Seeking Spiritual Witnesses- Psalm 27:14, Habakkuk 2:3, Acts 2:1-2

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

COMMENTARY

Wait, I say, on the Lord
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, wait for it; because it will surely come
God wants us to ask Him for the portions of the Spirit that we need in our lives. We should feel emboldened to request witnesses, a change of heart, and the blessings that we feel He wants to give us. We are assured that if we ask, we shall receive…but never are we told exactly when.
I know from personal experience that God will answer my prayers, but now I am a father, and I am anxious for my son to learn this truth as well. I find myself anxiously wishing that I could force a spiritual experience around him so that I could point to it and say “see, son, this is it. This is what it’s all about.”
But I can’t force these things to happen, because the timing of them just isn’t up to me.

They were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, and it filled all the house.
This does not mean that I am powerless, though. What I can do is foster a spiritual atmosphere, a climate where God’s touch can come when it is ready to. The early saints gathered themselves to worship in one place, and that communion invited heaven to join them.
I can bring my son to gatherings of other disciples, I can read the scriptures with him, and I can pray with him. I can leave the door open for the Spirit to come to us, and wait for it to arrive. Perhaps tonight, when our family has our spiritual devotional, God’s Spirit will come into our home very strongly. And if not tonight, then it is alright, perhaps it will come tomorrow.

Divided from God- Romans 8:24-25, James 1:3-4

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

COMMENTARY

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it
We have previously noted that God would not have put this divide between us and Him unless it was for our own good. One of the good qualities that this brings about in us is patience.
Patience is a virtue that is too easily forgotten. We all know that faith is supremely important, but there cannot be any faith without patience. Faith is putting trust and confidence in a yet-unrealized good, it is anticipating a blessing that we do not yet hold. By necessity, there is a period of time between us establishing our faith and our receiving the fruits of it. But we won’t be able to get through that period unless we are willing to wait…with patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing
Patience is both a means and an end. By exercising it we stop demanding that we be given things right now, and so we become content, “wanting nothing.” But then, having become a patient being, we receive all, and thus are “wanting nothing” in an entirely different sense.
We long to see our Father, it is a desire ingrained in our infinite soul. What better way to teach us patience than to remove the possibility for that very thing? We have to make our peace with living incomplete. But if we have made our peace, then we are complete. And then, being complete, we are ready to receive the Father.

Faith vs Fear- Psalm 56:4, Matthew 10:28, Doctrine and Covenants 101:36-37

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.
Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.

COMMENTARY

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul
Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul
As we have mentioned, part of replacing fear with faith is acknowledging that God possesses all power, and that He can save us from every threat imaginable…if it is His will. The other element of surrendering our fear, then, is to accept the times when it is not God’s will. We need to believe that even in those moments we are still preserved in what really matters.
Many the faithful disciple has prayed for relief from sickness, oppression, and even death, yet been told “no, this trial is one that you are supposed to pass through.” At first this might sound like being abandoned back to fear, but in reality it is being lifted to greater faith.

For in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full
If our hope is that depending on God will shield us from every pain, then our happiness is still tied to worldly security. We are still living in the “fear of the world.” And even if God did circumvent all worldly pain and give us all worldly pleasure, our joy would still be unfulfilled, because this world simply does not have what it takes to provide completeness. Fulfillment of the flesh is a game you just cannot win.
God wants something better for us. He does not want to merely mask our fears, He wants to help us overcome them. So sometimes He isn’t going to give us worldly comfort and He isn’t going to spare us worldly pain. What He is going to do, though, is help us through worldly pain with spiritual comfort. In this way He is bit-by-bit weaning us from the flesh and supplanting it with the soul. And in the needs of the soul He does provide all and we do find fullness of joy.

