Sunday, March 18, 2012

Prophecy of Our Day - What Nephi Knew

There are many people who often think us mormons are crazy. We are always talking about the gospel and looking for ways to share it. It's not because we are crazy, it's because we are excited! When you know something exciting that has changed your life you don't want to keep it a secret you want to tell the world. You want everyone to have the opportunity to know what you know and feel what you feel. After all, the definition of the gospel is "the good news".

So what is this good news that many men, women and children have sacrificed their lives for? It's that God lives, we are His children, and we have the opportunity to live with Him again. Families can be together forever and are essential to God's plan of happiness. The teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints focus on not just where we came from and why we are here but where we are going. That's what is so exciting!

To receive guidance for us specifically and to learn these truths is a precious gem. I absolutely love the book of 2 Nephi, especially chapter 28. As I was reading it a few weeks ago I realized how spot on this prophecy of our day is. Just about everything Nephi talks about in this chapter I can see happening all around me on a daily basis. This solidifies my testimony of the Book of Mormon and the teachings of the ancient prophets. They surely wrote this book for our day. It was not to benefit them, it was for the future generations - us! What a blessing!

With that said, this is a chapter that I can feast on for days. There is so much being said here to warn us and prepare us for what we are facing today. Satan is trying hard to destroy us and rip apart our families. This chapter was written to warn us and protect us. None of these verses should be skipped over or swept under the rug, they are all valuable for each and every one of us.

Click here to read the entire chapter otherwise, I'm just going to focus on select verses. Also, this link is to another blog that offers greater detail with more examples of this chapter and how it affects each of us. If you have time I recommend you read it.

So, Nephi has spoken of the coming forth of Book of Mormon in our day. He has already spoken of the prophet Joseph Smith who would translate the Book of Mormon and restore the gospel to the earth. He reiterates the words of Isaiah as in Isaiah chapter 29. Then, in chapter 28 verse 2 he says,

And the things which shall be written out of the book shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.

Yes, this is of great worth to you and I and our entire generation. Let's find out why in verses 3-6

3 For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord—

4 And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.

5 And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;

6 Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.

I have heard this many times in our day. People who deny the power of God saying that God no longer performs miracles or speaks to man. God is ALWAYS God and is the same today as he was yesterday, He will always love his children, speak to them and bless them.

He goes on to say,

7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

I have heard this as well. The devil is a natural at putting this idea in the minds of men. It's an easy way to justify sin and avoiding accountability for your sin to think that it's okay to do wrong because God is so merciful that He will slap your hand and then all will be well for you. We are all accountable for our actions. If our deeds be bad will be punished according to those deeds. It is better to live a good life and avoid sin as much as possible. Not only will your life be more fulfilling, you will be blessed and avoid many pains and sufferings that sin naturally causes.

Too often, people want to sin without feeling the guilt. The devil in his crafty ways will tell these individuals that in order to do this they need to deny that what they are doing is a sin. If they can convince themselves that it is not a sin, then they do not have to worry about accountability and thus feel guilt. They create their own philosophies to support their actions and desires. To make things temporarily easier, Satan tells them that if they just deny the gospel or God all together then they do not have to worry about accountability period because they do not believe. In fact, the devil is so crafty, he will convince them that even he, the father of all lies does not exist.

These people are not genuinely happy people. They will convince themselves they are happy because they feel "free" to do whatever they please without having to answer to anyone or God. However they are not free. They are bound by the devil and his awful chains of sin. They do not feel the peace that comes from living close to the Lord (true freedom). Because they are truly not at peace they continue their quest for real happiness in all the wrong places. Any mentioning of basic gospel principles, Christ or even God may send them into a bitter upheaval and they become very vocal about their anger, annoyance or disagreements. It's a downward spiral that leads to eternal pain and suffering.

In verses 15 and 16 Nephi speaks to these very individuals and warns them of what will happen. Notice the three woes. There is great significance in this number. Woe is an exclamation of grief. You can see that Nephi is very sad and trying to get our attention when he says,

15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!

16 Wo unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth; and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish.

He offers hope when he says,

17 But behold, if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts.

You don't have to settle for sin. Repent, repent, me only good can come from it. It's not always easy but once you begin the process your life will become easier as the Lord will be able to lighten your burdens. Living life with the heavy weight of sin upon your shoulders is not a fun way to experience life on this earth. There is no joy in living when you are weighed down in pain and struggles. Hand it all over to the Lord and you will find the joy again in your life. He already suffered for you so that you don't have to. However, if you don't repent then you will have to suffer for your own sins in this life and the next. Don't allow what the Savior did for you to have been done in vain. Use his atonement. He did it for you and I because he knew we are not perfect and it was the only way we could become worthy to live with he and the Father again. Please repent.

