Monday, March 27, 2017

Walking in Covenant




God having revealed himself to the Fathers and establishing his sovereignty over all things establishes the covenant relationship.  We are then presented with a choice. Will we accept his rule and pledge our loyalty to him as the center of our faith or will we walk after the will of our own heart?  Having gone down into the waters of baptism we make a formal declaration of our loyalty and our intent to obey the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.  Having made a declaration of our acceptance of him and our loyalty to him, we must then search diligently in the records of the Fathers to identify the promises God made to them and us as the recipients of their record.  

Once we have identified the promises made, the journey really begins. We must lay hold upon the promises-- or in other words we must make a claim for the promises.  God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him. (Acts 10:43) As a covenant relationship is bound by legal terms, we must also make legal requests under the covenant. In other words, we have to ask for the promises to be fulfilled. 

Every year during the Fall Feast of Israel called Sukkot or The Feast of Tabernacles the body of people were called in a solemn assembly at an appointed place.  During this assembly the covenant of God (Torah) from the scriptures was read out loud in the ears of all Israel.  The purpose was so that no year went by where the word of God would not be heard in the ears of all the people.  It was a time when his covenant was rehearsed and the people presented themselves before God to honor him with an affirmation of obedience. 

During this time the priests would literally pray the promises.  Like a servant supplicating to a King or a child to a Father, they acknowledged the Sovereignty of God and requested a fulfillment of his promises to them based on the covenant God made with the Fathers.  In all requests, though, they submitted themselves to his will and authority, "Not my will but they will be done."  They did not ask frivolous items or demonstrations of special effects of God's powers.  Everything was requested to do one thing; to become one (echad) with God and to establish his Kingdom according to his will on earth. 

Making a covenant request or asking God to fulfill his promises is not only possible, but it is commanded.  Consider the Brother of Jared, "O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires." (Ether 3:2)

 As individuals and people, we must ask under the terms he sets out in that relationship.  The first term being that He is God and He is Sovereign.  We can then make a covenant request for his promises or to make promises to us under that relationship.  We uphold his righteous dominion in our submission to him-"Not my will but thy will be done!" We ask in the name of Christ or as it is understood in Hebraic terms, we ask to fulfill his commandments, to establish his kingdom, and to conform our hearts to his image. 

In The Book of Mosiah we see God declaring himself again through his Messenger to King Benjamin who is the servant King to the people in the Land of Zarahemla during a Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) (Mosiah 3:2-3).  His reign and words are reminiscent of Moses and are a type and shadow of Christ who was yet to come. In King Benjamin’s address he confirms the covenant hierarchy and mediation through the Son of God. In Mosiah 3 the covenant hierarchy is established with the Son of God being declared as the Ruler and Mediator of the Covenant.  The people are to consider themselves one like unto another-brothers and sisters and all beggars before the Lord. King Benjamin establishes the people as a covenant people like Moses did with the Children of Israel.  We are shown the opposite example of a righteous body in the story of the corrupt King Noah and his system of priestcraft as a comparison to God’s righteous system through King Benjamin. 

Like the incident of the Golden Calf we are given various accounts of covenant rebellion and restoration to covenant. In the accounts of the Sons of Mosiah, Alma the Younger, Korihor, Nehor, the Zoramites, etc we are shown the rebellion of the people as they attempt to establish and maintain their counterfeit systems as opposed to the society established by God's covenant.   Like ancient Israel who sought to establish their own order through a a golden medium, we are shown similar forms of rebellion and idolatry whether it be priest-craft, lawyer-craft, or king-craft.  Following the inclination of the natural man, the people wanted a god they could manipulate, control, and form after their own image. 

The sin of the Golden Calf occurred when the people took it upon themselves to worship God in a Manner he had not appointed. "behold tomorrow is a feast to YHVH", but God had not declared such a thing at that time. They approached God after the manner of worship in Egypt. The Golden Calf was meant to represent God who had delivered them from Egypt. By engaging in their own self styled manner of worship they expected God to honor it. The sad reality was that they were breaking the covenant and as such were kept out of the presence of God. The tabernacle was taken out of their midst and they were left with the Aaronic priesthood.  This type of idolatry is alive and well today both in and outside the Church.  Like the ancient Israelites many may have good  "intentions" but making an offering to God of that which he has not appointed is engaging in a new form of Golden Calf Worship.

How can you help people who are led only by their emotions and senses and proclaim it to be of God? The Golden Calf and the self styled system of worship was ground to powder in the end and then drunk by those who engaged in the worship. The symbolism is that of a idolatrous/Gentile system being destroyed and drunk by those Israelites who engaged in it. The effects were sickening and deadly to those who engaged in it.

There are many who lift up mortal men such as prophets, apostles, general authorities, Stake presidents, etc and place their words above God and his word.  They erroneously assume that every word from a leader with a title and office is the voice of God himself. In doing so, these same people set aside the revealed word of God being unable to discern between the precepts men and real revelation from the Most High.  In doing so, they are creating a new calf and a new system and then saying behold God this is for you! Accept our self created worship that you have not appointed. 

