Flash

"LIFE IN THE SPIRIT" 06/08/11

Mathetes, I am praying that as you continue a life of prayer, Word, Sacrament, and service, you are being enlightened, encouraged, daily renewed and sanctified, by the power and love of the Holy Spirit.  Know and receive the efficacious nature of intercessory prayer in the truth of this Word, “For even if I am absent in the flesh, yet

I am with you in spirit, rejoicing as I observe your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.”  Colossians 2:5.

 

Daily is a key word for us today as mathetes.  Let’s review and spiritually renew ourselves in this powerful Word from the mathetes of Jesus, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”  Luke 10:17.  There is so much power and authority in that one verse.  Let’s break it open.

 

One of the enduring criticisms of the Iraq war is that too many of our soldiers were sent into battle without the proper weapons and equipment.  For example, early on in the war, many soldiers were maimed and killed because the skin of their SUV’s were too flimsy to protect them from IED’s or a RPG’s.  When a person is sent to battle a ruthless enemy, the proper weapons and protection are essential.

 

As we learned last week, mathetes is the Greek word, translated in English as disciple.  Today we know that Jesus sends us in his name to do what he did, to continue his Mission, to preach salvation in his name, to heal and rescue people from poverty, depression, hatred, possessions, addiction, and anything else that binds them, anything that keeps them from living the life of peace and freedom from sin, that Jesus literally died to bestow upon them.

 

Make no mistake about this Mission, it is a daily battle.  To fight this battle we will need powerful weapons, spiritual weapons, which our Savior abundantly bestows upon us as mathetes.  St. Paul, like all good teachers, described the daily Christian life in many ways, for example as a journey to heaven, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”  Philippians 3:20.  As a race that an athlete competes in, “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize.  Run so as to win.”  1 Cor. 9:24. “I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me.”  2 Timothy 4:7-8.

 

However the most persistent and powerful metaphor for the Christian life, used by St. Paul  that resounds in my heart and speaks to my daily experience as a Christian, is that of a battle, “And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound who will get ready for battle?”  1 Cor. 14:8.  St. Paul says its not just any battle but a spiritual battle fought with powerful weapons, “”For although we are in the flesh, we do not battle according to the flesh, for the weapons of our battle are not of the flesh, but are enormously powerful.”  2 Cor.10:3-4.  And to the Church in Ephesus St. Paul reveals the enemy, “our struggle (battle) is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”  Ephesians 6:12.

 

I can only speak for myself, but there has never been one day when I did not have to battle my spiritual enemy in one way or another: lust, pride, greed, anger, foul language, etc. You see, the war against satan was won on the cross, yes in his Blood and proved through his Resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit, Jesus has defeated satan by dying for the sins of the world, “In him we have redemption by his Blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us,”  Ephesians 1:7,  and “He is the expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”  1 John 2:2

 

Jesus is God and has already defeated satan, Jesus knows exactly what you and I need in our daily walk in the vineyard, on our spiritual journey towards citizenship in heaven, the gifts we need from him in order to be victorious in our daily battles against our spiritual enemy.  Yes, Jesus knows that he has sent you into a DAILY battle against an enemy that is ruthless, cunning, and evil.   A spiritual enemy who hates you and would literally do anything to destroy your life and soul.

 

Our truth as mathetes is that in his Blood, Resurrection, and sending of the Spirit, Jesus has defeated satan, and through faith in Jesus, we, in the power of the Spirit he sent, share in this victory.  However, as the Word reveals, we also know that we still must battle satan, “For although we are in the flesh, we do not battle according to the flesh, for the weapons of our battle are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses.”  2 Corinthians 10: 3-4.

 

To fight this battle we need these three essentials: first, we must be aware that we are in a battle and how the battle is being fought, to those living in darkness, there is no awareness, secondly, we must be aware of ourselves, our spiritual strengths and weaknesses, which gifts/spiritual armor Jesus has bestowed upon us, and thirdly, our spiritual gifts must be renewed daily through prayer, Word, Sacrament, and service, in and through the Holy Spirit.

 

We have already posed and answered this question but here it needs to be repeated, “Why do we have to fight a battle against an enemy that Jesus has already defeated.”  The reason is because I am still here, and I am a sinner, because you are still here and you are a sinner, and wherever sin exists, the enemy is present.  However, do you think Jesus would send you into battle without weapons or protection?  Absolutely not.

 

Today, we are going to learn about the spiritual weapons Jesus has gifted his mathetes with so as to fight an invisible and hateful enemy.   Yes, Jesus has bestowed upon each and every mathetes particular and specific gifts, which he has chosen for us, the ones he knows we will need for our personal spiritual battles.  As you walk in the Father’s vineyard, keep in mind that through faith in his Blood and Resurrection, you are a member of his family, in a real and not metaphorical way, and therefore today, right now, you share in his victory over evil, sin, and satan,  in the manner in which you stay connected to HIM. Yes, to stay victorious, to share in Jesus’ victory over satan on the cross and in the Resurrection, as we have already seen, we must stay connected to Jesus.  How?  I know you know!!  The Holy Spirit.

 

Yes, our connection to Jesus, in every aspect of our lives is the Holy Spirit, “Whoever is joined to the Lord, becomes one spirit with him,” 1 Corinthians 6:17.  Jesus also reveals this about our need to walk in the Spirit, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God, without being born of water and Spirit.”  John 3:5.  Our being joined together, our being united, our connection with Jesus, is a spiritual one and I know in a horrible and personal way that every time I have gone away from the Spirit, from Jesus, and allowed myself to be led by my ego, my “self,” my relationships with friends, family, and ministry have suffered and the only one who was served by my pettiness, and selfishness was the enemy.

 

Jesus himself helped his mathetes and therefore us, understand this connection by proclaiming that he is the vine and we are the branches, and to stay on the vine we must stay in the Spirit, because without the Spirit there is no connection with Jesus, and without Jesus there is no victory, without Jesus we are defenseless, without Jesus we can do nothing, as his Word reveals, “Without me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5  Word.

