Personal Promises- Moroni 10:4-5

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

COMMENTARY

Ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true
I was raised in a Christian household, and as such I took the reality of God’s existence and the truth of the gospel for granted. My parents and church leaders told me that all of these things were true, and I had no reason to doubt them.
When I read through this passage at the age of seven it gave me pause. Would God convince me of the truthfulness of His word when I already believed it? I reread the passage and figured “well, why not?” It wasn’t like the scripture said God would only manifest Himself to one sort of person or another. It simply said to ask and receive an answer.
And so I knelt down, prayed, and asked God if all these things I believed were really true. He answered me. Beautiful thoughts and feelings came into my heart and they were undeniable. It was the first time I really felt spoken to by God.
Of course in later years I would learn all too well how to be cynical and skeptical, and how to question the faith of my youth. This experience always grounded me, though. I felt that if God would speak to me when I already believed, surely He would speak to me again when I needed His reassurance…. And He did.

Personal Promises- Galatians 3:26-27, 29; Mark 10:39, Matthew 3:16-17

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

COMMENTARY

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise
We have spent some time examining the covenant blessings, which we noted were given through Abraham to all his generations. To inherit eternal life we must come through that same covenant lineage, which is made possible to all of us by being adopted through Jesus Christ.

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ
Being adopted through Jesus Christ requires being baptized into him. Thus all that have this baptism will, by default, inherit the blessings of Abraham.

And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
Note that this is not just any baptism, though. Language like “baptized into Christ” and “the baptism that I am baptized with” seem to suggest that we are supposed to have the same experience with our baptism that he did. And what exactly was that baptism experience?

And the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Jesus, it turns out, was a direct descendant of Abraham. Therefore he already had all of the same covenant promises by default. But God is not a God of “by default.” When Jesus was baptized it was accompanied by a personal declaration of divine approval.
This is the baptism experience Jesus intends for us. Not some impersonal wetting and an assumption of blessings received, but rather a direct and personal affirmation from God Himself.
If you have already been baptized and it lacked this sort of grandeur, don’t feel bad. That was my situation as well, but I learned that this moment of affirmation will still come. It will come, but only when you are ready and the time is right.

Personal Promises- 2 Samuel 7:12, 16-17; 2 Chronicles 1:8-9

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.

And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead.
Now, O Lord God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.

COMMENTARY

And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
Now, O Lord God, let thy promise unto David my father be established
Previously we observed how God’s promise to Abraham was renewed with each of the generations that followed. Another example of His promises being made fresh can be found with the kings of Israel. Saul first held the promise for an eternal kingdom, but he tragically lost that covenant when he disobeyed God’s commands.
So, naturally, God needed to make a new oath with David when he was anointed king. Solomon evidently knew of the promises that God had made to his father, but he wanted to gain his own assurance of them. He sought confirmation from God and he received it.
It is in our nature to read the promises that God has made to others and hope that we might receive the same. When He makes promises with us we feel an empowering assurance. God knows these aspects of our nature, and utilizes them both to promote our faith. By establishing relationships with others He inspires in us the hope to seek Him personally. Then, by answering that seeking, He gives us an unshakable confidence to do good.

Personal Promises- Genesis 22:15-18; 26:2-4; 28:1, 3-4

And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
And said, That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

And the Lord appeared unto Isaac, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him,
God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.

COMMENTARY

I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven
I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven
God Almighty bless thee…and multiply thee…and give thee the blessing of Abraham

When God promised Abraham that his descendants would become as numerous as the stars in heaven, it was already implied that the same promise would apply to his son Isaac. How could Abraham’s descendants increase unless Isaac’s did as well?
And again, it was implicit that Jacob would have the same blessing as well by the same logic. In short, Isaac and Jacob might have thought to themselves “well, that was the promise of my fathers…so I guess by default it is also my promise.”
But that’s not how God works. He does want us to infer His involvement in our lives, or just assume that He is blessing us. He does not want us to receive anything by default. The pattern we see from these patriarchs is that He instead comes to each one of His covenant children and makes His promises to them directly. “Never mind that I made similar promises to others, this is a new promise and I am making it with you.”

Personal Promises- Exodus 18:17-18, 21-22; Matthew 21:33-35

And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

COMMENTARY

And place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens
One of mankind’s most ingenious inventions is that of delegation. Many rulers have expressed a desire to maintain direct interaction with those that they are responsible for, but this becomes a literal impossibility once the populace grows too large. Eventually there simply are not enough hours in a day to maintain guidance for every individual.
Moses faced this exact dilemma as he sat in judgment over the people of Israel. He was instructed to put in place a hierarchy of judges, worthy individuals who could mediate over all the smaller disputes and only bring to Moses the particularly difficult cases.
This solution was both beneficial to Moses and also to the people. Everyone could receive mediation, and ideally it would be as if from the hands of Moses himself.

There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard…and let it out to husbandmen…and the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
“Ideally” was the key word there. Because while delegation has its benefits, it does also have its drawbacks. It is inevitable that at some point a steward will make a different judgment than the leader would have. Some stewards will be more capable than others, while others will be misguided. And, as in the extreme case of Jesus’s parable, some stewards might even be wholly corrupted.
In short, delegation will eventually lead to outcomes that stray from the wishes of the ruler, even in extreme ways. It is still the method by which God’s imperfect, mortal, time-constrained servants try their best to care for His flock; but it simply has to be coupled with something that is more guaranteed.

Personal Promises- Question

In a previous study I explored how God has the capacity to see each of us individually. Though there are billions of us here on Earth, He hears our pleas directly and answers us personally. It is a remarkable feat, one that is a physical impossibility to all of us who are constrained by time.

Perhaps more important than God’s being able to, however, is that He wants to. I’ve seen my young son pray about the most inconsequential of things, such as his new toys and knee-scrapes, yet I am convinced that God listens to his heart with rapt attention. I am sure from His perspective that my prayers about work and finances seem just as inconsequential, but He cares about these things because we care about them.

In spite of all this, I know a lot of people that don’t expect God to ever make direct, personal covenants with them like He did for Abraham, David, or Moses. I myself have been doubtful of it at times. I’ve had this idea that I’ll just be grandfathered-in to the promises that he made to His covenant people millennia ago.

That simply is not the way God works, and I’d like to use this study to examine that fact. In the meantime I would love to hear about what ways you have seen God show up for you personally? What sort of legendary promises has He made to you? How did that change your life moving forward?

Sacrifice and Consecration- Summary

I had very personal reasons to do this particular research. Which makes sense, this is a personal blog. But even if my situation was different from yours, I do believe that the principles we have discussed are generally useful.

The differences between sacrifice and consecration are an excellent example of how the gospel is both wonderfully simple and delightfully complex at the same time. To satisfy both laws all one has to do is give to God whatever their conscience moves them to give. One’s duty is not any more complex than that.

But behind that simplicity there are systems and reasons. Behind the “what” we are supposed to do there is always the “why” we are supposed to do it. I am grateful for a God who recognizes that we will be naturally curious, and takes the time to explain things to us. My faith is reaffirmed whenever I go to the scriptures, and there discover that He already wrote the answers before I even conceived of the questions.

We Sacrifice Our Obstacles

Jesus might have done away with animal sacrifice, but that does not mean that sacrifice itself was done away with. That law is still in full force. The only difference is that instead of giving up our animals, we give up whatever things obstruct us from fully following God.
Most obviously this means our sins. We sacrifice anything that he has declared unworthy, anything that makes us feel guilty. We also sacrifice our excesses. For example, there is nothing wrong in entertainment and media…though we need to keep these indulgences within moderation.
This is not all, though. At times our conscience will prompt us to perform other sacrifices, too, even of things that are not inherently evil. I once had a dream to become an artist. I tried my hand at it and found it did not provide me the joy and fulfillment that I had hoped for. Artistry is a very right thing for some people, but after some soul searching I concluded that it was not right for me. I let that dream go.
3 Nephi 9:19-20- And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings
And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

We Consecrate Our Talents

There are things that we do not need to sacrifice, but that we do still need to offer to God. These offerings are called “consecration.” It means that we will set apart this thing for His work and His glory. This fundamentally alters the thing that we offer, but it does not destroy it.
Our talents are an example of something that we consecrate. Each of us has unique abilities and skills, and we are meant to use them for building up God’s kingdom. He does not ask us to give up the things that we were born to do, but He does ask us to do them in the way that He intended.
For myself, I have decided to consecrate my writing to God. Any novel that I intend to publish will purposefully be written with His messages at its core. It will be designed as a tool for promoting His kingdom and helping His children. But this is just the right choice for me and it might not be the right one for you, even if you are a writer. It is a personal thing that you have to work out with God.
2 Nephi 9:39- But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

Consecration Preserves Forever

In the end our talents die with us. That which we perform on Earth, one day we will perform no more. And if we used our talents to obtain worldly wealth or glory, then all those will be lost when we pass on.
But if instead we used our talents to give a goodness to the world, that good will persist after we are gone. And if we used our talents to give glory to God, that glory will yet remain with Him because He is undying.
And God has declared that it is His intention to share His glory with us, and so that glory which we gave to Him will be returned to us in the hereafter. It would seem that karma does not end in the grave.
The more we understand consecration, the more we will want to commit our lives to it. In fact the idea is that we commit our whole selves to God, which then allows Him to restore us back in full measure. Each of us will live again, but only those who consecrate will have their heart waiting for them on the other side.
Matthew 16:25- For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.