Tuesday, February 2, 2016

January 31 - The Godhead - Wrap-up

Since there were five Sundays in January, but only four lessons, we reviewed a bit of what we learned ... which was a good call since half of you were out of town (We missed you).

One of the class members (not me) gave a very nice talk about the Holy Ghost in Sacrament meeting. I know that he wrote it in Google Docs, so you COULD get a copy of it from him if you ask nicely.

We mostly covered the topic of looking for God's hand in our lives ... and why looking for (and RECOGNIZING) it is important.

First off, we talked about the Pride Cycle ... you can see this happen over and over (and over and over...) in The Book of Mormon.

The Nephite Cycle of Righteousness ... or, in short, the Pride Cycle

If you don't remember from class (or don't totally understand the image), here's the gist of it:

  • People are righteous. They follow the commandments. 
  • God blesses them, spiritually AND temporally. They have nice things. They have enough to cover their needs and some left over.
  • They forget WHERE those blessings come from. They start to feel entitled (like they DESERVE these nice things). They don't feel/show gratitude.
  • Because they're not grateful, they start to become proud. They don't pray. They don't share with those less fortunate (Example: Rameumpton -- The poor people weren't even ALLOWED to worship because they didn't have nice clothes. ... That's COLD.)
  • Since the people aren't remembering God, they disobey/ignore the commandments.
  • Heavenly Father can't send them as many blessings as He was before ... In fact, he has to send bad stuff. The people suffer. They suffer a LOT.
  • This suffering turns them to call upon God, since they sure can't get themselves out of this predicament. They humble themselves. They remember God. They're grateful for His help.
  • [Repeat ad nauseum. "Ad nauseum" is a phrase which here means "until you're sick of it." ... Because, as you read the Book of Mormon ... or the news, really, you see this happen over and over (and over and over and over...).]
Which brings us around to WHY seeing/recognizing the hand of the Lord in our lives is REALLY important.

If we are paying attention and looking/seeking to notice these blessings, we will find them. And, if we make a conscious effort to take notice, it will help us to REMEMBER.

(Factoid: "'Remember', is used 136 times in the BofM; 144 times in the King James Bible;
40 times in the Doctrine and Coverents;
and once in Pearl of Great price.
B of M: 8 x 1st Nephi; 22 x 2nd Nephi; 3 x Jacob; 21 x Mosiah; 37 x Alma; 12 x Helaman; 12 x 3rd Nephi; 6 x Mormon; 6 x Ether; 7 x Moroni" - Link [Answers.com])

Judging by how often we are exhorted to remember, it's not a far stretch of the imagination to guess that it's rather important.
Because, if we remember, if we look for and recognize the blessings that we are receiving ... won't that help us to be grateful? To remember? To be aware of how much we are blessed, protected, and loved?

And, in effect, won't that help us to turn to God always?

Which would bring us to this different cycle:

Look! In this cycle, we don't have to make stupid choices!
I love how this chart illustrates that if we simply choose to remember God, we can totally skip over the dumb/icky/sucky/bad parts of the Pride Cycle ... which is a HUGE blessing. Since I, for one ... I mean, you could feel differently, much prefer for things to go well and to avoid punishments for myself and everyone around me.

So, one thing that we didn't cover nearly as well as I wished we had is the HOW of going about this.

For this, I'm drawing from Elder D. Todd Christofferson's CES speech, "Recognizing God's Hand in Our Daily Blessings."

