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, May 28, 2022

What Wonders of the Lord Have You Seen in Your Life?

            My studies for this week’s Come, Follow Me lesson took me to Joshua 1-8; 23-24. Moses was taken to heaven, and Joshua was called to lead the Israelites. How would you like to be the one to follow in the footsteps of Moses? I would question my ability and feel inadequate. We know that Joshua felt the same way because the Lord told him numerous times, “Be strong and of a good courage.” This lesson began with the following statement:

It had taken several generations, but the Lord’s promise was about to be fulfilled: the children of Israel were on the verge of inheriting the promised land. But in their way stood the Jordan River, the walls of Jericho, and a wicked but mighty people who had rejected the Lord (see 1 Nephi 17:35). On top of that, their beloved leader Moses was gone. The situation may have made some Israelites feel weak and fearful, but the Lord said, “Be strong and of a good courage.” Why should they feel this way? Not because of their own strength – or even Moses’s or Joshua’s – but because “the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9). When we have our own rivers to cross and walls to bring down, wonderful things can happen in our lives, because it is “the Lord [who] will do wonders among [us]” (Joshua 3:5).

            Like most of the Come, Follow Me lessons, this lesson contains numerous principles. The principle that I have chosen to discuss is based on Joshua 3-4 “I can experience God’s “wonders” if I have faith in Jesus Christ.” The Lord commanded the Israelites to cross the Jordan River and conquer the land of Canaan. This is the first time that the children of Israel have faced the Jordan River, but this river plays a part in numerous scriptural stories over hundreds of years, including the Savior’s baptism.

            Joshua 3 tells us that Joshua led Israel to the Jordan River, and they camped next to the river for three days. After three days, leaders went through the huge crowd of people to instruct them about what was going to happen. They told the children of Israel to watch and be ready to follow the ark of the covenant of the Lord. However, they were not to follow it too closely. Joshua instructed the people, “Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5).

            Why did the Lord command the Israelites to sanctify themselves? Sanctify means to set something apart or to declare it as holy. It means to consecrate or to make sacred. By following the instructions, the children of Israel prepared themselves to be a part of a sacred experience.

            The next day, Joshua told the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over [the river] before the people” (Joshua 3:6). The priests were obedient and took up the ark of the covenant to walk before the people.

And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.

And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.

And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God.

10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.

12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.

13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap. (Joshua 3:7-13)

            It came to pass that the priests carrying the ark of the covenant stepped into the river that was overflowing its banks – flooding. When their feet dipped into the water, the waters coming down the river “stood and rose up upon an heap” (Joshua 3:16). The priests carrying the ark of the covenant stood in the middle of the Jordan River on dry ground until all the people had crossed the river.

            What is significant about the fact that the water parted as the feet of the priests stepped into the river? The act of stepping into the flooding waters showed that the priests had faith in God. They exercised their faith in God and witnessed a miracle.

            The story continues in Joshua 4. When all the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, the priests remained standing in the middle of the river on dry ground. Then Joshua, under direction from God, instructed that twelve men -- one man from each of the twelve tribes -- should be selected to go into the middle of the river and pick up twelve stones – one per man. When the task was completed, Joshua told the priests to come out of the Jordan River. When the priests were on the river bank, the waters of the Jordan River returned and flowed over the banks, just as they were doing prior to the experience. So, what did God want the Israelites to do with the twelve stones?

19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.

20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.

21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?

22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.

23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:

24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever. (Joshua 4:19-24)

            The Lord wanted the posterity of the Israelites to know about the great wonders that were done for them when crossing the Jordan River. He also desires that “all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is might” (Joshua 4:24).

            Latter-day leaders have counseled us to remember the wonders of the Lord that we have seen in our lives. Bishop Gérald Caussé, the First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, taught the following:

For us, as Latter-day Saints, wonders also occur in our individual lives. They include our own personal conversion, the answers we receive to our prayers, and the tender blessings God showers upon us daily.

To marvel at the wonders of the gospel is a sign of faith. It is to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us. Our amazement also produces spiritual strength. It gives us the energy to remain anchored in our faith and to engage ourselves in the work of salvation.

But let us beware. Our ability to marvel is fragile. Over the long term, such things as casual commandment keeping, apathy, or even weariness may set in and make us insensitive to even the most remarkable signs and miracles of the gospel.

Bishop Caussé taught that we can do three things to continue to consider the gospel as wonderful to us: (1) “never tire of discovering or rediscovering the truths of the gospel” and “hunger and thirst every day after spiritual knowledge” by “study, meditation, and prayer,” (2) “anchor your faith in the plain and simple truths of the gospel. Our amazement should be rooted in the core principles of our faith, in the purity of our covenants and ordinances, and in our most simple acts of worship,” (3) “seek and cherish the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Most wonders of the gospel cannot be perceived by our natural senses…. When we have the Spirit with us, our spiritual senses are sharpened and our memory is kindled so we cannot forget the miracles and signs we have witnessed” (April 2015 General Conference).

            I know that each of us can experience God’s “wonders” as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ. I have never crossed a flooding river on dry ground, but I have witnessed God’s miracles in my life on many occasions.

No comments:

Post a Comment