I would like to base my thoughts today on this chapter. It is inserted into the Book of Mormon .. just a few short years before the birth of Christ and one chapter before the prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite to the wicked Nephites about 6 BC ..
1 And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
I note that it starts with the phrase: And thus we see .. I presume that this is Mormon speaking to us and the phrase “and thus we see” flags us to his insights. After telling us about Nephi the great prophet (the great-grandson of Alma, grandson of Alma the Younger, son of Helaman, who was named after Nephi) and just before reporting the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite to the still mostly wicked Nephites .. Mormon interjects with his own observations: “And thus we can behold ..
We all need to repent.
[Story – Grandkids getting Baptized (Jalen tonight and Mercedes in May)]
You will be shocked to learn that I am old enough to have grandchildren. You will probably be even more amazed to find that some of my 16 grandchildren are now of the age of accountability. In fact Jalen, my third oldest grandchild turned 8 on 1 Mar and is being baptized tonight by his Father at the Magrath Stake Center, and Mercedes, my fourth oldest is being baptized in May in Kentucky. I am grateful that these young persons have chosen to trust in the Lord and start on the path that leads to true happiness. But why must we be baptized? In our Article of Faith #4 Repentance is listed as the second of the 'principles and ordinances of the gospel' and is the topic I am to address today. We are taught in the scriptures: “All fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)”. Last year we had a FHE lesson on this subject: What are the steps of Repentance? To be funny, I suggested that the first step was to sin. True .. so now that we have all completed the first step ..
[Story – why am I here?]
I have now been a High Priest and a member of the Stake High Council for 11.5 months. At our last meeting, I recall looking around the table at all the other capable and spiritual members. They have scriptures memorized. Many can remember who said what at the last conference. I just sit there and think, oh yeah .. that sounds familiar. It is a common reaction to assume that everyone at church is a saint and to despair how will I ever be able to catch up? The short answer is to repent. The truth is that everyone at the table is experiencing the same feelings. The miracle is that despite our feelings of inadequacy, the Lord is merciful and works with us from where we are to where we should be. I recall strongly feeling the spirit by the end of our council meeting. The guidance of the Holy Spirit comes to help us in our assignments here.
[another story – Baby vs Teenager vs Adult]
Do you remember as a child feeling any different than you do now? As a child or as a teenager, didn't you feel you were already grownup and as grownup don't you still feel young? However, even if you don't remember being 'a child', there was a time that we were completely helpless. As a newborn baby we relied on our parents to feed and cloth and protect us. Slowly we learned to walk and talk and then run and play. Meanwhile, somehow we were provided food and clothing and shelter. We go to school, learn to ride a bike and drive a car. Then we get our first job .. money of our own and independence, freedom, all while still living at home not paying rent or buying groceries .. In a sense, we are still in the teenager phase of Godhood. We are completely dependent on God who provides us with this entire world, food and clothing and shelter while we feel independent and free with all of our new found disposable income – all while not really paying our own way yet. We owe everything we have to Him.
Mormon (I presume) goes on to say:
2 Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
Prosperity, isn't that our goal? – Increase in Precious Things and Art – Sparing – Delivering – Welfare – Happiness. Not really. I believe that Independence is his desire for us – For us to be able to truly fend for ourselves spiritually. To be able to learn to do good for goods sake and to be valiant for God's sake.
.. yea, this the time .. Sin is Bondage, Truth is Freedom.
Verse 2 talks about.:
- Hardening (pre-sin attitude)
- Forgetting (who do you think you are?)
- Trample (damage – to others as well as yourself)
because of ease and prosperity.
3 And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
[story – spiritual prescriptions]
As many of you may know, I am currently gainfully employed at the Magrath Pharmacy. I see everyday individuals with physical ailments – some unexpected and some probably self inflicted – who have sought out the professional advise of a doctor. The doctor prescribes a remedy, written on a paper called a prescription. Some people trust the doctor, and bring the prescription in and have it filled. If they faithfully follow the instructions, the usually see improvement and get better. Once in a while, they bring the prescription in and just have in put on the computer for later. They don't need it yet. Occasionally, they will decide that they don't trust the doctor and either not bring it in at all or decide they want a second opinion .. one that matches more closely to theirs. In this verse, we read of some serious ailments : Hardening of the 'Heart'eries. Forgetfulness, Damage to self and others (aka Trampling). The Lord's prescription for our spiritual health:
- Chasten vs Hardening
- Afflictions vs Trample
- Remember vs Forgetting
Of course, he was talking about the Nephites back before the coming of Christ .. not us ..
[Story – Choosing to Remember (Seatbelt Story)]
One of my New Year Resolutions was to obey the seatbelt law. My resolution was to Remember to wear it. Now my memory is poor. But my resolution was that when I did remember, to stop and put it on even if I was minutes away from my destination. By remembering and obeying, I am rarely in a moving vehicle without my seatbelt being buckled. I occasionally remember to put it on before I even start the car. Eventually I hope that it will be automatic.
So, why is this important? The wearing of the seatbelt may protect you from the pain of a hefty fine, but it's true purpose is to keep us safe. To protect us when we really need it. The blessing comes as a result of obedience, not in the intention to be obedient.
5 Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
As I read this chapter, I think back to how my mother felt when I was a teenager and to some of the struggles my own children had about that same age. We are Heavenly Fathers (pre-teen) children. I feel the prophets pain ..
6 Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.
Story – Broken Cars
Story – HGTV
Story – Delete vs Backspace vs Save – areas of focus
Quick to do Iniquity vs Slow to do Good
In Helaman chapter 12 verses 7-21 Mormon teaches that we are less than the dust (which obeys God).
7 O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are bless than the dust of the earth. 8 For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God. 9 Yea, behold at his voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake. 10 And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley. 11 Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake; 12 Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center. 13 Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved. 14 Yea, if he say unto the earth—Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours—it is done; 15 And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun. 16 And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the great deep—Be thou dried up—it is done. 17 Behold, if he say unto this mountain—Be thou raised up, and come over and fall upon that city, that it be buried up—behold it is done. 18 And behold, if a man hide up a treasure in the earth, and the Lord shall say—Let it be accursed, because of the iniquity of him who hath hid it up—behold, it shall be accursed. 19 And if the Lord shall say—Be thou accursed, that no man shall find thee from this time henceforth and forever—behold, no man getteth it henceforth and forever. 20 And behold, if the Lord shall say unto a man—Because of thine iniquities, thou shalt be accursed forever—it shall be done.
If the elements obey God, why can't or won't we? I am a child of God, and he has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear ...
21 And if the Lord shall say—Because of thine iniquities thou shalt be cut off from my presence—he will cause that it shall be so. 22 And wo unto him to whom he shall say this, for it shall be unto him that will do iniquity, and he cannot be saved; therefore, for this cause, that men might be saved, hath repentance been declared.
My topic is Repentance. Why repent? So that we might be saved. Save ourselves. While it is true that without God and the Atonement of Christ we would be unable to repent, it is also true that it is our God given right to choose for ourselves. He wants us to be happy. He knows what will truly bring us joy and happiness. Only we can choose to 'work out our salvation' - choose to obey and accept the gift – or not.
23 Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved.
24 And may God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works.
25 And I would that all men might be saved. But we read that in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord;
26 Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation. And thus it is. Amen.