 

Today we will learn that there are no prayers without the Holy Spirit, there are no prophecies, tongues, healings, or miracles apart from the Holy Spirit.  Yes the Holy Spirit is our essential connection to a life with Jesus Christ, and without the Holy Spirit we neither walk in the Father’s vineyard, nor stay on the vine and glorify the Father, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.  By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and become my mathetes.”  John 15: 7-8

 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have said and will say often, mathetes are connected, sent, and empowered by the same Spirit that sent Jesus, namely in the power of the Spirit, “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert.”  Luke 4:1.  The Holy Spirit is God, Jesus’ promised gift to all believers. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49   Again, the majesty of Pentecost: “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”  Acts 2: 3-4

 

The Holy Spirit identifies us as believers and is the principle of life behind everything we do and say as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the power of God dwelling within you, the power and authority of God which leads, empowers, and sanctifies the Church (you are the Church), and in the person of Jesus Christ, rescues those who suffer: the homeless and hopeless, like a person paying off a debt by being forced into prostitution, and save sinners.  Here again is how St. Paul instructed the Galatian Church about the Holy Spirit, “I say then, live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh,” and “If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.”  Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb.  Galatians 5:16 and 5: 25.

 

A life in the Spirit is a life of power over our own personal weaknesses and the temptations of the enemy. The victory over sin by Jesus on the cross and in his Resurrection, is final and complete, however, the victory over sin and temptation, for us as mathetes, is a daily on going process and that is why we must stay on the Vine and in his Spirit.  Yes, our new life in the Spirit, as mathetes, is a life of authority over the sins and temptations that once controlled and dominated our minds and hearts, manifested in the spiritual gifts, received and lived by mathetes in the Church.

 

Therefore, in order to live this life in the Spirit, in the manner in which Jesus has planned and purposed for us, each mathetes must be aware of and acknowledge the presence of the spiritual gifts within them, an awareness, that for many Christians was impossible before metanoia.  As we have said, Jesus in the presence of the Holy Spirit, bestows these gifts upon his mathetes for their daily spiritual battles which leads to their own personal sanctification and for the benefit (that which we are trying to be “aware” of and discern in this Easter season) of others, namely their rescue from suffering and sin, their salvation.

 

This is the life that Jesus died so you and I can live, and he wants to share this life with you today and always, that’s what grace is, grace is God sharing his life, Himself, with his family.   To help us understand what it means to “Live in the Spirit,” let’s continue in the Word.  In the bible, St. Paul names nine “fruits” of the Spirit and nine “gifts” of the Spirit, and so as not to have any confusion, I want you to understand the “fruits” and “gifts” of the Spirit in this way, “But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”  Ephesians 4, 7.

 

Notice St. Paul relates everything to CHRIST’S GIFT.  So whether we are speaking of “fruits” or “gifts” of the Spirit, everything is based on faith in the Blood and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the fruits and gifts that flow from his sacrifice, his mercy and forgiveness, his love, his life, and the sending of his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to his mathetes.

Every fruit bestowed, every gift received, has it’s origins in GRACE (again, Grace is God sharing his life with us, actively working within us, personally sanctifying/cleansing us and encouraging us to love and mission).  So the “fruits” of the Spirit are the manifestation of God’s life actively working in us, and the “gifts” of the Spirit are God’s life actively working in us.  Let’s apply this Word to our lives.  If you are like me, there are certain sins, certain spirits, that are harder to battle and overcome than others.  The “fruits” of the Spirit are Jesus’ spiritual weapons which empower us to overcome our weaknesses, our innate concupiscence, and counterattack the enemy.

 

The key understanding here, based on my experience and that of so many other Sowers and ESNE mathetes, is that without a metanoia, without a surrender of ones life to Jesus and entering into a personal relationship with him, a believer does not even know of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, let alone their personal spiritual gifts, so they daily fight a losing battle against the enemy.

 

I quote this Scripture all the time because it capsulizes the entire problem through the experience of one of all time great Spirit led mathetes, St. Paul.  St. Paul met twelve mathetes in Ephesus and asked them this amazingly direct and penetrating question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” Acts 19:2.  They said they had never even heard there was a “Holy Spirit.”  Your and every believers answer to St. Paul’s question, is intrinsically important, as to how well they will be able to battle an invisible and ruthless enemy, satan.

 

To understand the brilliance behind this question, we must realize that our spiritual enemy, satan, also wants to bestow fruits of his spirit upon us as we see in St. Paul’s list of vices/sins.  Paul says that anyone who does these things does not live in the Spirit but lives by the “desires of the flesh,” and the “desires of the flesh,” are opposed to a life in the Spirit,  meaning the people doing these things manifest the enemies spirit and are losing the battle because they are serving the wrong spirit, “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: “immorality, impurity, licentiousness (again, the Las Vegas syndrome), idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outburst of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.”  Galatians 5:19-21.  I love Paul for his refreshing directness, because yes, the works of the flesh are obvious to me now, but when I lived in the flesh they were not obvious because they were my norm.

 

The crucial revelation of the Word for you and I as mathetes is the next verse, “I warn you as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”  Galatians 5:21  Ouch!!  If a person does not “inherit the kingdom of God” they do not get into heaven, and as an eternal being, there is only one other place they can go, and that is with the enemy, and his kingdom is hell, this is not an option.  Some may say what about Purgatory?  Purgatory is for the cleansing of the SAVED.  Those who died in Grace but with unrepented venial sins.

 

What St. Paul is teaching and the Word is revealing is this: can God be of slander, theft, hatred, revenge, or lust?  No, never.  Can God be of jealousy, idolatry, adultery, orgies, or drunkenness?  No, never. So whether a person is trash talking someone at work, hating a person simply because they of their sexual orientation, or clicking their favorite porn site, those acts slander, prejudice, and lust are examples of “living in the flesh,” serving the wrong spirit, which St. Paul warns, “those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Again, this is not an option.

 

Always make the Word personal.  His Blood IS personal. Where are you today as a Christian?  Which spirit dominates your thoughts and heart?  The Holy One or the evil one?  Allow the Holy Spirit, right now to reveal to you personally, the times when you are “living in the flesh,” not serving the Holy Spirit, but the evil one.  For example, if you are the king of your little world, a business owner, or someone with an important position at work, if you are the top dog on your baseball team, the “la reina” at school, and being the top dog, the “man,”  or “la reina,” you are treated like a king/queen, with all the innuendoes involved,  and your position in life, your power at work, your kingship is causing you to “live in the flesh,” through arrogance, lust, pride, greed, or selfishness, thereby jeopardizing your inheritance of the kingdom of God, then you need a change in mind and heart, you need to STOP BEING THE KING/QUEEN, because if the king or queen do not get into the kingdom, then he/she never really were the king or queen, it was a trap, a lie from your spiritual enemy.

