The Virtue of Remembering- Question

During my last study I had the same, single idea resurface a few times, which is always a clear indication to me of what my next topic of research should be. That last study was focused on counting one’s blessings, and how doing so is a form of remembering the good that God has done for is. As I thought about, though, I realized that there was a lot more to remembering in the gospel than just counting blessings, and I want to explore the concept further.

God has gone to great lengths to help us remember the things that matter most. To ancient prophets like Moses He not only gave His word, but also instructed that these things be written down and preserved, so that later generations would be able to remember the wisdom from before. The survival of these records clear to the present day is miraculous, and suggests the hand of God continuing its preservation.

In my own life, too, the question I bring to God today often is met with the remembrance of the answer He already gave before. In this study I want to consider what the full benefits of remembering are, the different ways that we can remember, and what sort of things we ought to be remembering.

In the meantime I would like to hear about what ways you have used to remember the things that matter most. Do you keep a journal of lessons you have received? Do you memorize scriptures and reflect on them frequently? Do you meet with others to recount the miracles that you witnessed together? I really would love to hear what methods you use to keep the good alive.

Active Discipleship- Matthew 4:2-4

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.


But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone
Yesterday I spoke of how the heroes in the scriptures are meant to be role models for us. We are supposed to push our discipleship forward with the same fervor that they did. When we do, their stories become our stories. As it turns out, there is an example of exactly this in the life of the Savior.
First, let us consider the context of the passage I have quoted. Jesus had just completed fasting for forty days and forty nights. This is quite the feat, one not often repeated in the scriptures. There is does exist another account of it, though, that of Moses in Exodus 34:28. Moses had this experience while receiving the law of the Old Testament. Similarly, Jesus had his own private fast immediately preceding his ministry, in which he delivered the law of the New Testament.
So Jesus was following the same pattern as Moses. He was stepping in the footprints of those that had gone before. Then, when he was tempted by Satan, he fittingly rebuked him with the very words spoken by Moses. The passage that Jesus quotes is what we now know as Deuteronomy 8:3. And then he does it again, two more times! When Satan tempts him a second time he rebuffs it with Deuteronomy 6:16, and after the third temptation he recalls one of the ten commandments that Moses famously delivered (Exodus 20:2-5).
Jesus was living the scriptures he was quoting. They were made new in him. This wasn’t just ancient Moses’s story anymore, it was his. But he was only able to take this ownership because we was living the life of active Christianity. He was going and doing. He was in the heat of battle. He was pushing into his great calling. Just as Moses had. Just as Abraham had. Just as all the heroes of the scriptures had.
The scriptures were not written to entertain us, or to give us wise sayings. They were given as the field guide for adventure and warfare. I have never been able to relate the scriptures to myself except for when I am chasing my personal calling as well. There are words in them that echo in my life, but only when I am pushing against the storm.

The Need for Refreshing- 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Acts 2:42, Acts 20:7

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.


For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus took bread, brake it, and said, Take, this is my body, this do in remembrance of me...
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he describes that he had “received of the Lord,” and what he had received he now passed on to them. And just what was it that he had received? The sacrament and the testament associated with it. What is interesting about this assertion is that Paul was not actually present when Jesus gave this sacrament. He was not a follower of Jesus at that time, nor would be until after Jesus’s death.
Now Paul did have a direct experience with the Savior though. He heard his voice and received a charge from him while traveling to Damascus. But this is not the experience Paul points to as having been his moment of “receiving the Lord.” He points instead to the formal sacrament ceremony, which ceremony he had evidently held among the saints in Corinth.

As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come
And they continued steadfastly in breaking of bread, and in prayers
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread
Nor did Paul share the sacrament with others only once. As we know, the pattern was to meet together often and break bread and drink wine, even on a weekly basis. And so it is a regularly reoccurring practice that Paul is pointing to as the roots of his discipleship.

This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
I have also had singular moments of spiritual intensity in my discipleship. But those brief, powerful moments do not encompass my entire life. Perhaps they were enough to keep me faithful in the moment that they occurred, but if they were all that I had, eventually the spiritual fervor would grow stale and I would stray.
What keeps me grounded through the years is regular, simple reaffirmations, such as are found in the sacrament. It would seem that Paul felt the same. That was the whole idea behind the sacrament, in fact. As Jesus gave it to his disciples, he specifically instructed that this was something to be done repeatedly, in order to maintain a continual remembrance of him.

Personal Promises- Summary

Many believe in God, but true spiritual vocation does not begin until one knows Him personally. I wanted to use this study to explain why this is the case, and to convince any reader that they can and must seek this personal relationship with God.

We are immensely aided in this quest by the fact that the greatest being in the universe has this exact intention for us as well. It’s not like we have to convince God to be our friend. And if there are obstacles that are preventing Him from coming into our lives, He will work tirelessly to bring them down.

This is why people so many say that coming to know God was simply being a process of tearing down their walls and letting in the light. It’s already there reaching out for us, we only have to receive it.

