obedience

“Don’t touch that!” “Be careful!” “Don’t climb up there.” “Don’t eat that plant!” “Stay where I can see you.” “Don’t bite her!”  “Be kind.”

Isn’t it interesting how parents universally have expectations for their children? Even before they can express themselves and begin to crawl rules and guidelines are set in place to ensure their safety. If those rules are obeyed life is much simpler—for everybody!

No good parent would leave his two year old to run on the road, or let him touch a hot stove. And we would not think much of a parent who didn’t love and care enough to protect and keep their children safe and happy.disciplining-children

I read the following on Facebook some days ago.

“Religion says you need to straighten up and serve their church and pay tithes to be saved. God says you need to accept his free gift of salvation and told his church to SERVE YOU until you accept. I’m sorry that the church isn’t fully obedient and for some reason they expect you to be, but just ignore them, don’t believe the lie you need to serve them and obey their rules to be saved. Just accept the free gift.”

I didn’t feel inclined to comment on my young friend’s post that day. Perhaps I was too tempted to pick it totally apart. However my thoughts keep returning to his sentiments. I do find it interesting that he included a phrase to ponder– “for some reason they expect you to be (obedient)”.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” Doctrines and Covenants 130:20-21

So many people’s hackles go up when confronted by rules. Especially the laws and commandments taught as part of religion. It truly is a testing ground for some. My way? Or God’s way?

Perhaps it’s our pride or rebellion. Perhaps it’s the belief that we are powerful and able to rule our own world. We want to change the rules to make them comfy and palatable-to match our desires. Maybe in the same way that children think they know better than their elders and fight to be independent, we fight being obedient to Heavenly Father’s plan.

“Today we find ourselves in …a war of thoughts, words and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children.” L. Tom Perry

Because I had never considered them closely in light of today’s practices, I was fascinated with a portion of a General Conference talk, “Obedience to Law is Liberty” given by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles regarding the Ten Commandments. He said:

“One way to measure ourselves and compare us to previous generations is by one of the oldest standards known to man—the Ten Commandments. For much of the civilized world, particularly the Judeo-Christian world, the Ten Commandments have been the most accepted and enduring delineation between good and evil.

In my judgement, four of the Ten Commandments are taken as seriously today as ever. As a culture we disdain and condemn murder, stealing, and lying, and we still believe in the responsibility of children to their parents.

But as a larger society we routinely dismiss the other six commandments:

–  If worldly priorities are any indication, we certainly have “other gods” we put before the true God.

–  We make idols of celebrities, of lifestyles, of wealth, and yes, sometimes of graven images or objects.

–  We use the name of God in all kinds of profane ways, including our exclamations and our swearing.

–  We use the Sabbath day for our biggest games, our most serious recreation, our heaviest shopping, and virtually everything else but worship.

–  We treat sexual relations outside marriage as recreation and entertainment.

–  And coveting has become a far too common way of life. (see Exodus 20:3-17)

…A useful way to think about the commandments is they are loving counsel from a wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father. His goal is our eternal happiness, and His commandments are the road map He has given us to return to Him, which is the only way we will be eternally happy.”

I am grateful to be a member of a church that teaches the importance of obeying all of Heavenly Father’s commandments. For many years I admired the writer of Psalms and marvelled at his expressions of deep praise, love and gratitude for the laws and commandments of God. Psalm 119 comes to mind.

We admire Abraham for his faith and obedience. “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:18) and other great ancients-Enoch, Noah, Joseph, Moses and many others- because they heard the voice of the Lord and obeyed.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ set us a perfect example of obedience. “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him. John 8:28-29

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:10-11

We parents plan to protect our children from all dangers. And we have desires and aspirations for them to be filled with happiness and well being. Would not a Heavenly Parent even more so  plan for the protection and happiness of His sons and daughters?

“In the universe, too, where God is in command,

there is law—universal, eternal …law—

with certain blessings and immutable penalties.”

It makes us sad to watch a child deliberately shatter a guideline and hurt himself. I wonder how it makes our Father in Heaven feel when we use our agency to completely disregard His guidelines. We miss out on the countless blessings He might have showered upon us.

“The Lord will not force himself upon people; and if they do not believe, they will receive no visitation. If they are content to depend upon their own limited calculations and interpretations, then, of course, the Lord will leave them to their chosen fate. . . . 

