I gave this as a talk in church this last Sunday and wanted to share.
Consider promised blessings that you have been given. These may be from your Patriarchal blessing, promises in the scriptures, promises given in the Temple, or perhaps a promise given in a Priesthood blessing. Reflect on your promises as you read these thoughts today.
I have a love for the scriptures. These are the words that help me to believe Christ. As I read these words the spirit testifies to my heart of their truth and as I live them I've come to know their truth by experience. With that in mind I want to share some words that have had a deep impact on my heart and mind.
In Alma 34: 8-9 and 14-15 we read words spoken by Amulek as he is testifying of truths that Alma and prophets before have testified. Look for the promise that Amulek testifies of.
And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
And the purpose of the sacrifice:
For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.
Then we are taught the purpose of the law of Moses:
And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, (speaking of the law of Moses) every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.
We recognize here that the promise they are given that Christ will save them has not occurred yet. Amulek then teaches us how we receive the promise:
And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.
Christ sacrifice makes repentance a possibility, otherwise we would be totally lost and perish.
Jacob also teaches us of the hope of Christ's glory and I love how he introduces his words in Jacob 4. He shares that he wanted these words preserved so he takes the extra effort to have them put into plates and states: "receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow"
Testifying of Christ Jacob says:
For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.
They lived in hope of Christs glory many years before the promise of his coming to save them even occurred. Jacob continues with what they did to keep hope and trust in the promise of Christ:
Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.
1: Believed Christ and worshiped God. 2. Kept the law that had been given them by God that pointed their souls to Him. We will come back to Abraham later.
Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
3. Searched the scriptures. 4. Received revelation. Through these witnesses they obtained a hope and power through their faith.
Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.
Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.
5. Take counsel from the Lord. 6. Be reconciled to God through Christ. And through these things the promise is obtained even before Christ has come to the earth to perform the Atonement.
One more scripture from the Book of Mormon where Jarom is teaching us what helped the Nephites to wax strong. He teaches that they observed to keep the law of Moses, kept the sabbath day holy, and the commandments. Jarom 1:11
Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.
Jarom reiterates that they were to look forward to the promised blessing of the Messiah as though he already was.
Now back to Abraham. About 10 years ago as I was saying one of my many prayers regarding a promised blessing I desired, I received a revelation that I was to learn from Abraham. This was not the answer I wanted to receive. But eventually the peace came and I began to ponder and study Abraham more. Turning to Hebrews 11 Paul is writing to the Hebrews about faith and he shares about Abraham's faith.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
From these verses speaking of Abraham I have learned and sought to apply in my life to answer the call that the Lord gives to us and do it in obedience. That the most important mission on this earth I can have is to be a disciple of Christ and to act on the revelations I receive and all promised blessings will flow unto me by focusing on that. To recognize that God's promises are of an eternal nature not a mortal nature. And to trust God and act according to the directions that God gives even if it seems to contradict the way we expect to receive the blessing.
Paul in writing to the Romans chapter 4 also spoke of Abraham's faith:
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
The scripture referred to here is from Genesis 15 and a Joseph Smith Translation provides a little more information where we learn that God was teaching Abraham about the eternal nature of the promises that He gives. And Abraham believes him.
Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
I am amazed at the power of his faith and trust in the promise that he had been given. I don't know about you but I have had moments where I have staggered in my faith. In a recent Come Follow Me Lesson I was reflecting on the question: What helps me to not stagger in my belief or turn from doubt towards belief? These are the thoughts I wrote down. When I:
- Treasure up the words of Christ
- Seek to see God in the details of my life
- Find things to be grateful for even during trials
- Create a mindset like the little train that could - I think I can
- Spend time in the Temple
- Commune with God
- Follow the pattern for growing in Faith described in Alma 32
- Start with what I know and practice to exercise my faith in small and simple ways.
Abraham spent time with with the Lord and he was obedient to the things he received by revelation.