No Person Can Replace the Need For God

My wife and I are expecting our second child, and I have had some concerns for how this will affect my relationship with our son. I do not doubt that my capacity for love and devotion to him will remain intact, even while cultivating the same for the new child. But there is simply no getting around the fact that my time for him will diminish.
We are finite beings with limited physical resources. When new dependencies are added, all others must necessarily receive less of those resources. That is just the way of the world.
Already I am incapable of meeting my son’s every need, and as my resources stretch thinner and his needs grow deeper, I will only become more so. Any person who has had any position of authority is well acquainted with this inadequacy, and they will realize that their real duty is simply to point their followers to the true source. Like Jairus, we must bring the Lord to our children, so that He can do for them all the things that we cannot.
Exodus 18:17-18- 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.

We All Need God in Different Ways

We may try to chart our own course, following general guidelines and generic rules, but that will only take us so far. Eventually we all run into very personal, and very specific spiritual needs. And even if our highly specific need is already answered in the scriptures, we will still need a personal touch just to show us where it is!
Even outside of receiving guidance, we also need to be seen and heard. Yes, knowing God’s will is important, but we also need to know His love. We need to feel the reality of being His child. Being told by a preacher that we are His child is not enough, we need Him to tell us that we are.
In short there is not a single one of us that does not need God to come personally in our hearts. We were never meant to follow His shadow, or to only hear secondhand the wonders that He has done. He wishes to reveal Himself to us directly.
Psalm 102:1- Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.
Matthew 11:28-29- Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Scriptural Stories Give Us Hope For Connection

The presence of God was never meant to be limited to the prophets of ancient times. The miracles of God were never meant to cease with the Kingdom of Israel. The scriptures and the accounts of the miracles in them were not given to tell us what God theoretically could do. We have those records to give us confidence that He will do the same for us.
We often say that we are inspired by the stories of Jesus healing the sick. But “inspired” does not mean just to be made to feel good, it means to be motivated, to be stimulated, to be given a vision to reach for. We should read about the blind seeing and the lame walking and say “well then why not me, too?”
Counting on God to show up for us can be a frightful thing to do. The fact is, if we vulnerably reach out and find nothing there, that would be a very crushing experience. There’s no shame in admitting that.
But the stories in the scriptures tell us that we should dare to hope. Yes it would be crushing to learn that no one was there to meet us. But there was someone there for Bartimaeus. And for Jairus’s daughter. And for the man sick with palsy. And for Mary Magdalene. And for the widow with the cruse of oil. And for Daniel in the lion’s den. And for the army of Gideon. And for the Israelites fleeing across the Red Sea. And for so many others. He will be there for you, too.
Malachi 3:10- Prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

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.


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.”

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.

Finding Our Purpose- Summary

Deciding to do this study topic was very easy. I felt like its message was already pervading so many of my other topics, and it was time to give it its due. This message means a great deal to me, I feel that life really begins only when one finds their calling and pursues it.

It’s easy to wish that I had begun my own calling earlier , but I know that I wasn’t ready before. Fulfilling your life purpose will never be a trivial thing. You need to be sorted out and on a firm foundation before you can do it, and getting to that place is always going to take some doing.

In the end it doesn’t matter so much when you arrive, it only matters that you do arrive. Now let’s examine the three core principles that I gleaned from this study.

Everyone Has a Purpose

I expect that my perspectives will evolve and refine over time, but this one I am sure that I will never stray from. I simply refuse to believe that there is anyone in this world who does not have a higher calling to fulfill. If you didn’t have a reason for being here then, simply, you wouldn’t be here. The fact of your existence is the proof of your purpose.
It is easy to be cynical and doubt that life has any higher meaning when we see so many people who do not live one. But just because people do not live a higher purpose does not mean that they do not have one, only that they are not living it. In the scriptures we hear of too many small and simple people becoming powerful emissaries of Christ for me to believe that anyone is too incapable to be an instrument for the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:27- But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.
Jeremiah 1:5- Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee

Our Purpose Gives Glory

Even those tyrants who commit unspeakable atrocities came to this earth for a divine reason. Many of them were extremely powerful and extremely motivated and they could have been great. It is a terrible tragedy that they lost their way and used their capabilities for evil instead.
We all live in the midst of a battle of shifting luminance. We either add a light to this world, or else we plunge it deeper into darkness. God knows that there is more than enough of the darkness. If you still have any lingering doubts about whether you have a purpose, just ask yourself “could this world use a little more light or not?”
There will never be a time that we don’t need you to add your spark. It will always be better to add your glimmer, no matter how small you think it is. And if we wish to illuminate the world, all we have to do is let the light God put into us shine out. When we live the purpose He planted in our heart, then we are doing our part to brighten all the world.
Matthew 5:16- Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
1 Corinthians 12:26- And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

We All Need Help to Fulfill Our Purpose

Now sometimes we do want to make the world a brighter place, but then we feel that we are blocked. As I suggested up above, living out one’s purpose first requires being straightened out inside. If one is living in guilt, one cannot live their purpose. If one is living in suffering, one cannot live their purpose. If one is living incomplete, one cannot live their purpose.
There is no shame in admitting that we need help to do the things we are supposed to do. I believe many of us get confused on this point. If our calling is ours to live, doesn’t that mean we should be able to handle it all on our own? The surprising answer is no.
Because God does not give us a life to live. He gives us a life to live with Him. Therefore it is impossible to live the life that God intended for us alone, no one ever has. God’s purposes are beyond us, and they can only be attained by His miracles.
So if you have the desire to live your fullest life, but the inability to act on that desire, then the only question is whether you will seek the deliverance that you need. You know what healing to pray for, what resources to ask for, what lifting to plead for. Let go of any pride and humbly accept God’s help. It’s time for the two of you to start doing things together.
Exodus 4:11-12- And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

John 15:16- Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

That They Might Have Joy- Matthew 5:48, John 5:6

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?


