be worshipped. How many of us can say that we “know” that our worship is “in the spirit”? I, before my spirit awakened, a compliant baptized Christian, did not even know what being “in the spirit” was!

Now, for the Samaritan woman, the transition from unbelief to belief was completed when she understood “in her spirit” who Jesus was, so she immediately got up and went to give her witness to the villagers and…

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” (Jn.3:39)

It is important to note the significance that, once awakened, the woman’s witness of her faith had on the villagers. Yes! Her faith was contagious! And, yes, the faith of the villagers was also connected them to the person of Jesus and who He was. However, their initial level of belief was still at the “human” initiation stage, a stage that was calling them to go further in their faith. It was an intermediate state that was inciting them to seek out Jesus for themselves. The Holy Spirit was drawing them to go further and experience and hear Jesus for themselves. In their curiosity the Holy Spirit drew them to seek Him personally and, when they did He preached and taught the Word of God to them and them several days. It is, at this point, after they had heard the WORD directly from Jesus …

They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (Jn3:42)

Just as the Word had to be heard directly from Jesus to be able to be received spiritually to activate their spirits, so also we who have heard the testimony of “tradition” must spiritually seek out Jesus for ourselves and hear the Word directly from Him in order to complete the first stage of transition from unbelief to belief an have the Risen Jesus present in our hearts (spirits). Praised be His Holy Name!!

In living out our faith however, we get stuck at the intermediate stage,” the testimony of tradition”, and never seek out Jesus for ourselves to activate our spiritual awareness. We don’t do it because we cannot comprehend that, “in faith” we can transcend our human circumstances and reach out to Him “in the spirit”- our reborn spirit that is NOT bound by the natural circumstances in which our physical self is embedded!

One of the reasons we don’t even try is because our religious culture is very cautious in teaching us about our newly awakened spiritual nature and what our spiritual legacy in Christ really is! And that legacy is that we now abide in HIM and HE in us in our spirits and that because of this we can take the next step in faith into spiritual waters and actually experience His presence and Hear His Voice in the here and now! Again, let us give praise to His Holy Name!

Remember the two disciples who, depressed by the circumstances of Jesus’ death, were on their way to a village called “Emmaus” when they encountered Jesus (without recognizing Him). In conversing with them He chided them, saying,

O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory?” And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Lk 24:25-27)

As the day was ending they said to Him …

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood...

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood…

“… Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent”. And he went in to abide with them. And it came to pass, when he had sat down with them to meat, he took the bread and blessed; and breaking it he gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, “Was not our heart burning within us, while he spoke to us in the way, while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Lk 24:29-32)

Our religious initiation, again, tends to major in the doctrinal portion of catechesis and glosses over the “spiritual” portion also required so that, although new initiates are given the basic teachings as the church’s testimony of the necessary tenets of the Faith, they are not usually given any spiritual direction or incentive to seek out Jesus, personally, “in the spirit”, so that they too may recognize Him in the breaking of the bread, confirming His Word in their hearts and thus truly letting the Holy Spirit awaken their spirits through the Word.

Listen to what the Apostle Peter says to the church:

“… 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 Ptr 1:14-25)

Here, Peter clearly indicates that it is the anointed preaching of the Good News, the Word of God, which awakens our spirit and brings it to a new life in Christ.

For those of you who have been baptized and have not yet completed this stage of your transition to a full awakening of your spirit, all you need to do is ….

“… ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)

Once you have sincerely asked, in prayer, then partake of the Word in faith and it will be opened to you so that you also may hear the Word of the Good News with your “spiritual” ears and if you respond to that Word you will receive the grace of God for a ‘spiritual” awareness of His Presence in you – the beginning of an intimate personal relationship with Him!

Just as Jesus said, blessed are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” (Luke 11:27-28)

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

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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Related and Pertinent Links

Has Jesus Arisen In your Heart ? (Part 2)

Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart? (Part 3)

Praying Through the Passion of Christ

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Cast Your Net on the Other Side!

Jesus, The Source of Living Water and Us!

