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Monday, February 23, 2015

07. Spiritual Ascension Step #3: Align (Start the Millennium...NOW!)

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the seventh examining the phrase "keepeth my commandments".


When The Blind Cried Out

"And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him." (Matthew 20:30-34)

All of us are blind to the spiritual battle which wages all around us 24/7/365.


Yet if you "cry out" to God -- not only in your prayers, but also in your daily life -- for God to open your eyes and ears, He will. He'll have compassion on you. In His own way, He will touch your eyes. You'll see things in a whole new way, and you'll follow Him like you never have before.

And in the process, you'll receive the spiritual insight you need to not only avoid temptation, but to also see Him.

“And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” (Mark 1:41)
“So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.” (Matthew 20:34)
“He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.” (Psalms 111:4)
“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” (Psalms 145:8)

The Beautiful Way God Can Touch Your Ears and Eyes


We've all heard that we should pray always, and that we should pray continually.

But let's be honest here: that's a pretty tough thing to pull off, don't you think?

After all, you may have kids to get to school, work, errands or chores to do, events to attend, etc. In short, you have life to live.

For example, I'm pretty sure the Lord gets the fact that if you're an accountant, you can't very easily work on clients' tax forms if you're praying all the time. I'm also pretty sure it's hard for first-time mothers to enjoy the solemnities of prayer while their two year-old is throwing the biggest tantrum ever recorded in human history.

So how do we do it? How can you handle all those things on your daily to-do list and still "pray always"?

In my opinion, it all starts with praying before a task, an activity, whatever.

Hence, you counsel with the Lord in all your doings (Alma 37:37; also see Elder Bednar's talk "Pray Always" here and Elder Cook's talk "Let All Thy Doings Be unto the Lord" here).

For example: start your day with a prayer to Father. Then, when you're done, get off your knees. Stand up.

But in this case, switch your attention from Father to Christ, and talk to Him!

Include Christ in your life like you never have before. Treat Him like the best friend He's always been, is, and always will be.

Turn off that radio or iPod on the way to work, school, the store or the gym or whatever. Keep the dialogue going with Him!

Keep up the conversation with Him when you sit down at your desk and start working on stuff.

Eating lunch alone? Perish the thought! Next lunch hour, tell Him one thing -- just one thing -- you're grateful for.

On the drive back home, what are you going to do? Yep, you've got it.

Now do it another day. And another.

Do it for months.

Do it for years.

Imagine what your relationship with Him will be like after, say, a couple of years of doing this.

In the Pearl of Great Price, we learn that spiritual (non-physical) creations precede physical creations (Moses 3:5,7; JST Gen 2:9; Abraham 5:2-5).

Could it be that developing a relationship with Christ could be the same?

Could your spiritual (non-physical) interactions with Him precede greater, physical interactions?

God says so, right here.

Winning at "Spiritual Warfare" Before Satan's First Shot Is Fired At You


As you develop this personal relationship with Christ, another, lesser-known benefit begins to emerge: If you ask, He will give you "inside information" that will help you avoid temptation.

God can protect you from danger and even warn you of the next move of our enemy. He can give you discernment to know right from the wrong, the phony from the genuine. If you will pause, listen and take the time to be tuned into His inner promptings, letting peace be the umpire, you will continually stay on God's best path for your life and reap the fruit of living His best.

The Prophet Elisha got this concept. In 2 Kings 6, we read:
"Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp.

And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.

And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.

Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?

And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber." (2 Kings 2:8-12)
The Nephites experienced something similar:
"And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;

And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity." (Alma 48:15-16)
When we are tuned in to the Lord, we can actively take Him up on His offer to help us avoid battles with our common enemy. He can and will give you promptings as to what Satan is planning for you. Indeed,
"We can monitor our own progress and discern the gains we make and the patterns in which we are vulnerable to temptation. I am indebted to a wise old friend (both in years and in association) of another faith who taught me to take an active interest in learning about the patterns in my life and how temptations occurred. He struggled a long time with some of his temptations and finally decided to take a proactive interest. He tried to anticipate where in his life he might encounter that "old trickster devil" again. He became a good scout. He watched the terrain of his life and could tell where it looked like his own form of quicksand might be. He rerouted and gave up trying to see how close he could get to that quicksand without getting caught." (Marie Cornwall and Susan Howe, eds., Women of Wisdom and Knowledge: Talks Selected from the BYU Women's Conferences, p. 114)
As you do this, not only will you draw closer to the Lord, but you also find yourself becoming more empowered to forsake and overcome sin. "We find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they [the righteous] move closer to the Lord." (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Oct. 1989, p. 5, emphasis mine) -- fulfilling the promise made in Ether 12:27:
"… if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.… 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."

How God Fulfills A Promise To You


Thus we see that just as you can draw closer to Him and expect Him to draw closer to you (James 4:8), you can also keep praying, and expect to avoid temptation. He literally guides and accompanies you past the dragons of sin that ordinarily devour others' souls, helping you to arrive on safe -- and often holy -- ground:
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40)

"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." (Alma 31:10)

"Yea, and I also exhort you, my brethren, that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing." (Alma 34:39)

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him." (3 Nephi 18:15)

"Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." (3 Nephi 18:18)

"Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God." (Mormon 9:28)

"Be faithful, and yield to no temptation." (D&C 9:13)

"Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work." (D&C 10:5)

"Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof." (D&C 19:38)

"Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation;" (D&C 20:33)

"Beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation." (D&C 23:1)

"Pray always, lest you enter into temptation and lose your reward." (D&C 31:12)

"Pray always that you enter not into temptation, that you may abide the day of his coming, whether in life or in death." (D&C 61:39)

"What I say unto one I say unto all; pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place." (D&C 93:49)
Now, by my count, that's 14 times that the Lord has given you this formula:

Pray Always/Continually = You Enter Not Into Temptation

“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” (Alma 37:33, 36–37, emphasis mine)

When Does The Millennium Begin? That May Be Up To You


Do you believe God is telling you the truth that when He says He's filled with compassion?

Do you believe He will live up to every promise He's made to help you avoid temptation and sin?

Do you believe He's capable of doing this, right now, in your life?

May I share something with you?

The Christ I know (and I use that word deliberately), who is the humblest and meekest among us, yet has risen above all things, is anxious -- yearning and brimming with enthusiasm -- to help you, too, become like unto Moroni:
"We know the tempter will be completely bound in the Millennium. But we can surely constrain him much sooner, so far as our lives are concerned: 'Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.' (Alma 48:17-18)" (Neal A. Maxwell, "Even As I Am," p. 76-77, emphasis mine).
In fact,
"When Satan is bound in a single home -- when Satan is bound in a single life -- the Millennium has already begun in that home, in that life." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 172, emphasis mine).

"Praying always" not only helps you avoid temptation; it may just elevate your standing with Him so that the very natural, next step in your relationship with Him is to see Him..and eventually, to be lifted up with Him and all the righteous at the last day.

8 comments:

  1. Great post...I love the idea of Christ's anxiousness to assist me. What a great testimony.

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  2. Just wanted to thank you for this series. They have been very helpful to me and those closest to me. Thank you for sharing Christ's words with me.

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  3. Having been taught to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus, talking directly to Him is something I've been considering for a while and wondering if its doctrinally ok. I am hoping and praying that it is.

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    1. Re-read D&C 93:1. Verily, thus saith ____ ____. And cometh unto ___. And calleth on ___ name. And obeyeth ___ voice. And keepeth ___ commandments. Shall see ___ face and know that ___ am.

      As for hearing, cross reference with D&C 1:14: the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of ___ ___.

      As for speaking with God, who did the Brother of Jared dialogue with - the Father or Christ?

      It seems to me that no matter if it's Father or Christ, both would welcome a dialogue with open arms.

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    2. I love the idea that the Millennium can start whenever WE are ready for it to start. I believe this with all my heart. When we truly draw close to The Father or/and The Savior and believe and accept that they want to be in our lives literally and intimately and then we choose to receive Them, then that peace literally will come to our souls. I know this to be true. It is a peace that can't even be described in words, it is beautiful, glorious, and constant. It is the Millennium within our soul. The outside world, with its fear, worry, and chaos just doesn't seem as big, scary, and overwhelming. Thank you for you wonderful blog posts, you are truly inspired! TAH

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    3. I have never really talked to Christ and always feel a little guilty when I attempt it, like I am being unloyal to the Father. But this post has really changed my mind.
      Then it got me thinking about an experience I recently had in the temple. I had just been studying the Pearl of Great Price and had been pondering over the exchange between the Lord and Enoch. All week I had pondered over the beauty of that exchange. As I was leaving the endowment room and heading to the veil room, my eyes fell on a picture of Christ and of this conversation I said, "Oh Lord, it was so beautiful!" Do you know what he said immediately back? "I know! I was there!" It made me smile. I could tell it was said with a smile. It was so unexpected and almost funny that I could not repress my grin! What a thing to say! Maybe it was to remind me that it is He who talks to those who seek Him and think on His name. It was He who talked to Enoch and gently led him across time and allowed him to understand and feel, that caused his heart to swell wide as eternity, his bowels to yearn and all eternity to shake! And I am a candidate for this same conversation but...will it really be so beautiful?
      As I thought about weather it was okay to talk to him this experience came to mind. Almost unbidden I talked to Him, I had to tell him how beautiful it was...and unexpectedly he answered.

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    4. Dear Anonymous [3/6, X:49pm],

      THANK YOU for sharing that wonderful experience you had! It really is congruent with what my next post will be addressing: the Lord's true personality, the fears and apprehensions we experience in coming to Him, and the beauty and wonder of our experiences with Him. He is SO eager to give to us, to smile with us, to laugh with us. And yes, His sense of humor is off the charts.

      Keep seeking Him out! Keep asking Him questions! Keep listening for Him! And never, ever confine Him or place Him in a box, okay? Indeed, there may come a day that -- like the Brother of Jared and Joseph Smith -- the answers to your simple little question will transcend even your wildest dreams by His giving you "The Vision of All" [and by All, I mean ALL].

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  4. Speaking of the millenium. Every morning I get up and meet the Lord on my walk. For about an hour my soul soars and all is right with the world, my commitment to God is renewed every morning. I cherish my time in the morning and truly it is more wonderful to me than I can say.
    A few weeks ago I was walking, I may have even been skipping to Handel's For Unto Us a Child is Born when I fell, twisted my knee and scraped my hands. As I lay there in pain, the Lord said, "It is not the millenium yet!" :). But do you know that most mornings it really feels like it is! I come crashing back to earth the second I walk back into my house.....but each morning at about 5:30, the Lord meets me back outside where I renew my commitment to Him and oh, what joy I feel!

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