 

Again, take a moment to reflect on St. Paul’s list.  Which one or ones of these hits home? Which ones do you struggle with, which ones do you keep repeating over and over again?  Before a sin can be overcome it must be recognized as such.  One of the enemy’s favorite and most successful tactics is to deceive the world and especially Christians, into believing that certain actions are not sins when they really are.  Stay away from the “herd” mentality, which means that a certain action must be OK because so many friends or others in society are doing the exact same thing, its must be OK because it is legal, like abortion for example.

 

When we die and stand before Jesus, he is not going to judge us as a herd but individually, as the bible teaches, “by your stubborn and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.”  Romans 2:5-8.

 

Jesus himself personally calls us to a daily examination of conscience, “give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses,” so as to examine our works of love and mercy and walk in the Father’s vineyard, in a Spirit righteousness as opposed to wickedness.  Today, if your conscience leads you to knowledge of sin, your heart now leads you to repentance, seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

 

As we continue in the Word, know that Jesus right now is gifting you his life, his wisdom and power, his victory over what has bound and controlled you.  He loves you.  He proved this by dying for you, and sending you the Holy Spirit, so that you can share in the victory of his Blood and Resurrection.  He is sharing his power and victory with you right now,  to be victorious you must accept this gift,  yes, receive it without doubt or confusion, receive this in trust and gratitude, “In CONTRAST the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Galatians 5: 22.  Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb, Jesus Christ.

 

Notice that St. Paul names nine fruits of the Spirit, with love as the first fruit.  This is neither gloss, accident, nor coincidence.   These fruits of the Spirit are God’s grace, God’s life, being bestowed upon his family.  The bible reveals God’s being, God’s essence (ousia) is love, “God is LOVE and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in Him.”  1 John 4:16. Pray to receive these fruits.

 

So where is the victory?  By making these gifts a habit of our heart and mind, in the same way satans gifts once were.  This is the victory Jesus has already won:  love defeats hate, kindness defeats slander, self-control defeats lust, generosity defeats greed, peace defeats fear, patience defeats anger.  These are our weapons. Jesus is the victory.  As these fruits of a life in the Spirit, become the habits of our heart, we stay on the Vine and share in his victory.  This is real. I am a witness.  You are a witness.  Share your witness.  Not everyone knows these things.

 

Try to imagine, and I know this is difficult for any person who has been trapped and bound by an evil spirit, but imagine a life without addiction, depression, jealousy, revenge, or hatred.  It is not that these do not exist anymore, it is that they do not control anymore, they do not consume the heart and mind like they once did because the person of prayer, Word, Sacrament, and service, now live a new life in the Spirit with powerful spiritual gifts.  Tens of millions of mathetes live that way everyday. Jesus, on the cross, fulfills and surpasses all our thoughts and hope. These are the gifts of God’s life, whom Jesus as God, bestows on those who seek to conform their lives to his will, purpose, and mission.

 

Today that is you, you are walking in the Father’s vineyard in the power of the Holy Spirit, as a mathetes of Jesus Christ.  Receive his Grace, his Life. He loves you.  FYI, a gloss means this: in the earlier centuries, when bibles were copied by hand, biblical scholars believe that sometimes the person doing the copying would add a little note in the margin of the text.  The next person, who is also hand coping the text, not knowing it was added by the previous copier as a note and not actually Scripture, adds his notes to the bible, this addition can become a part of Scripture and is known as a gloss.

 

My experience with the fruits of the Spirit is that they are oriented to keeping the believer strong, convicted, righteous, and faithful, so as to sanctify the mathetes to be able to authentically accomplish God’s will, to authentically put God’s plan for our lives into action.    My experience is that Jesus wants me to be filled with joy and peace, so that I can praise him in all circumstances even when my personal situation is filled with suffering or tragedy like the sickness or death of a loved one, financial insecurity, divisions in the family, when it seems like every door is always closed, every road is filled with potholes, everyone seeking to take an advantage.

 

Jesus wants me to live in and with his power, “For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me,” Colossians 1:29, so as to live a life with a Spirit of self-control, so I can daily fight the battle against my “old self,” and live in a world that constantly seeks to bring me a spirit of lust and covetousness, spite and slander, without succumbing to it.  Jesus wants me to live with a Spirit of patience in this world, knowing that I will always be tempted to be in a hurry and miss the present moment he seeks to grant me, miss the people he planned for me to minister too this day.

 

Apply this to your life right now.  Which fruits of the Spirit have you received?  Which fruits of the Spirit do you need to live the life of peace Jesus died to give you?  Which gifts do you need to answer “yes” and be sent by him to “Do whatever he tells you?” John 2:5   Put this bible verse on your heart, and do now exactly what Jesus says, “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”  Matthew 21:22.  Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb.  He loves you.  Really he loves you.  His Word is truth, his Word will be “Fulfilled in your presence,” Luke 4:21 if you do not doubt the Word, yes, the enemy will always attempt to sow seeds of doubt in our hearts, reject his lies.

 

Reject the enemies lies that because Jesus has not acted in the manner or time of YOUR choosing then he either is not listening or does not care about your suffering or situation.  Listen to the Word of God, as spoken to those whose faith was faltering in Jerusalem and demanded that God act within five days or they were going to give up on God and surrender to the enemy, “It is the Lord Almighty for whom you are laying down conditions; will you never understand anything…For if he does not wish to come to our aid within five days, he has it equally within his power to protect us at such a time he pleases or to destroy us in the face of our enemies.  It is not for you to make the Lord our God give surety for his plans.”  Judith 8:13-15.  Judith trusted God, and through her trust God’s plan was revealed and Jerusalem was saved.

 

Jesus has an unconditional love for you and died on a cross, so you can live with him on earth and at death in heaven.  Believe this with all your heart.  Jesus wants to send you as his instrument of salvation to sow seeds of love and not division.  Think about it in this way.   If you join a ministry in your Church with a lustful heart, what is going to happen?  If you are a married man or woman you will be tempted to commit adultery, if you are single you will be tempted to become a fornicator, it will happen, I’ve seen it happen.

 

Without metanoia, without the Holy Spirit, without daily making the fruits of the Holy Spirit the habit of our hearts, in this case especially the spiritual fruit of self control, the enemies gift of lust will overpower you and you will follow his plan and purpose, which is to cause scandal and division, scatter the servants, and stop the ministry.  Who is served by this?  The enemy is served, the enemy is exalted.  Who wants that?  Only the enemy and those who serve him.

