What a blessing it was last night to listen to more of God's servants during the Priesthood session of the 185th semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I was especially touched by Elder Neal L. Anderson's talk on faith, particularly when he stated, "The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice."
Just what did he mean by that? To me he meant exactly what he said. Whether we have faith in the future is up to us to decide. If we have are to have faith in the future, then we have to choose to do those things that will not only maintain our current faith, but we must continually engage in those activities that will stretch our spiritual faith muscles so that we can grow.
Faith Strengthening Activities
So what activities will build our faith in such a way that we will be able to withstand the storms that are surely coming. Satan rages in the hearts of men and goes about as a lion seeking whom he can devour. How can we counteract Satan an his minions? Helaman taught his son's, Lehi and Nephi, that if men will build upon the rock of Christ, which is a sure foundation, they cannot fall, despite all the storm, the hail, the might shafts in the whirl wind that Satan may bring against them (See Helaman 5:12).
How then do we build on the foundation of Christ and how will that strengthen our faith? We build on the foundation of Christ by coming to know Him. We come to know Christ through prayer to our Heavenly Father. God and Christ are of one heart and one mind. We cannot come to know one without coming to know the other. Our Father loves us. He has promised us that if we will draw near unto Him, he will draw near unto us (See D&C 88:63). As we talk with Him in prayer, expressing our love and gratitude for His tender mercies and also asking for those things of which we stand in need, acknowledging His hand in all things, we will come to know Him. He will visit us with His spirit and the assurance that He is there and will, in His own way and time, give us answer to our prayers. These experiences will strengthen our faith that God and Christ love us, listen to us, answer us, and carry us through troubled times.
We come to know Christ by studying His word and putting His teachings in to practice. By doing so we gain first hand experience of the joy of service and seeing up close and personal the impact that Christ-like actions have in people's lives. We make the intentional choice to be men and women of the same manner as Christ and in return we become, like Him, saviors on Mount Zion. In doing these things, our faith in Christ and His ability to bless others through us will increase. Our faith in Christ will also increase as we realize that in serving others, our own concealed wounds will be healed.
We come to know Christ as we do our family history, and do work for those of our ancestors who need it, which they can not do for themselves. As we prepare their names and take them to the temple, we feel closeness to them and a love for them. When we participate in the sacred ordinances on their behalf, we gain greater appreciation for the sacred sealing power which binds those ordinances on earth and in Heaven. With that appreciation comes strengthened faith in the love and kindness of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in preparing a way that enables all of God's children to be saved.
We come to know Christ as we prove the Lord by paying our tithing, fast offerings, and living the Word of Wisdom. When we pay out tithing, we help provide the way for our magnificent temples and beautiful church buildings to be built throughout the world, thereby furthering God's work. When we pay fast offerings, the offering is used to bless those who are less fortunate than we are, who have a need of help, for a time, whether it be in the form of financial assistance or the form of food and clothing. God's promise in return is that He will open the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing such that we will not have room enough to receive it. He will also rebuke the devourer for our sakes (See Malachi 3:10-11).
As we live the Word of Wisdom, and keep all of God's commandments, we are promised that we will have health and strength both physically and spiritually, find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, and be protected from the destroying angel who shall pass us by (See D&C 89:18-21). As we receive these blessing in our lives, our faith will be strengthened, and we will grow firmer and firmer on the rock of Christ and become like the prophets of old who's faith became unshakable.
I know that these things are true. As I've striven to follow the counsel above, my life has been tremendously blessed. In so doing, my faith continues to grow and strengthen. I love the Lord. I know he hears and answers our prayers. Through prayer, in times of joy and times of great sorrow, I've felt the calm assurance that He is there and at the helm. As I've paid my tithing and offerings, especially in those times when I had no idea how we would make it financially, the Lord has always opened the windows of Heaven. I've also been tremendously blessed both with health, strength, and knowledge as I've lived the Word of Wisdom. My faith in God, as I continue striving to do these things, continues to grow.
If your faith is not where you would like it to be, or you feel it is lacking, make the intentional choice today, this very hour and minute, to start doing or more diligently do those things which will help you come to know Christ and center your life on Him. As you do so, I can promise you that your faith will grow, and become firmer and firmer and you will be planted solidly on the rock of Christ, a foundation where on if men build, they cannot fall (See Helaman 5:12).
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.