“The Almighty is with this people. We shall have all the revelations that we shall need if we will do our duty and keep the commandments of God. If men could just realize that there may be sound even though few ears hear it. There are revelations even though most minds be materialistic and most hearts impenetrable” The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 454

Over the years, I’ve often wondered why the predicated blessings are not listed with each commandment to answer my ‘whys’. Several times I’ve been enlightened with the reasons for a particular commandment after I have determined to keep it.

It may take years to recognize the promises and blessings attached to Heavenly Father’s commandments but when they are received, they are sweet indeed.

How have you been greatly blessed for keeping one of God’s commandments?

Recently, I was contemplating the importance of obedience to the Lord’s commandments and its relationship to revelation. 

That same week Sam, fifteen years old, spoke in Sacrament meeting along a similar line of thought. I thought you would appreciate this young man’s perspective in this guest post. Thanks, Sam!

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters. Last week I was handed a talk assignment and the topic that I was given was “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth”. Looking at that topic I was a little confused how to open a talk from a quote. The first thing that came to my head was the story of Samuel in the temple with Eli.

1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;

4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.

6 And the Lord called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.

8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child.

9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (KJV)

Now,  that was all that I could think about from the quote, was the scripture about Samuel hearing the Lord and later that he obeyed the Lord in all that he commanded, and then it hit me- obedience. I can talk on obedience.

Samuel like many other prophets was obedient to the Lord by doing what he asked. Such as Nephi. He was commanded to build a boat. Joseph Smith was commanded to restore the church and Samuel the Lamanite was commanded to preach to the Nephites of Christ’s birth. These are just a few examples of obedience.

Obedience does not just have to be obedience to the Lord. You can be obedient to parents, church leaders and to yourself.

Being obedient to parents includes just doing of what they ask. If they give you a job to do around the house, you do it. If church leaders ask you to give a talk or prayers you just simply do it.

President Uchtdorf told a story of a little rule pilots give to themselves. It is to fly at least 500 feet above the trees so that they do not crash. That is a little example of self obedience.

Now the most obvious part of obedience is to the Lord. Unlike Nephi and Samuel we are not prophets. But we go to God to get personal revelation from Him to us.

We can also get revelation from general conferences, and we do. Twice a year we have general conference where the prophet and apostles give us new headings for the church.

Obedience isn’t only followed straight from the prophet’s mouth. We have scriptures and many other books to help us keep our obedience such as “Strength for Youth”. It teaches the basics of modern day obedience from modesty to language and even spiritual obedience.

Another great source to get obedience is from the commandments, such as “love thy neighbour as thyself”, “thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal”, and many more.

“The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.” Joshua 24:24

Now what can obedience do for us? If we obey in all that we do we can be blessed.

A great example of that is from Samuel the Lamanite who was commanded to preach to the Nephites about Christ’s birth. While he was preaching, the Nephites attempted to stop Samuel by shooting arrows and rocks at him. But because of Samuel’s obedience he was not hit by anything and was able to leave with no harm.

Now what happens if you are not obedient? Well, there is a story of that in the bible of a prophet named Jonah. Jonah was commanded to go to a city to preach to  the people that were wicked to stop their wickedness.

Jonah thought that was a bad idea and decided to go the opposite direction away from that city, so he took a boat to get away from the commandment the Lord gave him. During his trip bad weather came upon the ship and Jonah was cast off the ship and was soon swallowed by a great fish. Jonah was stuck in the fish for 3 days and 3 nights then he repented of his sin and he was spat out onto dry land.

Now the moral of the scripture isn’t if you don’t be obedient you will be eaten by a whale. It is simply that following commandments are better and that you will be blessed if you do so.

“Love the Lord…obey his voice” Deuteronomy 30:20

Where does obedience come from? Before this time Heavenly Father had a plan known as the plan of salvation. It was to test us to see who is worthy to be with him.

The plan was that we were given a body, and to go to earth and that we have the choice to choose between right and wrong. This is where obedience comes from.  He gave us commandments that will guide us to Him to be worthy. If we are worthy in all that we do we will be able to return to him again.

I’d like to end my talk with my testimony on obedience:

I know that obedience can give us blessings and that if we obey the commandments and leaders of the church we will be blessed and that if we are obedient to Heavenly Father we will be able to return to Him.

 “When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” D & C 130:21