 

No mathetes I know would ever want the enemy to be exalted by their actions, and the person who entered with a lustful heart was never a mathetes, they never had a metanoia, they entered not to serve Jesus, but for personal motives, as St. Paul so powerfully reveals, “So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deed.”  2 Corinthians 11:15.  This is real.  Be aware.  Be aware, be prepared: Prayer, Word, Sacrament, Service, JFJA.

 

If you enter a ministry with a jealous heart what is going to happen?  As you establish yourself in the ministry, the enemy will begin to tempt you with ideas like, “Why are they always asking me to do that?” or “I’m the one they are supposed to be calling,” and “You know more than that person, you should be in charge,” or “I would have never done it like that,” or “She/he thinks she’s all of that.”  What will happen next?  Slander of a ministry co-worker and division.  Who is served by slander and division?  That’s right, the enemy.  Lies divide, love unites.

 

Do you see God’s plan here.  The Word reveals it.  Through metanoia and believing, the commands of Jesus to Israel and the world, mathetes receive the fruits of the Spirit and are set apart, directly by Jesus to continue his Mission of sanctification and salvation. Through a life in the Spirit of Pentecost, Jesus becomes the habit of our hearts and not the enemy, and the life we led before, a life of trash talking, hatred, revenge, sexual crimes, pettiness, jealousy, and pride, is “buried with Christ.”  Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12.

 

We are now “clothed in him,” a “New Creation,” we no longer live for ourselves but though faith, we live a life in the Spirit, a life of righteousness/mission/service. If we take him off, we will be naked, exposed, and defeated, but if we remain on the Vine and in the Spirit, Jesus is our “Good Shepherd,” our Lord who protects, guides, and loves us.   In our daily Sower Prayer we ask to be consecrated, because consecration means, to be set apart from sin, by Jesus, FOR JESUS.  JFJA.  Pray to receive the fruits of the Spirit and be consecrated by the Word made flesh. This is his will.  Follow his will to eternal life.  Amen to the Blood.

 

Let’s continue with chapter twelve of St. Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth, where he names a variety of what he calls “spiritual gifts.”  Please take note however that prior to revealing the truth of these spiritual gifts, St. Paul, in 11: 23-34, reveals the truth of the Body and Blood, the Eucharist.  The Greek word for “last things” is eschaton. The Holy Spirit, as God, descends upon the entire world and everyone in it, however the Holy Spirit dwells and sanctifies mathetes in a unique way because of their faith in Jesus Christ.  This indwelling is eschatological because the believer is being prepared and sanctified for eternal life, the eschatological promise to all those who believe and follow him, “And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life.” 1 John 2:25.   Much more on eternal life later but for now please also see also John 5:24; John 10:28; Matthew 5:12.

 

Again, there is no coincidence that before naming the spiritual gifts, St. Paul speaks of the Last Supper meal, the Eucharist, and I want to encourage you to receive the Body and Blood as often as possible.  The Body and Blood, the Eucharist, will not only help you discern the gifts of the Spirit but will also enhance them.  No matter which spiritual gifts you have already received, know that they are not perfect, that they are being renewed and enhanced daily.

 

So this is my testimony to you about the Eucharist, and as the bible says in 1 John 4:1 “test the spirits to see if they belong to God.”  I encourage you today to test the Spirit in my testimony.  Yes, please follow the Word of God and test my word, my spirit, to see if it is true by beginning to receive the Eucharist as often as your work and life permits.  I believe that if you do this you will be the next person giving a testimony about the power of the Eucharist and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Amen to the blood of the Father’s Lamb, Jesus Christ.

 

Here is what St. Paul reveals to the Corinthian Church about the “spiritual gifts,”  “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.  To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.  To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues.  But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person, as he wishes.”  1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

 

Beautiful. Direct. Unmistakably clear.  Notice the repetition from another one of St. Paul’s letters.  St. Paul reveals to the Christian Church in Ephesus that all grace, God’s life, is “distributed to each person according to the measure of Christ’s gift,” Ephesians 4:7, now Paul is saying the exact same thing to the Corinthians, namely that although there are an untold number of spiritual gifts, each one, individually, has but one source, God: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit, there are different forms of service but the same Lord, there are different workings but the same God, who produces all of them in everyone.”  Mathetes know this truth and proclaim it to everyone, God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the ONE source of all spiritual fruits and gifts.

 

With hearts of gratitude and joy, lets’ break open this Word of God.  In verse one, St. Paul begins with an important point: many believers can be “unaware” that through faith in Jesus Christ they have received spiritual gifts. Witness!!!  This is what our ministry, ESNE/Sower, is trying to change in our majestic Catholic Church, because if a person is unaware, as I was, and maybe you were too, growing up as a Christian in the Catholic faith, that through faith in Jesus Christ, they have received an abundance of his life and Spirit, what happens?  Nothing happens and that’s the problem!!  Or even worse selfishness, addictions, and pride takes hold, there are no rescues, no healing, no evangelization, and that the living reality of too many in our majestic faith.  The abundance, the fruits, the gifts, remain hidden, silent, inactive, unused, until they are awakened, or bestowed anew in metanoia.

 

In the parable of the hidden talents, Jesus warns us not to hide or bury our gifts, and those that do are seriously chastised.  Matthew 25:14-30.  If we remain “unaware,” our spiritual gifts remain hidden and unused, which is against God’s will.  To give you an example of how a gift, talent, or treasure, whether spiritual or natural, can remain hidden, I do not have to look any further than myself. As I have already shared, I have many personal testimonies of how God had a plan for me but in selfishness I chose to serve myself and not my Savior, and selfishness is a sin and sin is of the enemy, therefore my spiritual fruits and gifts remained hidden or incapable of being awakened or bestowed because sin blocks our ability to manifest God, to reveal his spiritual treasures within us to the world, and to receive grace and spiritual gifts.

 

The enemy loves us that way, and will do anything to keep us from realizing this truth and changing it.  However the best example I can give you, to relate how talents and gifts can remain hidden, comes not from myself but from a member of my family.  I have nine nieces, one of them, is an intelligent, lovely, kind, and Spirit filled young lady.  However, growing up in the shadow a really talented and athletic brother, everyone thought that she had literally zero athletic skills. Like many other kids she played sports, but being athletic was not one of her gifts, or so we thought.  One day, around the age of fourteen, while tagging along with her dad and brother to a local driving range to watch them hit golf balls, out of boredom, she picked up one of their golf clubs, and iron, and started hitting a few balls, she had never done this before, these literally were the first golf balls she had ever hit.