There are also those who are of the mindset that every fleeting thought and emotion that they have is God telling them what to do.  Like a ship without a rudder these people are tossed to and fro by fickle emotions and deceiving spirits.  Rather than establish themselves upon the Rock of God's word they create their own revelations and then supplant the legitimate word of God with things that are contrary to God's commandments. Those who throw away or belittle God's commandments in light of a spiritual apparition, impression, warm fuzzy, or other manifestation are not only engaging in Golden Calf worship they are placing themselves and their families at risk.

"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20 NKJV

The Spirit of God will not instruct or testify to anyone to break the commandments of God. Not all people engage in this kind of behavior, but then again not all people engaged in the worship of the Golden Calf. Our loyalty and faith should be to God and his commandments. The epic of the Golden Calf and the resulting judgments that followed upon Israel left cultural scars that are still present to this day.  The generation that engaged in this "good intention" idolatry died in the wilderness and leaving only two men of that generation to step foot in the promised land.

When we are talking of covenants and entering into covenant with God it is a serious matter.  It is a matter not to be taken lightly.  It is a matter of deep prayer, study, and contemplation.  The seriousness of covenant is far beyond the pathetic definition given by some as a "strong promise".  A covenant with God is a covenant of life with penalties of death for those who enter and then break it.  The ramifications go far beyond the individual even as far reaching as a thousand generations.  Zeal is not enough!  Emotional Warm Fuzzies are not enough! Going along with "the body" is not enough!  Every man and woman of accountability must have a witness from God of the truthfulness of these things. We must test everything.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

WHY THE APPOINTED TIMES OF GOD?

For many of us who call ourselves Mormons, we seldom think about Biblical Holidays as anything more than a Jewish tradition. But these specific days were actually ordained by God and given to ALL of the House of Israel as perpetual ordinances. It is in these Appointed Times that we find the root of our tradition to engage in General Conference. One of the things we are to remember during the Holy Days are the covenants and promises of God's loving kindness, mercy and grace in history and the fulfillment in Jesus Christ. These set apart days point to God’s plan for all of mankind in regard to salvation and having a relationship with Him.

Q.        When were the Appointed Times Revealed?

A.        The appointed times were revealed by God to Adam in the Genesis of Creation, “Then Elohim said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons (moed), and for days and years;'” - Genesis 1:14
The Hebrew word translated here as “seasons” is the word moed or moedim (plural). The word itself means: properly an appointment, that is, a fixed time or season; specifically a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand): - appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn (-ity), synagogue, (set) time (appointed). (Strongs Condcordance From H3259)
Woven into the creation of the world God used the stars and planets to mark times and seasons.  The movement of the sun, moon and stars were provided not only for the calculation of time but for setting the appointed times when God was to meet with his people.  With this in mind, God designed an original science of astronomy to be used as prophetic markers that could not be altered by the hand of men.  His appointed times were part of his plan for man even before man himself was placed in the Garden. 

Q.        What are the Appointed times?

A.        Each week when we observe the Sabbath Day we are observing an Appointed Time.  The Feasts (or Appointed Times) of Israel are what are termed ‘High Sabbaths’.  Like the weekly Sabbath they are days specifically set apart by God for all his people to observe, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” – (Leviticus 23:2-4)
The keeping or remembering (to both say and to do) the Appointed times falls under the commandment, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”- (Exodus 20:8-11)

Q.        What is the purpose of Sabbaths or Appointed Times?

A.        Besides fulfilling the commandment to ‘remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy’ the observance of God’s appointed times served as times for his people to come, appear before him, and call upon his name. In many ways the modern Mormon events of General Conferences and Solemn Assemblies echo back to the observance of these divine appointments.  Examples of the observance of God’s appointed times can be seen with Adam at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Moses and Israel at Mount Sinai, Jacob and the Nephites at the Day of Atonement, King Benjamin at the Feast of Tabernacles, Christ at Passover, Christ at the Temple in Bountiful, Joseph Smith and the receipt of the plates at the Feast of Trumpets, Passover at the Kirtland Temple Dedication, among many others.

Q.        What are the specific Appointed times?

A.        Besides the weekly Sabbath and the new moon of each month there are 7 High Holy Days appointed for all Israel to be observed through all their generations.
There are Seven specifically appointed times divided into Three Seasons of Observance:

Appointed Times of Observance:
(Spring)

1. Passover (Pesach)
2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Ha Matzah)
3. First Fruits (Ha Bikkurim)

4. Pentecost (Shavuot)

(Fall)
5. Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)
6. Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
7. Tabernacles (Sukkot)

Q.  These appointed times or feasts are in the Law of Moses.  I thought Christ Fulfilled the Law of Moses?

A.        As we have previously shown the appointed times did not originate with Moses but were given in the creation to Adam and all his descendants.  Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them. In Israelite culture to fulfill the law (Torah) is to observe God's commandments as given by God to Israel and to correctly interpret them. In addition, he also warned his disciples not to annul a commandment or to dissuade others from observing the commandments.
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19)

Q.        The Book of Mormon specifically says that after Christ came they, “did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.” 4 Nephi 1:12).  If they did not follow any more after the performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses why then should we observe the appointed times?