Sow and Then Reap- Hosea 8:7, Job 4:8, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 6:7-8

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

COMMENTARY

For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap
The first and most obvious lesson that the scriptures teach us about sowing and reaping is that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. “What you sow is what you reap” seems so obvious that one can hardly believe it needed to be said even once, though the scriptures repeat this message numerous times.
Yet I’m sure we all can think of times where we did something bad, hoping to somehow avoid the negative consequences that always follow. Though the principle “sow what you reap” held true for everyone else, we were going to be the exception.
Many times we talk about having faith in good. We say to trust that good works bring good rewards. But sometimes I think we need to have faith in the bad as well. We need to have a faith that doing bad things is just going to let us down…every time.

The bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption

Notice that these scriptures allow for the phenomenon of people sowing unwisely and still appearing to be gratified for a time. Perhaps their bud will yield, perhaps they will reap flesh. But sometimes the curse is in the getting. Just ask the Israelites (Numbers 11:32-33).
Often this world puts a delay between action and consequence, but that does not mean the link of cause-and-effect is broken. Play the long game and hedge your bets on the truth that every good deed will be rewarded sooner or later.

Sow and Then Reap- Question

My last study brought up the example of a farmer trying to grow a crop. I addressed this subject as it related to the topic of being patient while awaiting rewards for good works, but I feel this allegory has even more applications to our discipleship.

The image of farmers tirelessly working their fields day-after-day is one that each of us can relate to. Whether we are literally working for the food on our tables, or toiling through a time of affliction, or hoping to reap an elusive forgiveness, so many times we patiently exercise our faith for a long season before the harvest.

The way of the farmer teaches us both patience and faith. It inspires us to believe that our works really matter, and also humbles us to know that even so we still depend on grace. And hopefully by the end of this study these two truths won’t seem so contradictory as they might at first.

Before we get started with our study tomorrow, I’d love to hear what thoughts come up when you look at your life through the lens of the sower. In what ways have you had to do your own part? In what ways have you had to simply count on rain to come down from above? Did the yield meet your expectations? Or exceed them? Or fall short? Did you perhaps discover that the crop you ended up reaping was not the one you thought you were growing at all?

Trial Before Blessing, Pleasure Before Anguish- Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4, 12; Hebrews 5:8

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.

COMMENTARY

Knowing that tribulation worketh patience
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire
Yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered
There is no lazy path to perfection. If, in your efforts to follow God you find yourself struggling at every step, then good job! You are right where you should be.
I don’t know exactly why, but apparently our nature is such that real change requires the refiner’s fire. As a friend and mentor once told me: “There is a sacredness in suffering.” Never forget that he who suffered all things was also the only one to have risen above them, too.
Waiting on blessings is probably the most universal trial we face, and it is while persevering through this delay that we nurture essential characteristics like patience, experience, hope, and faith.

Trial Before Blessing, Pleasure Before Anguish- 1 Kings 19:11-12

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

COMMENTARY

But the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire
When one endeavors to try to become something better, they may be surprised that the Lord does not bless their efforts immediately. In fact, often it is Satan who comes to us first.
I have had my own journey through addiction recovery, at the beginning of which I was excited to finally meet the healthier, worthier me. I was shocked, then, when I instead met a very different version of myself: one that was extremely pessimistic and cruel. This version assured me that I would never get any better, that deep down I didn’t even want to get better, that soon I would fail, and that recovery would never work because I just happen to be fundamentally flawed to my core.
This voice was one that raged, too. One might say it came in like a great wind, or an earthquake, or maybe a fire…but the Lord was not in these furies at all. After that harsher version of me passed, another identity came. A still, small one that rang truer and far more hopeful. The one I had been waiting for.
I feel I have very good company in this pattern that I lived. Jonah tried to run before he eventually carried out his mission to Nineveh, Peter sunk into the water the first time he tried to walk on it, Zacharias doubted his son’s birth but later defended that boy, Moses doubted his abilities before leading Israel to freedom. It seems most all of us have the self of doubt before the self of faith.
The problem is when people meet that first doubting self and then assume that that is all there is. They may start to believe that some people have a good core, and others an evil, and there’s just nothing you can do about that. The truth is everyone has both identities, and the test is simply whether we will hold out long enough for the good to make itself known.