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 examine how we can live our faith as truth and fact. That is, how do we make our affirmations of faith stick?
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
Making It Stick
"And straightway, the Father of the child cried out, and said with tears, ‘‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.’’" Mark, Chapter 9, Verse 24
Brothers and sisters, we know that the just shall live by faith. Those who have received salvation shall experience it by faith. God is our heavenly Father, and we are his children. We accept this momentous truth by faith and proceed through this life as if it were a fact. Because God is our heavenly Father, and we are his children, we have really only one battle to fight--the battle against doubt. We must learn to insist on believing the spiritual forecasts in our souls despite the doubts of our minds.
But when we run into some of the challenges of life, often we have great difficulty in maintaining the values and meanings that exist in our relationship with the heavenly Father. Why is this? And what can we do to bolster our faith at such times? How can we make our faith stick?
Our faith tells us that the heavenly Father lives within us and through us——he goes through the very experiences of our lives with and as us. This great truth should comfort us and assure us that we will successfully traverse this life and arrive safely on the other side.
Yet we experience great difficulty emotionally, as we try to synchronize faith with our experiences. We are material beings, and we must react to the material aspects of our lives just as we react to the spiritual aspects of them. No amount of faith can exempt us from experiencing the material ups and downs of life. Indeed, it is from life experiences that we extract moral and spiritual values that gradually become a part of our souls. But sometimes, the trials and tribulations stagger us——we can find no relief from them. What are we to do in the face of the contradictions inherent in living a material life with spiritual assurances designed to activate our souls? Is there any way that we can harmonize the two? What attitudes are helpful as we seek to harmonize these two aspects of our existence? For example, how do we pray and worship when our bodies and minds are wracked with pain?
The very definition of faith is to believe wholeheartedly in something that the material aspects of life cannot comprehend. Thus the material life, no matter how difficult or painful, presents the opportunity to exercise faith. We must consecrate and dedicate our wills to doing the will of the heavenly Father, and we must exercise complete confidence in the Father’’s watch care. We must really believe that the Father loves us and is all powerful and all merciful, that nothing can really harm our souls--which are our true selves--as we go through the trials and tribulations. We must insist upon believing this all-powerful truth with all our hearts and souls despite any doubts of the material mind.
How do we reach the level of faith where we really believe in the watch care of the heavenly Father? Surely if the heavenly Father is watching over us, we have nothing to fear. We must realize that it is the Father’’s will that we live this life. We are mortal, and at some point our bodies will begin the process of deteriorating, and we know of the pain, suffering, and disability that accompanies this. But the fact that we are mortal should not interfere with our faith in the heavenly Father’’s watch care.
Though each of us has one personality, we experience two realities: one material, the other spiritual. These divergent states are subject to different sets of laws. Our material aspects are subject to material laws. And since we are mortal, our material selves increasingly deteriorate. Our spiritual aspects are faith-realized; that is, we are conscious of--by faith--our spiritual natures.
We long to be delivered from our material difficulties, and we pray to the Father to be delivered from them. But the Father maintains spiritual relationships with our souls, which are destined to survive mortal death. Therefore if we separate these two states in our understanding, we can make our faith stick. We can enjoy all of the spiritual values and meanings that are part of our relationship with the Father despite our material status. We can enjoy all the fruits of the spirit all the time. We can be loving and kind, even merciful and forgiving, to our heart’’s content, even while we "suffer the arrows of outrageous misfortune." We can experience comfort and hope in the truth that one day we shall overcome all of these material limitations. We can enjoy the truth of our relationship with the Father.
Even though the spiritual experience is subjective viewed from without, it is absolutely real when viewed from within. We must bolster our understanding and become spiritually educated. This will do much to "make our faith stick." There is a proof that we experience, even though we cannot demonstrate this proof on the outside. When we dedicate our lives to doing the Father’’s will, we have submitted our will to the Father’’s will. This is not an imaginary act. It is absolutely real and so has real consequences. If it were an imaginary act, no consequences would or could spring from it.
Let us gain some understanding and a little spiritual education to assist us. There are two aspects of doing the Father’’s will: the first aspect is the process of becoming like him. When we do the Father’’s will, we make a decision to become like the Father in all character and divinity aspects. Striving to do the Father’’s will is the ongoing process of taking on the image of his Son, Jesus. This decision starts the creative process, whereby our souls grow into the image of the Son. As we grow into the image of the Son, our character undergoes a transformation. Thus, we see that the Father reveals himself by nature.
Now we know the Father is living love. So as we come to know the Father, to do his will, we progressively acquire his nature. As we acquire his nature, our moral and spiritual decisions reflect it. Therefore, the degree to which we discern the Father’’s will when making a moral or spiritual decision is directly proportional to the degree to which we have become like him. Since the Father’’s character is dominated by love and activated by mercy, as we become like him our characters are dominated by love and activated by mercy. All of our moral and spiritual decisions will be thus.
The love and mercy by which we are dominated and activated is the manifestation of the divine spirit. We have become true worshipers of the heavenly Father. We will perfectly reflect his love and mercy: this is the second aspect of doing the Father’’s will. One who truly worships the heavenly Father is one who perfectly reflects his love and mercy. Our souls become infused with his spirit. We become one with him, and thus we worship the Father in truth and in spirit. Externally, our characters display the fruits of the spirit, the manifestations of the divine spirit.
What is needed to complete our educational process is the understanding that our material status has no bearing on these internal spiritual transactions. We must cease allowing our material difficulties to cast shadows on our faith status. Although we cannot eliminate our emotional responses to our material difficulties, we can subordinate them to our moral and spiritual decisions; that is, we can allow reason to function rather than emotions when deciding moral and spiritual issues.
Our understanding instructs us that out material vehicle and its interactions are very similar in analogy to our other clothing and their bearing on the statue of the material body. Whenever our emotional response to our material bodies and material reality becomes disagreeable and cast a shadow over our faith status, we should remember in our understanding that a shadow is not real. We should couple that fact with an aggressive affirmation: "Not my will but your will be done."
This concludes today's message on understanding how we make our faith affirmations stick. 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.