Greetings, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast, we explore the spiritual value of a more excellent way as the technique of seeking to know the Father’’s will.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
A More Excellent Way
"But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way." First Corinthians, Chapter 12, Verse 31
One of the continuing questions that we hear all the time is, "What does God want me to do?" along with the exhortation to "obey God." We also hear the statement that "God told me to do thus and so", and "you need to do what God told you to do if you want to be blessed." Apparently there is great confusion over what God’’s will is and discerning and finally obeying that will. We hope to clarify these values represented by these questions and comments.
Being material creatures, we are in the habit of receiving verbal or written instructions when someone requests us to do something. And there is also the intuitive knowing of what someone wants us to do. So it is only natural that our material minds should seek communication by the same means. Since we pray to the Father verbally, it is only natural that we feel that we should receive an answer in material terms. But since we don’’t receive a verbal answer, we have developed other methods of trying to discern the divine will. The question of why the Father would hide his instructions from us in the first place or make them so beyond our power of comprehension is never considered. Let us examine the ways that we have tried to discern the will of God.
During this age, the most common form of trying to discern the divine will is to examine the scriptures. When we feel that we need an answer from God in response to our petitions, we often search the scriptures to find a passage that we think may apply to our petition. Because we have been taught that the scriptures are the "Word of God," it is only natural that we search these Scriptures looking for one that we think may apply to our petitions. The scriptures are a collection of religious writings--some historical information and stories of God dealing with certain individuals. Scriptures contain much that points us in the direction of knowing God’’s will, but nowhere do they substitute or deliver us from the necessity of discovering God’’s will for ourselves. We have individual personal relationships with the Father through his Son, Jesus, and we must approach the doing of the Father’’s will through his Son, Jesus, since Jesus is the personal revelation of the Father’’s will.
In trying to discern the Father’’s will in the Scriptures, we often become confused, not being able to discern just what his will is for us in a given situation. We want to know what to do, and it is exceedingly difficult to determine what scripture applies to our situation. We are taught that the Holy Ghost will illuminate the applicable Scripture. The problem with this approach in trying to determine specific instructions for a course of action is that we are likely to substitute our will for any instructions that might be found in the Scriptures. Especially is this true when we are confronting some difficult situation we would rather avoid.
There is a more excellent way, and that is the way of love. God is love and Jesus is a personal revelation of that love. To seek the Father’’s will is to seek to know Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus resides inside of us. So the better way of seeking to know the Father’’s will is to seek to know Jesus, to become like Jesus. Jesus has told us that it is the Father’’s will that we love one another as he loves us. But somehow we overlook that in favor of a material answer. And when the material answer is not forthcoming, we seek the reason for the failure to receive a material answer, and we do this despite the many times that Jesus has told us that his kingdom is not of this world, that the Kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink, but joy and peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit. We give many ingenious rationales for this failure, ranging from the lack of faith to sin, but none of these explanations include the failure to realize that it is not God’’s will that this petition be literally answered.
We must use our faith to discern the Father’’s will. If we are to do so, then must we reconsider the technique for divine communication with our souls. Already have we been told that the Father speaks within our souls as a still small voice. We have also been told that we don’’t know how to pray as we ought too, that the Spirit intervenes and translates our prayers into spiritual petitions. We have at various times considered this to mean that the things that we ask for are not correct and therefore they must be reinterpreted so that they are. We have also been told that the failure is due to an incorrect technique. But experience has shown that this is not the case either. After our so-called petitions are reinterpreted and we use the so-called correct technique, we still do not receive the answer to our petitions. And we wonder why.
We spend many sleepless nights trying to discern an intellectual answer or a material manifestation that our prayers have been heard and answered. But at best, we can only guess at what we think the answer is. Now we know that even an earthly Father would not make communicating with his children so complicated. It is clear to the child whether the petition is going to be answered or not, whether the answer is yes or no. We don’’t recognize that our petitions are heard by the spiritual Father and answered because we are looking for an intellectual and material answer. Let’’s see if we can dispel the cloud of misunderstanding.
Our heavenly Father is spiritual. Therefore must all of our petitions be spiritual and all of the answers to the petitions be spiritual. When we are confronted with a moral or spiritual problem, which is the true province of prayer, we seek guidance and direction. The desire for help from the Father constitutes the petition, not the words. The Father responds with divine values, the values of truth, beauty, and goodness. These values are lodged in our soul, and the meaning of these values constitute the basis for our next decision. What the values mean to us allow us to formulate a decision in the moral and spiritual arena based on those very values.
The nature of these values when we choose them are what makes us a little bit more like he is and a little less of what we were. This is a slow and gradual process but very effective. Having become a little bit more like he is, we begin to view the moral or spiritual problem as he does. When our value systems are thus elevated to that of the Father’’s, we can view the problem better and implement the proper solution. We want to know what is right and wise in a given situation; and with the further growth of our souls in response to prayer, we begin to discern what the right and the wise thing is in any given moral and spiritual situation.
With the new elevation of our character, we begin the reflection process where we analyze the problem, examining it from the various perspectives, considering past experiences with such problems and how those solutions played out. Having done this, wisdom becomes available to us. And with the new revelations of truth, beauty, and goodness, we are in possession of the correct value on which to base the decision.
Thus we see that the Father has answered our prayers by making us the answer to the prayer--by changing our value system. And this change in values also changes our level of understanding and wisdom as it applies to the problem at hand. It takes some time to get used to the idea of communicating this way, to understand that when we take our difficulties to the Father, he does not literally answer our requests. He does not tell us what to do; he instead transforms our character so that we can view the problem as he does. Our choice when we have sought the Father’’s will represents the highest possible level of understanding and wisdom we possess. Always is this the Father’’s will. And the decision will be true, beautiful, and good.
So when we petition the Father in the face of some moral or spiritual difficulty, we are in fact asking for that value, that meaning that will allow us to make a moral or spiritual decision that is right. We are in fact asking for growth in the face of the difficulty. The very fact that we are unable to discern the correct value that is needed for the current problem indicates that we lack the sufficient growth to recognize the needed value. So the Father responds by giving us the enhanced value of truth, beauty, and goodness. And since this value has become meaningful to us in response to our prayers, wisdom directs our will to choose the decision that is consistent with the value and the meaning of the value.
So seeking the Father’’s will is the decision to become like the Father in all moral and spiritual aspects of our character. It is required that we become like the Father before we act, rather than acting first. Yes, we do make decisions after seeking the Father’’s will, but this is not the Father telling us that we should do thus and so. Rather, it is the Father transmitting his character to us; based upon that character transfer, we make our decision.
We should remember that the Father expresses himself through his Son, Jesus, and we are also his sons and daughters. So that when Jesus expresses himself through us, we become transmitters of the Father’’s expression. As we grow morally and spiritually, our characters more and more approximate the character of Jesus, and we view the moral and spiritual problem the way he does, thereby making a decision that is indistinguishable from his. This means that we have become one with him and, through him, one with the Father. Having become one with him through Jesus, we become a manifestation of that will, choosing as Jesus would choose.
This concludes today's message on a more excellent way of discerning the Father’’s will. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.