18 But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof.

19 For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;

20 For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.

Wow! I get chills when I read this. Just look at the headlines. It doesn't take a genius to see that good has been twisted to appear bad. Not a day goes by that I read a news story and have to pinch myself in disbelief at what I am reading. We live in a day when all the principles and truths taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, himself, are being portrayed as evil and wrong. The devil is reigning in the hearts of men. They have been deceived. This is why I have felt strongly prompted by the spirit to write this blog post. It is time to take a stand for righteousness and not let Satan continue to pervert the word of God.

21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

There can be danger in assuming that there is not much for a person to do to help build the kingdom of God. Becoming complacent and thinking that everyone around you is doing such a great job at serving their neighbor and taking care of the needy that you are not needed. It's never wise to be idle. When you have too much time on your hands you can become victim to the temptations of the adversary. Whether it be negative thoughts about another person, curious thoughts about a particular sin or anything that would pull you away from the path of happiness.

Even worse, lying to yourself that there is no Satan. When this happens you can't recognize when Satan is influencing you thus you don't think to pray and ask for the power of God to deliver you from his grasp. If you don't believe in Satan then you most likely don't believe in God. At this point you assume you are on your own. Not true! There is no gray area or middle ground. If you are not serving the Lord, you are serving someone else - without realizing it. As soon as Satan sees an open door - he'll take it. When you don't believe in him, it's even better for him - because you are not going to recognize his power over you and you are certainly not going to pray for help from above. You are all his.

23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!

25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!

26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

Again, I see people being more and more persuaded by pop culture, hollywood and politics as to what is morally right and wrong. People are more concerned about what other people are going to think about them and if they are going to be accepted rather than what God thinks. To them it's not worth risking a job opportunity or their reputation so they would prefer not to be associated with defending Christian values and principles. It's more difficult to be the unpopular person and stand up for the Lord but when this short life is over in the blink of an eye and you stand before God to be judged, you'll be glad you did the unpopular thing.

27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!

28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.

29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!

I hear this often. In fact, usually it's what people will say to disprove the Book of Mormon. God always speaks to His children. He loves us all and He wants guide us back to Him. We need instruction for our day. Every generation experiences different issues and they need current instruction from God to guide them. That's why we have a living prophet who gives us counsel and modern day scripture from the Lord. He receives revelation for our day.

God did not stop speaking to His children after the apostles of the New Testament died. Prophets are not a thing of the past. He continues speaking today through a living prophet. Thomas S. Monsen is not just a prophet for Latter Day Saints to follow - he is the one true living prophet on the Earth today for all who desire to follow.

30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

If you are searching for truth you will find it. The Lord guides those who have an open heart, to the truth. For those who are not looking, they will not find. When you are ready to find it, He will deliver it to you in bits and pieces. When you understand and accept the small truths He will then bless you with more. For example, someone who does not understand simple gospel principles such as prayer or the law of tithing will not be ready to understand or accept the purpose of the temple and covenants made there. It would be easier for them to deny the importance of such ordinances if they don't have a testimony of eternal life and the plan of salvation. Line upon line, precept upon precept.

31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

32 Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.

The purpose of this blog post is to bring light to the realization that we are all children of God. Don't let pride stop you from feeling peace and comfort that the spirit brings. You are important to God. He loves you. If you are unhappy, angry, bitter, sad, confused or afflicted in any way - the Lord is there for you with open arms. You can choose to go to him or turn your back. Either way, he will remain there with his arm reached out to you. When we feel distant from the Lord it is because we moved, not him.

Following the Lord does not mean that your life will be free of struggles or pain - that is necessary for our own personal growth here on Earth. Following the Lord does mean you will be blessed with extra strength to lighten your burdens. You will go through trials regardless of whether or not you follow the Lord. You have the choice to go through them alone or with the help of God. The times that we live in are scary, uncertain and unstable. Why not immerse yourself in something that is constant, stable, certain and unwavering - the word of God.

I can't imagine how my life would be if I chose to go through my trials and and challenges in this difficult world - alone. How miserable that would be. I choose to lean on the shoulder of the Lord. In doing so I have found forgiveness, hope, happiness and unconditional love. It has been a strength in my life and has given me courage to stand up for what I believe in a world of adversity. It has made me strong. There is nothing that could destroy my testimony of what I know to be true. It is this foundation in the gospel of Jesus Christ that keeps my feet on solid ground amidst the storm that is blowing all around us. It's a storm of darkness and chaos but the gospel is my anchor and my light.

I know this to be true. God lives. Jesus lives and heads his church here on the earth. The Lord speaks through a living prophet. The gospel has been restored to this earth and this has been testified to us through the words of prophets of old. The Book of Mormon is a true book, written for our time and translated by the prophet Joseph Smith. The words in this book are true and of God. If we read them and follow them we will not lose our way in this dark world of confusion. We will find happiness, peace and safety. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

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