Sunday, 12 December 2010

And They Were Also Taught From On High

I was reading in the book of Ether this morning and once again read chapter 6:17 which says:

And they were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and they were also taught from on high.

I've read that verse dozens of time and never really taken the time to think about it's meaning. What really struck me was the last part, "and the were taught from on high."

What does this mean? It means exactly what it says. Because they walked humbly before the Lord, they received divine guidance and revelation to direct them in their daily lives. If you click on the link for the word "taught" it takes you to the Topical Guide for "Guidance, Divine". Under this topic heading there are a multitude of scriptures reference, a few of which I will mention here.

Exodus 13:21

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

Psalms 23:2

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Psalms 25:9

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

Proverbs 3:6

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

What marvelous promises. What beautiful comfort. We can know we will not be left alone if we will walk humbly before the Lord, doing everything in our power to keep his commandments. He will guides and direct our paths. I don't know about you, but for me, if ever there were a time under Heaven when we need God's guidance, both individually and as a nation, that time is now. I hope I can be humble and faithful enough to merit His help.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Everlasting Grace

In listening to Elder Christopherson's address in the Saturday Morning Session of the 180th Semiannual General Conference, I was touched in my heart when he reminded us that those who come unto Christ, and take His yoke upon them, have claim on his grace. I've always had a fascination with the term "grace" and in pondering Elder Christopherson's words, one of my favorite verses from the Book of Mormon, Ether 12:27 came to mind. It reads:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, p. 510)

I love the promise "my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." To fully appreciate the importance of this promise, an understanding of the term "grace," as used in the scriptures, is requisite.

The Guide for the Scriptures gives a wonderful definition of the scriptural meaning of grace. It is

"The enabling power from God that allows men and women to obtain blessings in this life and to gain eternal life and exaltation after they have exercised faith, repented, and given their best effort to keep the commandments. Such divine help or strength is given through the mercy and love of God," (Guide to the Scriptures,

Notice that grace is an enabling power which comes to us "through the mercy and love of God." It is not free, however, as Elder Christopherson, Either 12:27 and the Guide to the Scriptures indicate. In order to activate the Lord's divine grace in our lives we must come humbly unto Him, exercise faith in Him, repent, and diligently keep His commandments. In doing so, the Lord's promise is sure, "then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I have a firm testimony of the Lord's enabling grace. I know it is real. On multiple occasions, to numerous to recount here, either I, or my family, have been able to accomplish things that otherwise could not have been done. Permit me to share one.

In January 2006, I found out about a job opportunity in England. It intrigued me and I discussed it at length with my sweetheart. After our discussion we determined to pray about whether or not I should apply for the position. The answer came in the affirmative, so I applied. Shortly thereafter I had an interview which went very well. Within a few days I was told that an offer was imminent and was asked if I could come by May. Again a long discussion with my sweetheart ensued. After careful thought, we responded saying that the soonest we could come would be by the first of June and the hiring company agreed.

Then came the wait. The imminent offer did not come by the end of January. In speaking to the hiring company, they indicated that the offer was still coming but that there were some delays due to a shortage of HR staff. The end of February came and still no offer. It was very frustrating because there were a multitude of things that had to be done before we could go. We had to get our house ready to sell, which entailed repainting a good portion of the inside of our home, replacing the carpet, re-landscaping much of the outside, etc. We had to get a real estate agent to sell our home. We also had to complete all of the paperwork for and apply for passports and visas, then wait for them to come, which can take several months. We had to get all of the moving arrangements made.

On top of all this, my sweetheart found out she was pregnant, expecting our fourth child. The pregnancy came with it's attendant challenges of morning sickness and fatigue. The pregnancy also meant that I would be doing all of the interior painting by myself as she could not be in the house with those fumes. This in turn would lead to needing to have her and our children go and stay with grandma for a couple of weeks.

Additionally, as you might imagine, by this time doubt as to the answer to our prayers had crept in. Did we really feel like we should go to England and make such a huge change. We went to the Lord again in prayer and once again he gave us peace.

Finally, on March 21st, the offer came. The hiring company still wanted us there by June 1st, which meant that we had to accomplish everything described above in just a little over 2 months.

