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 explore and gain further insight into the joy of the Lord.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Joy of the Lord
"His Lord said unto him, well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been good and faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord." Matthew Chapter 25, Verse 21
Brothers and sisters, there is great confusion in the minds of the some of us concerning the nature of spiritual joy. And they have courted those religious experiences that call forth great emotional joy. But when they have experienced this emotional joy, they become depleted and exhausted. They are not left in a state where they are refreshed and ready to take on the never-ending challenge of obeying the Father’’s eternal command: To be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect. Having been depleted and exhausted, they are unfit for spiritual service, the hallmark of the spiritual life. We know that divine things create a desire to serve and are inspirational and energy renewing. Divine things do not create a desire to retreat until the next episode of emotional outpouring takes place.
Now there is nothing wrong with emotional joy. We are material beings and are entitled to enjoy emotional reactions from those material activities that call forth such a response. But when we tie these temporal responses to spiritual realities, we are in for disappointment. We know that these emotional responses are temporal and vanish when the stimulus that brought them forth vanishes or diminishes. Therefore, we know that emotional joy is not spiritual joy.
Just as material joy springs from material causes, spiritual joy springs from spiritual causes. And while it is true that our emotions can at times become attached to spiritual joy, we should not confuse this emotional reaction to the experience of spiritual joy lest we find ourselves in that sorry state when the emotions have subsided and we feel that we have somehow lost our spiritual joy. Spiritual joy being an eternal quality does not diminish, nor does it disappear with the vicissitudes of life. It is always present.
Therefore, if we want to understand and appreciate spiritual joy, we must look to the things of the spirit with which it is associated rather than the things of the material world, which it is not. The greatest spiritual reality known is divine love. This being the greatest spiritual reality, it must also yield the greatest spiritual joy. To be loved by the heavenly Father is the greatest joy that can be experienced by our souls. To appreciate this joy, we must also appreciate the Father’’s love for us, for it springs from the Father’’s love.
We can understand human love. It is an affection that makes us feel good about ourselves and that we are important and of value to the person who bestows this same affection on us. This human affection makes material life worthwhile, and when it is absent, material life withers and the drive for material living declines. Everything becomes grey when we feel that the people we love do not care for us--we are filled with a sadness with which we are all familiar. Human love is held together by an emotional bond. We demonstrate caring by showing the object of our affection that we value them. This may take the form of speaking endearments such as telling someone you love them and care about them. It may be remembering special events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
Just as human affection operates in the material world, spiritual affection operates in the spiritual world. It is our innermost self that is the object of divine love. This love showers upon the soul an endless perfusion of good will. This love is the result of the high value that the heavenly Father has for us. We are precious in his sight. It is because of this love that gives us hope in the midst of despair. This love registers in our souls with such impact that we feel safe and secure. It is because of the great love that the Father has for us that he has given us eternal life.
We are his sons and daughters. He guides and directs us. He lives within us, sharing this life with us. He watches over us and prevents any harm or danger from coming near our souls. Now all of these qualities and more of the Father’’s love are present within us, but often times because of immaturity, we don’’t appreciate the great love that the Father has for us. We are like small children who don’’t appreciate the love that their earthly parents have for them. But when the child finally matures and appreciates the love of his earthly parents, he is filled with joy. Likewise, when we fully appreciate the love of the heavenly Father, we will be filled with spiritual joy that is a consequence of that appreciation.
Spiritual joy is best appreciated during adversity because here is clearly delineated the distinction between material joy and spiritual joy. Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." "Ye therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." ““When I give you this new commandment, I do not place any new burden upon your souls; rather do I bring you new joy and make it possible for you to experience new pleasure in knowing the delights of the bestowal of your heart's affection upon your fellow men.”” ““I am about to experience the supreme joy, even though enduring outward sorrow, in the bestowal of my affection upon you and your fellow mortals."
Clearly this shows that there is a distinction between material joy and spiritual joy. Materially Jesus was about to enter a very sorrowful and excruciating experience. Yet on the inside he was about to experience the supreme joy. Apparently supreme service yields supreme joy. Jesus was about to make the greatest service possible to his children--laying down his life in defense of his great love for us.
There has been great misunderstanding about the meaning of Jesus’’ words. For example, consider: ““I have come that you may have life and that you may have it more abundantly.”” Jesus was referring to the spiritual life. If we examine the conditions present and prevailing at the time of Jesus life and after his life, we can clarify this misunderstanding. And though it is true that Jesus healed many of his children while living in the flesh and fed the five thousand, thousands more received no healing at all, and many continued to experience hunger. We still have the poor with us, and we still have the sick and hungry with us. There still remain social injustices. We have concluded erroneously that the reason for the failure of our understanding is because of insufficient faith. But this is error. The Father does not require an impossible exhibition of faith to release his favor. He has said that all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. He responds to our slightest desire that is consistent with his will. "A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench." He would have all come into a saving knowledge of the truth."
We must conclude that the miracles Jesus performed were for spiritual purposes. And though we are not in a position to fully understand those reasons, we do understand that they must be related to his mission of revealing the Father’’s love and mercy to all of us. We must cease to substitute material understanding for insufficient spiritual understanding. Rather, we should seek true spiritual understanding. "Ask and you shall receive."
Finally the joy of the Lord is experienced when we lovingly serve our brothers and sisters. And if at such times this service requires us to lay down our lives, then will we experience the supreme joy as Jesus did. In the mean time we should mediate upon the great truth that we are the sons and daughters of the heavenly Father and that he loves us with an endless affection. We should faith- realize that this truth fills our souls with unspeakable joy. And we faith-realize this truth by insisting on believing it despite any material contradictions.
This concludes today's message on understanding the meaning of the joy of the Lord. 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.