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When we follow the Spirit in putting these spirits to death, we will be reconciled to God in actuality, not just legally. We always must keep in mind that our goal is to be changed into the image of Christ. God will accomplish this change in our personality if we faithfully obey the Spirit of God each day.

During each day of our discipleship we are to be reminding the Lord Jesus continually that we are yielding our life to Him that it may be replaced by His Life. We desire to think as Christ is thinking; to speak as Christ is speaking; to act as Christ is acting. God desires that we make this transition, but He will not do it unless we continually express that this is our desire also.

The Apostle Paul commanded us to count ourselves as dead. If I am not mistaken, the Spirit today is emphasizing living by the Life of Christ. So instead of emphasizing our death we are emphasizing our new life, the Life of Christ. You know, it is as though God desires to fill the universe with Christ. When we are thinking, speaking, and acting along with Christ, it is as though Christ Himself is present where we are at that time.

This is something God has to do. We cannot bring such a transformation about by our own religious striving. I think John is saying here that the Lord Jesus thinks as the Father is thinking; speaks as the Father is speaking; and acts as the Father is acting. Christ lives by the Life of the Father. That is just as true today as it was two thousand years ago.

In like manner, we are to be the express image of Christ. This change in us is not going to happen overnight, but it surely is going to take place in its fullness because it is to this end that God has predestined us. It is He who stretched the heavens and all of its inhabitants. Astronomers dedicate their lives to describing the marvels of our universe. It is not by any works of righteousness that our change will be accomplished, but by the grace and power of God.

What God has spoken He certainly shall do. And not any halfway measures either! When God is finished with us, though it require ten thousand years to complete the change, it shall be done! It seems not a day goes by without our determination to press forward in Christ being challenged in one way or another. We often are tempted with the lusts of the flesh, as Satan seeks to deceive us. It is not unusual for Christian believers to huddle in fear, being afraid to step forth into what they think God may be wanting them to do. Command the Holy Spirit! Command the angels!

Give me a thousand dollars and God will give you ten thousand! Name it and claim it. Then we have the teaching that we can commit sin and the blood of Jesus will cover our behavior because God sees us through Jesus. We often are weary, frightened, frustrated, attacked, our good is evil spoken of. There is no obvious fruit, and we are tempted to kindle our own fire and walk by the light of it.

5 Steps of Christian Growth.m4v

We have a very wise, sophisticated, experienced foe. He does not have the power to force us to do anything, so he seeks to deceive us. He examines our personality profile to see where we are weak. He may wait many years, biding his time. Meanwhile he sets his traps. If we do not pray and read our Bible each day, have fellowship with fervent saints if we can find any, and carry our personal cross patiently, we may find ourselves in one of the snares set by the enemy. However, we can emerge victorious over all of these efforts to hinder our pursuit of Christ if we will keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus and obey Him promptly in every aspect of our life.

We can overcome the world, Satan, and our own sinful nature if we will keep looking to Jesus and obeying Him. How do we know when we have overcome? When we can look up to Jesus, and there is nothing between us and Him, when we have obeyed Him in all matters, then at this point we are an overcomer. This does not mean we have been perfected as yet, only that we have overcome thus far.

We overcome one moment at a time. It is a continual battle. But if we would be changed into the image of our Lord, we must not give up at any point but keep pressing forward in the Lord Jesus. Why is this manna hidden? It is hidden to all who are not living a victorious life. It is a reward for overcoming and also the means of overcoming. In order to create us in His image, Christ has had to take of His own body and His own blood and give them to us to eat and drink so His Substance and Divine Nature may be formed in us.

Every time we make the effort to overcome a temptation, we are given to eat and drink of Christ. Those who overcome are given the hidden manna. As we partake of His body and blood, of which the Communion elements are a symbol of what takes place in the spirit world as we pursue the life of victory, we have additional wisdom and strength to overcome. Thus it is a continually ascending cycle until we are filled with His Substance and Virtue. As many as receive Him are born of God through the implantation of the Divine Nature.