A.        The statement ‘performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses’ can be a little misleading to those not familiar with Israelite Law.  To an Israelite the Performances (ma-asim- performances or deeds of rabbis, prophets, teachers, elders, etc) and Ordinances (takanot- legislative enactments) would be comparative to our modern case law including city and state ordinances on how to carry out certain laws.  So if you were to compare the Covenant God made with Israel with the US Constitution then the performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses would be equivalent to our 2 million case laws as well as local and state ordinances on how to carry out the intent of the Constitution.  By saying that Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses the Israelite writers of the Bible and Book of Mormon mean that he brought them back to the proper interpretation and performance of the Covenant and commandments he made with all Israel. By saying that they followed no more after the performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses they are stating that they no longer carried out God’s commandments according to the man made legal rulings and traditions that developed over hundreds of years.  The Appointed times are not the legal enactments or traditions of men, but direct commands from God to be observed through all our generations.

Q.        How do the Appointed Times figure in with Prophecy?

A.        The appointed times are prophetic pictures that teach about the Messiah!  The set-apart times are cycles that foretell the redemptive acts which Messiah was to perform for his people.  This is why all Israel gathered together at the temple or other appointed place to present themselves for and participate in divine rehearsals of those things which came before in preparation for those things which will come again.  From the Book of Mormon to the Book of Revelation, God uses the cycles of the appointed times and the instructions for carrying them out to prepare his people for their deliverance from bondage, his deliverance of the covenant, and his establishment of his reign over all the earth.

Q.        What would be the purpose in observing the Appointed Times now?

A.        Besides honoring God and fulfilling his commandments, the Lord warns his people of pending judgment soon to be poured out upon our nation and gives them instructions regarding his appointed times.  The Lord commands his people to call your solemn assemblies:

Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the Lord your God, and hear the word of the Lord concerning you— The Lord who shall suddenly come to his temple; the Lord who shall come down upon the world with a curse to judgment; yea, upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you. For he shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God.
Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, upon the land of Zion, all you that have not been commanded to tarry-go ye out from Babylon, be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, call your solemn assemblies, and speak often one to another. And let every man call upon the name of the Lord. (D&C 133:1-6)

Through the mouth of his Servant Joseph Smith, God has declared a curse of judgment upon the nations that forget God and upon all the ungodly. As a result the eyes of ungodly Nations and peoples shall see the revelation of  the arm of the Lord in the experiencing of these judgments to their destruction to their salvation.  Oh, The Greatness and the Mercy of our God, for even in the midst of judgment and calamities, he remembers his people both Gentile, Remnant, and Jews in giving them divine instructions to prepare them for the days ahead:

1. Set yourselves apart by gathering together
2. Be clean
3. Call our solemn assemblies
4. Speak often to one another

5. Call upon the name of the Lord

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 A YEAR OF MAKING IT REAL






And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, 
not only to say, but to do 
according to that which I have written
That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:56-58)

Even as we have turned a page on our calendar to declare a New Year-2017- there rests a condemnation upon the People of the Word - Even the Book of Mormon.  Our minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because we have treated lightly the things we have received.  Indeed it appears we have the "SAYING" part of the Book of Mormon down.  We attend our conferences, our sacrament meetings, our firesides, etc,, but have we, like ancient Israel, missed the mark as well as we conform our worship of God to firesides, sacrament meetings, meetings in general, conferences, etc?  Is the giving of intellectual or inspirational talks (while they do have their place) the acceptable worship that God desires?

ARE WE CONFINING OUR WORSHIP TO THE "SAYING"?


Alma's description of the Zoramites gives us a key insight into the "SAYING" engaged in by a group of people who went to church on the "Day of the Lord" and engaged in continual "SAYING":

"Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore they had had the word of God preached unto them. But they had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God, and his statutes, according to the law of Moses. Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation.Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances; therefore, for this cause, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them.

Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld; For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person.

Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying:

Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever. Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God. And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.

Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure. For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand. Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.

Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner" ( Alma 31:8-23)

CONFERENCES, TALKS, AND YADA YADA YADA!


While there is a place for going to conferences and other meetings, if we find ourselves engaging in routine conferences, meetings, or talks for the sake of intellectual or social stimulation or public affirmations of faith, then perhaps the account of the Zoramites may hit a little too close to home. How often have we engaged in conferences, firesides, meetings, and the current Mormon Fad Movement only to find that once we have heard the many talks the people give each other loving hugs, the chairs get put away, and then the lights go out.  The "SAYING" part being thus done the people then go to their homes and we wonder, "Will I ever have a relationship with God like Nephi?  Will I ever have the privilege of hearing the voice from Heaven, "Behold, My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorfied my name, HEAR YE HIM?"

