Principle One: The Lord gives " more " through the spirit when we show faith and obedience.
One of the principles that has particular interest to me from this weeks reading comes from the scripture in 1 Nephi 4:6. As Nephi and his brothers had already made a couple attempts to go into the house of Laban in order to obtain the brass plates, Nephi then took it upon himself to go to Laban's house by himself. As Nephi explains in 1 Nephi 4:6, that he was " led by the spirit not knowing before hand the things which he should do " , I was reminded of the principle that we must show faith, and obedience through action, in our lives before we can receive additional instruction or more blessings. As Nephi, not knowing how he was going to eventually obtain the plates, but following the spirit's each and every prompting to move forward physically in this task, was exhibiting faith and obedience, he received more light and knowledge on the Lord's will. We can see that these requirements of faith and obedience, allowed the Lord to be able to bless Nephi with his promise as found in 1 Nephi 3:7, in which Nephi states, " The Lord giveth no commandment, save he shall prepare a way for the children of men to accomplish the thing which they are commanded."
We have multiple examples of the principle of faith and obedience being a requirement to receive " more " throughout the scriptures. The first example that came to my mind was when Alma The Younger was cast out of the city of Ammonihah, as he was trying to share the gospel. In Alma 8:13, Alma explains that he was spit upon and they threw him out of the city as he was teaching them.Yet, in verse 16, an angel has come to Alma and explained that he must return again to the city and preach repentance unto them again. I can imagine Alma did not know how he would avoid being thrown out of the city again, but as Alma showed faith and obedience returning " speedily " to the land. Because of these principles, the Lord was able to provide the means for him to accomplish this instruction.
We also have the patient and humble example of Joseph Smith being required to show faith and obedience as an initial requirement, and this example is a much longer drawn out example. Joseph was required to wait four years to obtain the plates. As in Joseph Smith History 1:53, the Heavenly messenger explains that "the time for bringing them forth had not arrived" yet, he was instructed to come to the same place year after year. Showing forth his faith and obedience Joseph Smith did receive, and was blessed to translate the plates into our Book of Mormon. I can imagine for such a sacred work, there were many unseen and even unwritten acts of faith and obedience on Joseph Smith's part.
I have my own example of being instructed by the spirit to show forth faith and obedience that would allow me to receive " more ". Like Nephi, I saw no realistic way that I could accomplish this task. It began wit me becoming very injured from a hobby of mine that required a lot of physical effort. I was a runner for a local shoe store. The store paid for my races and coach, and in return I wore a uniform with their logo. The hope for this store being that the local runners would like to buy running gear from them. After I had pushed myself to an extreme limit and forcing myself to run on injuries, I was so injured that just sitting on the couch put my back and neck into pain.One day, when I was going to a doctor appointment, I had a very distinctive prompting from the spirit that I should walk into a random office door, other than the door to the office where my appointment was. As I followed this prompting I was being led by the spirit, yet not knowing the things that I should do? It quickly came to me that I should ask what this office was for? The response was that the office was an administration building for a medical school, where students become certified to work in the medical field. I continued to question and when the woman explained the program of becoming a Certified Nurses Assistant, I felt the overwhelming feeling of the spirit telling me that this was why I was supposed to walk in this building. I was being led to take these courses. Although I was very injured to the point that it hurt to just push a grocery cart, I showed faith and obedience by enrolling in the program, yet not knowing how I would accomplish this task under the circumstances that I was in physically. My first class started three months later. Although I was still not in my regular physical condition, I was able to do the things physically required of me with the Lord's help.
From this experience my testimony that sometimes we do not understand what the Lord has in store for us, if we follow the promptings of the spirit with faith and obedience, eventually His plans can be made manifest to us line upon line, and precept upon precept. Most importantly to those who receive his message, He will give them " more" ( 2 Nephi 28:30 ).
