New year, new goals––including blogging with a little more frequency! So here I am at the start of a fresh Come, Follow Me study guide and I am so excited to share my first insight of the year with you!
Last week while reading Doctrine and Covenants section 1 I read the verses that serve as the Lord’s preface to this new book of scripture in which He states that He has called a prophet in the latter-days to warn all people on earth of coming calamity (see D&C 1:1-17). With a pandemic raging across the world, mutating and outpacing human response, and civil unrest spreading across the United States, my sense of foreboding is more than heightened. This is some scary stuff! But, I wondered, why warn us if only to frighten us? As I read further, I felt like I saw between the lines of text. This book of scripture is called Doctrine and Covenants––it contains the same eternal truths and foundational doctrines as the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon, but it also points us to saving ordinances in which we make sacred covenants with God. Covenants, I realized, are the key to our preparation and protection in these unsettling and calamitous times. Hence the Doctrine and Covenants IS God’s warning as well as our survival handbook!
Covenants will prepare us for and protect us as we face whatever else is coming. My one resolution for this new year is to do a better job keeping the covenants I have already made with God at baptism and in the temple (both Endowment and marriage). I want to better understand the promises I made and identify ways I can more strictly honor them. In D&C 82:10, the Lord says, “I, the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” When we keep our covenants, God is required to provide for us. With an uncertain future ahead of all of us I find God’s promise immensely reassuring.
How does keeping your covenants bring you peace? How do you think keeping covenants will both prepare and protect you?
Alma the younger’s amazing conversion from church-destroyer to High Priest over the Church gave him a unique perspective on and zeal for God’s work. His first attempt at preaching in Ammonihah dampened his spirits, though, and he was prepared to turn his back on the city. But as soon as the angel commanded him to return and try again, he went, no questions asked.
One of the things I love in this anecdote from Alma’s ministry is the poignant lesson about how the Lord works with us to fulfill His work, even with our weaknesses. When Alma returned to the city (by another way––there’s a lesson in that as well), “he was an hungered” (v. 19). Remembering that hunger is a condition of our mortal bodies, Alma probably could have continued working, being strengthened by God. But the Lord worked with Alma’s weakness (hunger) in that moment to progress His work of bringing salvation to all His children. The man he asked for food was reactivated and became a powerful missionary.
I experienced this same kind of mercy as a brand new missionary one evening in a northern European city in January. It was freezing cold, we were miles from our apartment, and I was exhausted in more ways than one. We waffled in that difficult period of the day where you have just enough time to make a few more contacts (but not teach a full lesson) and still arrive home for missionary curfew. My trainer asked for suggestions. I was so tired that I responded, “let’s just go home.” She thought for a moment and then agreed. So we headed out of the train station toward the ferry. Moving with the crowd, we approached a tram shelter. We were about to pass when a man called out to us in English. We looked for the speaker and discovered a man smiling and waving at us. He had traveled from the Philippines as a worker for a cruise line and was a member of the Church. He had not seen his family in six months nor had he been able to attend Church. He was overjoyed to see us and felt his spirit renewed.
Even in the depths of my exhaustion and eagerness to get home, the Lord worked through my weakness to perform a miracle. Through us He ministered to one of His children and accomplished His work.
1 Nephi 10:17-19
While reading 1 Nephi 10:17-19 I was struck for the first time by how Nephi clarifies that the God He worships and to whom he makes reference in his writings IS the pre-mortal Jesus Christ. Prior to these verses he has used the titles “Lord” and “God” but in verse 17 he describes how he and his father have accessed and received power from God, specifically to have visions and speak as prophets. Nephi writes that this power is granted “by faith on the Son of God––and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come.” So the essential ingredient to their callings as prophets is faith on a divinity who is the Son of God, the Messiah to come.
Nephi then further describes the “power,” that it is the “power of the Holy Ghost.” This power is a “gift of God.” Note the use of “God” here and how Nephi continues to identify who this God is: the power of the Holy Ghost is a gift offered to mankind from the beginning of time through to the future when God will “manifest himself unto the children of men.” Nephi has already told the reader that the Son of God, the Messiah, will come to earth so I can only conclude that he is tying all our concepts of deity together. The Son of God and Messiah are also God.
Then in verse 18 Nephi Nephi further illuminates God’s character using the pronoun “he” to tie the description into the God of verse 17. God “is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” All people are invited to follow “the way” by repenting and coming unto him––God, Son of God, Messiah.
Finally, Nephi ties up the remaining loose end of God’s identity: Lord. Nephi has also used this title in the previous chapters to identify deity but here he seems to deliberately tie the title into our fuller conception of God. He does this by invoking the language of the previous two verses using the phrases “power of the Holy Ghost” and “as well in times of old as in times to come” which draw together “Son of God,” “Messiah,” and “God.” The closing phrase has a beautiful double significance: “the course of the Lord is one eternal round” both attaches the title “Lord” to the one deity Nephi has been describing AND definitively concludes that the God he worships is an eternal being with power, knowledge, foresight, and a plan.
Jesus Christ is the God of this world.