When does it become us instead of the Nephites at the temple in Bountiful?  When does it become us instead of the Children of Israel at Sinai?  When does the Kingdom Of God, his word, and his presence become real for me?


WHERE THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD-- THE DOING


Actions of Faith are based upon the promises and commandments of God. God  revealed himself to the Fathers and established his sovereignty over all things through a covenant relationship.  For us and in the Land of America, our covenant relationship is governed by our covenant treaty and land grant--THE BOOK OF MORMON. We are then presented with a choice will we accept God's rule and pledge our loyalty to him as the center of our faith?  As we go down into the waters of baptism we make a formal declaration of our loyalty and our intent to obey the God of our Fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Enos). Having made a declaration of our acceptance of him and our loyalty to him, we must then search diligently in record of the Fathers to identify the promises God made to them and then takes actions of faith to manifest the fruit of those promises.

Once we have identified the promises made, the journey really begins. We must lay hold upon the promises-- or in other words we must make a claim for the promises.  God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him. (Acts 10:43) As a covenant relationship is bound by legal terms, we must also make legal requests under the covenant.  In other words, we have to ask for the promises to be fulfilled.   The fruits that God desires are based upon us taking real action to fulfill those commandments:

"And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay." (D&C 84:58-59)

THE "DOING" of the Book of Mormon goes far beyond motivational or intellectual talks.  It involves taking real covenant action by a group of people to stand up and be counted, to present themselves before the throne of God, and to call upon the God for the mercy, grace, and wisdom we so desperately need.  Are you ready to make 2017 real by doing that which has been commanded by God?  Do you desire to call upon the name of the Lord like the Fathers of old? Are we an assembly of people (i.e. church, community, etc) that builds itself upon the covenant works of God or the works of men?"

"Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you; And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.

But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return. For their works do follow them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore remember the things that I have told you." (3 Nephi 27:9-12)

LET US MAKE 2017 REAL BY REMEMBERING THE BOOK OF MORMON--NOT ONLY TO SAY BUT TO DO! THAT WE MAY BRING FORTH THE FRUIT THE FATHER TRULY DESIRES!







Friday, December 23, 2016

God's Appointed Times- Now is the Time for Men to Prepare to Meet God





Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the Lord your God, and hear the word of the Lord concerning you— The Lord who shall suddenly come to his temple; the Lord who shall come down upon the world with a curse to judgment; yea, upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you. For he shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God.

Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, upon the land of Zion, all you that have not been commanded to tarry-go ye out from Babylon, be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, call your solemn assemblies, and speak often one to another. And let every man call upon the name of the Lord. (D&C 133:1-6)

Through the mouth of his Servant Joseph Smith, God has declared a curse of judgment upon the nations that forget God and upon all the ungodly. As a result the eyes of ungodly Nations and peoples shall see the revelation of  the arm of the Lord in the experiencing of these judgments to their destruction to their salvation.  Oh, The Greatness and the Mercy of our God, for even in the midst of judgment and calamities, he remembers his people both Gentile, Remnant, and Jews in giving them divine instructions to prepare them for the days ahead:

1. Set yourselves apart by gathering together
2. Be clean
3. Call our solemn assemblies
4. Speak often to one another
5. Call upon the name of the Lord


OUR CONDITION IS DIRE!


This revelation is especially significant to us as it is a prophetic instruction and fulfillment of the words of the Prophet Joel.  The prophet Joseph Smith recorded that when visited by the Angel Moroni it was declared, " He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in...." (JSH 1:41)  The words of Joel as found in the second chapter from the 28th verse to the last speak of the day are specifically significant:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the and it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls."

The Lord is making a specific promise that he will pour out his Spirit on all flesh before the awful an dreadful Day of Judgment, but like his words to Joseph Smith a prophetic promise is given, "...and it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls."

Using an ancient pattern of teaching among the Israelites, Moroni draws upon the portion of words of the Prophet Joel to point us to the greater words of Joel that precede his quotation to fill in the greater things that describe the predicament of the Lord's people and his instructions on how to prepare for The Day of the Lord.


THE GREATER PICTURE!


Like ancient Israel, our days are numbered. In the true prophetic call to repentance Joseph Smith fulfilled the prophecy of Joel in declaring this warning to both Leader and lay member:

"Hear this, you leaders of the people.
Listen, all who live in the land.
In all your history, has anything like this happened before?

Tell your children about it in the years to come,
and let your children tell their children.
Pass the story down from generation to generation."


A VOICE OF WARNING!


"What the cutting locust left,
the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
the destroying locust has eaten.

Awake, you drunkards, and weep,
and wail, all you drinkers of wine,
because of the sweet wine,
for it is cut off from your mouth.

For a nation has come up against my land,
powerful and beyond number;
its teeth are lions’ teeth,
and it has the fangs of a lioness.

It has laid waste my vine
and splintered my fig tree;
it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
their branches are made white."

A day of consumption has been decreed upon the covenant Land of Promise. Here the Prophet Joel draws upon Isaiah as a warning has been issued to the drunkards, "Ah, the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim, and the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley of those overcome with wine!