It was then that the Lord's enabling grace came in to play, without which, we would never have been able to accomplish all that we needed to. The Lord blessed me with both stamina and physical health. Though I was working full time and I lived off an average of 5 hours sleep per night I did not get sick. In 2 short months, with the help of many wonderful ward members, We were able to get the house entirely ready to sell, find a good real estate agent, and get our home on the market.

During that time we also applied for our passports and visas. Again the Lord opened up the way. A process that normally takes anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months was completed in 3 weeks time.

Additionally, my sweetheart's morning sickness eased. We were able to make all of the moving arrangements and get everything packed and ready to go for when the movers came. Everything fell in to place, with one exception. We ended up leaving without having our home sold. Even so, we had the assurance from the Holy Ghost that everything would be okay. We gave my wife's brother power of attorney and once again the Lord came through. Our home sold 1.5 months after we arrived in England-- a complete miracle considering that there were several homes in the same neighborhood that had been on the market for nearly a year.

As stated above, this is just one example of many that I could site.

The Lord's grace is real. He loves us and we truly can be recipients of his grace if we will humbly come unto him and take his yoke upon us.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

5 Loaves and 2 Fishses

In John 6:1-13 we read the story of Christ feeding the five thousand with five loaves of barley bread and two fishes. I've heard and read this story many times in the past, but today it struck me differently than before.

Just as he was able to magnify that bread and fish in a physical way to feed the five thousand, so to can the Lord magnify us spiritually if we put our faith and trust in him. We learn from Ether 12:27 that the Lord's grace is an enabling power. It enables us to do things far beyond our own capacity--things we would not be able to do otherwise. Faithful saints can share story after story of how the Lord's hand has blessed and strengthened them beyond their own physical capabilities.

We read in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon about various groups that won great battles in the face of terrible odds as they put their trust in God. The story of Gideon in the Old Testament is a prime example. With 300 soldiers Gideon defeated an army of over 10,000 Philistines. The story of the 2000 Stripling Warriors in the Book of Mormon is another great example. On more than one occasion the Nephites appeared to be on the losing end of the battle and these 2000 young men, though greatly out numbered, stood firm and undaunted before their enemies. They had been taught to trust in God and the knew that as they did so He would bless them according to their faith. Because of their faith, even though everyone of them was wounded multiple times, not one of them died in battle, while all around them there were many of the other Nephites who did. Additionally, because of their firmness before the enemy, their enemies fled, despite the fact that their enemies greatly out numbered them.

How does this apply to you and me? We live in a day and time of great wickedness. The prophets of old speaking of our time knew we would. They knew that in comparison to the "great whore," the number's of the Saints would be few. Yet, they also knew and prophesied that the Saints would be armed with righteousness and power and that, in spite of the staggering odds against them, the Saints would win.

Well may we ask ourselves, "but what can I do? I'm just one person?" The answer lies in the examples already given. We can put our faith and trust in God. We can arm ourselves with righteousness. We can be up and doing as was Captain Moroni. We can stand firmly and boldly, undaunted before the enemies of truth and right. As we do so, not only will we come off conquerors, but we may also be instruments in God's hands to bring many thousands of our brethren who now struggle in the darkness to the marvelous light of the gospel.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

One of the greatest chapters exemplifying the proper attitude of gratitude is, in my opinion, Alma chapter 26. I cannot read this chapter without feeling the desire to rejoice myself, with Ammon and his brethren, and find my self wanting, as it were, to shout praises to God from the housetops.

In pondering on this chapter, who can help but wonder, along with Ammon, at the great success that he and his brethren had in bringing thousands of Lamanites to the truth. Who can read of this miraculous change of heart, among a blood thirsty people full of complete hate an animosity toward the Nephites, and not feel to rejoice and give praise to almighty God for His everlasting mercy and grace. Well may we ask, along with Ammon, what are the reasons for rejoicing. Here they are as given in this wonderful chapter:
  • God saw fit, in His infinite mercy, to deliver Ammon and his brethren from their own sinful and polluted state and made them instruments in the hand of God in bringing thousands of the Lamanites to a knowledge of the truth
  • Ammon and his brethren were given the same promise that has been renewed in our day that if they would "thrust in their cycle with their might" they would bring in a great harvest; this promise was literally fulfilled
  • The converted Lamanites were gathered into the garners of the Lord of the Harvest and kept safe
  • In God's strength Ammon and his brethren were able to work many mighty miracles in the land
  • Thousands of Lamanites were brought to rejoice in Christ's redeeming love because of the power of God's word
  • Those who truly repent, exercise faith, bring forth good works, and pray continually can be instruments in God's hands to bring thousands of souls to repentance just as Ammon and his brethren did
  • Ammon and his brethren had the courage to come up out of the Land of Zarahemla, despite the taunting of many of the Nephites who laughed them to scorn and said it would be better to destroy the Lamanites out of the land rather than try to convince them of their wicked ways and convert them to the Lord
  • When Ammon and his brethren were depressed and discouraged in the wilderness, God comforted them and gave them the strength and courage to go forward with their mission
  • Through all their travails of teaching the Lamanites, going from house to house, going to their temples, teaching them in their streets, being mocked and spit upon, being smitten on their cheeks, being stoned, being in bonds and cast into prison, the Lord sustained and strengthened Ammon and his brethren
  • Because Ammon's and his brethren's efforts among the Lamanites, their converts had a great love toward each other and toward them -- so much love that they were willing to lay down their lives rather than do harm or hurt to another
  • God has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding and his everlasting love and mercy are extended toward all those who will repent and believe on his name
Oh the goodness and mercy of our God! What a blessing for us today to be able to read this wonderful account of Ammon and his brethren. Does it not give you pause to think that the same blessings that came to them can come to each of us if we will follow the formula described--repenting, exercising faith, bringing forth good works, and praying continually. Is not the field just as white and ready to harvest now as it was then? What of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, China, India, Indonesia, and dozens of other locations where, at present, Christ's teaching have very little influence, and where thousands, if not millions, of misguided individuals bear a hatred towards Christians, particularly American Christians, not unlike that of the Lamanites. On more than one occasion President Monson has admonished members of the church to pray that the gospel can move forward in those regions. In this past conference, in his opening address, President Monson stated:

I would ask that your faith and prayers continue to be offered in behalf of those areas where our influence is limited and where we are not allowed to share the gospel freely at this time. Miracles can occur as we do so (Welcome To General Conference, Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, Nov. 2010 6).

How marvelous is the opportunity we have and how great the responsibility! May we be blessed to live up to it.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Great Address

I just listened to a fantastic CES Fireside by Elder David A. Bednar. He spoke of the sacredness of our bodies, taking an approach that I hadn't considered before. Of particular interest to me were his words describing the way in which Satan strives to diminish the importance of our physical bodies, and our relationships with those around us, through enticing us to become addicted to technology such as video games, social networks, and other mediums of virtual reality. He spoke plainly and raised a powerful warning voice. I highly recommend his address to everyone. Here's the link:


Monday, 27 April 2009

Stand Fast

Helaman's "sons," as described in Alma chapter's 56 and 58, have always been an inspiration to me. Alma 58:40 is one of my favorite verses.

But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.

This verse causes me to ponder on several levels. What does it mean to "stand fast"? To me it means to be firmly rooted in Christ. It is only through him that we can truly be free. How do we stay rooted? We stay rooted by remembering God from day to day and strictly keeping His commandments.

We also look forward, as this verse implies, with a brightness of hope and faith in the prophecies of that which is to come. In ancient America, that meant looking forward to the advent of Christ's birth and later appearance among the Nephites. Today, it means looking forward to Christ's second coming and His millennial reign on the earth.

I love this verse. It strengthens me in my determination to keep the Lord's commandments to ensure that I am firmly rooted in Christ. How does it affect you? What are your thoughts and feelings when you read this verse?

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Hope for Deliverance

Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies...

Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him (Alma 58:10-11)

As I ponder these verses, the spirit whispers peace to my soul. What a blessing to know that if we pray with faith, the Lord will hear our cries and strengthen us in the face of adversity. We truly can hope for our deliverance in him.

How do these verses affect you?