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Faith – The Fifth Hour

February 27, 2015

2 Nephi 1:13

O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

Lehi is here speaking to his children, pleading with them to not deliberately turn away from the Lord, but to be humble and to keep the commandments.  Ezra Taft Benson said that pride was the besetting sin of this generation, and it’s so true.  We’re all hoist on our own petard, and think we’re so amazing and fabulous, and feel insulted when commanded to worship our Father in Heaven.  What, me?  *Worship* someone?  Who does he think he is?

Well who He is is the creator of you, your mind and heart and life and everything you see, hear, touch, or feel.

2 Nephi 1:9

Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that insamuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves.  And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.

I think this applies not only to those who left Jerusalem with Lehi, but to all those who live in the Americas.  Keep the commandments and trust in God, and you will prosper and be kept safe.  Turn away from the precepts of the Lord and things are going to get slightly dicey.

Though this promise is specifically for those in the Americas, I believe that wherever you life, if you keep the commandments you will be blessed.

1 Nephi 20:18

O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments – then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.

This is a scripture of our Father speaking with deep pain and regret.  He desires to bless us abundantly, but cannot do so if those blessings will harm us – which they will do if we are not following his commandments.  He is utterly delighted when we choose the right and pours out blessings upon our heads.  And his anguish when we turn from Him so He cannot bless us – it’s so painful to read.

Joseph Smith History 1:15-20

After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God.  I had scarecely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak.  Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction – not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being – just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.  When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is my Beloved Son.  Hear Him!

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join.  No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) – and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.  When I came to myself again, i found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven.  When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.  And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was.  I replied, “Never mind, all is well – I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.”  It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution taht arose against me, almost in my infancy?

This account is true.  It really happened.  Joseph Smith saw what he saw.  Those personages he saw spoke the words he said they spoke.  He suffered terribly in his life.  He gave it as a testimony to the truth of what he saw and heard.

D&C 5:24

Behold, I say unto him, he exalts himself and does not humble himself sufficiently before me; but if he will bow down before me, and humble himself in mighty prayer and faith, in the sincerity of his heart, then will I grant unto him a view of the things which he desires to see.

Here’s another verse to set the backs of the proud up, and to stiffen their necks.  What, me?  Bow myself down?

Yes, you.  Be humble, and the Lord thy God shall give thee answers to thy prayers.

First, humble yourself and pray faithfully, THEN your prayers will be answered.  The fire in the fireplace will not light itself.  Only you can do that through faith – and then you’ll feel the warmth.

D&C 6:20

Behold, thou art ___________________, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart.  Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.

The name that appears in the scripture is Oliver.  To liken the scriptures to yourself, stick your name in there and read it aloud.  Then do what it says, and you will be surrounded with the love of God.

Not that you aren’t, in point of fact, already surrounded by the love of God.  It’s already there.  It’s always there.  But when you pray and keep the commandments, you’re able to feel it.  It’s like you’re facing the wrong direction and are in the dark and can’t see a dang thing, but the act of following the commandment in faith realigns you and turns you around and all of a sudden you realize “Holy cow! The light was there all along!”

D&C 1:37-38

Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

The commandments referred to are D&C, but I think this can be applied to all scripture.  All scripture (so far as it is translated correctly – that is to say, the original scripture with the original meaning by the writer) is true.  It will all be fulfilled.  And if God said it himself, or if He said it through His prophets, it’s the same.  It’s all true.

D&C 1:30

And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually – 

This is the true church.  This is the Lord’s church.  Moral relativists find this so stinkin’ infuriating.  It is simply not PC to declare something definitively like that, especially like religion.  But it would be a lie to say otherwise.  It would also be unfair to people to not know that there is absolute truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That is not to say the *people* are perfect.  Haha!  No no no, far from it.  The phrase, “The church is true but the people aren’t” is absolutely true.  In this world, there are good people, bad people, smart people, uneducated people, kind people, judgmental people, hard people, soft people, and downright crazy weirdos.  And you’ll find people of all sorts in the church.  Some are wise and kind and gentle.  Some are hard and inflexible and unyielding.  Some are downright crazy lunatics.  Yep, they’re all here.  Most Mormons are just, y’know, ordinary humans doing their best to do their best and mostly messing it up on a regular basis….but they keep trying.  They keep pointing at incredibly lofty goals (“Be ye therefore perfect”….though straight up, that doesn’t mean what you think it means) and going, “That’s where I’m heading!”  But those goals are on the top of a very high mountain, and most people are just slogging around in the slippery mud at the base, trying their best to climb higher.

The trick is to help other people up.  Being kind and lifting others generally helps you find stronger and less slippy footholds in the upward climb.

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