Behold, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong; like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest,
like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters, he casts down to the land with his hand.

The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim will be trodden underfoot;and the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley, will be like a first-ripe fig before the summer:
when someone sees it, he swallows it as soon as it is in his hand." (Isaiah 28:1-4)


CALLING UPON THE NAME OF GOD- THE CURSES DECLARED AND OUR INSTRUCTIONS FOR REPENTANCE


Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth
for the bridegroom of her youth.

(We like Israel are called to be the bride of Christ- his called out assembly. In utter humility and submission, let us offer our sorrow and desire for our Messiah. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.)

The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
from the house of the LORD.
The priests mourn,
the ministers of the LORD.

(We have or will be cut off from the ordinances (sacrament/temple ordinances) of the House of the Lord. Let the priesthood mourn- And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.)

The fields are destroyed,
the ground mourns,
because the grain is destroyed,
the wine dries up,
the oil languishes.

(The people of the land are destroyed, the land mourns, The Prosperity of the Land of Promise Dries up.  The desire for righteousness dries up and the spirit of the Lord pines with longing and desire.  And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.)


The Husbandmen of the field will dry up and be ashamed ;
Wail, O vine dressers,
for the wheat and the barley,
because the harvest of the field has perished.

The vine dries up;
the fig tree languishes.
Pomegranate, palm, and apple,
all the trees of the field are dried up,
and gladness (joy) dries up
from the children of man.

(Those leaders who were called to nourish and oversee of the people are dried up and will be ashamed. The first fruits of the latter-day harvest are dead, the tree that brought forth the figs grows feeble and weak, all the fruits and people of the field dry up in that the oil of gladness (the spirit of God) dries up from the children of men. And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.)

Dress yourselves in burlap and weep, you priests!
Wail, you who serve before the altar!
Come, spend the night in burlap,
you ministers of my God.
For there is no grain or wine
to offer at the Temple of your God.

(There is no harvest offering of people presented at the Temple of your God.)

Consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the LORD your God,
and cry out to the LORD.

(Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, upon the land of Zion, all you that have not been commanded to tarry-go ye out from Babylon, be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, call your solemn assemblies, and speak often one to another. And let every man call upon the name of the Lord.)

Alas for the day!
For the day of the LORD is near,
and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.


(And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;for ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted?)

Like Isaiah and Joel, The Prophet Joseph Smith declared a voice of warning and promise to those of us in these Latter-days.  Our situation is a sad one:

"Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world? Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?" (Mormon 8: 35-39)

THE SOLEMN DAYS OF OUR GOD

While everyday should be observed in remembrance of God and his commandments, God has appointed solemn days for his people to present themselves as an offering of grain and wine before his Throne.  At these appointed times, his people were commanded to present themselves and call upon his name.

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.

“These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations (solemn assembly), which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them....And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation (set apart assembly). You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations." (Leviticus 23 1-4, 21)

There are Seven specifically appointed times divided into Three Seasons of Observance:

Appointed Times of Observance:

(Spring)

1. Passover (Pesach)
2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Ha Matzah)
3. First Fruits (Ha Bikkurim)

4. Pentecost (Shavuot)

(Fall)
5. Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)
6. Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
7. Tabernacles (Sukkot)


Erroneously, many label these appointed times as the "Jewish Feasts", but these appointed times were given to all Israel including the gentiles who were numbered among the House of Israel.  non-Jewish Bible believers understand the festivals to be exclusively Jewish feasts. (Deuteronomy 16:10-11, 14-16).  These are the appointed time where in the King of Israel is the host of the assembly and where we are invited to present ourselves before him as his invited guests.  They are divine appointments and covenant rehearsals before God wherein we set ourselves apart, become clean in the waters of baptism and purified by the Holy Ghost, and call upon the name of God.  This same pattern is also displayed in the Book of Mormon by King Benjamin's people and the Solemn Assembly at the Temple in the Land of Bountiful in 3 Nephi.


CALLING UPON THE NAME OF GOD


 As we read the scriptures and hear sacred words quoted in our temples we hear the command given to “call (qara) upon the name of the Lord”.   When we hear these words spoken the first thing that usually comes to mind is to pray (palel).    In fact, the phrase “calling upon the name of the Lord” is best understood as covenant language that can be likened to a subject calling upon (or appealing to) the King who is the owner and ruler of everything.  Like Job who makes his appeal to God and the Court of Heaven, we are dealing with a covenant concept that has more in common with our modern court room and legal proceedings than our nightly dinner with Dad.

In Ancient Israel salvation is seen as drawing near or coming back into the presence of God from where we have fallen.  Because of our fallen state we cannot enter directly back into the presence of God because no unclean thing can reside in his presence.  In his mercy God is continually inviting us to come (boh) unto him by creating a place for him to come to. Calling upon the name of the Lord is similar to making a covenant/legal appeal to the throne of heaven. In calling upon his name we acknowledge our guilt before him and request his mercy and our desire to be one with him.

