We're reading through the Book of Mormon as a mission right now, and I just finished 1 Nephi. I love how the Lord wastes no time in giving us the knowledge of the covenants that He has made with us, for example, the baptismal covenant in 1 Nephi 19 - compare Isaiah 48.
1: Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.
10: For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
18: O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.
19: Thy seed also had been as the sand; the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.
20: Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter to the end of the earth; say ye: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
21: And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the brook for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.
22: And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.
These Israelites had fallen into Apostasy and had harvested destruction rather than salvation, had they kept, "the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness." How great is our reward if we will but endure, and that relying on the Lord!
The Lord is under covenant to bring forth this ministry of baptism to all of the inhabitants of the earth through the seed of Abraham, and as a Church we have come under covenant to assist the Lord in His great and marvelous latter-day work. There are currently over 80000 missionaries engaged in this ministry and over 15000000 members to help them.
The Spirit has been poured out upon us in great measure as of late. So great is the covenants of the Lord with His people. In visiting with Valentina her family is under tremendous stress with an accident her daughter received in Ukraine and for some reason she and her husband can't work, the visa process is too difficult in Russia for them to become employable. To help out, Valentina cleans the home of the K. family every week.
In short in our conversation I learned the sad truth that it's next to impossible for so many honest people to live in the former Soviet block. She related how corruption and economy is so focused around illegal activities that the elderly are perishing from hunger. Just like the widows perishing from hunger in Moroni 9, to condemn the wicked, so great is the condemnation of many in that area!
I've prayed for them mightily and I know that the Lord is soon going to, "restore the preserved of Israel." (1 Nephi 21: 6. see Isaiah 49)
14 But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not.
15 For can a a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. 17 Thy children shall make haste against thy destroyers; and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.
18 Lift up thine eyes round about and behold; all these gather themselves together, and they shall come to thee. And as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on even as a bride.
Now is the time that the Lord will bring forth his great and marvelous work among these nations, I can feel it and there will be a way provided for the 1000+ missionaries to bring to pass much restoration in those lands.
The full-time missionaries and the members are the Lord's Restored Church are the agents in bringing to pass this restoration,
1 Nephi 21:22 Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
24 For shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives delivered?
25 But thus saith the Lord, even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
This is pivotal, the work of Salvation in bringing forth the plan of salvation and the covenants of the Lord.
This time is now, if the Lord didn't perform a great and marvelous work, even making His Holy Arm bare in the eyes of all the nations, the covenants would not be remembered and His covenant people would be left forgotten,
10 And I would, my brethren, that ye should know that all the kindreds of the earth cannot be blessed unless he shall make bare his arm in the eyes of the nations.
11 Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel.
I am constantly running into my terrible limitations and weaknesses, constantly I proclaim with Nephi, 2 Nephi 4:17-20:
17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
Elder Steven Snow, the Church Historian came to our Stake Conference yesterday and talked of the rising generation. They are a great and sacred responsibility, they say in Africa that it takes a tribe to raise a child, and he thinks it's the same with a ward. What are the four things that we have to diligently strive to do, however imperfectly, in our families? Family prayer, home evening, scripture study, wholesome family activities.
This is our generation, we, who are associated with the Gentiles are under covenant-obligation to do everything in our power to bring about His Great and Marvelous Work. This is true and I've seen hardened men shed tears this week as we would read the Book of Mormon with them, the Spirit that the Book brings truly is the Fount of water that Jesus promised (John 4:24). I marvel at the future of the missionaries in our families, we need to prepare ourselves for the great tasks that lay ahead, spiritually, physically and emotionally. It's not easy, but the fullness of joy that is promised missionaries and member missionaries is real and truly exhausts our physical strength to bear. I love the Lord and his long suffering and loving kindness towards us. Alas, I have forgotten to write about our investigator, Michael K. He came to Stake Conference yesterday and is back to full commitment to baptism, it just took a few weeks of thinking. Take care!