Be ye therefore perfect
This verse has been to known to create quite some anxiety among the faithful. Most of us find it difficult enough to just be good, let alone having to worry about being perfect. However the meaning that we associate to the word “perfect” is somewhat removed from original Greek word that Matthew chose for his gospel.

The term rendered “perfect” in most English translations is τέλειοι (teleioi), the same word used in the Septuagint for תָּמִים and meaning “brought to its end, finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness.” … Applied to people, it refers to completeness of parts.

Ultimately we hope to achieve perfection in the next life, but for now it would appear that it is enough to strive for completeness.

Wilt thou be made whole?
Consider how this need for completeness aligns with Jesus’s oft-repeated offer to make incomplete people whole. Something is lacking in each of us, and Jesus fills that hole, thus making us whole.
And when incomplete people are made whole they rejoice. Consider the example of Philip and the eunuch. That eunuch was frustrated by his own ignorance, and Philip taught him the gospel and baptized him, filling that lacking. Having been made that much more complete, we are told that the eunuch went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39).
This idea is certainly in-line with my own observations. I just completed sharing about my personal experiences yesterday, and what stood out to me was that my joy came when I felt most complete. Being healed, or enlightened, or given purpose…these are all ways that God makes us whole. And we feel great joy in that.

Commandments and Personal Revelation- John 14:15; Hebrews 12:6; Matthew 22:37-39

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


If ye love me, keep my commandments.
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.
These scriptures illustrate a beautiful symmetry in the commandments. Why does God give us commandments? Because He loves us. Why do we keep the commandments? Because we love God.
And yet this seems far removed from the way commandments are typically viewed. The world teaches us that commandments are given by a mean and angry God, and that they are followed by us only because we are afraid of His punishments. It is suggested that commandments are restricting, that they prevent the full expression of the self.
Laws of physics are celebrated, mathematical principles are praised, but laws to govern human behavior are always considered suspect. I guess it’s not too surprising, though, we humans have had a very bad track record when it comes to enforcing “correct” behavior. Most attempts to do so quickly turn into cruelty, intimidation, and fear-mongering.
And so the idea of being led by love instead of being driven by a stick might seem unnatural, and I guess given the ways of the world it is unnatural. But I can affirm it is also the truth. Anyone that has felt “chastened” by God knows it is an overwhelmingly loving experience. How did Jesus correct the woman caught in adultery? He saved her life, then told her “neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The symmetry of love as being the motivation for God giving us commandments and our following them is expanded still further when we realize that the commandments themselves are merely injunctions to love. Love God, love yourself, love others. God does not command us to hate, to steal, or to hurt. He does not command us to condemn or judge. If we respond to those that break the commandments in a way that is other than loving, then we have then broken the commandments also. The beam remains in our eye.

Commandments and Personal Revelation- Exodus 20:3-4, 7-8, 12-17; Matthew 22:37, 39-40

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honour thy father and thy mother…
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet…any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.


Moses’s ten commandments are far more verbose than Jesus’s two. Even after reducing the record in Exodus 20 to its most succinct form, as I have done here, it weighs in at 76 words, while the full text of Jesus’s guidance is a mere 28.
And yet Jesus states that his two commandments encapsulate the entirety of the others. And not only of these ten…

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Notice that Jesus says his two commandments are the points upon which all of the law hangs and upon which all of the teachings of the prophets depend. The ten commandments is not the entirety of the law and prophets, they are only the briefest summary of a much, much larger body!

If you read out the entirety of the five books of Moses, the Torah that forms the foundation of Jewish Law, you will find that it is overflowing with commandments. Depending on where exactly you draw the lines between where one law ends and another begins the total comes to about 613 commandments in all!

And that’s just five books of scripture. Other commandments get added all throughout the rest. And on top of those there are additional thousands of pieces of wisdom and advice, things that may not be explicitly declared as commandments but which counsel us on how to live.

Is it any wonder that Jesus felt a need to simplify such a monument of instruction? And make no mistake, it is not that he is abbreviating all of the other commandments, it is that he is explaining the reason behind all of them. Simply put, God has not given us any instruction that falls outside of the umbrella of either:

  1. Loving Him with all your heart, soul, and mind
  2. Loving your neighbor as yourself

And between those two commandments there is a single common trait, the reason behind the reasons. It is a word that we frankly tend to forget as soon as we start talking about commandments. Love.

Let’s take a look at that more with tomorrow’s post.