 

If you know anything about golf, from experience you will know that usually, the first time anyone tries swinging a golf club and actually hitting the ball, the ball goes about ten yards straight or thirty yards sideways, and it is very frustrating and often embarrassing.  When she hit that first ball, it went straight and relatively far.  OK, beginners luck, except that on the second swing, the same thing happened, the ball went strait and amazingly far for a first time participant, and then the third swing, the same result, and most importantly in the game of golf, the same swing happened over and over again.

 

She had a natural swing, she had a God given and hidden talent for golf, a gift that no one knew or even suspected existed, not her parents, her friends, and certainly not herself.  The gift was not revealed until she tried it out, until she gave it a shot, until she experimented, and once she tried it out, then one of God’s natural gifts, in her life, was made manifest.  If she would not have tagged along that day and picked up a golf club, her gift would still be hidden, just like the spiritual gifts of many Christians are today.

 

As we continue to break open the Word, please receive this “knowledge” about these spiritual gifts, namely, today, as you walk in the Father’s vineyard, you live in the Spirit, the spiritual part of your life which was once hidden, and unknown to you, is now actualized, the spiritual you is now the most important and greatest part of who you are.

This is radically new because you once were carnal, in the flesh, which again, is opposed to the Spirit, “for the flesh has desires against the Spirit,”  Galatians 5:17 and “For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with things of the flesh but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit. For the concern of the flesh is hostility towards God, it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  But you are not of the flesh, on the contrary you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells within you.”  Romans 8: 5-9.

 

With all my heart, this is what I want you to be convicted of now, you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, again the spiritual part of your existence is now first and foremost in your life and MUST be manifested, demonstrated, bestowed upon the world, this IS your purpose and mission. Through faith in the Blood and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are now clothed in Christ, covered with his Blood and Spirit.  Here lies the issue and a reflection of my personal walk in the Father’s vineyard: many of us walked in the flesh for years, and because of this we are not familiar with the new spiritual “me,” the spiritual “I,” and in order to change that, TODAY, I want you to begin to literally experiment with the things of God, the gifts of the Spirit.

 

Yes, begin to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal your gifts by “testing” the gifts.  Being a “prayer warrior,” is a gift of the Spirit, “Pray at every opportunity in the Spirit,” “Pray without ceasing,” “The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful,” “In the same way the Spirit comes to our aid in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17; James 5:16; Romans 8:26.

 

We must always be listening for the promptings of the Holy Spirit and have the courage, patience, and imagination, to try to have a prophetic voice, to preach, to teach, to administrate, to heal, to speak in or interpret tongues, to pray without ceasing, there are millions of possibilities here, or else many of the spiritual gifts that Jesus has bestowed upon you through the Holy Spirit will continue to remain hidden.

 

The enemy wants us to be shy, to say things like, “well I’ve never done that,” or “I don’t’ think I can do that,” “let somebody else do it.”  Do not go there, that is the old you, be bold, be joyful, be a servant, this is the new you, let the new you be revealed by God the Holy Spirit.

 

My niece’s talent was awakened when she was fourteen years old, by the time she was eighteen she was proficient enough in the game of golf to receive a golf scholarship to the University of Missouri where as of this writing she is a proud member of their women’s golf team.  Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb, and the awakening of his natural and spiritual gifts.  Go there, swing that golf club.  If your tendency is to be reserved and shy, pray to overcome this by asking for the spiritual gift of courage.

 

If you are still thinking you are not worthy or wise enough to have a prophetic voice, to witness to Jesus Christ, then the Word of God has not yet penetrated the depth of your heart and mind, the enemy is still binding you into believing that you are less that you really are, because prophesy and preaching are not limited to the educated but are for the faithful, just as the bible teaches, “Where is the wise one?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made the wisdom of this world foolish?  For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith….Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful.”  1 Corinthians 1: 20-26

 

This is the new you.  The spiritual person of faith.  The wisdom of the world: more money, bigger cars, the best clothes, gold/diamonds/sex and possessions as the way to happiness, is all now foolishness to you because through faith in Jesus Christ you have been given spiritual wisdom and not worldly wisdom.  Now, as the Spirit dominates your life, be aware that you can still be thinking in a worldly way in regards to things of the Spirit and your spiritual gifts.  Shyness, unworthiness, and fear in respect to practicing our God given spiritual gifts is of the world and not of the Spirit.

 

Reject everything and everyone in this world that try to limit your spiritual gifts, especially the people who try to bring you down, staying negative, wanting to bring you back to the person they knew and liked before your metanoia, yes reject anything and anyone that attempts to keep your spiritual gifts hidden and the majesty of God that dwells within you from being revealed and bestowed upon all those whom Jesus will personally place before you.

 

In verse seven, we find the essential revelation of St. Paul’s teaching on the spiritual gifts, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some BENEFIT.”  The word “benefit,” is a translation of the Greek word sympheron which can also be translated: for the general good, for the common advantage, to help, to confer a benefit. We receive these spiritual gifts from God to confer a benefit on OTHERS.  Know this, memorize this, sear, tattoo, and imprint this on your heart, along with servant, so that you will never fall into the trap of the enemy, who was attempting to divide the Corinthian Church along the lines of a “hierarchy of spiritual gifts.”

 

You see, some in the Church were becoming egotistical about the spiritual gifts they received, thinking they were holier, more righteous, more anointed than others, because they received certain gifts, gifts that others did not receive, like that of tongues or prophesy or preaching.  Paul is saying to the Church, “wrong,” “don’t go there,”  “big mistake.” No, as the Word through St. Paul reveals, the gifts we have received are to heal, help, rescue, sanctify, and save others in the power and the name of Jesus Christ and never to glorify ourselves.

 

Please read chapters 13 and 14 of 1 Corinthians to see how direct and forceful St. Paul is toward all those in the Church who are “boasting” about receiving the gift of tongues, and using the reception of this gift as a sort of litmus test as to who “really” knows Jesus, who “really” has received the Holy Spirit, who “really” should be the authority in the Church, who “really” is holy. Who?  Why those who speak in tongues of course.