What is called the Mercy Seat or the Ark of the Covenant is literally the throne of God where his presence sits.  The Holy Place where the menorah, the horned altar, and the table of shew bread sits is his Throne room where the High Priest goes to offer up  appeals to Heaven and to inquire for further light and knowledge (instruction) from God to carry out his laws or to seek judgments and dispensations from the King of Kings based upon the needs of the people, the laws, and the terms of his covenant.  In fact words such as the “way”, the “truth”, and the “life, as well as the “gate”, etc. are all terms that draw upon this imagery of God’s throne room/ courtroom.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR MEN TO PREPARE TO MEET GOD


Has it ever occurred to you to take God at his word? If then God has commanded us to "Prepare Ye! Prepare Ye! by:


1. Set yourselves apart by gathering together
2. Be clean
3. Call our solemn assemblies
4. Speak often to one another
5. Call upon the name of the Lord

Then perhaps it is time we do not procrastinate the day of our repentance and fulfill the word of God by DOING exactly what he has commanded in preparation for the Day of Judgment to come.

"Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you. For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." (Alma 34:31-32)


Friday, December 9, 2016

THE POWER OF PRAYER

THE WAY- OUR COVENANT WALK WITH GOD




It can be a tremendous leap of faith to cross the gulf which separates the ways of the world to the strait and narrow path of a covenant walk with God.  The first step of this journey wherein we enter the gate to the city of God is represented by our belief in Messiah and entering into the waters of baptism- immersion in the waters of life.  In doing so, we come forth a new creature in God, but this new walk can feel a little intimidating and sometimes overwhelming.  How then do we walk?  What then should we do as we press forward to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life:

"And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?

Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?

Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark." (2 Nephi 32:1-4)

In Israelite culture an angel is a messenger of God who comes to deliver the Words of God.  The Holy Ghost as the mind and life of God enters into us and in doing so brings us to a relationship of oneness with the creator.  True messengers or Angels speak by the power of God not only because they deliver his words in exactness, but because their message they deliver is meant to bring us into a state of oneness with God--his life, his character, and his attributes. In receiving the Holy Ghost (Ruach ha Kodesh) we become vessels of light that both receives the life and light of God to bestow upon others.  This connection is key as it changes us into vessels or fountains of living waters to both God and Man

"And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul." (2 Nephi 32:8-9)



CREATIVE PRAYER

Prayer can have dramatic effects in our inner and outer worlds. Through prayer we walk in the spirit of God and in doing so healing comes to the brokenhearted.  Through prayer deliverance comes to the captives and the blind receive their sight.  Through prayer the oppressed become the liberated.  It can change the course of mighty rivers and move mountains. It can and has changed the course of human events. Prayer can affect the consciousness of others.  It is not wishful thinking. True prayer is a union of  heart and the mind wherein streams of living waters flow out into all levels of the material and spiritual worlds of existence.  When one creates in this manner the images of the heart as they mirror the creator become manifest reality in our physical world.

The desires of the heart in oneness with God energizes that image so that as children of God we engage in co-creation with the Father of Lights. The greater the prayer of desire the stronger the spiritual creation.  Like a seed planted and nourished it brings forth after its own kind and the reality of the spiritual creation becomes the reality of our present existence. As this occurs the spiritual creation is birthed into this world even as all things were created by God spiritually before they were created physically thereby neutralizing all doubt, fear, and competitive creations.

Without the power of strong intent and desire the power of prayer is neutralized as it becomes empty words bouncing off the ceiling.  Prayer at that point becomes "vain repetition"  and is not “heard”. Prayer has to be fueled with true intent toward the oneness that comes from loving God and bestowing love upon others. Without this life giving oneness the offered prayer has not the strength to breath life in the physical world.

Our Western ideas of prayer come out of a Greek Mindset where prayer is often conducted in long discourses of words.  While words do have a place, in the Hebrew mind the words of a prayer are meant to evoke desire-- i.e., form the vessel.  Praying in Desire is one of the highest forms of prayer in that out of the desires of our hearts the often unspoken words ascend before the Throne of Heaven as a sweet incense.  Words without desire have no form or life and never ascend beyond the mouth of the supplicant. We can see this same principle being practiced by the Nephites in the very presence of Christ, "And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire." (3 Nephi 19: 24)

In the Israelite mind the physical world and the spiritual worlds are intertwined. A stirring of desire and action below creates a stirring of desire and action from Above to reach down and lift the one's offering the prayer like a Father who lifts his small child into his safe, loving, and protective arms.  Such an idea can be seen even among the scattered remnants of Israel abroad who recorded their teachings for their followers and descendants:

“One who prays must devote his heart to the meaning of the words that come forth from one’s mouth. One must imagine that the Shekhina [presence of God) stands opposite him. All extraneous thought must be removed so that ones’ thoughts and intent in prayer will be pure. One should imagine as if one is speaking to a king of flesh and blood before whom one’s words would be prepared and conscientious, G-d forbid to make a mistake. All the more so [should one be this careful] before the King, Who is the King of kings Who examines every thought. Thus was the way of the pious and the men of renown: they would meditate and direct their attention to their prayers until they reached the level of detachment from the physical world and the dominance of the power of mind...One must meditate upon those things that humble the heart, and direct [one’s heart] to his Heavenly Father.” (Shulkan Arukh, Orah Haim 98:1)



As we reach up declaring, "Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth." we stir the realm of the spiritual before the throne of heaven as all doubtful and random thoughts fall away as we bring our desires into oneness with God.  This idea of focus of mind and desire is what is known as singleness of heart.  By walking in the realm of oneness in desire, thought, and actions with God and his commandments one is speaking the language of God.  It is this kind of prayer engaged in daily practice that shakes the realms of the spirit and changes the course of events here in the material world.  This is how true miracles occur.

True miracles are created first spiritually by coming into union or oneness in desire and thought with God in the realm of the spirit only to be carried out by actions of faith in our world here below.  Prayer of this kind causes a union of heaven and earth and causes the hearts of men to be cleansed and raised like sweet incense rising before the throne of heaven.  This type of prayer is not a abstract thought or principle but an intentional act of creation everyday.  This is the secret to embracing the arms of redemption and the creation of a miraculous reality.  This is the secret to Israel's purpose and her preserving power as salt that preserves. No weapon forged by man can stand against a people who have come into oneness with God.

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t always know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. (Romans 8:26-27)



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

VESSELS OF GRACE AND FOUNTAINS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." 2 Nephi 2:25




The light of the gospel has little value to those who are fulfilled solely by the pleasures of the natural man. Man is endowed with a fallen nature that is characterized by weakness, but despite the definitions we have imbibed from religion weakness does not mean "weaknesses".  From a Hebraic viewpoint weakness is a description of our fallen state-- a state of being finite, a state of limitation, a state of emptiness and failure to receive joy.  All things are given by God and as such are good, even weakness.  It is in this weakness or feeling of emptiness or limitation, that God grants us a great and marvelous gift- for it is in embracing our weakness or state of weakness that we recognize that there is a space within us that only God can fill.

In feeling the weakness, limitation, and lack of fulfillment from passing physical pleasures, we begin to reach up to God and in doing so we are filled with his grace- his enabling power that fills.  The reason that many people are feeling depressed, apathetic, or powerless  is because they either don't want to deal with this state of emptiness and limitation or they do not know how.  In such a condition, it is any wonder that we see an increase in addictions such as alcohol, drugs, sex, etc?

What People Often Hear


"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)

Because there is a great gulf that separates God's culture and language from that of our Modern American Culture, please allow me to translate this scripture into what many Modern Mormons hear, "An if men come unto me, I will show them their weaknesses, bad habits, addictions, and irritating ticks that make their lives miserable at which point I will give them a perpetual self help program called the "The Gospel" that will make them think they need to perfect themselves and for 99% of the population that can't make the self help program work then my grace will take care of the rest after they finally die and make it out of this tortuous existence by the skin of their teeth." (The Politically Incorrect Translation of Ether 12:27)


Living Waters - Obtaining the Grace of God




The concept of grace is connected with the imagery of Living Waters.  Living waters are waters that are purifying, flowing, and not stagnant.  They are waters that bring life in which nothing that is impure cannot be purified or cleansed. Living waters flow out to feed the land and people and give sustenance to the earth, the people, the vegetation, and beasts of the field.

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (John 7:37-38)

Our thirst is our desire to receive.  In our desire to receive we become vessels of grace into which God can pour his living water.  For the water to be living, it must be able to flow out and provide sustenance to the earth, the people, the vegetation, and the beasts of the field.  In other words in weakness we have emptiness and limitation out of which develops the desire to be filled or to receive. If that were the end of the path, then in receiving to only covet the life giving water and the blessings that it brings, we would become lifeless and stagnant vessels. To be a fountain of righteousness or living water, we also become vessels of bestowal.  We receive the grace (enabling life of God) to bestow love to God and our neighbors.  In other words, we receive to bestow and in doing so we not only become vessels of Grace but literally fountains of righteousness- flowing rivers of living water.

"Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me the fountain of all righteousness." (Ether 12:28)

Stagnant Vessels


Many a Latter-day Saint find themselves contemplating the grace of God, his gifts, and pondering why we do not find ourselves in receipt of the same grace as we see recorded in the miraculous events in scripture.  I believe that one of the main reasons we do not receive is that we desire to receive to covet.  In other words we desire from God to be filled, but never to bestow upon others.

As the Apostle Pauls said:

"From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." (James 4:1-3)

or perhaps another translation expresses it a little better in our modern tongue:

"What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?

You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.

