Who’s On the Lord’s Side? – Part 3

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Where will your path of life lead? What choice will you make? What is your goal? Are you willing to sacrifice the eternities for an ephemeral trinket or bauble? Always choose the Lord’s way. It leads to exalted heights and rises above the thick, choking smoke of the mists of darkness. There is no time for indecisiveness; the time to choose is now. We cannot afford to remain undecided.

The great leader of the host of Israel, Joshua, told his followers that it was time to stop lusting after the gods of Egypt. It was time to follow and serve the one and true living God. “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers serve that were in the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

In these last days, the time for planting is past. It is the time of the harvest. “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the [vats] overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:13-14). We are all in the valley of decision. We have two choices: we can serve the Lord or not. There is no middle ground in this valley. It’s one or the other. The Lord is coming again to the earth. The wicked shall burn as stubble. Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? Great upheavals of all forms abound on the earth; things will only become more tumultuous over time.

There are some frightening times ahead: “The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake.” But there is comfort: “But the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel…. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim” (Joel 3:16,18). If we choose the Lord, we will find hope and strength in Him. We need not fear in these troubled times.

Who’s On the Lord’s Side? – Part 1

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On occasion in sacrament meeting we sing a hymn with words by Hannah Cornaby:

“Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? Now is the time to show. We ask it fearlessly: Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?…We serve the living God, And want his foes to know that, if but few, we’re great; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? We’re going on to win; No fear must blanch the brow. The Lord of Hosts is ours; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?… The stone cut without hands to fill the earth must grow. Who’ll help to roll it on? Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? Our ensign to the world is floating proudly now. No coward bears our flag; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?… The powers of earth and hell in rage direct the blow that’s aimed to crush the work; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? Truth, life, and liberty, Freedom from death and woe, are stakes we’re fighting for; Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?… We ask it fearlessly: Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?” (Hymns, 1985, no. 260).

That is one of the purposes of life – to see who is willing to be on the Lord’s side, even though we do not remember our life with Him before our mortal births.

“Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good…. And there stood one among them that was ilke unto God, and he said unto those who were with him…we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them…. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.” (Abraham 3:22-28).

We are part of that war that started many years ago. This war of words, ideals, and truth started in the pre-earth life. We were all there at that grand council. We had to make a choice – we always have been given the choice. We had to speak for one or the other. We were given two choices: God’s plan as put forth by Jesus Christ or Lucifer’s plan. We had to choose to be on either the Lord’s side or on Lucifer’s side, there was no middle ground. Some people probably were not engaged in their choice and support of a plan but they had to choose.

There is no middle ground in this life either. We need to stand up for the Lord’s Church and unflinchingly stand against those who fight against the Lord. We don’t need to go on the offensive but we need to be willing to stand strong and tall, fearless in our faith, against the onslaughts of the enemy.

Sin, Sorrow, and Suffering – Part 7

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The Prophet Joseph Smith also suffered much affliction; however, most of his suffering was due to the persecution he received from others who did not believe his story. “I continued to pursue my common vocations in life until…one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three, all the time suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious, because I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision” (JS-H 1:27). Joseph Smith was persecuted from when he had the First Vision until he was assassinated 25 years later. He was persecuted and murdered for telling the truth; he was despised and rejected yet he remained faithful.

The word suffering implies patience. The Lord stated on occasion, “Suffer it to be so” (cf. Matt. 3:15). Suffering can mean “allow”, as in “suffer [allow] me first to go and bury my father” (Matt. 8:21). Thus, the word suffer is used contritely, even in a begging manner. In these instances suffering is a plea for patience. We should follow the Prophet Joseph Smith’s example and be faithful and patient in our afflictions and sufferings.

Three young Jewish men named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were living in captivity in Babylon. They, like Joseph in Egypt, impressed their captors and were eventually placed as rulers over the province of Babylon. They were respected by Nebuchadnezzar and many others. However, not all were fond of these men. When the king made a large gold idol, some of his advisers and other leaders sent out a decree that all people must worship the idol. The king signed off on the decree. Then his advisers told the king that these men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego did not worship the idol. The king was upset and sent for the three men. Their reply shows their faith and courage. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee [we won’t try to hide the truth] in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:16-18). What an example of faith! They would not deny their faith even if it cost them their lives.

The king was furious with these men. He commanded that the furnace be heated up 7 times hotter than normal. The fire was so hot that it killed those who put Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego into the furnace. However, when the king looked into the furnace he saw 4 men, one of whom looked “like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25). None of the men were hurt. The astonished king commanded them to come forth, which they did. None of their hair had been burned. None of their clothes had been so much as singed. They did not even smell like smoke. They had been protected and strengthened by God. They were blessed because of their faithfulness. After this, the king commanded that no one should speak ill of the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. He also promoted them to a higher position in their government, they had impressed him so much.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were faithful. They did not suffer but were strengthened in their afflictions. They were patient when being punished for their faithfulness. They were like Joseph in Egypt, or Moses, or Daniel who sat with lions, or Joseph Smith, who all were patient and suffered long, yet remained faithful. The Lord’s chosen have always suffered many afflictions at the hands of their enemies but they always could look to One who is more powerful and comforting than the waters of Bethesda. The Lord’s people are rarely without affliction but they need not suffer. They can have the faith of Alma and his followers: “And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15).