The Enabling Power of the Atonement: A Pattern (Mosiah 26:13-14)

I’m still here…I know it has been a while. We have had the back to school rush, then Homey and I went to Hawaii… 🙂

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

So now I’m back, and well…yeah…

Lately, I’ve had a lot on my mind, and most of it has to do with how to be a better disciple. I’ve been going through a growing period. Growing periods aren’t always easy. Sometimes “growing periods” are caused by external adversities and factors (we are all blessed with plenty of these!). Right now, I’m going through a growing period that has been more contemplative and internal, but challenging, nonetheless. I’ve become more aware of my weakness, and truly want to make weak things strong to me.

So, I’ve been studying the Atonement in the Book of Mormon, and it has been enlightening (as usual). Today I was reminded that There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Christ.

One thing that I love about the Atonement is its enabling power. As I have become more acquainted with my weaknesses lately, my first instinct is to feel paralyzed by despair. Yet, it is helpful to remember that the Lord knows we are weak. He has given us weakness. The Atonement does more than forgive sins, it also helps weak things to become strong. The Lord, through the power of His Infinite Atonement will not only forgive sin, but He will help us to overcome our weakness.

I love this idea. I mean, I really love it. Heavenly Father isn’t a God who is trying to “prove” us in a way that is arbitrary or mean. He doesn’t leave us here helpless. We simply need to humble ourselves, then he will enable us to be the kind of people that He has commanded us to be. And in the scriptures, we can learn how to apply the Atonement in such a way that it will help us to figure out solutions to the problems in our lives.

In Mosiah we read:

And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God.

And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying:” – Mosiah 26:13-14

In this scripture Alma is trying to figure out a problem. For our purposes here, the problem he is trying to solve isn’t all that important. What is important is the pattern that we see unfolding in these two verses.

One – Alma’s Soul Was Troubled

It is important to recognize that this troubled feeling that Alma had was a good thing. It shows that Alma was close enough to the Spirit to realize that there was a problem. Remember, the Spirit will not bear false witness, so when things are awry, we will not feel the comfort or peace that comes with the gift of the Holy Ghost. Instead, the Spirit witnesses of the truth of all things, and the result is…we feel troubled. Sometimes, when I’m feeling troubled I’m inclined to get a little afraid. Instead, I can have faith that my troubled feelings are simply the Spirit urging me to find the right path to take.

Because of the power of the Atonement, we are able to feel the nuanced messages whispered to our souls by the Spirit–even when that message is one of trouble or question. Because Alma had covenanted with the Lord and had implemented the power of the Atonement in his life, he was able to feel troubled and knew that he needed to find an answer to His question.

Two – Alma Pours out His Whole Soul to the Lord

As a result of the troubling feeling that Alma was experiencing and seeking a solution to his problem, Alma went to the Lord. In fact, Alma didn’t just go to the Lord, but he poured out his whole soul. It strikes me that there are times when this is required in order to access the enabling power of the Atonement.

There are times when I have trouble doing this. I believe in prayer. In the past, I have poured out my spirit to the Lord. Yet there are still times when I have trouble pouring out my whole soul not because I lack faith, but because I lack discipline. I tend to get a little lazy and tired. And, I suppose it could be argued that this is also a signal of my lack of faith. I believe that the Lord will answer prayers, and here we see what kind of humility is required in order to find answers and power from God.

Additionally, it strikes me that Alma’s ability to go to the Lord in prayer is available to him solely because of the Atonement of Christ. When we pray, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Even when we approach Heavenly Father in prayer, our Savior, through His Atonement, mediates.

Three – The Voice of the Lord Comes

After feeling troubled then supplicating the Lord, the voice of the Lord comes to Alma. His prayer is answered.

We can be assured that Heavenly Father will guide us. He will help us. He will teach us, mold us, and enable us to become the kind of people we want to be. Truly, the Atonement will enable us to reach our divine potentials and be happy.

***
I really love this. In this one example, we see the power of the Atonemnet helping Alma all along the way. Through the power of the Atonement he:

  • was guided by the Spirit to feel troubled and seek an answer to his problem
  • was able to supplicate the Lord by pouring his soul out in prayer
  • was able to hear the voice of the Lord and receive an answer to his problem

***
How have you been able to access and feel the enabling power of the Atonement in your life? How has it helped you to overcome problems?

