A Warning from Prophets

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)

 

 

 

Quotes, Thoughts From General Conference, Oct 2013

I remember while growing up my parents would often have conference playing on the radio on conference Saturday but I wasn’t usually very excited about it. My thought was basically, church/conference on Saturday? Who would do that? But my tastes and understanding have improved as I’ve gotten older.

I watched all 5 sessions of general conference this weekend and found them all to have valuable messages I needed to hear. However it was the Sunday morning session that I found to be the most powerful. I was eagerly watching, listening for quotes that would help me– the Lord gave me something more meaningful and more lasting through the Holy Ghost that I won’t forget. As I listened to the prophet speak Sunday morning I felt an overwhelming impression from the Holy Ghost that President Monson was indeed called of God to be a prophet, and that he was prepared and lived a life consistently in line with God’s commandments, that he is guided and directed today by God through revelation to lead the Lord’s church and that he is leading us by example. No force on Earth and no power of darkness can take that knowledge from me. The Holy Ghost has borne witness to me of this and left no doubt. I already knew it but the Lord deepened my testimony. What a great blessing!

Some favorite quotes:

“Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity.”
–President Monson

“…your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.”
–President Monson

“It is only with the companionship of the Holy Ghost that we can hope to be equally yoked in a marriage, free from discord…the miracle of becoming one requires the help of heaven and it takes time.
–President Eyring

Pres. Eyring explained how he has prayed for some members of his family that angels would attend them during difficult times in their relationships. This point of needing angels and the Holy Ghost to help overcome relationship struggles is one that was very timely for me. I really like how he went on to emphasize the reality of angels watching over us:

…There is not one of us, but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that he has not been cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that he has not desired to save, and that he has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that he has not given his angels charge concerning us. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God and that he has actually given his angels, invisible beings of power and might, charge concerning us and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.”
–President Eyring quoting Pres. Canon

I don’t know a lot about Elder Vinson but I loved his talk from Sunday afternoon. I also felt bad for him having to deal with the fly buzzing around him as he spoke, how frustrating is that? But he handled it with dignity. I’m not sure but they may have edited that out in the recorded version of the video. This is the quote from him:

“[Speaking of the story of the brother of Jared] …the Lord not only left temporarily unsolved the challenge of how to provide light, but he then made it clear that he the lord would allow the buffetings and trials that necessitated its solving. He it would be, that would send forth the winds, the rains and the floods. Why would he do that? And why does he warn any of us to remove ourselves from the source of danger, when he could simply stop the danger from happening? …Rather than solve the problem himself, the Lord wants us to develop the faith that will help us rely upon him in solving our problems, and trust him. Then we can feel his love more constantly, more powerfully more clearly, and more personally. We become united with him, and we can become like him.”
–Elder Terence M. Vinson

Elder Holland is full of surprises. I certainly didn’t expect this talk from him, but I was pleasantly surprised that he would address such a difficult subject, depression, in a conference talk. To know he’s dealt with depression makes it seem more ok to have experienced it, and makes him that much more of hero to me for who he has become.

“Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.”
–Elder Holland

“Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead”
–Elder Holland

More good quotes:

“The scriptures hold the keys to spiritual protection. They contain the doctrine and laws and ordinances that will bring each child of God to a testimony of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer.”
–President Packer

“The gospel teaches us to be happy, to have faith rather than fear, to find hope and overcome despair, to leave darkness and turn toward the light of the everlasting gospel.
…peace can be settled in the heart of each who turns to the scriptures and unlocks the promises of protection and redemption that are taught therein. ”
–President Packer

“It is a fundamental truth that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be cleansed. We can become virtuous and pure. However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would attempt to exploit.

Satan will try to use our memory of any previous guilt to lure us back into his influence. We must be ever vigilant to avoid his enticements.

…The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy …repentance is not punishment. It is a hope-filled path to a brighter future.”
–Elder Scott

“There is no greater joy in life than being anxiously engaged in the service of the Lord.”
–Elder Ballard

“In recent decades the Church has largely been spared the terrible misunderstandings and persecutions experienced by the early Saints. It will not always be so. The world is moving away from the Lord faster and farther than ever before. The adversary has been loosed upon the earth. We watch, hear, read, study, and share the words of prophets to be forewarned and protected.

…“The only safety we have as members of this church is to … give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your [personal] views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’.
–Elder Hales (second paragraph quoting Pres. Harold B. Lee)

Checkout out the archive page on LDS.org to watch or listen to the other talks given during the conference:
October 2013 LDS General Conference Archive

Joseph Smith on repentance and forgiveness

“Ever keep in exercise the principle of mercy, and be ready to forgive our brother [or sister] on the first intimations of repentance… and should we even forgive our brother, or even our enemy, before he repent or ask forgiveness, our heavenly Father would be equally as merciful unto us.”

Joseph Smith

Angels are declaring it unto many…

I love the lessons learned from prophets of God who have preached repentance throughout time. I have no doubt that we as individuals and as a society would be blessed greatly if we would hear this call now.

Repentance has been defined as “…a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness.” (ref.)

Old Testament Prophets Preached Repentance

The prophet Jonah was called by God to preach repentance to the people of Ninevah. Jonah first tried to run away and avoid this heavenly commission, he consequently ended up in the belly of a “fish” (or a whale). He prayed to the Lord mightily for mercy and the Lord delivered him. Jonah then went to Ninevah and did as he was commanded “…and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The king of Ninevah sensed the truth of his preaching and his heart was softened. He joined Jonah’s cause and spread the call of repentance throughout the land, telling his people to “cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands”, also proclaiming, “Who can tell if God will …turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” (Jonah 1-3)

Through Jonah’s preaching the great work was brought about of convincing the people of Ninevah to turn their hearts to God. They repented and were spared destruction.