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From Repentance to a Renewed Life

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

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

 

 

 

My Dear Brothers  and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

Self assessment

Assessing Our Inner Self

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<>  Confession and  Sincere Repentance Is Gateway to Reconciliation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<> Our Practice of Repentance Needs to be Continuous

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

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

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

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

<> Our Continuous Repentance Reaffirms Our Continuing Transformation

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

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

<> Understanding Sincere Faith-Inspired Repentance

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

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

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

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

<> Carrying Out Our Commitment

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

St. Paul expresses this commitment to a New Transformed Life in Christ as follows:
“ I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2))

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

Jesus-crucified

It is finished!

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

 

 

<>  Living out Our Renewed Life In Christ

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

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

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

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus.

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

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

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

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

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

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Did Not our Hearts Burn Within Us?

Sacred Heart

Jesus’ Burning Heart is Within Us

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

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 3: 1 “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’  8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”

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

Matt. 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Jesus Himself stated His Mission ..

fire_book_800x600_618x463_xlarge

The Spirit Inspired Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Related Links…

Jesus the Source of Living Water and Us

Testimony of the Pope’s Preacher

The Transforming Work of the Cross

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

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Assessing our Discipleship / Forming Disciples

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

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

Are you being Conformed to Christ’s Image?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brethren in Christ …

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

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

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Important Links Relevant to the Current Article

Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Cost Of Discipleship

Cast Your Net On the Other Side

Blog Comments On Sherry Weddell’s Book

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

Contacts Regarding Discipleship

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

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Being Conformed into Christ’s Image —

Our Coming to Spiritual Maturity in our Walk with Christ

scroll2“Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal. 3:23-29)

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “abba! Father! (Gal. 4:6)

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

My Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Galatian community begins with the statement indicating that, “ … in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God”, yet in the next part of his letter he indicates he is perplexed by their current behavior and that because of that behavior they indicate to him that, although sons, they are not yet fully formed into Christ. So much so that he is still in travailing prayer for them – for they are essentially still in the womb as far as understanding the graces, freedom and responsibility we have in Christ Jesus.

About the Transformation Process

This problem of a delay in maturing in Christ is still with us today. I know because was just like the Galatians. I was a baptized, confirmed and a compliant cradle Christian. But like the Galatians, was still in the spiritual womb of “mother” Church. I had not yet awakened to who I, as a person, was in Jesus Christ and had not yet come out of the womb crying “daddy” or “abba” to my Father in Heaven. And, I had not yet met with my brother, Jesus, although I knew about Him. I also did not know that it was the Father’s purpose in conceiving me in Christ to conform me into His image! It was just beyond my imagination!

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

Are you being Conformed to Christ’s Image?

I now, by His Grace, understand it is the Father’s clearly stated purpose that all those who are baptized into Christ be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). I now believe, in consequence, that our maturity in Christ and subsequent spiritual growth also needs be assessed in accordance to the progress we are making, after submitting our will to His, and in cooperating with His Transforming Spirit in us.

It should be expressly noted that our transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit in us – as Jesus says, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Our only contribution to God’s work in us and through us is our cooperation, in faith, for He will not violate our free will. The Father always gives us the opportunity to yield ourselves to His will and purpose before He initiates any creative work of the Spirit in us.

Listen to how the Virgin Mary responded to the Angel Gabriel when told that she had been selected to conceive and bear a son by the Holy Spirit – a son that was to be the Father’s anointed Messiah, not only for Israel but also for the all humankind!

”And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1: 38)

That, my brothers and sisters is the manner in which He expects us to respond when the Good News of salvation is presented to us. The Good News that the Father not only wishes to save us but that He also wishes to birth His Son in us and conform us to His image us so that He might be the firstborn of many brethren. (Rom. 8:29)

Yes, the appropriate response, is an act of our will, inspired by faith, to repent, believe, and to open the door to our heart to His Person as Our Lord and Savior saying to Him, “Lord save me, let your Spirit, be born in me … be it done to me according to your Word”. It is only such a response that will bring us to a true spiritual birth in Jesus and subsequent transformation into His Image. Praised be His Holy Name!

