I missed yesterday so to catch up, I was grateful for making some progress at work yesterday. That was what I had thought of yesterday but didn’t end up getting it posted. Today I am also grateful to have made more progress with work. It feels at times like I’m fighting for every little bit.
Ancient and modern prophets have warned repeatedly of what follows, if people and nations turn away from God, abandon their moral foundations and allow wickedness to rule their lives and their societies. Numerous examples offer critical instruction and a desperate warning for the time we live in.
Ancient and modern prophets have warned repeatedly of what follows, if people and nations turn away from God, abandon their moral foundations and allow wickedness to rule their lives and their societies. Numerous examples offer critical instruction and warning for the time we live in.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in his time, declaring to the people, “…Amend your ways and your doings, …if ye thoroughly execute judgement between a man and his neighbor; If ye oppress not the stranger, and fatherless, and the widow, …neither walk after other gods… Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.” (Jeremiah 7:3-7)
In the Book of Mormon during a time just before the birth of Jesus Christ, we read of a civilization in dire circumstances, where many of the people had become hardened with great wickedness. Ultimately, two nations of people faced destruction at the hands of a large army of men, known as the Gadianton robbers, who had banded together to support one another as they robbed, plundered and terrorized the two nations. The people who desired peace and righteousness eventually united. Their righteous leader declared, “As the Lord liveth, except ye repent of all your iniquities, and cry unto the Lord, ye will in nowise be delivered out of the hands of those Gadianton robbers.” (3 Nephi 3:15)
In the New Testament, Jesus lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” (Mathew 23:37-38)
The people from the civilizations mentioned above who responded to the prophet’s warnings, found peace and protection in following the words of God. However, many who chose not to listen to the prophets were eventually destroyed. Will we hear the warning today?
The ancient prophet Mormon foresaw the modern world, and wrote, “…there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, …unto envying, and strifes and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; …For behold ye do love money, and your substance, … more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Mormon 8:36-37)
James, who is commonly believed to be the brother of Jesus, wrote: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. …Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:8,10)
King Benjamin, beloved by his people, taught them: “And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.” (Mosiah 4:10)
What promise do we have if we follow the prophets’ warnings, repent and forsake our sins, and choose God? “…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18)
This is not the easy path, but it is the better path and it ultimately leads to peace and eternal joy. I know that the Savior, Jesus Christ, has the power to cleanse us, heal us, change our hearts and minds, and pardon sin. He is our judge and also our advocate. His plea on behalf of those who choose to follow Him is this: “spare these… that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life”. (D&C 45:3-5)
I love the story of the blind man being healed by the Savior that is found in the book of John. It not only records the experience of the Savior healing him, but also demonstrates the faith that is required for anyone who would be healed by God. It seems that in addition to the test of having to endure living his life without the ability to see, the man’s faith and integrity are also tested after he is healed and receives his sight.
It’s indication of his faith that the man responds right away when the Lord tells him to “wash in the pool of Siloam”. He doesn’t hesitate, even though he likely has to slowly feel his way there, he is blind after all. He obediently washes and is healed, it was a miracle evident to everyone around him!
We’re then given insight into the level of the man’s loyalty to Jesus as he is questioned and hassled by the Pharisees who want him to deny that it was Christ who had healed him. They don’t seem to put much effort into denying the fact that he was healed, it was too obvious. They were in a position of power and were doing their best to intimidate the man into turning against the Savior so they could have a witness against him. The man didn’t give in even though there could have been consequences for withstanding the Pharisees. He stood up for Christ and the truth of what happened to him. The Pharisees in their apparent disgust then “cast him out”.
After the man has been cast out, the Savior comes to him again, with comfort and possibly to confirm that his integrity and unwavering faithfulness is recognized and approved of by the Lord. Jesus then asks him if he believes in the Son of God. The man didn’t realize at first that Jesus was speaking of himself, he had thought Jesus was a prophet. Now understanding, the man answers, “Lord, I believe”.
Though my story is quite different from this man’s story, I’ve spent a large part of my life spiritually blind. During one of the more extreme periods of blindness, there came a point where the Lord reached out to me in a way that I couldn’t ignore, offering His healing. During this time I had become very sick physically and spiritually. I honestly didn’t think I would live much longer, and my family were concerned as well. I made several visits to the doctor but they were inconclusive. I pled for the Lord’s help, made significant changes in my life that were needed in order for me to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the Lord raised me up and changed my heart. This is as obvious to me that Christ’s power healed me as was the miracle of sight given to the blind man in the story above. What the Lord did for me was a miracle. I simply wouldn’t still be here without the Lord intervening, through His power and through loving family members who gave me Priesthood blessings, prayed for me and helped in other ways.
I still can only partially comprehend and understand the great change He has brought about in my life in such a short time. I know the healing I have received is from Christ. It has taught me about the depth of God’s love and that He doesn’t give up on us. I love and trust Him more deeply. I learned that I have to still trust and rely on Him completely. I know that Jesus Christ has the power to heal us, if we will trust Him, turn our hearts to Him and follow His commandments. I also know that the power of the Priesthood is real, that the power of God is manifest through those who hold the Priesthood, and that this power ultimately comes from the Savior himself.
Why are some people born blind? Why do other people choose to not see the truth? Why does it take some of us so long to learn the things we need to learn? Why are we sometimes afraid to allow the Lord into our life to heal us, and to change us into the people He knows we can become?
