Friday, November 18, 2016

3 Nephi 9

One of my very favorite scriptures has always been this one from 3 Nephi chapter 9 (or really, the first part of it):

20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Here Christ was talking to the people in the Americas after His death. What He taught us about repentance here is very important.

What exactly does it mean to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? It means that we will do everything we can to make things right. Oftentimes we make mistakes but are too proud to admit it. Sometimes we display the exact opposite - our hearts are hardened instead of broken and our spirits are haughty instead of humbled. It’s all too easy to rationalize our sins away or not commit to taking the steps that need to be taken to make amends, especially when something might be serious enough to merit a confession to our bishop.

However, that’s exactly what the people had felt before Christ’s coming. That’s exactly what had put them in this trouble in the first place. In fact,

18 Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did wilfully rebel against God.

So how do we have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? More than anything I think it means having humility. We need to be willing to submit everything we have to God so that He can make things right again. I know I’ve had to do this before. It isn’t easy. But we do it because we know what awaits us if we do - and the consequences if we don’t. If we want to get back to our Heavenly Father, there really isn’t anything that should stand in our way. Any embarrassment we might feel now is nothing compared to what we get in return.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It Will All Work Out!

Sometimes we all get pretty scared. We can wonder if things are going to get better in the future or if we will be able to provide safety and security for our families. Sometimes the problems we face are problems we’ve created entirely on our own and we worry that we’ve gone too far, that we’ve finally stepped across the line and into a place where God can no longer help us.

There’s a pattern that is very common in the Book of Mormon that can give us hope and it has to do with liberation. In Alma 36, Alma the Younger describes to his son how he was able to overcome sin in his own life by calling upon Christ. I also like what Alma says at the beginning in verse 2:

I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.

All throughout the Book of Mormon the prophets exhort the people to remember the bondage of Lehi, Nephi, and also Moses. Can you remember a time when you were in bondage? Do you remember how the Lord helped you escape?

Sometimes we worry so much about the future that we forget that we’ve been worried about the future before. If we remember that we’re also likely to remember that God has delivered us before! In fact, if we put our trust in Him, we have a promise that he will. Take heart in that! Through Christ’s Atonement absolutely anything is possible. There is nothing that He cannot overcome.

That is why we are so indebted to Him. If we let the Atonement come into our lives, we will feel as Alma did:

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Friday, November 4, 2016

3 Nephi 22

This week I was doing a more in-depth study of 3 Nephi 22. I’ve always liked the chapter because of the beautiful symbolism and the message of hope it brings. We all have moments where we’re afraid because of mistakes we’ve made or things other people have done or just the state of the world in general. It can be hard to see how everything will end in “happily ever after.” That’s why I love the words of Isaiah the Christ quotes in this chapter:

7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.

8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

The truth is we’ve almost all done something to make the Lord hide His face from us. However, the central truth of this chapter is that God loves us. He remembers the covenant that He’s made to always watch over us and protect us. If we remember our side of the covenant, He will make sure things turn out OK. I like what Elder Holland has to say about this:

...the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor.

President George Q. Cannon once taught: “No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. … He will [always] stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them.”

I absolutely know that is true! I know that God lives and that He loves us. I know that He will never abandon us. I also know that He is very patient with us and just wants us to keep moving forward. If we do so, one day, He will gather us with great mercies in His arms.