With this said, let us, then, discuss this transforming process for this Conformation. For, indeed, it is through that process which we have initiated with our declaration whereby we begin to grow in spiritual maturity by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

We are all aware of the demarcation points in our physical lives in this world, namely, our birth, our entering school, our graduations, our military service (if any), our wedding day, the birth of our children, our profession, etc. . As important as these events in our earthly lives are in indicating our maturity and progress in our earthly lives, we need to ask ourselves: what are the similar key events in our religious/spiritual lives and what is their value to us in assessing our growth and maturity in living for God?

Of course, our first attempt at listing these stages in our religious lives these events could possibly be like this: our birth, our baptism and confirmation, our first communion, our marriage, our ordination, our entry into service to the church, etc.

Today I am proposing that we take a distinct and more mystical view at assessing our progress in the spiritual life. I am thinking that maybe we should look at the metaphors used in the New Testament used by Jesus and the writers of the New Testament as a more spiritual way of understanding the stages of our spiritual growth to maturity in Christ Jesus. Some of these metaphors include, spiritual travail, spiritual rebirth, being as babes in Christ, and the subsequent process in coming to maturity in spiritual wisdom an knowledge in Him.

From Conception to a New Life

Let us consider, for instance, that when we are spiritually conceived in Christ at baptism we are held within a spiritual womb, within our parents and the church. While in this womb we are taught, nurtured and fed spiritual milk from the Word and Sacraments. Eventually, as our spiritual fetus matures on the Word, we act on that Word declaring Jesus as our Savior and thus reach out to the eternal life and relationship with Jesus that He offers us as a gift.

This act of cooperation with God’s grace brings us out of the womb and into a new awareness, a spiritual awareness of the presence on the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Jesus in us! An awareness that tells us that we are out of the womb and that we are now Living Children of the Living God here in this world and we KNOW it, not theologically, but experientially, because the Holy Spirit confirms it in our spirits. This, being an awareness that we are a new Creation or, a re-born man as the Apostle Peter expresses it when he states:

“Forasmuch as ye KNOW that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.“   (1 Peter 1:18-23)

Some call our coming to this stage where we know, that we know that we have a “daddy’ and have personally encountered our brother, Jesus, as an “encounter” with the Divine or as a “conversion”. The terms are somewhat irrelevant to those of us who enter into a new spiritual awareness of life in Christ, because, for us, there is NO DOUBT in our souls that we have entered into a new stage in our spiritual lives and it doesn’t matter to us what you call it! Now, we are able to live in this new life and are made aware by the Holy Spirit that we are, indeed, Sons of the Most High and able to commune with Him in the Spirit! Praised Be His Holy Name!

From Conversion to Putting On the New Man

After this first stage in our transformation, the Holy Spirit leads us deeper into the Word, teaching us , Not in our minds but in our spirits, so that we might be led of the Spirit as Jesus was led. The events and circumstances of each day being provided our hearts and our spirits are brought into alignment with the thoughts and desires of Jesus Himself. We learn to pray as Jesus prayed, to Love as Jesus Loved, to as a means of testing the principles and spirit of faith that the Holy Spirit is infusing in us as we grow more and more closer to Christ!

We also pass through a phase of growth where we are essentially babes in Christ. Paul refers to this phase when writing to some of his early communities, such as the Corinthians to whom he exhorts as follows … Brothers, I couldn’t speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to babies in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren’t yet ready. Indeed, not even now are you ready, for you are still fleshly. For insofar as there is jealousy, strife, and factions among you, aren’t you fleshly, and don’t you walk in the ways of men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul’, and another, ‘I follow Apollos’, aren’t you fleshly? (1 Cor. 3:1-4)

In this phase of growth we can barely find evidence of spiritual growth, yet with continued persistence and teaching from the word we begin to produce fruit, and it is by this fruit that others will assess your progress. In his epistle to the Galatians Paul lists the characteristic fruit of living in divine, “agape”, Love. He clearly says … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Our growth in this area is gradual but constant as long as we maintain our fellowship with Christ.

