Monday, September 29, 2008

In the Depths of Humility

"Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.

Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen" (2 Nephi 4:16-35).

These beautiful words were written by the prophet Nephi a little less than 600 years before Christ. Some call it the Psalm of Nephi. I love the introspection written in such wonderful poetic fashion because I have often felt much the same way as Nephi, and I believe many of us have. It is not often we can have such a personal view into the heart of a prophet of God. I am very grateful that Nephi included this passage in his writings in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

I know that Jesus Christ lives! He truly lives! I know that he suffered and died for my sins and that through him and him alone I can be saved from my sins. I know that I can live again with my Savior in his kingdom. I know that all who seek the Christ can and will know him because he know us! This is my sure testimony that I have been blessed with through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, September 22, 2008

He That Endureth to the End Shall Be Saved

Matthew recorded the Savior Jesus Christ's words on enduring to the end being necessary for salvation:

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22).

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ adds more testimonies of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ's words to Matthews writings:

"And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father"(3 Nephi 27:16-17).
"14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.
15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
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" (2 Nephi 31:12-20).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Foolish and Blind Guides

Yesterday we read the following scripture in Sunday School:

"But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him. O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?" (Helaman 13:27-29).

This description really blows me away. An amoral character telling us to do whatever we want, telling us that our pride, or doing only what is best for ourselves, not others, such as fighting for their freedom, is all that matters. Then this amoral character is treated like a special being, even a prophet. Then by many people he is held in higher esteem that the general public, where people give him money, even thousands of dollars. Meanwhile these same people find no faults in him, especially the media, only singing his praises because he tells us flattering things like guaranteeing certain things to everyone, even though anyone who actually thinks about it realizes it would be impossible to pay for everyone to have health care and higher education without severely restricting our freedom in how we use our money and handing it over him as our new leader. This truly is a foolish and blind guide, filled with darkness that many have chosen to follow.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wickedness in the Government

It has been said that "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

In 23 BC the conditions of the government of one land were in many ways like they are today. The similarities are striking. Here is the record:
"And seeing the people in a state of such awful wickedness, and those [wicked men] filling the judgment-seats—having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice unto the children of men; Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills" (Helaman 7:4-5).
That's something to think about.

The True Keys to Accomplishment

Lately I have been considering the future quite a frequently. This quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley posted on the LDS Gems site yesterday gave me comfort and a reminder that "sacrifice and faith" are the true keys to accomplishment.
"In my quiet moments, I think of the future with all of its wonderful possibilities and with all of its terrible temptations. I wonder what will happen to you in the next 10 years. Where will you be? What will you be doing? That will depend on the choices you make, some of which may seem unimportant at the time but which will have tremendous consequences.

"Someone has said, 'It may make a difference to all eternity whether we do right or wrong today' (James Freeman Clarke, in Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book [1923], 95).

"You have the potential to become anything to which you set your mind. You have a mind and a body and a spirit. With these three working together, you can walk the high road that leads to achievement and happiness. But this will require effort and sacrifice and faith." (Gordon B. Hinckley, "Stay on the High Road," Ensign, May 2004, 112-13)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How to Have a Peaceful Country

"And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people" (4 Nephi 1:15).

When people love God, they want to be like God, "for God is love" (1 John 4:8). To be like God, people, or society, loves one another. Society chooses to be charitable, helpful, kind, and forgiving. When a society moves away from loving God, greed, murder, and immorality run rampant, which leads to the eventual destruction of that society.

This nation was founded in name of freedom, given to us by God. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (The Declaration of Independence).

However, with this freedom God has given us comes responsibility. We must strive to love God in our hearts. Our love for him is shown through following his commandments, especially loving our fellow men, as taught in the scriptures. However, as our society uses the liberty God has blessed us with to drift away from him, contentions will surely continue to decrease.

Let's all do a little more to seek God out. Let's do a little more to show love to our neighbors and our friends. I testify to you that when we showing loving-kindness, everybody wins, that society becomes a happier and peaceful place. If we can love others as much as our Heavenly Father loves us, sending his only begotten Son to suffer and die for all of our sins, surely we can show a little more kindness today and make a difference in this world. I share this testimony with you, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Communicating With God

"When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures; for His words are spoken through His prophets. He will then teach us as we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. If you have not heard His voice speaking to you lately, return with new eyes and new ears to the scriptures. They are our spiritual lifeline" (Robert D. Hales, Ensign, "Holy Scriptures: The Power of God unto Our Salvation", Nov. 2006, pp.24-27)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

An Apostle's Words on Our Purpose of Life

"Many people wonder, 'Where did we come from?' 'Why are we here?' 'Where are we going?' Our Eternal Father did not send us to earth on an aimless, meaningless journey. He provided for us a plan to follow. He is the author of that plan. It is designed for man’s progress and ultimate salvation and exaltation. . . ."

God is the Father of our spirits. We are literally His children, and He loves us. We lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before we were born on this earth. We were not, however, like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body.

God’s whole purpose—His work and His glory—is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings. He has provided a perfect plan to accomplish His purpose. We understood and accepted this plan before we came to the earth (Preach My Gospel, 2004, p. 48).
"Let us be no more tossed to and fro by every worldly wind and doctrine of man (see Ephesians 4:14). We declare to the world that the heavens are open and the truth of God’s eternal plan has again been made known to mankind. We live in the dispensation of the fullness of times. We live in a day when we have the witness through the scriptures of the great plan the Lord has given to His children from the beginning of time down to this present and last dispensation. The evidence is well documented; we are not left alone to wander through mortality without knowing of the master plan which the Lord has designed for His children. He has bound Himself by solemn covenant to give us the blessings of heaven according to our obedience to His law. Oh, remember, remember that these things are true, for the Lord God has revealed these eternal truths unto us" (L. Tom Perry, Ensign, The Plan of Salvation, Nov. 2006 pp. 69-72).