President Monson taught: “My brothers and sisters, the great test of this life is obedience. ‘We will prove them herewith,’ said the Lord, ‘to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.' Declared the Savior, ‘For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.' No greater example of obedience exists than that of our Savior. Of Him, Paul observed: 'Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.'”
We are taught that we need to abide the law to receive the blessings. We learned from the scriptures in the Book of Mormon that the intent of the law of Moses was to point them to Christ - to look forward to the Messiah.
What are the laws or sacrifices that we live that point us towards Christ to remember his Sacrifice that he has now given and help us to look forward to our promised blessings that have yet to be fulfilled?
The law of Moses was fulfilled through Christ. After the law of Moses was fulfilled the Savior taught "ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit."
In the Temple we learn of laws that point us towards Christ and our promised blessings.
Law of Obedience
Law of Sacrifice
Law of the Gospel
Law of Chastity
Law of Consecration
I encourage you to study more on these laws by pondering on the teachings from this website: https://www.lds.org/temples/prophetic-teachings-on-temples
It is in living these things and repenting daily which is possible because of the grace of Jesus Christ that we receive the promised blessing you have been reflecting on. All of these things are to point us to Christ in remembrance of Him and help us live as though they already are, having hope. They are to help us believe Christ as Abraham did.
Ever feel like you are limited by your weakness? Jacob provides some great encouragement regarding weaknesses. In Jacob 4: 7 it says:
Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.
We have power to live and do these things through Christ. We just need to believe him.
Elder Uchtdorf said in his most recent conference talk: "Walking the path of discipleship takes practice—each day, little by little, 'grace for grace,' 'line upon line.' Sometimes two steps forward and one step back. The important thing is that you don’t give up; keep trying to get it right. You will eventually become better, happier, and more authentic."
Sorrow and grief will be a part of our journey even as we are exercising faith in Christ. Throughout the scriptures we can see examples of those who experienced sorrow but had a hope in Christ. Mormon was one of those prophets who grew up being surrounded by wars and wickedness and yet he maintained hope. Christ suffered for our salvation and as was highlighted by Paul in President Monson's quote learned from it.
This caused me to reflect on what I have learned from my experience with sorrow.
- I have had deeper reflections on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and seek to apply it
- Considered and pondered the relationship of opposition and joy
- Allowed me to experience the peace of the spirit in moments when my world felt like it was falling apart
- Has built my trust and faith in God and that he loves me
- Helped me to recognize I am not alone as I see His tender mercies
- See the difference that occurs when I turn towards Christ for peace and comfort verses seeking after worldly things for it
- Deeper understanding of what it means to consecrate my wants for the Lord's purposes
- The importance of service
- It has been a proving ground to grow in Christlike attributes
- Changed my heart and shown me my heart
- Teaches me that deliverance comes through Christ and His word
- Given me a broader vision of the eternal
Spending time in the Temple or having Temple experiences is where I have felt the spirit expanding my my vision of the eternal and setting it in my heart. I have felt my hope in the Lord's promises increase and have recognized that even if I currently do not have the promise in its fulfillment, those promises are mine, they are ours.
Years ago sitting in the sealing room of a Temple I was feeling sorrow for what I wanted but did not have. I looked at the card for my family member that I was there to perform the sealing ordinance for and as I looked at her birth date I felt my perspective change. I recognized that she had been waiting far longer than I had for the promised blessing of being sealed. My waiting was mini compared to hers. I found myself filled with joy to be able to provide her the fulfillment of the promised blessing because I understood in a small way what it was like to wait for something I wanted. I also like to think as I perform the ordinance work for my deceased ancestors that I am adding an army of faith to mine that promises are fulfilled.
We can live just as the people of Nephi were taught before Christ came. They were taught "to look forward unto the Messiah (your promises), and believe in Him to come as though he already was" because He was promised to them.
We have been told that in the last days men's hearts will fail them. My prayer is that we may be given the power for our hearts to endure and trust in the great promises of the Lord, that the Lord may set the eternal in our hearts. It is my testimony that it is worth it and that the power to have a strong heart comes through our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our love for Him which we show by keeping his commandments.