If we do stumble and fall (as we all do), the results will also be plainly evident. “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”. (Gal. 5:19-21)

In exhorting the Galatians on this matter, Paul tells them “…. [Although,] you were called to freedom, brethren; … do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, 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.” (Gal.5: 13-18)

Remember, that acknowledging and repenting of our sin is extremely important in maintaining our fellowship with Him, and, as the Apostle John tells us:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he 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 we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

“… write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”     

( 1 John 1:5-10; 2:1-2)

In entering the more mature stage, the Holy Spirit uses the circumstances of our lives to bring us the point where we dedicate ourselves to the Lord totally, renouncing the flesh and seeking only that God’s will and purpose be accomplished in our lives through the “New Man”, that is the “New Spiritual Nature” we have in Christ.

By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, ‘the obedience of faith’ (CCC 143).” Obedience of faith is a willed act of love for God who loved us first.

Paul puts it in this way:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator”

(Col. 3:1-10).

Putting on the New Man Until our Conformance to Christ Is Complete

Now, putting to death our Old Man, that is, our old nature, is not something we accomplish by ourselves. Again, it is something we must do in cooperation with God’s Grace and the Holy Spirit. It begins when we place our old self on the altar as a living sacrifice. Here again we turn to Paul to explain it to us…

“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)

Yes, brethren, when we make a decision to dedicate ourselves totally to the service of God and we present our old self a s a sacrifice, the Lord Himself will work in our lives to burn out the old nature and begin the renewal of our minds so that all that we say, and do, and think will be renewed by the Spirit of Christ in us.

Do not think this will be easy. It will be painful because we are, in fact crucifying our old nature and severing our old attachments and desires will be difficult. But the Lord will help us in our weakness so that the nature of his Son may be manifested in us – not for our glory, but for His. Praised be His Holy Name!

This process will last a lifetime and will not be completed until we receive our new spiritual bodies at the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, our King! Again, Paul summarizes this process with Spirit-inspired words …

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose [i.e., to become His adopted Sons]. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified”

(Rom. 8:18-29).

Our “glorification” comes at Jesus’ Return when we receive our glorified bodies as the concluding act of God in conforming us to the image of His Son.

But even while we are here in this world, as incomplete as our conformation may be we still share in the inheritance of Christ and in the anointing He received to accomplish His appointed Role in bringing forth the Kingdom. For, after all we are not only His brethren, but also His chosen disciples to carry on His work.

What I am saying, brethren, is that our conformance to Christ also includes our share in His empowerment with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. For Just as we are baptized in water as He was, so also we need to be anointed with the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, just as He was. For, in order to be like Him and minister the Gifts like Him, we also need to have the Holy Spirit come upon us so we can truly minister to the body of Christ in His Name.

Listen to what Jesus said about His empowerment …

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

(Luke 4: 18-19)

In like manner it must be understood that we cannot truly carry out our roles of the “Great Commission” to “proclaim the gospel to the whole world” and “make disciples” without a commensurate anointing of God’s Spirit on us who believe.

That is why he said to his disciples to wait at Jerusalem before going out minster so they would also be anointed by the Holy Spirit, whom He termed … “The Promise” of the Father”. This “promise” is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Peter also preached to the crowds at Pentecost saying …

Then Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and [then] ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For [this] the “promise” is [also] unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.”

(Acts 2:38-39)

In continuing our walk to maturity in Christ in this world it is important that we also receive the “baptism in the Holy Spirit”. If we are to take our part in building up the body of Christ we need to be empowered by the Spirit because this is the way He has chosen to manifest himself through us is in spiritual service to His Body the Church. In the wisdom of God that come with your maturity, therefore, ask for the impartation of the Gifts that you need to partner with Him in bringing forth His Kingdom.

As we go forth to serve the Lord, my brothers and sisters, let us take to heart the words that St. Ignatius of Loyola gave to his disciples, namely ….