Working as a Nurses Assistant in the hospital has been a great blessing for me. There are many things that I have learned about the love that Heavenly Father has for all of His children. There is so much that I could not have learned if I had I not been working in an environment with very sick people. I am thankful for the trials that we have in life that many times allow us to become humbled, an put us in a better position to receive blessings from the Lord, of knowledge and experience, when we show forth faith and obedience first.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Principle Two: As disciples of Christ, we are required to make sacrifices
This week as I have been pondering Lehi being made known by God that his life was in danger, and that he must take his family and travel in the wilderness, I have been pondering what translating the Book of Mormon must have made Joseph Smith feel? Even in the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith must have seen the reality of the sacrifices that he would be asked to make as a prophet of God?
I picture Joseph Smith translating and learning about how Lehi had to leave all of his friends and belongings, and feeling that Joseph Smith must have already felt a connection with Lehi as he himself had already experienced much persecution and hardships? In fact Joseph Smith was troubled with many of the same circumstances as Lehi, as he also had to leave from his home in New York, to Pennsylvania in order to keep the plates safe.
I wonder if Joseph Smith could then recall even the first prophets like Noah losing most everyone he knew in the flood, Abraham being required to leave the city of Ur, Joseph being sold into Egypt as a slave, Moses being raised by a stranger, Samuel having to leave his mother Hannah, and the list goes on that suggests that Joseph Smith should know that leaving people, and places, suffering persecution and even death was in his future.
Lastly, the greatest example Joseph Smith had was of Jesus Christ himself being rejected in his own town of Nazareth, and then crucified by his own people. Yet, knowing all these things Joseph Smith took upon this calling and work with great joy in the sacrifices that he knew that he would make.
Similarly, although I am not a prophet, I can see that sacrifice is a true principle of any disciple of Jesus Christ.. I don't view sacrifices as a bad thing, but as a great blessing. When I think of how my choices to sacrifice are to please my Heavenly Father, I receive joy out of doing it.
My husband of ten years was very against me wearing garments, and this meant that I could not participate in the temple. This was a continual disappointment for me as I was aware of the great need to be a worthy temple recommend holder. After years of asking and talking to my husband about me going to the temple here and there, I finally decided that I was going to have to make the choice on my own that it was no longer a question that I was asking if he minded if I went? I understood this might even be an eventual loss of my marriage as so many people dis swayed me from taking this action, but I had come to know that I had to show my willingness to lose everything in order to please the Lord, in order for myself to even feel satisfied in my life. I went to the temple and made the promise that I would wear the temple garments day and night. I faithfully do this with joy and a thankful heart even though my husband will not come in the room if I am changing because he finds the garment unattractive.
I believe things will probably be okay with my husband in the end of it all, but I am especially thankful for these examples of sacrifice in the scriptures that we have because they give me strength to understand that as a disciple of Christ, we will all have our own type of Christ experience, and this is necessary for us to become the individuals that he would like us to become, and to serve him at our highest capacity. I am learning to take joy in my sacrifices that I have to make and even if it means I will lose things that I love or even my life, I will be thankful in the end for the sacrifices that I have made.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Third Principle : Every member of the church is " Highly Favored of the Lord "
I believe that every member of the church can consider themselves " highly favored of the Lord " as Nephi states in 1 Nephi 1:1, that he is. As I look at the world around me I can see how so many people do not have the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and this leaves them with a true feeling of loss in their lives. As we understand the principles taught in the gospel we truly have a great knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God.
My personal example of seeing clearly that as members of the church we are " highly favored of the Lord " , came when my non-member's father passed away suddenly. Attending the Catholic funeral I was able to see the devastation and confusion that lie at the heart of all those without the gospel. I even had a personal conversation with the Catholic Priest because I wanted to thank him for his kindness to my husband's family. As I got to talking with this Catholic Priest I quickly learned that he did not quite believe in his own faith that he was preaching. I posed the question to him that I have always been curious as to the real answer of what Catholics believe happen to those who do not receive baptism in their church. He let me know that he did not believe what his church said about baptizing even infants. This was a powerful reminder to me about how as members of God's church on the earth, we are truly blessed to have this great knowledge and know His mysteries.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.