• Tiffany Miller

BLOG: (July 11-17) 2 Kings 17-25, "Let Them Work Mightily Within Us"

King Josiah was one of the righteous kings of Israel. He was young when he started to reign, just 8 years old. I can’t imagine what that would be like. I do imagine that he was like Mormon in that he was a “sober child, and [...] quick to observe” (Mormon 1:2). He’d have to have the spirit of discernment to accomplish what he did. His land and people were infested with idols and wickedness. The Lord led him to rediscovering the scriptures and getting back on the covenant path.

[Somewhat random side note: check out Elder Bednar’s BYU speech about being quick to observe. Lots of great stuff to ponder!]

It is so easy for us to access the words of Christ and His gospel in our day. We can literally carry them around with us everywhere, and it’s not even inconvenient! We’re so used to having access, that it’s easy for us to take it for granted. Back in Biblical times and Book of Mormon times, they didn’t have such easy access. I’m not even sure if they had access in their homes. Surely the prophet’s and king’s family did, but I don’t know if the average family did. It’s possible, but I don’t think it's very likely. How difficult and different that must have been! Can you imagine what that would be like? To not have such ready access to the words of Christ? I’m sure they were much better at memorizing them. [Hint: it’s A LOT easier to ponder and get something written in your heart when it’s memorized] Having such ready access to the scriptures and information in general has made us a little lazy and our brains have gone soft.

Access to the scriptures definitely makes it easier to feast on them! And since we’re commanded to feast on them, it sure is nice for it to be easy. What is the goal of feasting on the words of Christ? I would suggest that there are many benefits and delicious fruits that come about from such feasting; one of which is that it helps us write the gospel of Christ on the fleshy tables of our hearts (2 Cor 3:3), thereby penetrating our heart and soul. When this happens, it means that the “gospel becomes not just one of many influences in a person’s life but the defining focus of his or her life and character” (Christofferson). When the gospel is firmly written in our hearts, it’s much easier and seems more natural to us to persevere firm and steadfast in the faith of Christ.

Back in King Josiah’s day, the “the written law of Moses had been lost and was virtually unknown, even among the priests of the temple!” (Kimball). I can’t imagine that either. I’ve always had access to the Word of God. Josiah’s discovery of them literally changed his life. It would be easy to fall away without access to the Word of God. Has the written Word been lost in our lives? What would that even look like, for the Word to be lost in our lives? I imagine it would be at least somewhat lost to us on days that we don’t feast on the words of Christ. We could get into the difference of feasting versus snacking on the words of Christ, but I’ll leave you a quote and let you ponder on what it means for you. Sister Nelson, before she was Sister Nelson wrote in her book Rock Solid Relationships: “We have an ongoing need to be repeatedly immersed in the truths of the restored gospel, or we will understand and experience only enough to feel guilty and not enough of the eternal truths to feel joy. Joy comes through immersion. A little sprinkling of the scriptures in our lives will never bring us the fullness of joy that accompanies regular immersion” (pages 8-9).

In my last blog post, I talked about what is essential in your life. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” What are the fruits in your life? How would you describe your life to someone? What happens on the daily? I suggest making a list of the things in your life, the fruits if you will. Work backwards and find where those fruits are coming from. For example, if I find myself frustrated often, what is that a fruit of? What am I focusing on to find myself frustrated? If I have a healthy or unhealthy body, what is that a fruit of? If my children are happy and developing as they should, what is that a fruit of? If I find myself wasting excessive time on non-essential things, why? What is that a fruit of? If I want different fruit, then I need to make some fundamental changes in my thoughts and actions.

Elder Christofferson suggests that perhaps if some of the fruits of our lives aren’t the ones that we desire, then we may not have fully received the gospel of Jesus Christ into our lives. Paul describes this when he says they were “buried with [Christ] by baptism,” they are still missing the part that “like as Christ was raised up from the dead…, even so we… should walk in [a] newness of life” (Romans 6:4). “The gospel does not yet define them. They are not yet centered in Christ. They are selective about the doctrines and commandments they will follow and where and when they will serve in the Church. By contrast, it is in keeping their covenants with exactness that those ‘who are the elect according to the covenant’ avoid deception and remain firm in the faith of Christ.”