And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure." (James 4:1-3)


Understanding the Natural Man and the Child of God


"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." (Mosiah 3:19)

We have probably read these words many times, but yet often the meanings and implications of King Benjamin's description of the natural man versus the child of God evade us. The natural man and woman is egotistical, self-centered, self-seeking, and survival oriented in their frame of mind.  In other words we seek to receive or obtain to covet for ourselves.  This is the natural state of fallen men and women here in the lone and dreary world.  We seek to secure for ourselves even to lifting ourselves above our brother. Our survival instincts take over or at least are the governing force in our lives. Even when we desire to do good at times, the underlying motive is to give to receive to covet.

If this is the case, then it would seem that any attempt to receive from God to give to others is at the very least tainted by desires for personal gain-- and if all we were was the natural or savage man or woman then this would be the case.  BUT, this is NOT the case for within us is also the spiritual man- that portion of God that gives each of us life and breath.  Through rebirth by water and spirit that portion of God quickens our inner man and brings us into a desire or state of ONENESS.  The desire for ONENESS with Christ creates a vessel into which God can pour his living waters.  Even if the desire is only to have the desire to be one with Christ- then a vessel is created into which God can pour his living waters.  As our desire grows our vessel or cup runs over into the abundance of living waters whether to brother or enemy, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." (Psalms 23:5)



"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." (Alma 32:27)

PRAYING THE DESIRE- A POWERFUL FORM OF PRAYER


Our Western ideas of prayer come out of a Greek Mindset where prayer is often conducted in long discourses of words.  While words do have a place, in the Hebrew mind the words of a prayer are meant to evoke desire-- i.e., form the vessel.  Praying in Desire is one of the highest forms of prayer in that out of the desires of our hearts the often unspoken words ascend before the Throne of Heaven as a sweet incense.  Words without desire have no form or life and never ascend beyond the mouth of the supplicant. We can see this same principle being practiced by the Nephites in the very presence of Christ, "And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire." (3 Nephi 19: 24)

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t always know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. (Romans 8:26-27)








Monday, October 31, 2016

BLESSED ARE THOSE




The word "Blessed" comes from the Hebrew word barukh.  When an Israelite blesses God or God blesses someone or something the word barukh carries with it an awareness of the closeness of God.  In fact being blessed is being in a state wherein the very presence of God fills the air.  The idea of blessedness carries with it deep Israelite connotations of the presence or spirit of God being felt in our minds, our hearts, even the core of our very souls.  The idea of being blessed or even in blessing God is that our hearts and minds should be awakened to the understanding that God is making himself close to us to draw us into closeness with him.  In other words, the declaration of a blessing or declared blessed is that of the awareness of the presence of God right now.

With that in mind now consider the words of the Messiah as part of his covenant declaration:

"2 And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

 3 Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 4 And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

 5 And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

 6 And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.

 7 And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

 8 And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

 9 And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

 10 And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11 And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake; For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you. (3 Nephi 12)

Now for a moment as you read the words of the Sermon at the Temple/Mount consider for a moment as the Messiah of Israel is making a declaration of blessing (i.e. blessed) that in each of these declarations he is declaring the Promise of the closeness -EVEN THE PRESENCE- of God in the here and now as we conform to the image of those blessed who are the poor in spirit, those that mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted for the sake of walking in his name.  In other words, the presence of God is already with them.

When the words of Christ were declared in exactness on this day the people who were there were visited by the voice of God, The Presence of the Son and the Spirit of God.  And again even the next day when his disciples had administered these same words in exactness to the multitude that gathered there we see the fulfillment of this covenant promise again with as they were given the spirit of God, the Presence of the Son, and the revealing of Great and Marvelous Things that were too great to be written.

Now those same words in the mouth of two witnesses from the House of Israel as contained in the Sermon on the Mount and more particularly those recorded in the Book of Mormon in the Sermon at the Temple have come unto us. No we were not those people who were physically present when these words were recorded.  BUT we are the people to whom these words have been delivered.  In fact we would be those who are labeled, "Those who believe on their words."  Consider for a moment now these great covenant promises:

And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

And Consider the Covenant prayers of God as promises to us who were not present and yet who believe on their words:

19 And it came to pass that Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said: 20 Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.

 21 Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words. 22 Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them. 23 And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one.

AND AGAIN!

 27 And he turned from them again, and went a little way off and bowed himself to the earth; and he prayed again unto the Father, saying:

 28 Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me.

 29 Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them.

If we approach 3 Nephi as the very Heart of the Covenant- we see that God is offering us -those who believe on their words- the same declaration of blessing (blessed) as he offered to those who were there that day to hear those words with their own ears.  These words in the Book of Mormon are those words as recorded by those servants and receiving the Presence of God and an awareness that he is all around us from the air that we breath to the reception of his Son is offered to us. Behold even as the Prophet Mormon declared:

7 And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues;

 8 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them.

 9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

 10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.

 11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are...

18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.

 19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

 20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.

 21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth." (Mormon 9)

Let us turn back to the right way. Let us loose the seals of the Book of Mormon by unlocking the covenant code that conceals the promises in plain sight.  Let us call upon the Father in the Name of the Son and embody his declaration of "Blessed are those..." even the Presence of God, the restoration of the House of Israel, and the establishment of Zion even the New Jerusalem.