We learn from the Book of Mormon that Melchizedek, king of ancient Jerusalem in Old Testament times, was called to preach repentance:

“Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days;” (Alma 13:17-18)

The Savior’s Commission to Preach Repentance

John the Baptist went before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. The Book of Mark states that “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4)

After His resurrection, Jesus Christ briefly returned to Jerusalem and taught “…that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47)

After the Savior’s ascension into heaven, in the book of Acts there is the account of Peter preaching the Lord’s gospel of repentance and baptism boldly to the people of Israel:

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

…Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:22-38)

Repentance preached in our day

With the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith, God has again sent prophets to preach repentance to all nations as Jesus has commissioned, and they will continue to do so until peace, righteousness and “…love of God and neighbor rules the world” (Elder Jefferey Holland, Oct 2012).

The prophets are not alone in their call to repentance:

For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory. And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon…

And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance; (Alma 13:24-25,27)

Alma also taught earlier in Alma chapter 5:

Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.

…I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life.

Obtaining the Lord’s Rest

We live in an unrelenting, fast-paced world that can be exhausting in many ways. It’s just a reality of modern life, there’s often so much expected of us either by ourselves or by other people, but there’s only so many hours in the day and we have a limited amount of energy. Life itself can be overwhelming at times, dealing with personal problems or issues related to other people can add to the weight we feel. Since we’re only human and live in an imperfect world, it’s essential that we take time out to rest and find balance in our lives.

Days off of work, relaxing vacations, and a good night’s sleep can go a long way in resting our bodies, but we are spiritual beings. One can’t live life depriving themselves of spiritual rest and expect to ever be completely renewed and at peace. The spiritual rest we should be looking for is the rest that the Savior Jesus Christ can provide.

Faith In Christ & Good Works Brings Spiritual Rest

The prophet Mormon taught the people of his time that those who are the “peaceable followers of Christ” through their faith in Christ and good works may “…[obtain] a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.” (Moroni 7:3)

Mormon is explaining that it is possible to enter into the ‘rest of the Lord’ in this life! That is amazing and exciting to me. Previous to finding this scripture, I certainly did not fully grasp the idea of the Savior’s rest. There are more clues in the scriptures about what the Lord’s rest is and how we can obtain it.

Repentance Brings Spiritual Peace

The prophet Alma several times made mention of “the rest of the Lord”. Alma was someone who had experienced the deep, bitter pains of sin and records that he turned to the Lord, “repenting nigh unto death.” Alma explained that while he was in the depths of his spiritual pain remembering his sins, he remembered the prophesying of his father about the Savior who would “atone for the sins of the world.” Upon remembering this he called upon the Lord for mercy and tells how he “could remember his sins no more”, and that his “soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was his pain.” Alma proclaimed that he was “redeemed of the Lord.” It’s recorded that Alma then traveled through the land “zealously striving to repair all the injuries which [he] had done, confessing all [his] sins… and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them. (Mosiah 27, Alma 36)

Alma’s transition from the most bitter spiritual pain to immense spiritual joy was clearly a transition from a state of spiritual unrest to a restful state. This is probably one of the more extreme scriptural accounts of someone receiving rest in their souls, but it should give hope to anyone suffering from sin. Alma later taught about those who are called to hold the Priesthood of God— his words could apply to anyone who fully repents and is cleansed through the atonement of Jesus Christ:

“…Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God. And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.” (Alma 13:12-13)

As noted above, having no desire for sin, even finding it abhorrent, is an additional gift/blessing that comes from being sanctified by the Holy Ghost as a result of repentance. I can’t think of a more peaceful, restful state to be in than being pure in mind and soul, knowing you are spotless before God and only desiring to do good. These blessings are all facet’s of the Lord’s rest. Alma explains further:

“Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest. And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.” (Alma 12:34-35)

Burdens Lightened Through Patience & Mighty Prayer

There are other facets of the Lord’s rest that can be obtained in this life. Alma’s father, also named Alma, led a group of Christians who became enslaved by tyrants who wanted to exploit them for power and gain. For Alma’s people, spiritual rest ultimately came in the form of deliverance from the physical bondage they were under. Also, because of their patience, their trust in God, and their prayers, Alma’s people were not left without comfort while they were in the middle of the worst their trials. They prayed with all their hearts to God for help and He heard them:

“And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.” (Mosiah 24:13-16)

The blessing Alma’s people received went beyond a mere change of mental focus, beyond an increased exertion of willpower. They first received divine strength to be able to bear their burdens and to do so cheerfully and patiently. The burdens and afflictions were still there, they were just lightened and made easy to deal with through the miraculous power of God. Even when suffering something as extreme as the bondage and slavery that Alma and his people suffered under, physical and spiritual rest can be found in the Lord. For them this rest was not just a nice thought or idea, it was actual physical and spiritual relief. Finally, and in the Lord’s timeframe, they were delivered completely from bondage.

For the spiritually troubled, those with heavy physical or emotional burdens or those who simply feel weary with life, there may not be a sweeter promise found in all of scripture than that given by Christ:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mathew 11:28-30)

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