Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tender Mercies of God

                The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ teaches the importance of knowing the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ and being obedient to God’s commandments.  This book contains many stories to illustrate this importance, and one such story is the experience of a prophet named Alma as he dealt with Korihor, an anti-Christ. 

                Korihor ridiculed Jesus Christ, His atoning sacrifice, and the spirit of revelation.  He taught everyone who would listen that there was no God, no fall of man, no penalty for sin, and definitely no Christ.  After contending with the high priest Giddonah, Korihor was taken before Alma, who had been appointed as the chief judge of the land.  Korihor accused Alma and other church leaders of preaching to get gain – even though he knew they received no payment at all for their labors.

                Alma asked Korihor why he made such claims “when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain?  And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts?” 
                When Korihor answered, “Yea,” Alma asked another question:  “Believest thou that there is a God?”  Korihor answered that he did not believe in God. 

                Alma asked, “Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ?  For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come.
                “And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not?  I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.

                “But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them?  Believest thou that these things are true?
                “Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God.

                “And now, Korihor said unto Alma:  If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.

                “But Alma said unto him:  Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God?  Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets?  The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.

                “And yet do ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God?  And yet will ye deny against all these witnesses? And he said:  Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign.”

                Alma was grieved at the hardness of Korihor’s heart because he continued to deny the existence of God even at the peril of his own soul.  Korihor continued to demand a sign, and Alma finally obliged him.

                “Now Alma said unto him:  This will I give unto thee for a sign, that thou shalt be struck dumb, according to my words; and I say, that in the name of God, ye shall be struck dumb, that ye shall no more have utterance.
                “Now when Alma had said these words, Korihor was struck dumb, that he could not have utterance, according to the words of Alma.

                “And now when the chief judge saw this, he put forth his hand and wrote unto Korihor, saying:  Art thou convinced of the power of God?  In whom did ye desire that Alma should show forth his sign?  Would ye that he should afflict others, to show unto thee a sign?  Behold, he has showed unto you a sign; and now will ye dispute more?”

                Korihor understood what had happened to him and wrote:  “I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.
                “But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me:  Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me:  There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say.  And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me."

                Korihor requested Alma to pray for the curse to be lifted off of him.  Alma left the judgment to God, and the curse was not lifted.  Korihor spent the rest of his days going door to door and begging for food.  As he went among the people, he was trampled and died.  (See Alma 30:35-60.)

                Even though Heavenly Father loves us and blesses us every day, some people cannot see the hand of God in their lives.  I am blessed because I, like Alma, can see evidence of God’s power and influence in my own life and in the world around me.  Even though I have not seen God personally, I recognize the work of His hand in all things.

                I saw His work when I watched the birth of my first grandchild.  What a miracle that was – as is the birth of every baby!  It is a miracle when a sperm from the father and an egg from the mother can come together in the mother’s body and grow into another human being – an individual different from either parent.  The birth of such baby is another miracle of God.  I see the hand of God every spring when the snow melts and the grass turns green once again.  I see his hand in the new leaves on the trees and the tulips blooming in my garden.  I see the tender mercies of God in the faces of my children and grandchildren as they shower me with love.

                Have you noticed Heavenly Father’s influence in your life?  Are you interested in seeing more of His power and influence?  Learning to see the hand of God in our lives is just like any other skill we gain:  The more we practice recognizing the blessings of God, the more we will see His tender mercies.

                Elder David A. Bednar spoke about the tender mercies of the Lord.  He said that tender mercies do not come randomly or by coincidence but are a blessing of faith and obedience. 

                I encourage you to watch for the tender mercies of the Lord in your life.  You may experience a blessing like I did as I went out to shovel a foot or more of snow just as a truck with a snowplow came down the street.  The driver stopped and offered his services, and I hired him to do a job that would have taken me a long time.  I do not believe in coincidences; I know this was a blessing!  I know that God watches over each of His children and desires to bless us.  I know that He does so as we exercise our faith in Him by being obedient to His commandments.

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