I wonder how many Christian believers actually walk and talk with the Lord. The Lord Jesus always is standing at the door of our personality and knocking, asking for entrance. Sad to say, numerous religious people keep Him standing on the outside. They are so busy with the doctrines and observances of their religion that they do not realize they can have fellowship with their Creator. I was reading in the Book of Leviticus this morning, and I marveled at the numerous directions the Lord gave concerning the various types of offering.

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How could the priests remember the many details as they labored in the sun, hearing the cries of the animals who sensed death! Surely many of the priests talked to the Lord in their heart, asking His help to enable them to perform the sacrifice in the manner pleasing to Him.

Five Steps for Giving Your Mind to Christ

So it is with us. We read our New Testament and desire to obey Christ in every particular. We do not have to give up, or abandon all efforts to be righteous and trust in an unscriptural application of grace. We can keep inviting Jesus into our heart and ask Him to guide and assist us all through the day and night in every aspect of our thinking, speaking, and doing.

Some are teaching today that the Bible is Jesus; that we cannot speak with Him as did the disciples but must rigorously obey the letter of the New Testament. This is not the way the new covenant operates. The writings of the New Testament have as their purpose to bring us to the Lord Jesus. We should read the Bible on a daily basis; and every time we do so, look up to Jesus to see what He is saying to us.

Releasing Our Shame

I think you will find that they are more anxious to have daily fellowship with you than you are with them. I sure would hate to return to a life in which I was without the continual fellowship of the Father and the Son. How anyone can go through this present valley of the shadow of death, which our world is, and not be experiencing the Presence of the Father and the Son, is more than I can understand.

I am never lonely, even when no people are around, because God and Christ are present with me. A person who is spiritually curious is interested in learning more. All these questions and many more were asked by Jesus in order to force the curious more deeply into their curiosity. This is important for us, as it can be a temptation to accidently put out the small fire of newly kindled curiosity with a gallon of hasty, pre-processed answers.

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Sometimes it is better to let the curious work through things themselves for a while and make the answers their own. In our own lives, it is good to cultivate an attitude of curiosity as well so that we can pass it on to others. Those who cultivate spiritual curiosity in themselves and others are on a trajectory, not only to learn more about God, but about everything, because God is the author of everything.

But they are not yet worshipping, for they are not yet acting as intentional disciples. If they make the choice to follow their curiosity, then exploration, not fear and worship, is typically what happens next. Moses at the Burning Bush was not afraid or worshipful, but curious. In short, wonder is the common root of all art, philosophy, science — and religious experience. The critical point when a person acknowledges to him or herself and to God that he or she is open to the possibility of personal and spiritual change.

This is one of the most difficult transitions for a postmodern nonbeliever as it can feel dangerous, crazy and out of control. Openness is not a commitment to change. People who are open are simply admitting they are open to the possibility of change. Here we are concerned with the most important form of curiosity: a desire to know more of God. And that desire will, if all goes well, lead to the crisis of spiritual openness. I call it a crisis because spiritual openness is the stage in the spiritual journey that is most difficult for commitment-averse postmoderns to navigate because it represents the point in the journey where serious choices need to be made.

We realize, however dimly, that Jesus Christ and the Church that speaks to us of him may indeed require something of us. That can be scary in a civilization that is consumer driven, that believes in keeping all its options perpetually open, that fears commitment to all relationships. Because of this jitteriness and because we ourselves may share it even if we are cradle Catholics , some rules of thumb might be helpful both in helping others and in passing this threshold ourselves.

This was, after all, the method of the apostles, who give us a full accounting of their failures of nerve, their inability to understand and even their betrayals of Christ. We do this not with a view to finding excuses for ignoring the Gospel, nor with a view to cudgeling others who are struggling, but with a view to opening ourselves to the leading of Jesus and supporting one another in our struggles. As mentors to people who are struggling with openness, we can help them connect the dots between their experience and the revelation of the Gospel.

