True & Faithful: D&C 5 (Stand Still)

34 Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee.
It feels like the theme of the early sections of the D&C is reassurance that despite the overwhelming odds the Church faced, everything would work out. We need that same reassurance in our lives. God promises us that if we try to follow his will, he will ensure that everything works out for our good. That process might take time, but it is sure and certain.

True and Faithful: D&C 5 (Manifestation of my Spirit)

16 And behold, whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit; and they shall be born of me, even of water and of the Spirit–
I love this promise from the Lord that if we have faith we CAN have a manifestation of the spirit and we can be born again. So many people doubt that they can receive answers to prayers and gain a spiritual witnesss. But the Lord’s promises are sure and certain.

True and Faithful: D&C 4 (Qualify him for the Work)

As a missionary, I was asked to memorize D&C 4 (in Russian and English). I love how succinctly this chapter reveals the significance of missionary work as well as the qualifications for service.

First, we must have a desire to serve God. If we have that desire, then we will be called to the work. To me, that implies not only full time missionary service, but our day-to-day life as well.  If we have a desire to share the gospel, then we will find opportunities to do so. We will be led to opportunities to share divine truth.

Second, we must serve God with our whole being. We must unite heart, might, mind, and strength. As I have read this verse, I have wondered how might and strength might differ or whether they are merely synonyms. For me, might implies a certain consecrated effort inspired by the power of the Holy Ghost, while strength merely implies the brute efforts of our body.  This is supported by the repetition of might in the fourth verse in the context of thrusting one’s sickle with might. Regardless, the repetition seems significant because it underscores the significant investment of energy that missionary work requires.

Third, we must seek to develop a variety of Christlike attributes.  Of those many attributes, the one’s repeated in verses 5 and 6 are faith and charity.  Those two attributes seem to be of preeminent significance. And if we consider that love is a near synonym for charity, then it is clear that love/charity is the cardinal attribute we need. We must love those we serve. We must desire for their salvation with all our hearts. And when that love is felt, then miracles can happen.

Fourth, we must have an eye single to the glory of God.  God’s work and glory is to bring eternal life to mankind. We must similarly be driven by that desire. And we must work in the Lord’s way and as led by the spirit.  If we do missionary work in our own way, we will not see fruit.

Fifth, we must ask, seek and knock.  We must turn to God and ask for guidance and help. Without him, we will be lost and aimless in our efforts.

Finally, the promised blessing is incredible for both the missionary and those that we teach.  We bring salvation to our souls, and also “lay[] up in store” those that we help so that they to may receive the blessings of eternal life.  What an incredible life changing work.

 

True and Faithful: D&C 3 (He Must Fall)

“4 For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.”
I love the principle taught in this verse. No matter how glorious our spiritual experiences or how developed our spirituality, we all are at risk of falling. Satan is relentless and will continue to attempt to undermine our faith. And the more renowned we are, the greater a victory Satan can win. Joseph Smith was a prophet and yet he stood at risk of being removed from his spot due to lack of faith. The same is true for our modern day prophets and also for ourselves.

Her Finest Hour

Shortly after his call to the Twelve, Elder L. Tom Perry’s wife of many years (27 I believe) passed away from cancer. His tribute to her given during the April 1975 conference was beautiful and poingiant. I loved reading it especially because of how his description of her struggles with cancer reminded me of my mother and all of the lessons I learned watching her:

“Even through these multitude acts of kindness, her finest hours were yet to come. Five years ago our lives were shocked with an announcement that she had contracted a terminal disease. Her life expectancy could only be another six months to a year. She accepted this decision with a faith and courage I never expect to see equalled. As the doctor made this announcement to us, she turned to me and said with all the faith and peace that she could muster, “Don’t tell anyone about this. I don’t want it to change our way of life or have anyone treat us differently.” Now her life was filled with physical hardship. It seemed to only make her more sensitive for the physical needs of others. Her empathy for her fellowmen increased, for now she had a greater appreciation for need. …

She placed her illness entirely in the hands of the Lord, and he blessed her with enough strength to endure and just enough energy to live the kind of life she wanted to live.”

What a fitting tribute to a life of service. I also saw something similar at work with my mother. Her suffering helped to increase her empathy and to turn her towards serving others. She loved with greater intensity because of her experiences. 

People often wonder why God allows good and even great people to suffer the ravages of illness. For me, the answer is clear. Such illnesses are an ultimate test. Will we curse God and long to die, or will we use our struggle to serve others. In the modern era, this challenge is increasingly one that more and more of us face.

Elder Perry’s wife made the later choice. My mother did as well. I will never forget her example. I hope that in my lesser challenges I will similarly be able to overcome bitterness and serve with my whole heart.

True and Faithful: D&C 2 (Plant in the Hearts)

2 And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.
As I mentioned during my Book of Mormon blogging, this portion of Malachi is the only scripture that I’m aware of that is quoted in the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, D&C, and the Pearl of Great Price (in Joseph Smith History). As such, the Lord has underscored its importance for us and our day. 

I love seeing how the Lord has planted in the hearts of our generation a great desire to know more about ancestors and given us the tool to learn more. I see that desire in non-Mormon colleagues and friends as well as in those I know in the Church. We feel a longing to connect to the past and to be part of a chain of belonging. But only those who understand the ordinances of the temple can fully see how that desire can be vindicated. Our work is vital to ensuring that we can be united eternally with all those who came before. I’m so grateful for my witness of the temple and temple Covenants and the promise of eternity taught therein.

True and Faithful: D&C 1 (Lay the Foundation)

17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets–
29 And after having received the record of the Nephites, yea, even my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon.

30 And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually–

These verses teach a powerful truth. God gave revelations to Joseph Smith for the protection of mankind. And he also gave revelations and commandments to countless others in order to allow them to assist in that work. We likewise are the recipients of similar revelations and instructions. We are a church led by revelation, both personal and collective. That is what makes us the true and living church. Christ leads it through his servants and also through us. It is a great blessing to be part of laying the foundation of that Church and continuing to bring it out of obscurity and into the light.