Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Restoration - to be Cheered or Feared?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said in his April 2014 conference address, Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?

"Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.”2

We are living during this exciting period of restoration! Each day in my own personal life, I pray for restoration in many areas. I know that when we live righteously, we receive God's favor. If ever there was a period in the time of history on the earth to ask for the Lord's favor - this would be the time! Whether it be a restoration of health, prosperity, knowledge, wisdom, love, healing, etc., I believe the Lord is just standing by, waiting for us to ask, so He can bless us and bring us back into wholeness. Think of how powerful we become in His Kingdom when we are whole.

If you are close to the Lord right now, and living in accordance with His will, this is the time to be excited. Lost blessings can and will be yours. But what about those who are not aligned with God's will? Will the restoration have any affect on them? Yes, it will. However, it might not be something to cheer for. The prophet Alma taught this best:

The other day I was reading Alma Chapter 41. I love the broader perspective he shared with his son Corianton on this subject:

 1 And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the restoration of which has been spoken; for behold, some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing. And I perceive that thy mind has been worried also concerning this thing. But behold, I will explain it unto thee.

 2 I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.

 3 And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.

 4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—

 5 The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.

 6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.

 7 These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.

 8 Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.

 9 And now behold, my son, do not risk one more offense against your God upon those points of doctrine, which ye have hitherto risked to commit sin.

 10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.

 11 And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.

 12 And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature?

 13 O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.

 14 Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.

 15 For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all.

I remember as I read this chapter, verse 11 made me think of addictions. Those who are bound by addictions are unable to experience life in it's fullest. They are unhappy because they are without the presence of God. When we disconnect from God, we put ourselves in a "bad mood". That unhappiness and depression is our spirit mourning that loss. We cannot thrive without God's Light. It gives us our very life. So when we cut ourselves off from His presence, we begin to digress, go backwards, and die. Instead of feeling alive, happy, whole, and healthy, we feel exhausted, fatigued, drained, and often physically ill. We are no longer being replenished and energized by God's life giving Light. We feel a sense of loss and suffering. Truly, we are suffering for own sins. We carry that burden and punish ourselves. We are not whole and we are unable to help build the Kingdom.

During this period of restoration, if we are sending out sin, (negative thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors), we are going to get all of that in return, to the fullest. This is no way to live and not what your Heavenly Father wants for you. It is not His will to see you suffer in your own sins. The time is now, to awaken and arise. Shake off those chains that bind you! The marks of those chains on your wrists do not need to define you. The marks on the Lord's hands and feet have already defined you! Over 2,000 years ago He already broke your chains, so why do you feel the need to carry them around?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's words are exactly what the Spirit shared with me on this topic. I hope that they inspire you to awaken, arise, and claim your birthright! Claim the blessings that can be yours. Let this period of restoration work for you and not against you. Be for the Kingdom and not against it.

"Another thing that may cause us to sleepwalk through this significant season of the world is addiction.

Addictions often begin subtly. Addictions are thin threads of repeated action that weave themselves into thick bonds of habit. Negative habits have the potential to become consuming addictions.

Always remember, with the Savior’s help, you can break free from addiction. It may be a long, difficult path, but the Lord will not give up on you. He loves you. Jesus Christ suffered the Atonement to help you change, to free you from the captivity of sin.

The most important thing is to keep trying—sometimes it takes several attempts before people find success. So don’t give up. Don’t lose faith. Keep your heart close to the Lord, and He will give you the power of deliverance. He will make you free.

Don’t allow selfishness! Don’t allow habits that could lead to addiction! Don’t allow competing priorities to lull you into indifference or detachment from blessed discipleship and ennobling priesthood service!

There is too much at stake for us as individuals, as families, and as Christ’s Church to give only a halfhearted effort to this sacred work.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not an effort of once a week or once a day. It is an effort of once and for all.

Those who are faithful unto the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods and magnify their callings “are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.” Therefore, all that our Father has will be given unto them.10

I testify that the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the transformative power of the Holy Ghost can heal and rescue mankind. It is our privilege, our sacred duty, and our joy to heed the Savior’s call to follow Him with a willing mind and full purpose of heart. Let us “shake off the chains with which [we] are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.”11

Let us be awake and not be weary of well-doing, for we “are laying the foundation of a great work,”12 even preparing for the return of the Savior. Brethren, when we add the light of our example as a witness to the beauty and power of restored truth, we will not sleep through the Restoration. Of this I testify and leave you my blessing in the sacred name of our Master, even Jesus Christ, amen."

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