Five Steps to the Image of Christ

Because grace builds on nature, and it is Christ who chooses us first and not we him, there is always a way to arrive at the realization that God is not some remote, far-off object, but has already been at work in us and through us. He has already used us in some way for the good of others, or given us gifts, or helped us down the path we might only now realize we are on. Often, we can help others by using their own words, and connecting them with the Gospel will help them realize God is not a threat to our freedom, but the ground of it, and help them get past the fear of openness.

At this stage, it is often beneficial to frankly and openly encourage those struggling with openness to ask God for a sign to direct them, to encourage them to pray and profess to God their openness to pursuing him, and to encourage them to enter into a life of regular prayer both alone and together with others. This might be a good time to invite them to Mass or to begin reading the Gospels together. Also, the inquiry phase of RCIA can be helpful here.

The threshold in which a person moves from being essentially passive to being one who actively seeks to know the God who is calling him or her. Once past this crisis of openness, people often find they are no longer able to simply wait for the tide of life to wash events to them.

They become active spiritual seekers. And that relationship is not primarily with religion or theology or music or the Bible or a saint or Catholic aesthetics or liturgy or any other mere creature though those things may well play a vital role and be inextricably bound up with the relationship. Rather, the core relationship is now with God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. In short, the seeker is seeking Jesus, not a creature or an abstraction.

If you are mentoring somebody who is a seeker, this is the perfect time for them to enter the catechumenate. If you are yourself a seeker who is undergoing a deeper conversion as a Catholic, this is a good time to undertake a closer study of the Faith, specifically with the goal of using the gifts and graces of the Church especially the sacraments in order to seek the guidance and the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Ask the Spirit to help you cultivate your gifts and offer them and yourself to Christ with greater and greater freedom. Intensified prayer, a fruitful pursuit of reading the classics of Christian spirituality and a sense of growing hunger for the sacraments can characterize this stage of pre-discipleship, as well as a desire to explore the ways in which the Faith is lived out in the works of mercy, different liturgical expressions and ways in which the virtues can be pursued.

The image comes from the story of St. Peter dropping his nets, leaving behind his former life and livelihood, his social connections, his home and even his family and choosing to follow Jesus Christ wherever he went, come what may cf. Lk It is the single most important decision a person can possibly make which is why Jesus calls us to count the cost. But it is the goal of the Christian life — all Christian lives, not just converts. It can be as dramatic as St. Paul getting knocked off his horse or as unseen as a quiet resolve arrived at during a sleepy Sunday morning Mass.

But however we arrive at it, that resolve to follow Jesus consciously and intentionally with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength is what the whole of the Christian call to discipleship is all about. Here begins the New Life. Some of the seed lands on good soil, some does not. Likewise, Jesus was indiscriminate in his willingness to associate with anybody — friend, foe, rich, poor, Jew, Gentile, man, woman, young, old. We are likewise called to be generous and consistent in love in the hope that in imitating Christ, we too will fling the seed of the word far and wide.

The initial trust inspired by the encounter with Christians living lives of consistent and generous authenticity often leads one to spiritual curiosity. In a two-faced world where people so often make everything, including the things of God, a means for exploiting others, Christians of generosity and integrity can arouse profound curiosity.

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  • To be a witness does not consist in engaging propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. To those who were spiritually open, Jesus is often very direct. We will be asked to love him more than father, mother, wife, husband, children, brothers, sisters and, indeed, our very lives Lk Mt , to not put our hand to the plow and look back cf. To the mere dilettante rich young man, he issues the challenge to sell all he has, give to the poor and then follow him cf. Mt Again and again, Jesus pays the spiritually open person the supreme compliment of being absolutely straight with him about the fact that the life of a disciple of Christ will require everything of him or her.

    And the response is, as history demonstrates, volcanic. Nobody is ever bored by Jesus — galvanized, thrilled, passionately devoted, repelled, terrified, offended, but never bored.