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 seek to understand the insights of spiritual reflection.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Insights of Spiritual Reflection
"But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."Hebrews, Chapter 11, Verse 6
Brothers and sisters, we know that spiritual insights are made available to us when we seek them. To seek means to reflect. The divine spirit resides on the inside, not the outside——thus must we look inside. "The divine spirit makes contact with mortal man, not by feelings or emotions, but in the realm of the highest and most spiritualized thinking. It is your thoughts, not your feelings, that lead you Godward. The divine nature may be perceived only with the eyes of the mind. But the mind that really discerns God, hears the divine spirit, is the pure mind.””
"Without holiness no man may see the Lord." ““All such inner and spiritual communion is termed spiritual insight. Such religious experiences result from the impress made upon the mind of man by the combined operations of the Father’’s spirit and the Spirit of Truth as they function amid and upon the ideas, ideals, insights, and spirit strivings of the developing sons of God." And what we discern or hear in our spiritual reflections are the ever-increasing meanings of truth, beauty, and goodness while we consciously bask in the light of divine love. To help us better grasp the concept of spiritual insight, we shall use a material analogy.
Last night, I was listening to an advertisement that played clips of music from the 1950s. As I listened, my mind was flooded with memories and attached feelings with some material insights. I wished that I could have attended some of those performances. But not having the financial resources, I had to be content with them as they were played on the radio and a few televised ones on the Ed Sullivan Show. As I continued to listen to those songs, some of which I had not heard since I was a teenager, I gained a new appreciation for them, and they became a source of immense emotional pleasure. I realized that these songs had captured the essence of my emotional reactions to the experiences that I was having at that time.
There were many painful and sorrowful experiences during the teenage years, including the death of my mother, and some of these songs even captured the emotions of that painful and sorrowful experience. But there was something else there. Beside the emotions of joy and sorrow was a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation. And I wondered why. It seemed that most of my teenage years were years of unpleasant struggle and a sense of deep longing, a sense of confusion and no sustaining direction. And then I realized there were profound values of goodness, the meanings of which were not available to me at the time of youth. Or simply, I did not appreciate the values of goodness nor their meanings. It was only later, when substantial time had buffered me from those experiences, that I began to appreciate their full value and thus their meanings.
Upon reflection, I began to appreciate the encouragement and positive comments of some related to my educational efforts in school. Whenever I would get my report card, I would rush over to my neighbor’’s house and hear those encouraging words, "that is very good; keep up the good work." My mother and father received very little formal education and were not able to appreciate my educational efforts, though they struggled to take care of us as best they could. It was a shame that my mother died without my having the opportunity to say good-bye to her. But even that sad fact has yielded spiritual values and meanings as I have gotten older. Relationships are precious, and we should not take them for granted. We should not allow misunderstanding to cloud the relationship of love that we have for each other. We should always stay in the relationship, with an attitude of love and forgiveness, for if our loved ones suddenly depart from us, that departure will leave a sorrowful shadow over our lives that the sunshine of other relationships will not be able to fully dispel.
The kindness and mercy that I was shown by some of my neighbors took on a deeper appreciation. And as I reflected on the time spent on my grandfather’’s farm during my summer vacations and the care and love that he showed me, which at the time I did not and could not appreciate. During that time, most of my thoughts were directed towards how lonely I felt. But later years have brought those memories back with their precious meanings. And the reason for this delay is that we are experiential beings. Always must we live first before we can evaluate the meaning of the experience. We are experiencing values and meanings that take place in time and space. The appreciation of those values and meanings require time. Or rather, we must grow in order to appreciate them. And this appreciation comes from reflecting upon those past experiences that are triggered by external or internal stimuli. And we undergo a similar process when seeking to appreciate the doing of the Father’’s will.
When we embark upon the experience of doing the Father’’s will, we are not able to fully appreciate the value of that choice nor its meaning. It requires time and growth to realize the consequences of doing the Father’’s will. I am reminded of an episode from a television program when a friend was describing a missing person. She said of this missing person, "She was drop dead beautiful on the outside and inside, and did not know it." Such is the nature of doing the Father’’s will--we consciously desire to do the Father’’s will, but the will is unconsciously done. When the Father manifests himself through us, we are unaware of it. Those who are spiritually perceptive recognize the revelation of the spiritual Father through the spiritual values of love that they are receiving. And it make take years before they are able to appreciate this revelation.
Sometimes the material aspects of life have such a stronghold upon our minds, that all we can see is the material aspects. It requires some time and additional experience before our spiritual vision begins to focus, and then we can see, can understand, and comprehend the values and the meanings of that revelations of divine love and mercy. It is of record that "man shall not live by bread along, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
The decision to do the Father’’s will is a spiritual decision and as such must be done by and with the assurances of faith. This decision among other things initiates the transformation of our animal nature into the spiritual nature. Now we know that growth is impossible to see from day, even in the material sense. We are constantly growing, but we cannot find the border from one growth moment to the next. The comprehension of spiritual values and their meanings also require a growth period. As we continue this spiritual journey, we find that spiritual meanings are enhanced, indicating the further growth of values, or our further comprehension of them. This in an internal transaction, and always must we look within to "see" the meanings that are continuously changing, revealing ever-increasing depths.
As we continue with this process, we move some distance in time away from the initial decision, and we can see the growth. We can see how we are more loving today than we were in the past; we can see how our loyalty towards the Father’’s will has grown when compared with previous times. In previous times, we may not always have chosen the Father’’s will, but with the passing of time, we have grown more loyal towards the decision to always abide by the Father’’s will.
As we use the tools of spiritual communion, prayer and worship, spiritual insight increases so that we are more able to extract divine values and meanings from our experiences. "As the days pass, every true believer becomes more skillful in alluring his fellows into the love of eternal truth." We should be able to answer these questions in the positive: "Are you more resourceful in revealing goodness to humanity today than you were yesterday? Are you a better righteousness recommender this year than you were last year? Are you becoming increasingly artistic in your technique of leading hungry souls into the spiritual kingdom?" If we are loyal to our decision to do the Father’’s will, we will be able to answer in the affirmative because loyalty to the Father’’s will equals growth, and growth allows us to do things that once were impossible. And as times goes by, the divine values and their extracted meanings increase in height and grandeur, even to where the values and meanings of spiritual perfection are faith-captured and realized.
This concludes today's message on understanding the insights of spiritual reflection. 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.