 

Here is one example of how Paul rebukes the idea of one believer being more “spiritual” than another based on which gifts they have received, “I give thanks to God that I speak in tongues more than any of you, but in the Church I would rather speak five words with my mind, so as to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”  1 Corinthians 14: 18-19.  Love that guy.  Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb.

 

Mathetes, let us not boast of the spiritual gifts we have received, let us only and always boast of the sanctifying Blood and Resurrection of the Lamb.  Also take note that these spiritual gifts are “manifest,” and some bible scholars, have translated this as “public manifestation.”  What this means is that the action of the Holy Spirit is working through us in a visible and knowable wayThe results, the gifts, the fruits, the rescue, the works, the mercy, the love, can be seen.  They are NOT hidden, they ARE visible.

 

The transformation of lives, the healings, the miracles, the freeing of others from addictions and vices, are there to be seen and known by all.  However, when I walked in my own vineyard I never saw any miracles, I never saw any healings because the type of people I associated with never experience these things.  Why?  Because I only thought about myself, I was in the flesh, I walked in the spirit of the world, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:12   By living in the flesh, we are spiritually blind, we are literally spiritually dead, and therefore will not be witnesses to love, mercy, prophesy, healing, and discernment of spirits, because it’s all about us and not the “other,” and that is a bad place to be if one hopes to live in the Kingdom of God.

 

When a person lives in the flesh, it is hard to witness the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the healings, mercy, and love, because as we just saw, the Word says, “The flesh has desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.”  Galatians 5:17.  As I have explained earlier, I knew that I did not want to be the person I was, my spirit was desperately seeking to be released from the bonds of the enemy, but I never knew how to change that.

 

In the time of Jesus, the Pharisees would have loved me.  Gamaliel and I would have been eating dates and drinking camel’s milk in the finest marketplaces in Jerusalem.  Yes, the Pharisees, would have thought I was a really righteous man, a servant of the Law, because they judged blessing and holiness by outward appearance, by how much prestige and money a person had, and not by the heart, so they would have considered me to be blessed and holy because I had money and possessions and seemed to be living a great life with “no worries.”  The Pharisees, as Jesus explained over and over again were wrong, possessions are not a sign of holiness, the fruits and gifts of the Spirit are: love, joy, peace, self-control, prophecy, healing, and discernment of spirits.  See Mt. 25:31-46.

 

Without the Holy Spirit, I could never be the person that Jesus, from my mothers womb, had planned and purposed me to be, no, that “blessed” person, was not the ME that God had created and planned from eternity, that was the me I created through selfishness.  Amen to God’s patience and mercy, Amen to his Blood and Resurrection, Amen to metanoia and the Holy Spirit, Amen to the Catholic Church, Amen to my mother and father’s prayers.

 

When St. Paul and now the Word, reveals the truth that there are two divergent spirits in the world, as the Didache also teaches, Two Ways, one being Holy, the other being evil,  “These are opposed to each other,” what he means is that the enemy is opposed first and foremost to Jesus Christ, because the enemy hated Jesus first, and now because of your faith in Jesus, the enemy hates you.  Yes, through Baptism you become part of a family, a Church, and the enemy hates all of Jesus’ family members, all those who have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation that his Blood and Resurrection offers the world “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first,” John 15:18.

 

The enemy, because he is a hater and liar, is now opposed to everything that you are all about because he is opposed to miracles and healing of any nature, he is opposed to rescue and salvation of any kind, especially the healing and rescuing those he binds in fear, addiction, adultery, fornication, violence, and hatred, just as the bible says, the flesh, which means the world of the enemy, “has desires against the Spirit.”  Everything this fool is now opposed to, everything that mr. smartypants is against, is now everything that is on your heart and mind, as now in the power of the Holy Spirit, you seek to be a benefit to others.

 

This means that the enemy who always hated you, even when you served him, but kept you safe and anesthetized in your sins, witness, will now be on the attack seeking to devour you in new ways, “Be sober and vigilant.  Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.  His hatred will become obvious to you, do not fear this, you have a Savior, and through your Savior Jesus Christ a victory and his spiritual strength and protection is upon you, as St Peter continued to reveal, “The God of grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered for a little while.”  1 Peter 5:8-10.

 

 

ESNE/Sower, as a ministry of evangelization in the Catholic Church is called to strengthen the walk of those who do live in and with the Holy Spirit, and also to rescue those who are not.  So today, as you read this, if you are unable to say you are a witness to a living God, if you cannot say that you have ever known the power of the Holy Spirit and witnessed the Holy Spirit come in and transform your life or another persons life, just like I was unable to, even though I attended Mass and thought everything was ok, then right now, take a hard and honest look at your faith in Jesus Christ, take an honest look at your spiritual life, your actions, your words, your priorities, your attractions and passions, the things on your mind, the things you spend all your time on, the things really on your heart.

 

Yes, take a hard look at who you really are, or as St. Paul said to the Christians in Corinth, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith.”  2 Cor. 13:5.  If your examination of conscience matches the person you believe God created you to be then Amen to the Blood of the Lamb, continue to live a life dominated by the Holy Spirit, continue to know, love, and serve him.  However, if you now know you are not the person Jesus created you to be, if you know you are not living the Christian life, the Spirit guided and Spirit let life that Jesus has called you to live, then right now, without wasting a second, give your life to Jesus, metanoia/repent and believe in him and seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

 

The essential truth is to make sure you are not walking with the wrong spirit, as I did, make sure the things of God are not being hidden from you.  As it was for me, your spiritual reality may not actually be what you think it is.  Without the formation of a good conscience through the power of the Holy Spirit, it is really, really easy to be fooled into thinking everything is OK.  But if today you do not serve a living God, if Jesus is not first and always in your life, you may be where I was, living a false Gospel, a Gospel you created to match the type of Christian life you want to live.  In your personal Gospel you may have never encountered the living a God, Jesus Christ, and therefore the only other options are the spirit of world, the self, the enemy, and these are not options for mathetes.

 

So make sure your faith is based on a person, a Divine Person, a living and merciful God, a Savior, the Christ, and not on a routine, a faith you were born into but never accepted as your own, because faith in routines do not save us, only faith and following Jesus does.  Religious routines are not salvific even if you are part of the Church, if there is no Jesus, if there is no love involved, no surrender, no metanoia, no Spirit, no authentic worship being practiced.

