Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Monday, 27 April 2009
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.
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.
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
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?
Friday, 27 March 2009
Yet through the gloom and doom of our times, the glorious gospel light pierces the darkness, as the lighthouse on a hill, guiding all those who will follow it to the path of peace and rest. Aside from the comforting words of living prophets and apostles, nothing brings the gospel light to our hearts like the uplifting language of the scriptures.
The following verses are from Psalm 37. It is a long Psalm so I will only quote some of the verses. I also recommend Psalms 34 and 36.
I love these verses. I love the desire they inspire in my mind to trust in the Lord, to delight in the Lord, to commit my way to the Lord and bring forth righteousness that I, and all those I can influence for good, might find rest in Him. They strengthen my feeble knees, buoy up my drooping heart and lift my hanging hands. What a blessing to have the scriptures! What joy to be able to feast at the table of the Lord everyday--a banquet of the most delicious and soul satisfying dishes on a table that is never empty! Oh that we might all hearken to the words of Nephi in 2 Nephi 31:20 and "feast upon the words of Christ" daily!
1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous.
18 The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
27 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
34 Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land...
37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.
How do you feel about these verses? Do you have favorite verses from the scriptures that are a strength and a comfort to you? Would you be willing to share them with me? If so, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to comment here or email them to me and, if you are comfortable with me doing so, I will post them.
Sunday, 1 March 2009
In doing all this, and then in watching and reading the news, it has been difficult, at times, not to let myself get discouraged. What a wonderful blessing it is to be able to turn to the scriptures and "sweet refreshment find."
As I've read over the past several days, I've come across some wonderful nuggets that apply directly to our current lives.
First, D&C 98:4-11
4 And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.
5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
10 Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.
These verses give us the Lord's prescription for freedom.
- Observe and keep God's commandments
- Constitution is for all mankind
- Befriend the constitution (study it and understand its principles)
- Anything more or less than the Constitution is evil
- We are free in God and also through the Constitution
- Seek honest and wise men [and women] to hold office -- anything less comes of evil
- Forsake evil and live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
If we follow this prescription, we will be free. If we don't, the wicked will rule and the people will mourn.
In D&C 21:4-6 we read:
4 Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
In the Book of Mormon we read, in Alma chapter 46, of Amalickiah and his aspirations to be king over the Nephites. Amalickiah, through much flattery, lead away many Nephites to support him in his efforts to become king—even many members of the Church of Christ. The Nephites were in great distress. Yet we also read that Captain Moroni rallied the Nephites to stand up to the challenge.
So it is with us today. We find ourselves in a very dangerous and precarious position, facing challenges similar to those of Captain Moroni and the Nephites. From within our own nation, we face an enemy that is every bit as real as Amalickiah and his followers – people in high places seeking for power. The weapons they use today are different, however their intent is the same: destroy the foundation of liberty—namely religion, peace, freedom, family, and especially God. Through great subtlety and flattering words they bray forth their message as they ignore the U.S. constitution and seek to further entrench a socialistic welfare state and a government sponsored religion of secular humanism and moral relativism throughout our nation.
How can we hope to combat them? D&C 27:15-18 gives us the answer.
15 Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.
16 Stand, therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you;
17 Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked;
What is the Lord's answer? How do we withstand the evil day? By putting on God's armor. What is that armor?
- Knowledge of the plan of salvation
- The Holy Ghost
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
God is at the helm. Truth will prevail.
Saturday, 28 February 2009
Monday, 16 February 2009
I was reading earlier about the Sons of Mosiah and their mission to the Lamanites. It was a great undertaking and they felt it, even to the point of considering going back to Zarahemla. Yet they did not. We read the following in Alma 26:27
27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.In their moment of distress, the Lord strengthened them and gave them the courage to go forward in their great cause.
In contemplating the mission of Ammon and his brethren, I cannot help but think of the current state of affairs in the United States. In Alma 17:14-15, we read a description of the Lamanites at that time:
"14 ... they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.
Sadly, this description, describes a great many in our current society. Many Americans have become so hardened that are more than willing to kill innocent children all in the name of "choice." Too many people care more about riches and the praise of the world than they do about their fellow man. Far too many are willing to murder and steal to get riches rather than work to get them on their own. Socialism is becoming more entrenched as the people become more and more indolent and look to the government to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. Looking at the situation, without having the perspective of the gospel, one could easily get discouraged.
What a wonderful gift it is to have the Gospel. To know that despite the challenging situation we face, with God's help, there is still hope for turning things around. Like the task facing the sons of Mosiah, the undertaking to return America to the principles of freedom as originally given by our founding fathers is daunting. Yet as members of the church, we have that responsibility on our shoulders.
Elder L. Tom Perry, in a wonderful talk given in 1976 entitled God's Hand in the Founding of America, states the following:
“Our commitment to America has been testified to by many, but I will point out to you special witnesses who have indicated our responsibilities to this land.The question we have to ask ourselves then, as members of the Church, is whether or not we are willing to stand up and fulfill our responsibilities? Will we be numbered with those of whom these Prophets and Apostles prophesied? Or will we sit idly by and hope someone else will fulfill our responsibilities for us? The task is daunting. Yet the Lord tells us that we should be "anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness," (see D&C 58:27). The task may seem overwhelming at times, yet in those times we can turn to the Lord for comfort, even as Ammon and his brethren.
“First from Brigham Young, second president of the Church: ‘Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, ‘The time will come when the destiny of this nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.’ It will be so.’ (Journal of Discourses, 7:15.)
“Now another witness, John Taylor, third president of the Church: ‘When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States, the elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth, and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men, and extending the hand of fellowship to the oppressed of all nations.’ (The Gospel Kingdom, Deseret Book Co., 1943, p. 219.) This is part of the program.
“A final witness is from George Q. Cannon, former member of the First Presidency, who said that ‘the day will come when the Constitution and free government under it will be sustained and preserved by this people.’” (JD, 23:104).
“Now, I declare to you that if we are not in the beginning stages of the fulfillment of this prophecy, we are at least in the stages where we are preparing for its fulfillment.”
I feel compelled to work in this cause--to raise my voice in a clarion call and invite all who will maintain the cause of freedom in our country to stand up and take action. I cannot sit idly by and do nothing, lest in doing so I allow someone else to do the work I should be doing myself and thereby become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Such are the following verses from D&C section 3:
1 The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.These verses give me great comfort. Through them we can know that God's works and purposes will prevail. Let earth and hell combine against the work of God and all they will do is break themselves upon it. As we do what is right, strive to bring forth the work of God and do our part to fulfill our responsibilities as the seed of Abraham, we can know that we are on the Lord's errand and we will succeed. He has promised and assured us that we can make it if we are faithful. The words to a couple of the verses from How Firm a Foundation come to mind:2 For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.
3. Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
7. The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
I cannot help but also think of Joseph Smith's words in D&C section 128:22 where he says:
22 Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.Joseph Smith History - Moroni:
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
37 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stuble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.Note the diferences in the first verse. The KJV verse says that day that comes shall burn the wicked. Moroni says they that come shall burn the wicked. Big difference. Someone (we can probably infer destroying angels as indicated in D&C 77:8) is going to desroy the wicked at that day. They shall have neither root nor branch, meaning they shall have no inheritance in the vineyard of the Lord (see footnote g in the KJV for branch).
38 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
39 And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
The change to the fifth verse is even more significant. The Lord will reveal the Priesthood by the hand of Elijah. Which Priesthood--the Melchizedek Priesthood, specifically the sealing power that can only be exercised by someone holding that key under the Melchizedek Priesthood. The ability to bind on earth and in heaven. Without that key, we cannot hope for salvation for ourselves or our families.
The changes to the sixth verse are also very significant. Elijah's purpose is to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers. Abraham was promised that all the world would be blessed through his seed. Abraham held the Melchizedek Priesthood. He was a follower of righteousness. His seed has the responsibility to preach the gospel to all the world. Every member of this church is either a direct descendant or adopted into the house of Israel and thereby an heir to the promises to and responsibilities of the seed of Abraham. What an awesome responsibility we have as members of the church!
Sunday, 18 January 2009
These are just a few of the nuggets in these wonderful articles. I invite you to follow the links above and read them yourselves.
Hope is a gift of the Spirit. It is a hope that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power of His Resurrection, we shall be raised unto life eternal and this because of our faith in the Savior. This kind of hope is both a principle of promise as well as a commandment, and, as with all commandments, we have the responsibility to make it an active part of our lives and overcome the temptation to lose hope. Hope in our Heavenly Father’s merciful plan of happiness leads to peace, mercy, rejoicing, and gladness. The hope of salvation is like a protective helmet; it is the foundation of our faith and an anchor to our souls (Uctdorf, Ensign, November 2008)
Hope...is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear (Uctdorf, Ensign, November 2008).
We hope in Jesus the Christ, in the goodness of God, in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, in the knowledge that prayers are heard and answered. Because God has been faithful and kept His promises in the past, we can hope with confidence that God will keep His promises to us in the present and in the future. In times of distress, we can hold tightly to the hope that things will "work together for [our] good" as we follow the counsel of God’s prophets. This type of hope in God, His goodness, and His power refreshes us with courage during difficult challenges and gives strength to those who feel threatened by enclosing walls of fear, doubt, and despair (Uctdorf, Ensign, November 2008).
Souls can be roused and rallied by hope’s “reveille” as by no other music. Even if comrades slumber or desert, “lively hope” performs like a reconnoitering scout out in advance of God’s columns; “there is hope smiling brightly before us” (see 1 Pet. 1:3; Hymns, 1985, no. 19). Hope caused disciples to go quickly and expectantly to an empty garden tomb (see Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:8–12). Hope helped a prophet to see rescuing rain in a distant cloud which appeared to be no larger than a man’s hand (see 1 Kgs. 18:41–46) (Maxwell, Ensign, November 1994).
Hope feasts on the words of Christ, “written for our learning,” so that “having all these witnesses” through the “comfort of the scriptures [we] might have hope” (Rom. 15:4; Jacob 4:6; see also 2 Ne. 31:20). We sing, too, of how “more holiness” involves having “more hope in his word” (Hymns, 1985, no. 131) (Maxwell, Ensign, November 1994).
Genuine hope gives spiritual spunk, including to deserving parents drenched in honest sweat from being “anxiously engaged.” Just as the leaning Tower of Pisa is a persistent rebuke to architectural pessimism, so parental hope—by refusing to topple merely because of the gravity of the current family situation—is a repudiation of despair. Giving parents never give up hope! (Maxwell, Ensign, November 1994).
Real hope keeps us “anxiously engaged” in good causes even when these appear to be losing causes on the mortal scoreboard (see D&C 58:27). Likewise, real hope is much more than wishful musing. It stiffens, not slackens, the spiritual spine. Hope is serene, not giddy, eager without being naive, and pleasantly steady without being smug. Hope is realistic anticipation which takes the form of a determination—not only to survive adversity but, moreover, to “endure … well” to the end (D&C 121:8) (Maxwell, Ensign, November 1998).
Much as I lament the gathering storms, there will be some usefulness in them. Events will help to draw fresh attention to God’s higher ways and His kingdom, which is to “become fair as the sun, and clear as the moon” (D&C 105:31).
Individuals and nations will continue to choose what they want, but they cannot alter the ultimate consequences of what they want.
Therefore, in this hastened ripening process, let us not be surprised that the tares are looking more like tares all the time. During this time when nations are in distress, with perplexity, there will actually be some redemptive turbulence: “For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance” (2 Ne. 28:19).
Being so “stirred up” will be a real thing, though we can only speculate as to how it will be achieved.
Meanwhile, those with ultimate hope accept the truth of this terse verse: “But all things must come to pass in their time” (D&C 64:32).
It is well, therefore, to ponder the status of hope in our present human context when God’s commandments seem unimportant to many. Granted, as the scriptures say, “it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right” (Mosiah 29:26). But if this does occur, bringing massive sea changes in society’s attitudes, then the judgments of God will come (see Mosiah 29:26, 27). Only the acceptance of the revelations of God can bring both the direction and correction needed and, in turn, a “brightness of hope” (2 Ne. 31:20) (Maxwell, Ensign, November 1998).
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
I've been asked to speak on Hope this week in sacrament meeting. In my preparations I've come across some great quotes which I'll write more about later today. Right now, however, I'll just share some scriptures.
2 Nephi 31:20:I love this verse. In this small verse we find summarized the keys to joy in this life and eternal joy in the life to come.
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
As we are steadfast in Christ, we cannot help but have a perfect brightness of hope. True faith in Christ fills us with hope as we look forward to the blessings promised as we keep his commandments.
Loving God and all men is a directly in line with Christ's statement to the Jews when he stated that the first and great commandment is to love God with all our hearts and the second is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
As we feast upon the words of Christ, we learn how to love God and our neighbors. As we apply what we learn, we are blessed and we are able to bless the lives of all around us.
As we do these things throughout our lives, enduring to the end, we will receive eternal blessings.
Helaman 5:12Here again is another wonderful scriptural nugget. My heart fills with hope every time I read this verse. It is particularly apropos for our time. I know, that if I will build on the foundation of Christ, I will be okay, come what may. Let Satan and his hosts combine against me, if I'm built on that sure foundation, I can not fall! What a wonderful promise. Let all hell break loose and I can stand firm because of Him who is mighty to save. My heart thrills, even as I write.
12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
Well, I've got to go for now. More later.
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
I was just called as second counselor in the Sunday School Presidency. As such, I'm responsible to prepare to teach any Sunday School class. It's not two difficult as there are only two different manuals in use.
The Gospel Doctrine class this week is entitled “Behold, I Am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World”. It focuses on the atonement, on Christs attributes, and how we can develop those attributes ourselves.
D&C 19:16-19 reads:
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
These verses always touch my heart deeply. I go on a bit of an emotional roller coaster when I read them. First I feel gratitude for Christ's willingness to suffer that I might not suffer. Then I feel an urgency to repent so that I don't have to suffer as he did. Then I feel empathy for what he went through. I can't begin to comprehend, even in the smallest degree, what it must have been like to go through so much agony to cause bleeding from every poor. It's incomprehensible to my feeble human mind. Then I feel gratitude again for the fact that despite the tremendous suffering, Christ did not quit. He went forward and finished the assignment the Lord had given him. He laid it all on the line for the glory of the Father, and for us. Then I feel a tremendous outpouring of love. I love the Savior. I love him, because he first loved me, so much that he laid down his life and took it up again that I, and everyone, might be able to live again, physically, and spiritually. He did for us, what we cannot do for ourselves. I want to stand up and sing the songs of his redeeming love when I think on these things.
A song I wrote a couple of years ago expresses some of my feelings.
"Shout For Joy, Inhabitants of Zion."
Shout for joy, inhabitants of Zion!
Praise Jehovah’s holy name.
Though with thee he once was angry,
Now His mercy shall thee claim.
Shout for joy, inhabitants of Zion!
In Jehovah put your trust.
For through Him all strength is given--
Blessings unto all the just.
Shout for joy inhabitants of Zion!
Water from salvation’s well,
Unto thee is freely flowing.
With Jehovah you shall dwell.
Shout for joy inhabitants of Zion!
Call upon the Lord in prayer.
Covenant that among all people,
His great works you will declare.
Shout for joy; shout for joy!
Praise Jehovah’s holy name!
Shout for joy; shout for joy!
All his mighty works proclaim!
Shout for joy; shout for joy!
Praise the Lord’s exalted name!
Shout for joy; shout for joy!
All his mighty works proclaim!
2 Nephi 22
Can be sung to the tune of “Guide Us Oh Thou Great Jehovah”
Copyright 2007 – Randall D. McNeely