Elder Eyring recently said, “Each of us, wherever we are, knows that we live in increasingly perilous times. … Anyone with eyes to see the signs of the times and ears to hear the words of prophets knows that is true.”
In the last General Conference, Elder Anderson taught how we can make it through the last days by focusing our efforts to strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ.
So how do we do it? Here are 3 ways:
1. Standing with Christ
2. Receiving Personal Revelation
3. The Covenant Path
First Standing with Christ
A better way to think of standing with Christ might be “walking with Christ” or better yet
“working with Christ”. Elder Anderson references the parable of the Wheat and Tares In it, the Lord’s servants planted wheat throughout the world and then during the night the devil planted tares. When the servants of the suggested that the tares be removed they were stopped because removing them would harm the wheat. The Lord permitted them to grow together until they are harvested. It is believed that the tares referenced are a plant that looks almost exactly like wheat but is a weed and has no value for food. The only way to distinguish between the 2 would be through a close examination by
those who can discern between the two.
This seems to be a lesson in hypocrisy. Years ago Elder Maxwell stated that there will be some tares disguised as wheat in the church. In this week’s Come Follow Me it covers the Savior’s teaching on doing our alms and good works to be seen of men. Hypocrisy is tricky as we are here to improve which sometimes requires that we act the part until we become the part. It seems the trick is the humility to acknowledge the gap between where we are and where we’re trying to be. The Savior taught to do hide our alms, prayers or other good deeds from men. If we do them to be recognized by man, we are on the slope.
Wheat & Tares… Thoughts from a farmer’s son
We may be able to learn a few more lessons from wheat and tares. This is outside of the Lord’s parable and w/o any intent of differing from His teaching. We often think of fields of wheat blowing in wind and it’s a beautiful sight. In this we don’t give much thought to the soil. If a field only plants wheat year after year after year the soil will burn up and all the top soil will be lost. This is because wheat takes nutrients from the soil. To combat this farmers often rotate their crops OR, is the sustainable farming model, they purposefully plant a type of tare that gives back to the soil. These tares are vining plants with their own flowers and fruit (usually a type of bean). They need the wheat to grow up to the light and the wheat needs the tares to rejuvenate the soil. There seems to be a lesson here as well… we need good people who are not of our faith to help strengthen the soil. These good people need us to stand strong in Christ to support them as they grow up searching for the light to give them life.
Year’s ago Elder Uchtdorf told us to “lift where we stand” and recently President Nelson met with us in California urging us to stay here where we can, in essence, support to those around us to finding the Light. Carrying the analogy through, too many member of the church w/o friends and neighbors will burn the soil (at least until the Millennium). We need to welcome friends and neighbors into our lives and into the church. As Bishop Wakeham famously said, “if all your friends are members of the church, you’re not a good member of the church”.
Second, Personal Revelation
President Nelson has said of these days, “It will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
So, how do we get this constant guiding influence? Elder Bednar spoke to Ensign College this past week and answered this question. He said, in “the culture of the church and language of the church we seem to put a focus on gearing up to receive revelation when it comes.” And continued, “But much revelation occurs as we are simply pressing forward.” I expect we’ve all been in meetings where we’ve talked ourselves to heaven and back but haven’t taken a step. Elder Bednar taught that revelation comes in the doing. As we make a decision and move forward with it, the Lord will direct our paths.
To Steven Burnett in D&C 80 the Lord called him on a mission and said:
“Wherefore, go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss. Elder Bednar said, “I think the Lord is saying, “get going, move your feet and I think he’s suggesting he’ll get us where [we] need to be.“ He continued: “Too many times we pray and sit there waiting for something to happen which means that nothing is going to happen. As we ask it faith, then when we say amen we get to work on the thing that we’ve been praying about and we’re guided in ways that most of the time we don’t even recognize.” God will get us where we need to be WHEN we say YES to His requests. Elder Bednar also talked about how we can improve our personal prayers. “Sometimes we pray like we’re shopping at an [online] store, ‘Heavenly Father I need this and this and this and delivered by this time.’” “And if it’s delivered by that time He didn’t hear the prayer. Yes He did [hear the prayer], but don’t expect Him to run a delivery service.”
A change in perspective.
Elder Bednar said, “We don’t pray to tell God what we want or what we need. We pray to find out what God wants for us.” And then we align ourselves to do what we hear. And the answers won’t always be easy – in fact most of the time they likely won’t be. He said, “If all your answers are always what you want you’re giving yourselves some of those
The Covenant Path – through Church Organization
I can understand why some people say they don’t like organized religion BUT, I LOVE this
organized church. I love this church because it provides the tools to stand with Christ and to receive personal revelation. Brigham Young called it the “great ship Zion” and referenced it getting us across the stormy seas to safety. And for this talk I’ll mention 2 of the things I love.
The first is that we’re all put to work together. We don’t pick and choose which church we want to go to based on the sermon’s of the Bishop, the activities or anything like that. We come as neighbors and from all different walks of life. It can make for some uncomfortably situations but, just like in a family, our differences can make us stronger.
And then we’re given calling to serve each other. I’m sure Sister Escobar didn’t want to be the Relief Society President and be responsible for the spiritual and physical well being of all the sisters in the Ward but when the call came she said yes and we’re all benefiting from her service.
Secondly and more importantly, the church provides the Covenant Path that President Nelson said: “Keep on the covenant path. Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women, and children everywhere.” (Jan, 16, 2018) In simple terms the Covenant Path includes making covenants with God and keeping these covenants. It is how we stand with Christ and it makes us eligible for personal revelation. The steps include:
o Mourning with those who mourn, comforting those in need of comfort, …
o Remembering Jesus’ atonement
o Taking His name upon us
o Stand as a witness of God at all times
o Being washed, anointed and endowed
o Sealing to spouse and family
o Giving the same opportunity to those who have passed
In my experience, the consistently I’m in the temple, the more guarded I feel from temptation. And the less things of the world matter to me.
I know that God lives, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that His atonement is available to everyone. I have a testimony of the restoration of the Gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith, that the Book of Mormon is God’s word and the Russell M. Nelson is God’s prophet today. In the name if Jesus Christ, amen.