Thursday, 22 January 2009

God's Work Will Go Forth

In these turbulent times, it is a breath of fresh air to me to come across verses in the scriptures that give me solace, comfort and the courage to move forward despite the challenges all around and ahead.

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.

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 Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;

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:

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

Moroni's Changes To Malachi

In studying for this week's Gospel Doctrine lesson, I noticed, sadly, for the first time the significant changes that Moroni made to Malachi chapter 4 when he quoted from it to Joseph Smith. Here's what the KJV says and below is what Moroni says:


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.

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.

Joseph Smith History - Moroni:
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.

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.

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).

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

Great Quotes On Hope

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I was asked to speak about hope. In preparing, I was referred to three talks, The Infinite Power of Hope, by Elder Uctdorf (Ensign, November 2008), Brightness of Hope, by Elder Maxwell (Ensign, November 1994) and Hope Through The Atonement of Jesus Christ, by Elder Maxwell (Ensign, November 1998). These wonderful articles are full of marvelous, inspiring quotes--a few of which I share here.

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) 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).

These are just a few of the nuggets in these wonderful articles. I invite you to follow the links above and read them yourselves.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The Reason for Hope

Only a short entry this morning. Things are crazy and I'm still working on time management.

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:

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.
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.

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 5:12

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.
Here 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.

Well, I've got to go for now. More later.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Jesus Christ, Our Savior

Well, its a new week. I'm still working on getting in the habit of using a scripture journal. I'm not used to doing one, at least not like this.

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.


Verses 1-3
Shout for joy; shout for joy!
Praise Jehovah’s holy name!
Shout for joy; shout for joy!
All his mighty works proclaim!

Verse 4
Shout for joy; shout for joy!
Praise the Lord’s exalted name!
Shout for joy; shout for joy!
All his mighty works proclaim!

Scripture References:
Isaiah 12
2 Nephi 22

Can be sung to the tune of “Guide Us Oh Thou Great Jehovah”

Copyright 2007 – Randall D. McNeely

More tomorrow.