St. Francis giving Himself Totally to God

“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”.

St. Ignatius’ Prayer Yielding Himself to the Lord 

(from Spiritual Exercises No. 234)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory,

my understanding,

and my entire will,

all that I have and possess.

You gave it all to me;

to you, Lord, I give it all back.

All is yours,

dispose of it entirely according to your will.

Give me the grace to love you,

for that is enough for me.

May the Lord, in His Name, work in you and through you as you proceed onward to spiritual maturity, so that all that you think and say and do in this world may be for His Glory and NOT for yours. Amen

Your brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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Jesus In Deep Prayer

Thy Will Be Done!

[As He was praying in Gethsemane Jesus told His Disciples…] “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this [cup] cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. (Matt. 26:41-42)

 

My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

Like the disciples, our flesh is weak and sometimes our eyes get heavy especially when we are praying to discern God’s will for our lives. It is certainly a challenge of faith.

There are certain faith challenges that all Christians face regardless of our tradition or denomination. The most basic of these is discerning and obeying the Will of God in our lives. Not just God’s “declared moral will” and precepts as promulgated in the Word of God, but God’s specific will for each of us individually.

In order to proceed further we should all be aware that there are three aspects of the Will of God that need to be understood: 1) His Sovereign or Hidden Will, 2) His Perceptive or Declared Will, and, 3) His Permissive or Perfect Will.

Regarding the first aspect, the Lord has told us that “… My ways are not your ways , nor your thoughts My thoughts”. Unless the Lord reveals certain aspects of His Sovereign Will, it is hidden from us. This expression of God’s will is what God has decreed to happen in His creation regardless of what we or any created being may think, and is assured to happen as decreed. We humans can only view His Sovereign will in retrospect and, then, only when He reveals it to us.

His Perceptive or Declared Will, on the contrary, does not always occur and sometimes appears to diverge from His Sovereign Will. We are not responsible to fulfill God’s sovereign decree. But we are responsible to obey His declared or revealed will, which is plainly laid out for us in Scripture. This expression of His Will that is revealed is called “His Perceptive Will” or His “Declared Will” and, it is binding for us who beleive, in context with its conditions and qualifiers as found in scripture’. This is the second aspect of God’s Will. It is this Will, which requires compliance from every member of a Christian community, and is the basic foundation for Judaeo-Christian moral and community precepts.

The third aspect of God’s will that we see in the Bible is God’s Permissive or Perfect Will. This aspect of God’s Will is more oriented to that obedience to His will which gives God pleasure It is also called God’s Perfect Will because it is intended to bring forth the perfection of in those who respond to His Loving intent. In that sense, it results in what pleases God the Most. It is NOT, what some may think, as a permission to sin. No it is merely an expression that God has a “perfect” plan for everyone’s lives but our circumstances in life do not always permit an easy transition to that “perfect” plan, so through prayer and spiritual counsel the Lord will “permit” a gradual transition to His perfect plan for you – but it will involve a personal struggle which the Lord uses to bring you to the perfection He desires. (see #The Two Wills of God).

In Summary, here is a reprise of what this discussion may mean to you…

The basic approach of the average Christian man or woman to living out God’s will in their lives is to be submissive to His Declared will. That is, to be faithful to God’s Word and His Commandments to love God and our neighbor, avoid temptation, attend worship regularly, contribute to your church and community through your sharing of your time, your talents and your treasure. And, that, through obedience to the precepts, you stay within that frame-work, you will be complying with God’s moral will for your life.

In general, such an approach will keep you within the bounds of God’s Righteousness and permit us to lead a life that reflects the virtues of the life of Jesus that is in us through baptism. What is not usually understood is that keeping the moral Law and the general will of God for Christian society does not necessarily enable us to comply with the Lord’s specific or perfect will for each of us personally in this life.

