Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fear and Service

Our stake is in the midst of a change in leadership and I have been thinking about how the Lord works in His kingdom to bless the saints. We are part of a very unique form of government as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can't think of another organization that goes about its business the way the Church directs things. This Saturday we will be visited by two men (Elders Hafen and Price) who have no direct association with anyone in our stake. They will spend a few hours meeting and considering the names of a group of priesthood leaders they know little about. Yet, when they leave on Sunday afternoon there will be a new Stake President called with two new counselors and the beginnings of a new leadership group that will stand for the next decade or so. And the wonderful thing about it is IT WILL WORK!!! There will be challenges for the new leaders and they will have to adjust their lives to meet the new callings but the end result will be that these men will become the foundation for the stake and will help many to find Christ and deepen their commitment to Him. Why does this work over and over again in the Church? I think the answer is found in the Doctrine and Covenants:

For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught. For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.
(D&C 76:5-10)

Joseph and Sidney were in the process of asking some very specific questions concerning doctrines of the gospel and they had gone to the Lord for help in understanding what He would have them teach. What they received was more than they had ever imagined but it is exactly what the Lord wanted them to know. The same happens for us today. Elders Hafen and Price will come, fasting and praying, that they might know the Lord's will for the Granger Stake leadership. They will meet with some of the leaders currently serving and then will counsel with the Lord through prayer and listen for His answer as to who they should call to fill the callings available. And they can do this because they have prepared themselves through fear and service to the Savior and our Heavenly Father. Those are the two requirements God gives if we want to know His will.

To fear God is not to quiver and shake whenever we think of Him, but rather, it is to respect and reverence His name and the things He offers to us as blessings. When we treat the holy things He provides (scriptures, temples, leaders, the Spirit, etc.) as He intends, we are blessed to know Him in a way those who do not reverence Him can never experience. We become part of His 'inner-circle' and we are allowed to know things about His character and plans that cannot be shown to those who keep Him at arm's length. The more we honor Him and His Son, the more He can reveal to us concerning our own lives and the lives of those we are called to serve.

Service then becomes the fruit of knowing/respecting/fearing our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. In effect, we take the place of God and Christ as we learn more about Them and take Their image into our own countenances. That is what Mormon was teaching when he said:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
(Moroni 7:48)

What we choose to do to bless the lives of others becomes the gauge by which we are measured in the eternities. It won't be enough to know what is true or to know who needs help, it will be necessary to DO something with that knowledge. And as we DO, we will be given a greater inheritance in the things God has to offer. One of the great things He has promised is a knowledge of things that are and were and are to be in this world. What more can we ask of Him than to be prepared in all things for the events this life will present to us.

One warning!! As Joseph and Sidney found, what God wants us to know may be much more than we feel we are prepared to understand. The truths we gain are given with the understanding that we will act upon them and use them to lift others to the same truth. Be prepared and know that you will never receive anything you are not capable of using to bless others. Such is the power of revelation in our lives and such is the gift we receive from God as we Fear and Serve Him faithfully.

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