 

So for Christians like myself, a person who went to Church for over thirty years, as a routine of life but never knew Jesus, never surrendered his “self” in metanoia to Jesus, who did not live a life in the Spirit, and therefore was not saved, because my religious routine was always of the lips and not of the heart, just as the Church teaches, “Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not persevere in charity is not saved.  He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but “in body” not “in heart.”  Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, #14.

 

This is a tragic but true reality of a life without the Holy Spirit.  Just like Jesus forewarned the Pharisees, whose spiritual reality was the exact opposite of what they believed about themselves, just as mine was, as Jesus proclaimed on many occasions, “Tax collectors and prostitutes are getting into heaven before you,” Matthew 21:31 and “You serpents, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?”  Matthew 23:33.  Ouch, but not anymore, thanks be to God, join myself and the Sowers, ‘cause today, though the mercy of Jesus Christ, though faith in the Catholic Church, we all are getting in with the tax collectors and prostitutes.  Amen to the Blood of the Lamb.

 

Anyone who calls themselves a believer, but whose faith is based on ritual and routine and not of a personal encounter with the living God Jesus Christ and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, needs to immediately, without haste, heed Jesus’ call to metanoia, “This is the time of fulfillment, the kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent (metanoia) and believe in the Gospel.”  Mark 1: 15.  You see, as we taught a few weeks ago, after metanoia what remains known and unknown, visible and invisible, routine or personal, to a believer, is totally transformed, by the Holy Spirit.  Yes, today, I can give you testimony after testimony, from the Sower and el Sembrador ministry, how the Holy Spirit has rescued people from depression, hatred, adultery, jealousy, porn, gangs, drugs, violence, an inability to forgive, alcohol, physical miracles, and brought them directly to Jesus and back to the Church.

 

There is no invisible God here.  No, the power of the Holy Spirit and the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, are active and visible in the world, we can see them, yes, through the Holy Spirit, the power of the Word and Sacraments, Jesus Christ is alive today, just as the Apostle John professed 2,000 years ago, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen, with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life.”  1 John 1:1

 

Brothers and sisters, today this Word is about you, you are EMPOWERED, you have the fruits/gifts of Jesus within you, the victory of the cross and his Blood and Spirit are upon you.  Yes, you Sowers, and all who have believed and surrender their life to Jesus, in and through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is alive and visible, today, we can see, know, and manifest the Spirit as we walk in the Spirit, “You are our letter, written on our hearts and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ and administered by us, written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.”  2 Corinthians 3:2-3.

 

Living in and following the Spirit can only mean one thing, living with and following Jesus Christ, living his fruits of love, joy, courage, patience, and peace, putting his spiritual gifts into practice.  Today, are there any spiritual gifts sleeping inside of you?  Today, Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit wants to awaken them.  Again, try not to put any of those old barriers up like: “I’m not good at that, I’m to shy, that doesn’t work for me, I don’t have the time, I’ve never done that before, or the most common of all, I’m afraid to try that.”

 

All these are “Moses moments,” excuses, excuses from the old you, which will keep the power of Jesus living inside of you, from being revealed and unleashed upon the world.  Not today.  Today you are a spiritual warrior.  Today your life is dominated by the Holy Spirit.  Today you are Mr. “Let’s do this.”  Today, you are Mrs. “I’m here to do your will Jesus, whatever you say I will do.”  Let us not limit the power of the Spirit by placing our human thoughts, values, past failures, perceived weaknesses and limitations, bad experiences, at the forefront, no, now the Holy Spirit is in command and control of your life and you are going along for the ride!!

 

It’s like a friend of mine and a great man of God and family, a servant of the Word and Church, Mike Sweeney, has testified to.  Mike testifies that before he came to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, before metanoia, before he walked in the Father’s vineyard, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his life was similar to being on a tandem bicycle, he was in the front pedaling away, pushing hard, sweating, pedaling and pedaling, while Jesus was in the back, going along for the ride.

 

He would pedal and pedal and get nowhere, but when he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ, when faith became personal, when he had an encounter with the living God, and received God’s love, mercy, and Spirit, Mike put Jesus where Jesus should be, in the front, first in his life, that was his metanoia and his life has never been the same since.

 

When Jesus is in the front, JFJA, doing the pedaling, he drives us to ministry, introduces us to new friends who have the same Spirit and goals we do, shows us how our minds do not always have to be filled with fear, anxiety, and possessions, but now with thoughts like: “I need to live with less,”  “How can I help stop abortion?” “I need to spend more quality time with my spouse and children,” “My boss is still hard to work for, but I will never steal from him again,” and the great gift of metanoia, that so many in the world, including some Christians, have not as yet received, the gift of being able to forgive, “Forgive me as I forgive those who have disrespected/hurt/slandered me.”

 

Yes. When Jesus is in the front of our bikes, he is pedaling and pedaling like crazy, like Eddie Merckx, Greg LeMond, and Lance Armstrong, all rolled up into one.  Jesus has to be pedaling hard so he can protect us and break down the doors, the bonds of depression, addiction, and hate, the doors of greed, pride, and ego, that attempt to attract and attach themselves to us.  Know for certain, that with Jesus in the front of your bike, all this will happen, trust this, trust him.  Get on the back of the bike with Mike Sweeney and let Jesus pedal you to his Kingdom though a life of love and Spirit.  Amen to the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

 

Where is Jesus on your bike today?  Are you trying to do all the pedaling yourself, are you trying to fix your marriage, fight fear and depression, prosper financially, heal a relationship, stop cursing, stop drinking, stop the lust, stop the weed, the jealousy, the pride, the pain, without him, without the Spirit or the spiritual fruits and gifts?  First of all that is impossible, but secondly why even attempt to carry these burdens alone?

 

Alone never worked for me, it just made me more selfish and unhappier.  Why keep struggling and struggling, pedaling and pedaling, month after month, year after year, winding up in the same place, on the same block?  As many in the ministry can testify: we did all that, we thought all those thoughts, worried all those worries, and did not even leave the neighborhood.  Give your life to Jesus, put Jesus first in your life, JFJA, let him shoulder your burdens, he died to carry them, that’s his plan, surrender to his plan, and his purpose for your life will be revealed.

