I Stand All Amazed

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“And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.
Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.” (D&C; 45:2-5).

We all sit condemned before the judgment seat of the Eternal God, our Father. He sits there gazing upon His children, who all like sheep went astray. All? Nay, not all. One Lamb is without blemish. He who is without blemish or imperfection or sin sits before the judge – He is the court-appointed counsel for us. Then comes the voice of the Eternal Father, “Where is He who was born in the lowliest of circumstances, He who descended below so that He might comprehend and be in all? Where is the Sacrificial Lamb who took upon Himself the sins and sicknesses of the world? Where is He who died and rose the third day so that all humankind will no more suffer the shortcomings and pains of mortality? Where is He, my most Beloved Son?”

The Redeemer stands up to take on His role as Advocate. As He approaches the judgment seat, he turns to view each of us; we see His glory and feel His love. In an instant He views each of us and loves us, in spite of and sometimes because of our shortcomings. His entire aim in approaching the judgment seat is to sit next to it in the mercy seat and plead on behalf of us.

He says, “Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life” (D&C; 45:4-5).

In other words, “I suffered and died as the sinless, unblemished sacrifice. My sacrifice pleases Thee. Because of my blood, let those who believe have everlasting life.” Similarly to many prophets in the scriptures, the Lord reminds His Father of the covenant they made. Our Father did not and cannot forget the covenant; the Savior simply is stating the whole covenant: “Here is what I did, here is what you agreed to do.” It’s a formality between the covenant parties. Restating both sides of the covenant is something we can and should do in our prayers. For example, “Thou hast said that that if I keep Thy commandments, Thou wilt bless me with Thy Spirit. I am striving to live Thy commandments, wilt Thou please bless me with Thy Spirit.” Prophets and saints throughout the ages have given prayers like that.

I love the words the Savior says on behalf of us. He stands between us and justice; He is our Advocate, pleading on behalf of us. The Savior experienced all of our sins and sorrows. He understands us perfectly. Is there anyone else we would rather have as our Advocate? No one understands us better or with more love than Jesus Christ. He is not only our Savior and our Creator, He is our eldest brother. He suffered, “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit – and would that [He] might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink – nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and [He] partook and finished [His] preparations unto the children of men” (D&C; 19:18-19).

I am eternally grateful for Jesus Christ for His Redeeming love, mercy, and Atonement that provides me the opportunity as I surrender my will to His, to stand with my head held high before the judgment seat of God. The words of the hymn I Stand All Amazed are fitting:

“I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me;
I tremble to know that for me He was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died.

“Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

“I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine;
That He should extend His great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

“Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

“I think of His hands, pierced and bleeding, to pay the debt,
Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

“Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!”

Solace from the Storm – Part 3

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The Redeemer is our Rock of defense from the storms. As we build upon His gospel, we are strengthened and blessed. I think a story from Elijah’s life will be illustrative of one way the Lord protects us from the storms. Elijah was hiding in a cave in the wilderness because the wicked Jezebel desired his life. As he bemoaned his sufferings and the wickedness of the people, the Lord asked him to go stand out on a mountainside: “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. 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” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

Elijah was asked to stand out on the mountain by the Lord; he experienced a great and strong wind that broke up the rocks, he experienced an earthquake, and he experienced a fire. The Lord was not in any of those but the Lord came as a still small voice. The whisperings of the Holy Ghost were there to comfort Elijah but also to tell him to continue on in his calling as a prophet. As we face storms in our lives, the Holy Ghost will be there to provide comfort if we are listening. It can be difficult to hear that still small voice if we are surrounded by a cacophony of commotion. As piercing as the still small voice is, it can be easy to miss. The more our lives are founded upon righteousness, the better able we are to hear the voice of the Lord.

If the voice of the Spirit does not come (usually) with the voice of thunder, wind, earthquakes, and fire, what does His voice sound like? The Savior said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). The Savior’s sheep know His voice. They recognize it and follow it. We know the Lord’s voice because we knew Him in our pre-earth life. He is no stranger to us just as we are not strangers to Him. However, learning to recognize His voice can take effort. We also need to listen carefully and closely.

Bishop H. Burke Peterson said: “Listening is an essential part of praying. Answers from the Lord come quietly—ever so quietly. In fact, few hear his answers audibly with their ears. We must be listening so carefully or we will never recognize them. Most answers from the Lord are felt in our heart as a warm comfortable expression, or they may come as thoughts to our mind. They come to those who are prepared and who are patient” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 13; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 19).

Solace from the Storm – Part 2

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When Moses tried to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free one of the plagues the Lord sent was a plague of locusts. How did the locusts get to Egypt in such large numbers? “The Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts” (Ex. 10:13). With the wind came great destruction.

The east wind was not always bad. When Moses and the Israelites were leaving Egypt they came upon the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s army was right behind them, planning on forcing them to return. They were saved by the power of the Lord, “And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided” (Ex. 14:21). It was the east wind that blew and parted the Red Sea.The house of Israel crossed over the sea in safety while the armies of Pharaoh drowned in the closing waters.

Sometimes the east wind is used metaphorically to represent the ephemeral lives of the wicked. A prideful, wicked man may try to fill his stomach with the east wind (see Job 15:2) but he will be full of nothing but hot air. Not only will the air fill the wicked with nothing but also it will buffet and blow them about (see Job 27:21). Those who are thus puffed up will, like the ships of Tarshish, be brought down low and destroyed by the strength and scorching heat of the east wind (see Psalm 48:7). Their sails and masts will be broken, their rudders smashed, and they will sink into the depths of the sea (see Ezek. 27:26). Those who do not repent and who “sow filthiness…shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction” (Mosiah 7:31).

How do we protect ourselves from the mighty winds and scorching heat of the east wind? Returning again to the verse in Helamen do we find the answer: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Hel. 5:12). Only by building our foundation upon our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, do we find solace from the storm.

Storms will buffet all of us at some point in our lives. Some people seem to live under constant stormy skies while others only experience the occasional bluster. Just like any building, our lives need to have strong foundations in order to withstand the winds that blow. Christ is this foundation.