Good morning brothers and sisters. I would like to welcome all of the new members of the Beachside Ward and look forward to meeting you. My name is Jack Sharapata. The scripture I was given today to speak about is from our Come Follow Me Study. When the Lord commanded Lehi’s sons to obtain the plates of brass, he did not give specific instructions on how to do it. This is often true of direction we receive from God, and it might feel like He has required “a hard thing” but what was Nephi’s response?
In 1 Nephi 3:7 he says “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall Prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
What immediately came to my mind was the primary song we learned as youth “Nephi’s Courage”.
The Lord commanded Nephi to go and get the plates
From the wicked Laban inside the city gates
Laman and Lemuel were both afraid to try
Nephi was courageous. This was his reply:
I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.
I know the Lord provides a way, he wants me to obey.
I will go I will do the thing the Lord commands.
I know the Lord provides a way;
He wants me to obey
The history recorded in the Book of Mormon would not exist today if it was not for the courage of Nephi the son of Lehi. Nephi listened to his Father’s dreams and pondered the meaning of them asking of the Lord for spiritual understanding. He knew of a certainty that his Father’s direction to leave Jerusalem because of its impending destruction was of the Lord. When given the direction to build the vessel to take them to the promised land, Nephi once again had the courage to withstand Laman and Lemuel’s continual persecution, forgive them and proceed with the Lord’s commandment. Laman and Lemuel’s guidance was not of the Lord but from Satan.
Nephi’s courage brought forth the book of Mormon. This is the second witness of Jesus Christ and confirms the writings of the Prophets of the Old Testament. Without these scriptures and their translation by Joseph Smith the Gospel would not exist in the world. These scriptures were meant to lead and guide us in these latter days. The words written regarding Christ’s second coming are for us in this day as we prepare for his return.
I have had many of these experiences where the Lord has intervened in my life to make it possible to continue to be his servant here upon the earth and keep his commandments. When I was called by Judd to give this talk, he asked me to share some personal experience from my life where the Lord has provided ways to keep his commandments and fulfill the things the Lord has asked me to do. These experiences are very sacred to me and I have been told by some in this ward that they have heard them before. This made it very difficult for me to share any experience, but because it was requested, I will keep this to one.
When I was drafted during the Vietnam War, I had the choice of choosing one of the other branches of service. I spent six years in the active Army Regular National Guard. I believe this was a blessing given to me when I received my patriarchal blessing at the age of 19 after being baptized as a convert to the church after receiving my draft notice.
I was activated with the National Guard to go to Camp Roberts and then immediately ordered to turn around by the Governor and return to the Long Beach Armory and be a participant in the Watts riots. I was put on
Guard Duty at the Long Beach Armory and was promptly shot at, but the bullet hit the window above my head. I never sustained any injuries during my service because of the protection the Lord had given me if I remained faithful as promised in my Patriarchal blessing.
When I was activated the others in my Battalion would go on their days off to town to drink and always wanted me to go. I knew that because of my faith in my Father in Heaven the importance of keeping the commandments. I had never had any desire to drink, which I think was a blessing from my Father in Heaven. It never was a temptation to me.
We also are faced with many temptations and stumbling blocks along our journey in life. How do we have the unfailing faith of Nephi to go and do as the Lord commands?
The commandments ask us to forgive others and honor our parents. This is sometimes difficult when we have faced traumatic periods in our childhood. I was given a blessing by my Bishop some years ago where he called my Father by name (I did not tell him his name) and was told that he was working hard on the other side to become the person the Lord wanted him to be. I know without a doubt that progression continues on the other side because of this experience. I also took steps to understand my father’s circumstances in life and that he was doing the best he was capable of due to his own life circumstances, which allowed me to fully forgive him.
How does the Lord provide a way for us to obey? In a talk given by Elder Oaks from the April 2021 General Conference gives us some insight into this question.
“In a Saturday evening meeting at a stake conference many years ago, I met a woman who said her friends had asked her to come back to church after many years of inactivity, but she could not think of any reason why she should. To encourage her, I said, “When you consider all of the things the Savior has done for you, you have many reasons to come back to worship and serve Him.” I was astonished when she replied, “What’s He done for me?”
Our Savior feels and knows our temptations, our struggles, our heartaches, and our sufferings, for He willingly experienced them all as part of His Atonement. Other scriptures affirm this. The New Testament declares, “In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted”. Isaiah teaches, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: … I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee.” All who suffer
any kind of mortal infirmities should remember that our Savior experienced that kind of pain also, and that through His Atonement, He offers each of us the strength to bear it.
Under the plan of our Heavenly Father, He “created the heavens and earth” so that each of us could have the mortal experience necessary to seek our divine destiny. As part of the Father’s plan, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ overcame death to assure each of us immortality. Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice gives each of us the opportunity to repent of our sins and return clean to our heavenly home. His commandments and covenants show us the way, and His priesthood gives the authority to perform the ordinances that are essential to reach that destiny. And our Savior willingly experienced all mortal pains and infirmities that He would know how to strengthen us in our afflictions.”
I have had many of these experiences where the Lord has intervened in my life to make it possible to continue to be his servant here upon the earth.
What has the Lord done for me? He has given me all of these gifts through the Atonement. He has blessed me with the Priesthood to bless the lives of others and my family. He has given me an eternal
marriage; he has given me the faith to face my adversities and weaknesses knowing that repentance and forgiveness are possible. Sometimes we ask in life, this is hard, I don’t know how I can do this. But I can, because of my faith in my Lord and Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. How would we ever know even a portion of the pain and suffering that he took upon himself in Gethsemane if we did not go through difficult trials in our lives. It’s all in how we either react to them or respond to them. We can go forward with faith as Nephi of Old. Fear is not of the Lord. We must trust in his light and protection in these last days before the Lord returns and all will be well with us whatever the Lord’s will is for us so long as our faith remains strong in him.
I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen