Sunday, March 5, 2017

What is Faith?

So we had two appointments with Daniel this week, read 1st Nephi chapters 1 and 2 with Brother Jeffree on Monday, and then taught the Plan of Salvation with Brother Newling later in the week.  He seems to be comprehending it well, but we couldn't contact him after that so he didn't make it to church.  Next week.  

Visited Mama T, who was so excited she went to church the Sunday before.  She made it two weeks in a row yesterday.  Awesome to have her there.  The road to the temple begins.  

We prepared to share a bit of the Restoration with the Coulson's after dinner and it turns out that a few less-actives were there when it came time to share the message.  The power in the First Vision is unreal.  Them sharing their testimonies only added the the great Spirit that night.  

We've been playing the follow-up game for a while now, and the follow-ups continue.  I feel like there's so much that can be done here in Gosford.  We have a couple appointments set this week and many that need followup visits so they can become new investigators.  The work is good.  

I started the Book of Mormon at the beginning of last transfer and a couple of weeks ago go into the Book of Mosiah, which is where the "story" begins, so to say.  Even though I know most of what's going to happen, it's so exciting reading about the wars and teachings of the prophets.  Yesterday, I studied Alma 32, the legendary chapter on faith.  I actually studied it again this morning because it's that good.  

We use verses often from that chapter, but I don't think I truly understood the context of it until now.  Alma and his brethren visit the Zoramites, essentially "very less-active members" of the church.  As they are preaching, a small group of them approach Alma asking how they can worship.  Due to their poverty, they were not allowed to worship in the "chapels" they had built themselves.  And the first thing he teaches them is faith.  So much good comes from the analogy of the seed and merely trying the experiment.  

A couple quotes came to mind as I studied that chapter, and a portion of a talk by President Uchtdorf from the study manual that really intrigued me.  

1. “Brothers and sisters, all the Lord expects of us is to try, but you have to really try!” (President Hinckley) 

2. "It requires a little faith. But do not despair. If you cannot muster faith right now, begin with hope.  If you cannot say you know God is there, you can hope that He is. You can desire to believe. That is enough to start.  Then, acting on that hope, reach out to Heavenly Father. God will extend His love toward you, and His work of rescue and transformation will begin."  (President Uchtdorf) 

3. Alright, I realized after I pasted this one in that it's very long.  I apologize.  It's very profound and said in the best way possible.  The President Uchtdorf way.  

"A friend of mine recently wrote to me, confiding that he was having a difficult time keeping his testimony strong and vibrant. He asked for counsel.

I wrote back to him and lovingly suggested a few specific things he could do that would align his life more closely with the teachings of the restored gospel. To my surprise, I heard back from him only a week later. The essence of his letter was this: “I tried what you suggested. It didn’t work. What else have you got?”

Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.

Too often we approach the gospel like a farmer who places a seed in the ground in the morning and expects corn on the cob by the afternoon. When Alma compared the word of God to a seed, he explained that the seed grows into a fruit-bearing tree gradually, as a result of our “faith, and [our] diligence, and patience, and long-suffering.” It’s true that some blessings come right away: soon after we plant the seed in our hearts, it begins to swell and sprout and grow, and by this we know that the seed is good. From the very moment we set foot upon the pathway of discipleship, seen and unseen blessings from God begin to attend us.

But we cannot receive the fulness of those blessings if we “neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment.”

Knowing that the seed is good is not enough. We must “nourish it with great care, that it may get root.” Only then can we partake of the fruit that is “sweet above all that is sweet, and … pure above all that is pure” and “feast upon this fruit even until [we] are filled, that [we] hunger not, neither shall [we] thirst."

Discipleship is a journey. We need the refining lessons of the journey to craft our character and purify our hearts. By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours.

It is not enough merely to speak of Jesus Christ or proclaim that we are His disciples. It is not enough to surround ourselves with symbols of our religion. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not a primary way of worshipping.

Ours is not a secondhand religion. We cannot receive the blessings of the gospel merely by observing the good that others do. We need to get off the sidelines and practice what we preach." 
 (President Uchtdorf)

Everything we do and say is centered on Jesus Christ.  He doesn't want us to be idle.  The only way anything will ever be accomplished is when we go and do.  He taught us that Himself and through numerous Prophets and Apostles, past and present.  I am grateful that I don't have a perfect knowledge of everything, which therefore gives me a reason to exercise faith.  

Love you's heaps!
Elder Muh 

I realized that we didn't take any pictures last week.  I saw this at Rebel Sport this morning and had to get it.  Thank you to those who contributed.  Pictures of shirts two weeks in a row.  

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