Greetings and good morning, 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. This morning we review the divine plan for our lives.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
A Spiritual Review
"And He said to unto me, ‘‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’’" Second Corinthians, Chapter 12, Verse 9
Brothers and sisters, our faith instructs us that we are on an eternal journey, one that has benchmarks but no end. Always will we be growing in the knowledge of the truth, always seeking to know the Father in greater and greater perfection as we journey on through this life and life in the universe. As we pursue this spiritual journey, we also pursue the divine plan for our lives. This divine plan is sponsored by the divine spirit.
As we pursue this journey, there are two phases of which we must remain cognizant. We are to perfect our character and to follow the divine plan that provides the experiences and opportunities that allow for this perfection. At some point in this journey, we progress to such a degree that we can look back and not only comprehend the divine plan for our lives but also see how well we have cooperated with the divine plan as well as the character ramifications of following that plan.
As the psalmist muses, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him, for thou has made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crown him with glory and honour." When the Father’’s spirit comes to live in our minds, they also bring the divine plan for our lives, a plan that includes intellectual and spiritual development. Since we are free moral agents, we do not have to accept the plan. "We are all subjects of predestination, but it is not foreordained that we must accept this divine predestination; we are at full liberty to reject any part or all of the divine plan. It is the mission of the divine spirit to effect such mind changes and to make such spiritual adjustments as we may willingly and intelligently authorize, to the end that they may gain more influence over the personality directionization; but under no circumstances does the divine spirit ever take advantage of us or in any way arbitrarily influence us in our choices and decisions. The divine spirit respects our free will; they are always subservient to our wills."
What is the nature of this divine plan, how do we become aware of it, and how do we cooperate with it, keeping in mind that we don’’t have to follow it? We may reject parts it, modify others. We are familiar with the spectacle of one who has not contributed anything of value in his life. He has not made anything of himself. He has refused to follow the intellectual, moral, and spiritual challenges presented to him as a part of the divine plan for his life. And when we say that a person has not made the most of his life, we recognize an individual who was content to just drift through life, taking the easy way out. We recognize this person when we say, "if only she had applied herself, she could have accomplished so much more, but she was content just to get by."
The divine plan takes into consideration our intellectual, moral, and spiritual potentials and devises a plan that maximizes these potentials. Thus, we see that, in consonant with the Father’’s command to be perfect even as he is perfect, the divine spirit begins work to move us along these lines of actualizing potentials. Now as we begin life, these potentials are concealed and require progressive stimuli of increasing difficulty to bring them out. Thus when we are fully cooperating with the divine plan, we find ourselves involved in struggle after struggle, be it intellectual, moral, or spiritual.
And while there are breaks in the struggle, in the main ours is a life of struggle. And while it is not wise to compare one person’’s given set of potentials with another (consider the parable of the talents) we can profit much by looking at the lives of those who made great contributions according to the divine plan for their lives. We see that those who have acquired a measure of self-mastery have done so only by persistent struggle, effort, and determination. When they temporarily failed or ran into difficulty, they did not falter. Consider this quote: "Difficulties may challenge mediocrity and defeat the fearful, but they only stimulate the true children of the Most Highs."
As we look back, we can see where we have been given every opportunity to confront the problems of life. We notice that when we ducked a problem, it kept reoccurring until we dealt with it. It was presented in many forms, but all the forms contain the same value and meaning required to master a particular part of our character. And we cannot go forward with growth in that area unless we confront it and deal with it. Having free will, we can decide not to deal with it at all; we are all familiar with the character defects in individuals who decided not to deal with a particular problem of life. They are unable to function successfully in that arena.
And when we were given opportunities for intellectual advancement, based upon our intellectual potential, did we make use of the opportunity or were we consumed by the pursuit of self-gratification, refusing to make the effort to learn something new and advance ourselves intellectually? Or were we so fearful of failing that we refused even to try? Intellectual development is important because it frees us from ignorance and being slaves to our environment. The eradication of ignorance frees us from the problems associated with a purely material existence. Without knowledge, we remain "dumb and blind" and captives of ignorance and prejudice. Without knowledge, we can’’t begin to reach the threshold of wisdom, that essential quality that tells us how, when, and to what extent to use knowledge.
Concerning spiritual development: "The measure of the spiritual capacity of the evolving soul is your faith in truth and your love for man." As Jesus said, "While you cannot observe the divine spirit at work in your minds, there is a practical method of discovering the degree to which you have yielded the control of your soul powers to the teaching and guidance of this indwelling spirit of the heavenly Father, and that is the degree of your love for your fellow men. This spirit of the Father partakes of the love of the Father, and as it dominates man, it unfailingly leads in the directions of divine worship and loving regard for one's fellows.””
If we have been pursuing the challenges of the divine plan earnestly, we have surely reached that point many times where the successful prosecution of the challenges of life required more resources than we had ourselves. Did we turn and respond to that need by seeking divine help, by communing with the Father ? Did we exercise faith in the goodness of the Father; or did we lose hope and become filled with despair? And when we were overwhelmed by the waters of adversity, did we grab the buoy of hope thrown to us in mercy by the divine spirit? And when our way was blocked by the glaciers of delay, did we seek the Father’’s will for endurance, strength, and patience? Did we follow the example of Jesus, "who in the days of the flesh so frequently offered up prayers and supplications, even with strong feelings and tears, to Him who is able to save from all evil, and his prayers were effective because he believed." When we enjoyed a respite from the struggles of life, did we remember to commune with our Father in heaven--to give thanks?
Jesus said, "The measure of your human strength of character is your ability to resist the holding of grudges and your capacity to withstand brooding in the face of deep sorrow. Defeat is the true mirror in which you may honestly view your real self. How do we respond to failure? Do we fold up when we are temporarily defeated or do we learn the lessons of defeat, and use them for even greater degrees of success? Do we view failure as a learning tool, a temporary course adjustment? Or do we view failure as a measure of character weakness? Strength of character is the measure of the degree to which we are willing to admit when we are wrong. If we do not acknowledge when we are wrong, then that attitude prevents us from choosing what is right. To what degree are we willing to shoulder responsibility? To what degree do we duck or shift responsibility to others?
So today, as we look back, we can clearly see what we did and what we ought to have done. And as we view the difference, we can recognize that the difference is also the degree to which we failed to cooperate with the divine plan of our lives, the degree to which we failed to do the Father’’s will. It represents the delay in our growth or barrier to our maximum growth--to be perfect even as the Father in heaven is perfect. And this is especially true if we refused to respond to the collateral experiences that were given to us to compensate for the original experience that we failed to avail ourselves.
This concludes today's message on understanding the meaning of the spiritual review of the divine plan for our lives. 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.