26 November 2008

Sobriety Revisited, 2 Nephi 4:15-19

2 Nephi 4:15-19

Within one's capacity to have a sober mind, there is the strength of legions and the power of God. The glories of God when experienced in a pureness of heart are rapturous beyond description. Yet without a sober outlook and the ability to frequently remember one's own weaknesses, such powerful, divine manifestations are lost as quickly as they come.

A sober mind and a sincere heart then make us capable of doing the Lord's work and prepares us as human beings to handle the extremely powerful manifestations of the Holy Ghost, to work with His influence, and to avoid the cycle of pride common to man.

This explains the look that I have seen in the eyes of several bishops I've work with over the years. Where I would have expected to have seen great excitement or rejoicing, instead the response was calm yet appreciative. It is the mastery of themselves and knowing who's work they are about that invokes a sober response.

19 November 2008

"The Feelings of His Heart and the Spirit of the Lord," 2 Nephi 4:10-14

2 Nephi 4:10-14

I've approached my study this morning wanting to see the role of God in these particular verses. Nephi says that his father spoke according to the feelings of his heart and the Spirit of the Lord (see vs. 12). Recently, I found myself wanting to distinguish a particular impression, wondering if it was my own desires or the promptings of the Holy Ghost. This scriptures suggests that our hearts can be in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord. Thus the Lord's desires can also be our desires.

This, to me, seems to be difficult grounds to walk on. Such unity of purpose in Lehi was manifested at the end of his life. (This brief statement of purpose is Nephi's final tribute to his father.) There are challenges associated with knowing that one's path is pleasing to God. Meekness, humility, gratitude, complete devotion to God, constant course correction, and adherence to every goodly principle are requirements of such knowledge.

Nephi, by this point in his life, had the conviction of following the promptings of the Spirit of the Lord, which only a short time after his father's passing, caused his brothers to be angry with him (see vs. 13). We know that Nephi's desires were in harmony with the Spirit of God. Nephi consequently lived in such a way to remain privy to such continual companionship.

14 November 2008

"In the End Thy Seed Shall Be Blessed," 2 Nephi 4:1-9

2 Nephi 4:1-9

While not as detailed as the promises made to their little brother, Joseph, Lehi does promise the children of both Laman and Lemuel that in the end of times, "[the Lord] will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever,"(see vs. 7). He also tells the children of Lemuel, "thou shalt not utterly be destroyed; but in the end thy seed shall be blessed," (see vs. 9).

Nephi descriptively expounded further upon the blessing that would be extended to remnant of their posterity in the last days, "their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people," (2 Nephi 30: 6).

I feel that, in a very small part, I have been and am a first hand witness of the miracle of the fulfillment of these prophecies. What we see today, may only be a scratching of the surface, compared to what will come about in a generation or two from now. The Latin-American people are naturally more inclined to religion in general, but the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has a strategic advantage over all other faiths--this is the religion of their forefathers, from many generations before, and God had covenanted with their fathers that their posterity would be restored to a knowledge of their fathers after it was lost.

12 November 2008

"Because of Their Faith," 2 Nephi 3:17-25

2 Nephi 3:17-25

The crux of the covenants that were made to Joseph and his fathers was that their posterity would have the opportunity in exercise faith in Christ unto repentance. That seems trivial in one sense. But the reality is that these are the terms of salvation, and after one has secured these promises for one's self, the next greatest thing unto it is the salvation of one's family. And salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ unto repentance, that we may become like He is, through Him, and because of Him.

Then will our praise of Him be so much more, because we will appear as He does now appear. Yet we will still bow in humble adoration of our God, our Redeemer, our All.

09 November 2008

Conviction, 2 Nephi 3:16

2 Nephi 3:16

I am trying to understand where conviction comes from. In this verse quoted of Joseph of Egypt, he says, "I am sure of this thing." I have jogged the halls of my memory to find a talk of President Faust's where he quotes the classic English poem, Invictus by William Ernest Henley. Henley penned this poem in a crippled state.

The poem in is entirety is published online at http://www.bartleby.com/103/7.html . I reprint it here:

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Obedience increases conviction. One of our insightful missionaries shared in our sacrament meeting today a simple thought that has stayed with me: Obedience increases our ability to be member missionaries.

President Hinckley discussed this idea of conviction:

Some time ago I read the newspaper report of the remarks of a prominent journalist. He is quoted as having said, “Certitude is the enemy of religion.” The words attributed to him have stirred within me much reflection. Certitude, which I define as complete and total assurance, is not the enemy of religion. It is of its very essence.

Certitude is certainty. It is conviction. It is the power of faith that approaches knowledge—yes, that even becomes knowledge. It evokes enthusiasm, and there is no asset comparable to enthusiasm in overcoming opposition, prejudice, and indifference. (“Faith: The Essence of True Religion,” Ensign, Oct 1995, 2)

Conviction, then is the power of faith. If conviction comes of faith, it is true and becomes the substance of knowledge. Faith is conviction, or the assurance of things hoped for and not seen.

I can have a conviction of the American dream and the ideals that informed that dream, because they are good and true. I can have conviction of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Christ, because these are true principles that will lead me to salvation in the kingdom of my God. I can be completely convicted of the destiny of this work, because of the witness of prophets and the Holy Spirit regarding it.

05 November 2008

Soberness, Peace, and Strength, 2 Nephi 3:12-16

2 Nephi 3:12-16

In verse 12, the Bible and the Book of Mormon are described as growing together into one unifying voice. Its purposes are to confound false doctrines and stop contentions, establish peace among the descendants of Jospeh, and allow them to know of their ancestry and the Lord's covenants with them.

Not directly related with today's passage of scripture, but it has been weighing on my mind the significance of sobriety. There seems to be a strong connection between soberness and conviction and righteousness.

Twice in this passage of scriptures, Joseph of Egypt is quoted as saying in effect, "I am sure of this thing," (see vs 14, 16). This chapter is replete with prophecy in certain terms of the conditions of salvation that will be extended to the descendants of Joseph in the latter-days. This type of conviction is the result of a sober countenance.

This is a weakness of mine. It is hard not to become overly excited when a blessing is received from God. On the contrary, gratitude is the companion of sobriety, and is a proper expression of blessings received. Sobriety allows perspective and humility to help process blessings received. A sober, moderate approach to the work of the Lord allows for consistency, diligence, and ultimately success.