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The Patterns of the Creation: the Plan of Salvation and Personal Application

Click here for today’s assignment.

The Creation of the Earth, by Wenzel Hollar (click image for source).

The next part of our study on The Plan of Salvation is the creation. Before we could be sent to this earth, it needed to be created!

The creation story is amazing. You can study it for a lifetime and still learn something new. Many people are also pretty familiar with the basics of the creation, so I will not go into them here. Instead, I will just share a few things that stuck out to me – especially when thinking about the Creation in conjunction with the Plan of Salvation.

Patterns taught in the Creation Story
Planning and Execution
The Pattern: When it came to the creation, Heavenly Father didn’t create the Earth on a whim. He took time to carefully plan. In Moses, we learn:

“…For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth…” – Moses 3:5

The Plan of Salvation: I think that we can learn that how the Lord handled the Creation is also how the Lord handled the Plan of Salvation. It was carefully considered before it was put into action. We can trust in the Lord and in His plan.

Personal Application: We can learn from the pattern of the Lord’s in planning our lives spiritually before physical execution. We can take time to counsel (in our callings or with our families) and discuss what will happen in the future. We can prepare our lives in such a way that we live deliberately. Obviously, we can’t plan every single event or situation in our lives – as there is much that happens that is out of our control. But I think that the point here, that I learn with the creation, is that I can live more deliberately and plan before I create.

Additionally, I think that we can apply this pattern to other things that we learn in the gospel. For example, in this very context – of the creation the earth. After creating the Earth and man, God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden. In Moses 3:15, it explains a reason why:

“And I, the Lord God, took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it.” – Moses 3:15

When pondering this point – why did Heavenly Father put Adam in the Garden of Eden, it is helpful to approach it, and any question, knowing that everything that Heavenly Father does is carefully planned. Everything He does has a purpose. Knowing that the Lord works in this way helps us to trust Him.

Evaluation
The Pattern: Not only did God plan and then physically create the world, but he also evaluated what he did. And he evaluated fairly. After each creative period, the lord looked over what he had done, and after each creative period he saw that what he had done was good.

The Plan of Salvation: As far as this pattern applies to the Plan of Salvation, I think that, again, knowing that Heavenly Father operates this way will help us to trust in His plan. Good comes from God. If we want to experience good in our lives, then we can look to the source of all good: Heavenly Father.

Personal Application: Again, this is a pattern that can be followed. It helps to evaluate what we do, and it is also okay to recognize that the work we do is good. Heavenly Father did not gloat. He also didn’t put on an air of false humility. He simply recognized His creation for what it was: good.

This reminds me of a scripture in Proverbs:

“She perceiveth that her merchandise is good:…” – Proverbs 31:18

This scripture is about the virtuous woman. I love that she perceives that her merchandise is good. God does the same thing! Often, I find that I berate and belittle my best efforts. Sometimes it is because I don’t understand my worth or offering. Other times, I wonder if I do it under the pretense of humility. Either way, I’m not following the god-like pattern of evaluating fairly.

Marriage
The Pattern: Adam and Eve were married. Marriage, family is not a social construct.

“And Adam said: This I know now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” – Moses 3:23-25

The Plan of Salvation: Though salvation is a personal and individual experience, a crucial part of our eternal happiness will be experienced in our family relationships. We cannot ignore the importance of marriage and family.

Personal Application: I feel like this has a few applications. One – Marriage is divinely instituted, and worth every effort. We need to cleave unto one another. Two – as a woman, this is especially interesting to me. Some people feel like women are treated as “second-class” beings in the Mormon church. I do not believe this is true. I haven’t felt this in the church. While I may not hold the priesthood, I know that I am still of great worth.

Woman wasn’t created to be man’s slave. She was created as an equal. She was created of Adam’s own flesh. They are supposed to be one. This implies love, interdependence, and equality. It doesn’t necessarily mean each person has the same duties/roles, but it does mean that we, both men and woman, are important. The pattern set forth in the Creation – how God created woman, and placed both Adam and Eve in a marriage – can teach us our true worth and role as women.

*

There are so many more things that the Creation teaches us. Through the creation, we can feel more of God’s love and recognize His infinite power. What are some of the things that you learn – about your life, about the Plan of Salvation, or about God as you study the Creation?