While keeping God’s Declared Will may suffice as far as satisfying moral justice, we also need to be motivated by LOVE (agape) and His permissive will as well. That is, to do everything for God and your fellow human beings motivated by Love (agape) and not by coercion or obligation, because that is what is most pleasing to The Father. Sometimes this confronts us with a dilemma between fulfilling God’s Declared will and His Perfect or individual will for us, The dilemma we are faced with is how can we fulfill two or more “good” things we are being called to do in order to please His personal will for us.

To do that, we need to have an active personal relationship with Jesus and a Holy-Spirit-empowered awareness to enable us, not only to maintain that relationship through prayer, but also to discern and be obedient to the individual directives the Lord provides us through our interactive relationship with Him. If we do not have this level of spiritual awareness we cannot fully function as disciples, because disciples cannot function properly unless they are able to hear the “Shepherd’s” specific voice for us as individuals and obey it (John 10:27)!

We need to understand that the Lord has created each of us not only to live morally and in fellowship in our communities by loving one another and doing good, but that He also has a unique calling and purpose for each of us to be His partners in bringing forth His Kingdom not only in the community but also in the world at large. This unique calling and purpose is also God’s will but it is a “permissive” or “non-coercive will”. That is, we are free to accept this type of specific calling without any condemnation or sin. Such is the call to discipleship.

The Lord’s reason for this is made clear in scripture; He wants to partner with us in certain missions He has for us as individuals. But in order for us to be His partners as disciples we must freely accept this level of calling with out any coercion or compulsion – we must act out of a pure “agape” or selfless Love so He, through His Holy Spirit can work His purposes in us and through us – not just around us.

The Lord Jesus Himself is our primary model and example. He Gave Himself totally to the Father to the point of sacrificing Himself on the Cross for our sins. At Gethsemane He prayed painfully to that Father that if possible He would take this Cup from Him (Matt.26:36-46) but, in the end, He surrendered Himself to the Father’s will and accepted the role that fulfilled the Father’s will for Him personally, praying… “My Father, if this [cup] cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done.”

When Jesus was to be baptized by John, and John resisted, He told John that it had to be thus in order that the Father’s Righteous Will for Him personally be fulfilled (Matt.3:15). Even at that point in the initiation of His Ministry, He was accepting the initiation into Cup of God’s Will for which He had been destined – He was always free during His walk in Ministry to move away from taking the Cup but, because He was free to do so, He gave Himself totally to the Father out of “agape” Love which is the only way His self-sacrifice would have been acceptable before God!

That is why, when Jesus told His disciples what was in store for Him (Matt.16:22-23), Peter said, “… it shall not be so with you, Lord”, that Jesus replied, “depart from me Satan”, for instead of helping Him accept the Cup of God’s will, Peter was tempting Him to walk away from His calling!

Mary, His mother, was also called into discipleship when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her that God’s specific will for her was to be the Mother of His Son. Even though she knew her pregnancy would go against the social norms, she accepted her calling by just saying, “be it done to me according to thy word!” (Luke1:38)

I could go on to list others who likewise received their calling to God’s Perfect Will, such as Joseph, Mary’s husband, Peter, Paul, and others who are clearly delineated in God’s Word. What is clear is that each of these received an individual calling and each received their calling by denying their own self-will and taking up the “Cup” of the Father’s Will for them. In essence, they took up the cross of self-denial so that God’s will could be fulfilled in their lives through the Power of the Holy Spirit that dwelt in them! That is what true discipleship entails!

The Way of  True Discipleship

The Way of True Discipleship

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

Now, the Lord is asking you to quiet your hearts and listen to His Voice and see if He is knocking at your door. If He is, then open you heart to Him in prayer and receive Him as your Lord and teacher by deciding to follow Him and Him alone! Then and only Then will His Perfect Will be truly and fully fulfilled in Your Life! Praised Be His Holy Name!

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD,

plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jer.29:11-13)

Your Fellow Pilgrim and Servant In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Related Links

# The Two Wills of God

§ I stand at the Door and Knock

§ Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

§ Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

§  Jesus, The Word Made Flesh

§ Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart? (Part 3)

§ Our Father… It all begins with Relationship

# Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

§ Discerning the Lord’s Call

 

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