  • Look to God DAILY - We need to be praying daily. We need to be aware that all our blessings come from Him.
  • Trust in the Lord - Often it is easier to trust in money or some other seemingly-surer way to get things done. But, really, trusting in the Lord is where it's at. Everything else will eventually fail us. We will even, at some point, fail each other. But God is perfect. He WILL NEVER fail us.
    He knows our needs. He knows what's best for us. It's in His power to give us what is best at the best time for us. (See why we need humility? It's HARD to accept that even when we want something good and we want it NOW that, just maybe, there's someone who knows better than us ... and has that thing (or something even better!) saved to give us at the BEST time for our development. I'm not going to lie. Sometimes it's REALLY HARD to accept.)
  • That goes right with the next idea - Work through Problems.
    If we have strengthened our faith and trust in the Lord, we'll be able to press forward with faith. We'll be able to maintain (and strengthen) our testimonies as we go forward, knowing that God is on our side, that He will help us. We're not in this alone. Never. Christ's atonement guarantees that we never are alone in our struggles. And, if we call on the Lord, He will hear us and help us.
  • These things will help us to Reach Our Potential.
    You are a child of God. He knows who you are ... better than you know yourself. He knows what you're capable of. He knows how to help you to become better, to become perfect, like Him. (Seriously, I'm aware of the fact that I'm currently QUITE a screw-up. BUT!!! If He can take someone like ME and make me (ME!!) like Him ... if I can humble myself enough to allow Him to do His work, He WILL turn me into something amazing.
    And He will do the same for you. He loves you. He knows what you can become. He sees us for our potential, not for who/what we are right at this very second. And that gives me a lot of hope.
  • Seek the Lord's Help in Serving - When we know who we are, when we can feel the love of the Lord, we will want to serve others so that THEY can feel of His love.
    (Also, if we NEED to feel the Savior's love, we will feel it when we serve His children. It's a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me).
    Of course, service projects aren't the only way to feel the Lord's love or to serve Him.
    When we make those simple choices that bring us closer to Him, we serve Him.
    Personal prayer (or helping with family prayer), scripture study, observing the Sabbath, being an example to those around you, living your gospel standards set forth in "For the Strength of Youth", showing love and respect yourself and others, expressing gratitude (to Heavenly Father and to those around you), .... I could go on, but all these things (and many, many more) are ways in which you can choose to serve God. 
  • Remember the Bread of Life - Just like we covenant as we take the Sacrament each week, we need to always remember our Savior. Jesus Christ took on all of the consequences of our sins -- not only the suffering we would bring upon ourselves, but the suffering we would inflict on others through our poor choices. And the consequences and suffering that we would have to endure due to other people's choices -- and that's a HUGE sacrifice that we could never wrap our heads around. At least, not here in mortality. It was an infinite sacrifice ... and, well, when I think about it, I am always awed to the point that I cannot describe how grateful I am. It is, indeed, wonderful. And, if we always remember Him, we will be less inclined to make those poor choices that would separate us from Him, keep us from feeling the fullness of His love for us, and cause suffering to ourselves and others (including Him).
There are other things that we can do to recognize God's hand in our lives ...
  • Count our blessings.
  • Write them down for our posterity ... Think of how amazing it is/would be (depending on your ancestors' journaling skills ... I am from a long line of non-journalers) to read of a time when one of your ancestors recalled how s/he was blessed/protected and how it affected her/him.
    Or how great it will be for one of your descendants to read about YOUR blessings!
  • Write them down for yourself.
    This way, when you're feeling down or not as loved, you can remember how you were blessed. And you'll be more easily able to see the blessings you currently have.
I'm sure there are more, but this is getting crazy-long as is. (Sorry! But I just get excited about the gospel. And I'm rather verbose by nature.)

Sometimes your blessings will not be in-your-face ... they might be small things that you only notice upon reflection after the fact. But, if you look, you'll see evidence that your Heavenly Father knows you. That He knows your needs. That He loves you.
I like to think of them as little love-notes from Heaven ... but that might not be your cup of (rooibos) tea (or other tisane or hot chocolate).

But I know that you will find them if you look for them. Because I know that Heavenly Father loves you so very, very much.

Next week, since it's February, we'll be discussing the Plan of Salvation. So you can be aware of what's coming up.

Also, I still expect to hear some examples of how you've noticed Heavenly Father's hand in your life.

Now go and be awesome!
         Sister Cox

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