***
Click here for tomorrow’s assignment.

Joy and Thanksgiving – Gratitude and Blessings

Today, in our study, we are learning about a pattern given in the scriptures. This pattern is given in various places throughout the scriptures.

The first instance of this pattern that we study will be from the life of Christ.

“And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.” – Matthew 15:36-37

Christ is always the master example for us, which is why I love this story.

A few things to consider:

  • Christ had to feed at least 4,000 people – with seven loaves and fishes.
    • This doesn’t seem like it will be enough food to feed the multitude.
  • With gratitude, He gave thanks for the food that had been provided.
    • He was confident in His gratitude and thanksgiving. He was confident that the multitude would be fed and blessed.
    • Sometimes, I hesitate in gratitude because I feel like what I have been given (ie. 7 loaves and fishes) isn’t enough for what I want. (ie- to feed a multitude). Instead of seeing what I have and recognizing that the Lord also knows what is available, I seem to have a tendency to focus on what I think I lack.
    • Sometimes, I am tempted to think of course it was easy for Jesus to be confident…he was Jesus!…but when I think about it, why should my faith be any different. Jesus believed in the same God I believe in. He had the power of the priesthood, the same power we’ve been blessed with. We can trust in the Lord and in Heavenly Father. So…I can be confident in the power of the Lord, and I can show my gratitude for His love and blessing.
  • The people ate, and were filled, and there was food leftover.
    • When we are grateful, the Lord blesses us and fills us. – and He is capable of doing that – even with only seven loaves and fishes!

Paul teaches us this pattern:

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” – Philippians 4:6

The Pattern

  1. Be confident – in the Lord. – The first part of this scripture “Be careful” – means that we shouldn’t be overly concerned or afflicted about anything. Again, Christ is a great example of this. Instead of fretting about the multitude he had to feed with only seven loaves and fishes, he was confident.

    As I ponder this, I am thinking about the connection between confidence and gratitude. And I don’t mean confidence in ourselves, but confidence in the Lord. Confidence shows that we trust the Lord, which is a key ingredient in our gratitude.

  2. Instead of worry, pray.
    • Supplication – I have always had a “feeling” of what this meant, but just to be sure, I looked it up in the dictionary: ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly. That is how we ought to pray – with humility. And in a sense “begging” – we do kneel, and when we pray, we know that we, in and of ourselves, aren’t worthy of any blessing, so we must ask God to bless us out of His mercy and love for us.
    • Thanksgiving – I don’t think that we can supplicate without thanksgiving. As we recognize the blessings we have already received (even if they don’t seem like they’re enough), we recognize our Need of Heavenly Father. We become more humble. A grateful heart is the fertile ground for faith. Why was it easy for Christ to be confident that the multitude could be fed with such a small amount of food: because His faith was perfect.
  3. Let your requests be made known to God. – Heavenly Father wants to know what we want. He wants us to make requests. He wants us to ask. And when we do, we just need to ask with humility and Thanksgiving – having faith that we will receive.
  4. So – this is the pattern…

    We can find various examples of this in the scriptures.

    Paul follows the pattern he taught, as recorded in Acts 16:25-34.

    Another example is when Nephi is tied up on the boat, as recorded in 1 Nephi 15:18-21

    Finally, an example that I particularly love is in Ether 6:4-12 Throughout their journey, they sang praises to the Lord, even though the winds and storms never ceased. It is interesting to realize, too – that the Jaredites needed these storms to progress to the promised land. We can be grateful for all that we have – even trials, AND supplicate the Lord for needed blessings at the same time. In fact, the most effective way to get the blessings we need in this life is through humility and gratitude. Asking for desired blessings isn’t complaining.

    The Lord wants us to do ask. He wants to bless us. He wants us to Be Happy. He wants us to come to Him. He wants us to make it to our “promised land”, and we won’t be able to do that without Him.

    So, we need to go forward, confidently, grateful, and asking God, in His mercy, to bless us with what we need to overcome whatever problem happens to stand in our way.

    Have you experienced this in your life? How has humbling yourself and being grateful helped you to receive needed blessings? How has this pattern contributed to your overall happiness?
    ***
    For tomorrow’s assignment, click here.

  • "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." - Luke 10:42.
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