Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pure Thoughts Equals Pure Actions

Background image by: Hilton Chen https://flic.kr/p/JHm2gA

I wrote this many years ago and just found it. Enjoy! 

Do you want to be an instrument in his hands? 

One of my favorite quotes has inspired me more than most.  I have allowed my mind to dwell on it quite often.  It has helped me understand my greatest desire which is, how can I be an instrument in the Lord's hands?  Before I read the quote I want you understand that question better.  When I think of someone who was an instrumental to the Lord, I think of the many prophets of the Book of Mormon.  But to narrow the search, I have been learning about Alma the younger this last week or so as I listened to the Book of Mormon in my car on my way to work.  I would now like to tell you about my dear friend and teacher Alma.  As I do, I want you to think about the following question.  What was it about him that made him such an instrument to the Lord?  

When Alma was younger, he "became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities."  As him and his friends were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them..[and said] Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people…  Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith." (Mosiah 27:8-14).  Alma repentented of his many sins and from that day forth went "throughout all the land of Zarahemla, and among all the people who were under the reign of king Mosiah, zealously striving to repair all the injuries which [he] had done to the church, confessing all [his] sins, and publishing all the things which [he] had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them" (Mosiah 27:35.)

He never looked back and he began to be an instrument in the Lords hands.  Before Mosiah the king died he set up a more democratic system of government with judges to govern the people and "Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church. (Mosiah 29:42).  Only about 8 years passed and the people began to be exceedingly wicked, so Alma decided to step down from Chief Judge and preach the Gospel.  Imagine the President of the United States stepping down to go on a mission.   And Alma went and began to declare the word of God unto the church… according to the revelation of the truth of the word which had been spoken by his fathers, and according to the spirit of prophecy which was in him, according to the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who should come to redeem his people from their sins, and the holy order by which he was called… (Alma 6:8).  He was instrumental in bringing Amulek, Zeezrom, and many of the people of the wicked city Ammonihah to the knowledge of their redeemer, and brought them out of the city before it was destroyed.   Peace was restored throughout the land because of the teaching of the word, "And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just-yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them…" (Alma 31:5).  He continued which was started by his father to teach the gospel unto his children with much diligence, and many prophets came of his seed.  He was even taken home to his Lord and Master without tasting of death.  It is written of him:

Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God. Alma 48:17-18

Now for the quote by Joseph Smith:

Background image by: Craig Conover, a digital painting I made of a dream I had several years ago.

"We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. 
Today I want to propose that one of the major factors of Alma's success as an instrument in the Lords hands has to do with what Joseph quoted, "the clearer are his views."  Why were his views clearer?  Because he had learned to master his thoughts to the point that his “eye was single” to the glory of God.  Jesus Christ said, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42)  His eye was single to the glory of His Father, likewise Alma's eye became single to the glory of the Christ.  Horses have blinders put on them that they only see that which his master desires for them to see, we too need to put on our blinders that we may only think that which our Master desires for us to think.  Submitting our thoughts to the will of God is essential to becoming an instrument in the Hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thoughts can be hard to control, but I know that with the help from on high we can do it.  

"Probably the greatest challenge to people of any age, particularly young people, and the most difficult thing you will face in mortal life is to learn to control your thoughts. As a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7.) One who can control his thoughts has conquered himself."  Boyd K. Packer Inspiring Music- Worthy Thoughts

"Elder J. Thomas Fyans made the following comments about thoughts:
"Not only is this Amazon the greatest river in the world, but even many of its tributaries are great rivers.
"One interesting feature about these rivers is their different colors. The Madeira, for example, is called a white river because its waters carry fine clay particles along its course. The black color of the Rio Negro comes from decaying organic materials picked up in the forests through which it passes. Still other rivers flow over white sands and often appear emerald green or turquoise blue. 

"Just as these rivers are colored by the substances picked up as they flow along, so the streams of our thoughts are colored by the material through which they are channeled. 

"Some rivers are sluggish and meander through low places. Their waters are dirty and full of debris.

"Other rivers flow down from the high places. Their current is strong, and as a result, these furnish electricity for our needs, and great ships sail upon them"

I guess the question is what does our river look like?  Is it polluted, and if so is a “service project” in order to clean it up.   President McKay helps us to know how to identify the pollution level of our rivers, "Tell me what you think about when you do not have to think, and I will tell you what you are.”  Ok, we now have an idea of the color of our river, George Q. Morris tells us why the color of our river is so important, "Thoughts are the tools with which we shape our character, just as truly as a great sculptor with chisel and mallet chips and chips on the rough marble until it's shaped into a splendid and perfect work of art. Just so every thought is shaping our character and, consequently, shaping our destiny and our lives. Therefore the result is, in all our thoughts, the creation of [our] character" (The Importance of Habits, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [20 May 1953], 2).

Alma organized a “service project” to clean up his thoughts and actions, and by doing so he became a great prophet and most defiantly an instrument in the Lords hands unto the salvation of many souls.  We too can take up the challenge and organized a “service project” on our thoughts and actions and we too can become instruments in our Lords hands and “shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.” (D&C 6:8).  

I testify of the truthfulness of this Gospel and am truly indebted to my elder brother Jesus Christ, who loved even insignificant me, that he suffered for our sins and laid down his life and took it up again for the sole purpose of bringing us back to our Heavenly Father crowned with salvation and everlasting life if we just come unto him.  I would like to close with the beautiful words of Joseph Smith,

“The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him.”

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.