Greetings, 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 ponder the pitfalls of life and how to avoid them.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Pitfalls of Life
Jesus said, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." Matthew, Chapter 15, Verses 13-14
Good morning brothers and sisters. In our moral and spiritual journey through life, many pitfalls lie in wait for the unwary. As we reflect on these moral and spiritual pitfalls, this great truth comes to mind: Love one another as Jesus loves us. An analysis of this great command reveals some startling truths. If we love one another as Jesus loves us, then must our love equal the love of Jesus. If our love equals the love of Jesus, then our love is one with his love.
As Jesus said, "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master and the servant as his Lord." Whence comes the power for us to manifest love equal to Jesus? If it were not possible to do so, surely he would not have commanded us in this way. Because we are sons and daughters of God, we are recipients of that divine power, faith, which flows from God through Jesus to us. Our desire and our faith allow us to manifest love equal to Jesus’’ love.
Having concluded this, if we obey the Father’’s command, we shall avoid every moral and spiritual pitfall. Experience has taught us that we fall into moral and spiritual pitfalls because we don’’t always submit our wills to the Father’’s will. We fall into pitfalls because we are morally and spiritually blind. The only way to correct moral and spiritual blindness is to do the Father’’s will, which allows us to see and avoid such trouble. As we reflect back over our lives and think about the pitfalls that we have fallen into, there is one common thread that runs through all of them--selfishness. When our moral and spiritual eyes are turned inward and focused only on ourselves, we cannot see the pitfalls that surround us. Only by submitting our wills to the Father’’s will can we see the pitfalls of life.
When we submit our will to the Father’’s will, we come under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth and are thus empowered to love one another as Jesus loves us. And we can begin to see and understand as we reflect back upon our lives that most of the pitfalls we fell into were the result of our not loving others as Jesus loves us. We must remember that not only is divine love spiritual, it is also moral. The selfish aspect, the ignoring of the divine mandate to love one another as Jesus loves us, is what causes us to stumble. When we only think about our own needs, we are like people walking across an uncharted mine field. Disaster is only a step away. If we truly love another person, we will always stop and consider the effects of our acts on them. If we do this, we will avoid the minefield of pitfalls.
The secret to avoiding the moral and spiritual pitfalls of life is to wholeheartedly embrace the doing of the Father’’s will. When we do so, we set into motion the process that perfects our moral and spiritual characters. We begin to recognize the divine impulses, urges, desires, and prompts of that divine will, which are the heart and soul of the divine plan for our lives.
Even though the divine plan includes some rugged and difficult moral and spiritual challenges, it avoids the pitfalls of life. To help us grasp the divine plan for our lives, let us consider the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle. A jigsaw puzzle consists of a picture that has been cut into many different sizes and shapes. When these pieces are assembled correctly, the picture is reconstructed. As we begin to assemble the pieces, we begin to construct the border first and then separate the parts that are similar. When we first begin, there is quite a bit of trial and error in the process as we fit pieces together that are similar in size, shape, and color, and reject those that do not fit. As the assembly continues, less trial and error come into play, as we are able to more accurately recognize the pieces that fit together. At some point in this process, the puzzle becomes almost finished, and we are able to most accurately determine where the missing pieces should fit and thus complete the puzzle.
The divine plan is similar to the jigsaw puzzle. When the Father’’s spirit comes to live in our minds and souls, it carries the perfect plan for our lives. This plan unfolds as we begin to make moral decisions. At first it is not clear what the plan is, and there are many aspects of this plan that we are unable to comprehend. But we should remember this admonition: "When ignorance of the future is essential for success, it would be a colossal blunder for the creature to know the future."
Since we start out lacking maturity and understanding, we are unlikely to be able to wisely follow ordained events, events while difficult to negotiate are essential to the unfolding of the potentials concealed within our minds and souls. From our unwise perspective, if we view an upcoming event as difficult, we are likely to try to avoid it; while if we consider the event enjoyable, we are likely to anticipate it and jump the gun. There are and have been many a faltering soul who has jumped the gun prematurely before he was ready to assume the responsibility in such premature attainments.
The divine plan is designed to move us forward along the scale of life just as soon as we are able to handle the advanced responsibilities that accompany these ““promotions,”” rather, intellectual, moral, and spiritual choices. The divine plan requires the integration of all three of these elements. As we continue down the path of life, we become more adept at following the plan. And like the jigsaw puzzle, we can increasingly look at a piece of puzzle and see if it fits. We gain skill as we continue with the plan for our lives.
Although the plan is not revealed to us beforehand, like all plans the details become increasingly discernible as time goes on. It is similar to viewing an almost completed jigsaw puzzle. When we first start out putting the pieces together, we cannot tell what the picture is or what it will look like. (We assume for purpose of illustration that this kind of jigsaw puzzle does not have a picture of the puzzle on the back of the box.) But as we continue to find and put the pieces into place, gradually the picture begins to emerge. As we get almost to the finish even though their remains a small part to complete, we can accurately deduce the final picture. And as we look back over our work, we can discern the errors that we made in trying to assemble the puzzle.
A person who has reached the zenith of his life, has completed his productive years, and is now in so-called retirement status can look back and very accurately reconstruct the divine plan for his life. He can discern the significant events that propelled him from one level of life to another. He can discern the significant decisions he made. He can also discern where he fell into the pitfalls of life, and if he has wasted his life, he can discern that also. In looking back over the divine plan for our lives, the road map becomes clear. We can look at our present intellectual, moral and spiritual status, and by looking back can discern the decisions that we made that caused us to be at this point.
All the decisions that we have made intellectually, morally, and spiritually equal the sum total of our present status. In looking back, we can also discern where we failed to cooperate with this plan because we can clearly see what we could have achieved if we had made certain progress making decisions. Thus procrastination, insincerity, equivocation, ease seeking, and problem avoidance, and unfairness do not enhance the divine plan but delay it and can even derail it if these attitudes continue. If a person has climbed to the top of mountain that he has never climbed before, he can look down the mountain and see where he has come from. He can see all of the detours and obstacles of the path he has traveled.
Consider this analogy: A man was traveling along a road that he had never traveled before. He wanted to go from one city to another. He was on the right road as this was only main road connecting the two cities. But he had traveled for a while and began to think that perhaps he was on the wrong road. He stopped and asked for directions to the city he was trying to reach. He was simply told to keep going, that his destination lay at the end of this road. If he did not detour, he would surely reach his destination. In a like manner as we travel down the road of life, if we make the best decisions according to the highest understanding and wisdom we possess, we will surely reach our destination: self-actualization. All we need to do is to "keep going," to follow Jesus.
This concludes today's message on understanding the pitfalls of life. 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