I return to John chapter 9:
“And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (John 9:39-41)
And finally, on another occasion Jesus taught why many of us don’t see more miracles like this in our lives:
“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matt 13:15)
I’ve always respected and looked up to Elder Neal A. Maxwell for how he says things in a humble yet powerful way. His quiet, careful speech, his intelligence, his love for righteousness and for the Lord is all something to take notice of and review from time to time. I testify that he was a man called of God.
The true Christian is a communicator.
-All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience
Truly we work and live on a streetful of splendid people, whom we are to love and serve even if they are uninterested in us!
No love is ever wasted. Its worth does not lie in reciprocity.
Occasionally some individuals let the seeming ordinariness of life dampen their spirits. Though actually coping and growning, others lack the quiet, inner-soul satisfaction that can steady them, and are experiencing instead, a lingering sense that there is something more important they should be doing . . .as if what is quietly achieved in righteous individual living or in parenthood are not sufficiently spectacular.
God’s extraordinary work is most often done by ordinary people in the seeming obscurity of a home and family.
Those of little faith frequently mistake local cloud cover for general darkness.
Thus worshiping, serving, studying, praying, each in its own way squeezes selfishness out of us; pushes aside our preoccupations with the things of the world.
Many of our daily choices are not intrinsically hard, but we make them that way. Some choices are matters of preference, not principle. We have a way, at times, of exhausting ourselves and the supply of goodwill while struggling over what are preferences—not principles!
Wisdom and Order
If, in the end, you have not chosen Jesus Christ it will not matter what you have chosen.
“…and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.
And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them…”
Providing insight to the current refugee crisis in Europe, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shares his experience as a refugee in Germany during WWII. He expresses that as the members of the LDS faith we should never “label” any people, and should help people in need throughout the world, and help them to become self reliant.
Community Effort (Northern Virginia) to assist Syrian refugees:
In church the other day a missionary spoke and shared the story of when his father was being taught by the missionaries. His father had been meeting with LDS missionaries for a while and was skeptical of the fact that we claim to have a living prophet that receives revelation to lead and guide the church. One day the missionary told him boldly, why wouldn’t there be a prophet alive today? With all the turmoil in the world, with all the wars and political and social conflict and unrest? With all the immorality in the world? Why wouldn’t God send a prophet like he did in other times of the world’s history to help show us the way? Why not now? He has sent a prophet today!
I share my own testimony that God loves all of his children throughout history and sends prophets, even today to teach us the truth, and sometimes just to remind us of what is right. Here’s some recent words from President Monson on the happiness that comes from following God’s laws and not giving in to voices that would persuade us to do otherwise:
Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.”7 We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”8
I plead with you to avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come. With his deceptions and lies, the adversary will lead you down a slippery slope to your destruction if you allow him to do so. You will likely be on that slippery slope before you even realize that there is no way to stop. You have heard the messages of the adversary. He cunningly calls: Just this once won’t matter; everyone is doing it; don’t be old-fashioned; times have changed; it can’t hurt anyone; your life is yours to live. The adversary knows us, and he knows the temptations which will be difficult for us to ignore. How vital it is that we exercise constant vigilance in order to avoid giving in to such lies and temptations.
Great courage will be required as we remain faithful and true amid the ever-increasing pressures and insidious influences with which we are surrounded and which distort the truth, tear down the good and the decent, and attempt to substitute the man-made philosophies of the world. If the commandments had been written by man, then to change them by inclination or legislation or by any other means would be the prerogative of man. The commandments, however, were God-given. Using our agency, we can set them aside. We cannot, however, change them, just as we cannot change the consequences which come from disobeying and breaking them.
May we realize that our greatest happiness in this life will come as we follow God’s commandments and obey His laws! I love the words found in Isaiah chapter 32, verse 17: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Such peace, such assurance can come only through righteousness.
I feel like I gain treasures of knowledge every week just by attending church, but I rarely post about it. So here’s a few things that were meaningful to me from church today. This first quote from Joseph Smith wasn’t read in its entirety but the first part of it was and I really liked it, so I looked it up:
“Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is. … In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because He has greater knowledge;
“…The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! …
“… Let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy. And now, brethren, after your tribulations, if you do these things, and exercise fervent prayer and faith in the sight of God always, He shall give unto you knowledge by His Holy Spirit, yea by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost [see D&C 121:26].
(Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith)
This quote from Elder Andersen was also brought up at church today and I love it, also about Joseph Smith, in answer to Joseph’s critics:
“…questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his critics since this work began. To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven. Consider the totality of Joseph’s life—born in poverty and given little formal education, he translated the Book of Mormon in less than 90 days. Tens of thousands of honest, devoted men and women embraced the cause of the Restoration. At age 38, Joseph sealed his witness with his blood. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Settle this in your mind, and move forward!”
I also know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that he did see God the Father, and Jesus Christ. I know this is true, I love hearing the words of the prophets and Joseph Smith’s prophetic teachings are among the greatest. I feel the more I study his life and teachings, the more I realize how powerful they are– all pointing to Christ, His life and His mission. I love the Lord Jesus Christ and know He is our Savior!
In honor of International Bible Day, here’s a verse from the Bible that is meaningful to me, from James chapter 3:
16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:16-18)
As Jesus taught us, and his brother James confirms, “blessed are the peacemakers”.