 

If there are new thoughts coming into your mind right now, the Spirit is speaking, the Spirit is revealing God’s truth, the Truth God has been hoping to share with you for a long, long time.  Listen/trust/act.  There are spiritual gifts awakening within you now, yes, as you read this, the Holy Spirit has been transforming your mind and heart, equipping you for the battle, sanctifying you and preparing to send you to rescue, someone in your family, someone in your Church, someone at work, someone who is suffering and need some help, someone who can relate to you testimony like no one else can, Jesus is sending you today as his SYMPHERON, his BENEFIT.

 

Be bold, be adventurous, be courageous, test your spiritual gifts, test them on random strangers, family, and friends, yes, in the past you used to do many “worldly” things with your friends, now do some spiritual ones. Test your spiritual gifts at del Taco, at Stater brothers, at your cousin’s wedding, at the company picnic. Test them at hospitals, homeless shelters, pregnancy counseling centers, and retirement homes.  Test them at the movies, at Starbucks, at your child’s soccer game.  Do not limit the Spirit, that is the old you, the new you is a spiritual person, dominated by the Spirit, and the Spirit has no boundaries or limitations.

 

Know also that there are many spiritual gifts and that God distributes them just as the bible says, “To each individual as he wishes.”  Meaning that spiritual gifts can and will vary according to the gift bestowed upon us by God, how God wants them to be used to fulfill his plan.   For example the gift of healing is manifested, made public, in many ways.  You can heal a person from depression by being a good listener, spending time with them in a way no other person would, that’s a spiritual gift.

 

You can heal a person from loneliness by visiting them, that’s a wonderful spiritual gift that all those who bring the Body and Blood to convalescent homes have realized and made public to the world.  You also can heal a relationship or a friendship with a smile and a word of forgiveness.  Do not limit the Spirit’s gifts based on your old experiences or fears, again that is the old you.

 

Today, choose to courageously speak the name of Jesus Christ to a family member who is not saved and living in and with the wrong spirit.   This is your first preaching and the possible makings of a ministry.  Today, you are going to join a prayer group that has the mighty gift of prayer and knowing the power of God through prayer.   Today, you will join a Church ministry that has the charism of feeding the hungry which is a manifestation of Jesus’ presence in the world, bringing glory to the Father.

 

Yes, my brothers and sisters in Christ, today, Jesus seeks to send you to people and places you have never met or imagined going to, so in the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you, step up, be a mathetes, be Isaiah, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am I said, SEND ME.”  Isaiah 1:8.  Go in the Spirit and always give God all the glory, thanks, and praise.

 

JFJA

 

Grace and peace,

 

Joseph

 

 

SPIRITUAL EXERCISES

 

  1. Name some of your spiritual gifts.
  2. How have you been a “benefit” to others in the past?
  3. How can you be of “benefit” today?
  4. Name the spiritual gifts you would like to receive, put these to the test.
  5. If there is an especially serious spiritual battle that you are fighting, call upon the intercession of Jesus’ mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Jesus is a son, the Son of God, the Son of Mary, “The Word became flesh.”  He loves his mother, he denies her nothing.  As the Catholic Church teaches, all prayer goes to Jesus, he loves those that are expressed though the intercession of his saints and especially through his mother.
  6. When the Holy Spirit reveals to you a new spiritual gift, rejoice and rejoice and rejoice some more but always be aware of the Corinthians mistake of equating holiness with spiritual gifts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WISDOM OF THE PRIMACY:  John Paul II, “Dominum et Vivificantem,” “On the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the world.”  May 18, 1986   # 16

 

“He will bring forth justice to the nations,” Isaiah 42:1, and he will become a “covenant to the people, a light to the nations…”  Isaiah 42:6, “That my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”  Isaiah 49:6  “For my spirit is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth’s of your children’s children, says the Lord, from this day forth and for evermore.”  Isaiah 59:21

 

“The prophetic texts quoted here are to be read in the Light of the Gospel, just as in its turn, the New Testament draws a particular clarification from the marvelous Light contained in the Old Testament texts.  The prophet presents the Messiah as the one who comes in the Holy Spirit, the one who possesses the fullness of this Spirit in himself and at the same time for others, for Israel, for all nations, for all humanity.  The fullness of the Spirit of God is accompanied by many different gifts, the treasures of salvation, destined in a particular way for the poor and the suffering, for all those who open their hearts to these gifts--sometimes through the painful experience of their own existence—but first of all through that interior availability which comes from faith.”

 

 

 

CLOSING PRAYER (FIRST PERSON PERSONAL)

 

 

Father, in the name of your Lamb, my Shepherd, my Teacher, my Lord, Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, awaken of the fruits and gifts of the Spirit in my heart.

 

In the Name above all Names, in the Name of Jesus, Father I receive your gifts.  Send me on the Mission you have chosen for me, with joy, peace, and love, with a prophetic voice to all the world.

 

Father, please let me be inconspicuous but available, humble but confident, involved but set apart, a benefit and never a burden.  Father, send me to all the liars and Pharaohs of the world.

 

Yes Father, I can relate to those who live with a heart of stone and to every hard heart you place before me I will speak the Name of your Son Jesus Christ with power and conviction, I will teach his Gospel unrelentingly and with authority.

 

Father, send me as a benefit for others as your Word proclaims.  Consecrate me, set me apart from my own personal desires, from my flawed fears that live in reason and not in love, from all my ill conceived perceptions and assumptions.  Allow me to always believe what I teach and live what I proclaim to others.

 

Father, through the power and majesty of the Holy Spirit, through the spiritual gifts you have given me in Baptism and awakened in metanoia, make the intentions and tactics of the enemy visible to me so that I may always have the wisdom to call upon the Blood and protection of your Son Jesus Christ, and through the power of his Cross and Resurrection, share in his victory over satan and sin.

 

Father, send me to part the red seas of hatred, revenge, spite, jealousy, greed, kidnapping, prostitution, alcoholism, and depression.  Father, give me knowledge of your Word so as to break down the barriers and divisions in my family.

 

Father, in the name of your Lamb, Jesus Christ, remove anything in my heart that is unclean or selfish, anything that would impede me from hearing the voice of my Shepherd and following his voice and only his voice, yes Father, bestow upon me a clean heart, and with this heart I will walk the road that you set before me with great joy, peace, and love.

 

Father, in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ, from this day on, I ask to always walk in your Vineyard, in the majesty and power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Amen Father, to the Blood of your Lamb, Jesus Christ, and to the spiritual gifts his Blood, Resurrection, and sending of the Spirit, has bestowed upon all mathetes.