Elder Christofferson’s comment about being selective about where and when we serve in the Church reminds me of the parable of the Little Red Hen. We all know that story. There are callings and assignments that seem less than desirable to us and we’re often quick to say “Not I” like those animals did when the Red Hen asked for help. Who will help plan this ward activity? “Not I!” Who will serve in the nursery? “Not I!” Who will help clean the church building or feed the missionaries this week? “Not I!” I challenge you to take an honest look at yourself and see how many times you might be answering “Not I” when you actually could say “Here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Side note: obviously there are times when the honest and true answer is “Not I” - don’t go running faster than you have strength thinking you can never answer that way.

Elder Christofferson continues, “Most of us find ourselves at this moment on a continuum between a socially motivated participation in gospel rituals on the one hand [the “Not I” stage], and a fully developed, Christlike commitment to the will of God on the other [the “Here am I, send me” stage of our gospel conversion]. Somewhere along that continuum, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ enters into our heart and takes possession of our soul. It may not happen in an instant, but we should all be moving toward that blessed state.”

Our conversion, or lack of being fully converted to the gospel of Christ, can lead us to being dishonest with ourselves. This dishonesty often manifests itself through defensiveness and rationalization of our behavior. If someone suggested a behavior change in us or brought to our attention a less than desirable behavior of ours, what is our reaction? If it is defensiveness or to rationalize why we’re not wrong, I would suggest that is a red flag, and Satan has duped us. What things do you find yourself being defensive about? If we’re sure and steadfast in our testimony of that thing, there is no need to be defensive. For example, if I’m sure of the way I should handle a situation with my girls fighting with each other, then I have no need to be defensive. My “testimony” of my response is built on solid and true principles. However, if I react and handle their fighting in a way I know deep down to be wrong, I react defensively if questioned and rationalize why I had to yell or whatever it is I did. If I’m truly honest with myself, then I have no need to defend my behavior, I either know I did correctly, or that I need to work on it.

Here are some thoughts to promote some reflection of your own actions that may bring out defensiveness and rationalization. President Nelson in his last conference address to us asked us to rid our lives of conflict. How honestly are we loving those around us? It’s a commandment for us to do so. Are we being honest in our love of others? Not just on the surface and in public. Are our words loving and kind? I was taught 3 questions to ask about the words I say regarding others when I was younger. Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Remember, it’s our place to love those around us, not criticize them. Criticism never comes from a place of love. Correction can though. We’re called to be a light, not a judge. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Our words and actions are supposed to lead others to Christ and reflect His name which we have covenanted to take upon us. Remember that when interacting with others, especially with the upcoming midterm elections.

When King Josiah understood that he and his people hadn’t been doing things correctly, he was humble enough to make some changes. He proceeded to clean up his kingdoms and destroyed the idols that had been erected to take the place of more important things that lead us to Christ. What is taking the place of our daily feasting on the word of the Lord? Is anything distracting us from things that are essential? How can we similarly proceed like King Josiah and clean up our lives? We need to evaluate our actions and the fruits found in our lives alongside the scriptures. Am I living the gospel as fully as I can right now? “What lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20). It’s a process, this becoming deeply converted to the Lord. I’m not perfect, but what should I focus on right now to help me be more like Christ? The Lord has promised us that He will lead us and the Holy Ghost will prompt us with the answers for what we can work on right now to help us on our way. For some deeper reflections on this topic, check out Elder Lawrence’s conference talk “What Lack I Yet?”

President Kimball taught, “I feel strongly that we must all of us return to the scriptures just as King Josiah did and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord.” I always pay attention when the word "let" comes up. “Let them work mightily within us” Let! That means that it’s a choice on our part. We have the power to let it happen or not. That beautiful and wonderful gift of agency from our loving Heavenly Father comes into play, and we get to choose. It reminds me of that primary song I quoted a while ago. “As I learn and grown in faith, God will be my strength. With every step I take, I will choose to serve the Lord” (emphasis added).

I'm Tiffany and I live in sunny Arizona (love me some sunshine!). I have 5 beautiful daughters. I know what you're thinking, that's A LOT of estrogen! and you'd be right, but we have some of the greatest times known to mankind through our adventures in learning (we homeschool), loving, playing, and growing together. In my spare time, I love to read (I own literally thousands of books) and hike in the beautiful mountains near my home.

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