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 shared many revelations of spiritual truth with me, and I want to share them with you. This morning, we consider the predicament of finding ourselves alone in our journey.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
Last Man Standing
"I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all." Eccl, Chapter 9, Verse 11
Brothers and sisters, sometimes in the journey through life we find ourselves in that predicament where we have to stand alone in defense of a truth that is enshrined in our heart, a truth that is not demonstrable to the outside. Sometimes the reactions to truth can be like a funnel. The appeal of truth can be accepted superficially be many, but as the meaning of this truth is revealed in greater and greater meanings, those who embrace it become fewer and fewer, until there is only one truth-seeker left standing
An example of this was seen when, out of compassion, Jesus fed the five thousand. After they had filled their bellies, they arose in one single voice to crown him king. When he refused to be made king, most of them decided not to follow Jesus anymore. They were not interested in the spiritual kingdom--in living water or the bread of life.
"It is easy to die in the line of physical battle when your courage is strengthened by the presence of your fighting comrades, but it requires a higher and more profound form of human courage and devotion calmly and all alone to lay down your life for the love of a truth enshrined in your mortal heart." This was a foreshadowing of Jesus’’ own life——by his crucifixion Jesus demonstrated this very truth. How did Jesus manage to calmly and alone lay down his life in behalf of the truth? "The secret of his unparalleled religious life was this consciousness of the presence of God; and he attained it by intelligent prayer and sincere worship ———— unbroken communion with God ———— and not by leadings, voices, visions, or extraordinary religious practices."
What do we do when the hounds of impatience pursue us with an unremitting vengeance? What do we do when the lonely hours of the night cry for relief from intolerable suspense? What do we do when we walk the floor seeking an answer to our lonely vigil, and no answers appear? What do we do when the reason and logic of our material minds abandon us? What do we do when the emotions rage? How do we find that peace that passes all understanding in the midst of discordant screams of conflict? What do we do when it looks like we are losing sight of the real thing?
We must follow the example of Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the light. Jesus remained standing after thoughtless crowds clamored for his crucifixion. He did not falter; he stood in the presence of the heavenly Father with divine assurance of his spiritual invincibility, and we may do the same. Unbroken communion with God--sincere worship and intelligent prayer--allowed him to maintain his poise.
If the components of unbroken communion are sincere worship and intelligent prayer, then we must understand what those terms mean. That intelligent prayer exists means, by reasoning, unintelligent prayer also exists. Unintelligent prayer means to pray outside of the boundaries of the laws of spiritual petition. And in our day and age, unintelligent prayer has selfish and material roots. Material petitions are not the province of intelligent prayer. Intelligent prayer consists of petitions for spiritual values not for things. Pray for growth, not for material ease.
Not only does unbroken communion consist in intelligent prayer, it also consists in sincere worship. Sincere worship is the conscious practice of being in the Father’’s presence. It requests nothing for the self or for others, only to bask in his presence. This is the faith attempt of the soul to be one with the Father. It is similar to a small child who enjoys being with his parents. No requests are made. I recall when I was a child, I was overjoyed to see my mother come home from work: just to be in her presence again was tremendously satisfying. As we continue this practice of worship, of consciously being in the Father’’s presence, we become more and more like him. The influence of being in the divine presence is telling. It makes all the character difference in the world. While intelligent prayer is sustaining, worship is transformative.
Now this process of achieving God consciousness through sincere worship and intelligent prayer requires some active spiritual participation from us if it is to become a part of us. If we are to vanquish the hounds of impatience, silence the night cry for relief from the intolerance suspense, put an end to the lonely vigil of seeking an answer, travel on without the reason and logic of the material mind, quiet the emotions, and finally acquire peace that passes all understanding, there are certain spiritual qualities we must exercise even as we are traveling from the lonely confines of self to the all-embracing love of the Father.
First, we must dedicate and consecrate our wills to doing the Father’’s will. We must surrender every craving, every thought, every impulse, and every decision to the Father’’s transforming power. This declaration will ensure that we will subject our will to the Father’’s will, and will follow the leadings of His will which leads to him. We must become loyal to supreme values.
Next we must exercise living faith. Belief-- is a tentative intellectual acceptance pending material confirmation must transform itself to living faith that quality that can believe wholeheartedly without seeing. "Belief has attained the level of faith when it motivates life and shapes the mode of living. The acceptance of a teaching as true is not faith; that is mere belief. Neither is certainty nor conviction faith. A state of mind attains to faith levels only when it actually dominates the mode of living. Faith is a living attribute of genuine personal religious experience."
We must then take this living faith and apply it to the consciousness of God; that is, we assume that we are conscious of the heavenly Father and behave as such. That is, we talk to him as we are talking to any other person. Our petitions are addressed to him, and we become conscious of his presence, all the while conscious of our human selves. And though we cannot escape the flesh, we transcend it by the way we react to moral and spiritual stimuli.
Now the difference between this living faith act applied to the conscious knowledge of the heavenly Father and faith applied to an error is apparent immediately. Applying faith to the consciousness of the heavenly Father immediately brings about changes in characters, changes reflective of the character of the image of his Son. The beautiful character fruits of the spirit begin to flow. In an imaginary consciousness no changes occur in character.
Next we must exercise trust in his goodness and in his great love for us. We must insist on believing that we are his sons and daughters and that we are precious in his sight; we must become infused with the knowledge of our spiritual invincibility. Nothing can derail his plan for our lives. We may have an idea of what we think the divine plan is for our lives, and we may be right, but we may also be wrong. We must exercise faith in his plan for our lives when our concept of his plan fails, as we move into closer alignment with the true plan for our lives. Thus we possess ourselves with that insuppressible carrier of our supreme desire--the desire to be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect.
Finally, the material man falls away, followed by the emotional man and the intellectual man. The moral man transcends, and only the faith spiritual man in union and partnership with the eternal, infinite, absolute, all-powerful merciful Father remains standing.
This concludes today's message on understanding the meaning of the last man standing for truth. 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