Monday, January 3, 2011

Being a Missionary Rocks!!

Bad news: The book of 2010 has just finished and closed shut.
Good news:  I started writing the sequel on Saturday.  Should take me about a year or so to finish.

Happy New Year everybody!  It was wonderful to see you all through Skype on Christmas.  That was the best Christmas gift I´ve ever gotten.  I love and miss you all.

Wow, only 8 months to go.  President Callan just told us in this week´s bulletin that he emails everybody that 21 new missionaries are coming in next month.  That is a lot!  We´ve got a few more coming than going, so that will boost the work a bit.  I´m so glad to be a missionary.  I don´t know what happened to me, but I´ve just been in super missionary mode the past week.  Ever since my new trainee came, I´ve just been trying really hard to do everything right and to be obedient 100%.  The cool part is that I am already seeing a huge increase in success just in this 1 week.  I´ve gained a big testimony that the Lord does bless us more for obedience.  It´s just one of those things like "Well duh!" you already know, but it´s just different when you actually are actively putting it into practice.  I´m so happy to be a missionary.  Maybe because I´ve realized how little time left I really have, I don´t know.  But for the first time, I´m sincerely happy being a missionary.  I don´t mean that I

haven´t been happy in my mission - it´s quite the contrary, I´ve been very happy - but I´m realizing now that I was happy before because of the good people around me, not because of the blessed opportunity of being a missionary.  And the happiness is different.  There is a quiet peace that comes with it, and it just fills your whole soul.  I am only sad that I´ve come to such a realization this late in my mission.  I will be so happy to see all of you again - especially my family - but I don´t want my mission to end.  I love this work, I love this Gospel, and I thank my Heavenly Father every day for looking past my faults and allowing me to do His perfect work so imperfectly.

Ok, so that I have time to finish, I´ll just get going now on what I started last week.  I´ll type out the remaining verses of the First Vision and what I´ve been learning from them.

Verse 16
"But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction - not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being - just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me."

-Adversity is real.  Joseph described the power that overcame him as being destroyed "not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being."  Don´t be ashamed or embarassed of having trials or adversities, thinking you are weak or that it is all in your mind.  No, opposition is real - and necessary.  What makes us weak is not adversity, but giving in to it.

-Notice the timing of God´s divine intervention.  The Lord appeared after Joseph "exert(ed) all (his) powers" to fight.  Joseph had to do his part.  But let´s take it even one step further.  Joseph´s strongest efforts weren´t good enough, were they?  He did all he could, fought his hardest against the adversary, and still he said "I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction."  Joseph had exerted all his power to free himself from the grasp of Satan, and he couldn´t do it alone.  Do we feel like that sometimes?  But Joseph didn´t give up.  Look closely; it says he "was ready" to sink into despair, not he "sank" into despair.  And what happened at that point?  "At the very moment...of great alarm, (he) saw a pillar of light", and was loosed.  And then commenced the vision that changed the world forever.  That is how God delivers us from adversity.

-Imagine the faith of Joseph.  He had struggled inwardly with his confusion for months (but really, who knows how long his search for truth really was).  He had no clue where to go, what to do, or who to believe.  Then he was guided to a scripture, a scripture that turned the light on, a scripture that came with more power to his heart than any other scripture to the heart of any other man.  "It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of (his) heart", and he "reflected on it again and again", and that showed him what to do (which in and of itself is a marvellous lesson on scripture study, the power of pondering, and revelation).  The pure innocence and faith of his adolescense allowed him to believe without a single doubt.  Imagine going into those woods on a "beautiful clear morning", all silent and peaceful, knowing in your heart that you´ll get an answer from God to a question that has weighed down your soul for some time.  You kneel down and start to pray.  And then everything goes wrong.  Would you not panic in that moment?  "Wait this isn´t right", you´re expecting an answer in some form or other from God and something happens to you that causes you to believe that you´re going to die.  Notice how Joseph responds to Satan´s attack.  He does not question or curse God, or say "Why me?" or doubt.  He prays harder.  He shows valiant faith.  In his moment of greatest need, he prays harder.  Is this not a perfect, proven response for all of us to our adversities?  Did not the Savior Himself do the same when the Father had withdrawn His presence for a moment on the cross?  He didn´t give up, neither did Joseph, and neither should we.  We need to pray harder.

Verse 17
"It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.  When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other - ´This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him!´"

-He saw TWO Personages.  The Father and the Son are two seperate, distinct Beings with their own glorified and perfected bodies.

-They called him by name.  This one is most fascinating and precious to me.  God knows us by name.  The Maker of the universe and all the galaxies in their infinite numbers knows us personally.  He knows us.  And not only does He know us, but He loves us, He speaks to us, and He answers our prayers.  Is that not amazing to you?

-This was the first time in history after the Fall of Adam that both the Father and the Son appeared in the flesh to a mortal.  The importance of the work They were about to commence was shown by the mere presence of Them both.  It was also a manifestation of the truths They were about to restore, as it was common belief in those days that the Holy Trinity was one incomprehensible being without flesh or form.  It was a testimony against the practices of men and for the pure truth of God that He was about to restore on the earth.

-Take it a step farther.  The Father said something very interesting to Joseph.  He bore His testimony.  He often does that in scriptural history.  But why?  Well, a testimony invites the Spirit.  And what is the Spirit, what does He do?  He testifies of truth.  In John 15:26, Christ says "The Comforter...shall testify of me."  He also teaches us that the Holy Ghost "proceedeth from the Father."  Well, Joseph was in the presence of the Father (which is where the Spirit proceeds from), while He was testifying of Christ (which is what the Spirit does).  Can you imagine how powerfully the Spirit was bursting forth from the Father in that moment?  Joseph Smith was in the physical, literal presence of all 3 Beings of the Godhead at once.  What an awesome testimony of his foreordination to his divine calling as Prophet of the Restoration.

Unfortunately, I´m out of time for this week.  How I love the First Vision.  Out of all the exciting and important things I teach as a missionary, without equivocation my absolute favorite thing to share with people is the First Vision.  It brings such a power with it, and the Spirit comes flooding in every time.  I testify to everyone who reads this that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  Our Father is guiding us today, the heavens are open, and it all started with the prayer of a 14 year old boy.

Being a missionary rocks.

Elder Moore

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