From: Francis Harper
Francis Harper Message for 2/1/2019
Not only do we need to know who we are spiritually, those of us who were born in this “choice land above all other lands. . . preserved for a righteous people” (Ether 1:29) need to know who we are, as citizens of this great land and our obligations to preserve it. We are indebted to the founders of our nation and to our God who led our ancestors here. It was He who has “made and preserved us a nation.” (The Star Spangled Banner. Hymns of the Restoration. #96).
We are debtors. We will be held accountable. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required . . .”(Luke 12:57 IV; 12:48 KJV). “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” The words of President John F. Kennedy have never been more appropriate than they are today: “My fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Without a doubt, the daily prayers we offer for our country are quite likely the greatest contribution we can make on her behalf.
According to the scripture already quoted, our nation was preserved for a righteous people. It is true that “righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). In addition to calling upon the Lord for his help, we must strive to be righteous citizens of our land.
Among the many blessings given to the inhabitants of our country was the coming forth of an additional Scripture; The Book of Mormon. Sadly this gift has been rejected by the majority of our citizens, even as Jesus was rejected by the majority in his day.
The Book of Mormon has much to say related to our country, to which all of its citizens would do well to heed. The words of the prophet Ether should be heard and heeded by every person in our nation today: “Behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God, or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God . . . Behold this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it, shall be free from bondage and from captivity . . . if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 1:32-35).
Every citizen of our nation, regardless of race, color or creed, who will read The Book of Mormon, without prejudice, will be blessed. Henry A. Wallace, a former Vice-President of the United States said in an address: “Of all the American religious books of the nineteenth century it seems probable that The Book of Mormon was the most powerful. It reached perhaps only 1 percent of the United States, but it affected this 1 percent so powerfully and lastingly, that all the people of the United States have been affected” (Henry A. Wallace, New York Times, November 5, 1937).
Dr. Marcus Bach, former head of the School of Religion at the University of Iowa, not affiliated with any of the churches teaching The Book of Mormon, wrote: “Here, then, is a new Scripture, discovered in America, presenting to all a book intended to supplement the Bible rather than supplant it, designed to complement previous revelations, rather than compete with them, written to prove the divinity of Christ rather than to deny it. With this in mind, The Book of Mormon is indispensable to all religiously oriented people” (written in 1973 as a foreward in a missionary copy of The Book of Mormon).
The Book of Mormon message to the people of our choice land is very simple: Repent or perish. In other words, turn to Jesus Christ, follow him, or be destroyed. Alma, another Book of Mormon prophet, wrote: “If the voice of this people should choose iniquity they would be ripe for destruction.” He added, “If it were not for the prayers of the righteous . . . ye would even now be visited with utter destruction” (Alma 8:28-31). We need to pray that we will always have a righteous praying remnant in our land. Even ten righteous would have spared Sodom! See Genesis 18.
My Love to All,
We need to know ourselves even as we are known. Paul spoke of the time when we shall know even as also we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12). See also Doctrine and Covenants 76:7-j. We tend to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. See Romans 12:3. The Scriptures have been called a mirror.
Only the Lord knows us. He knows us much better than we know ourselves. He knows of every sin we have committed. He knows “the thoughts and intents of the hearts . . . all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him [Jesus] with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
We often sing: “If suddenly upon the street my gracious Savior I should meet . . . His eye would pierce my outward show, His thought my inmost thought would know; And if I said, “I love thee Lord,” He would not heed my spoken word unless my daily life should tell that verily I loved him well” (Hymns of the Restoration, #354).
Nathanael was surprised at the Lord’s knowledge of him even though they had never met. “Jesus saw Nathanael coming unto him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael said unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answering said unto him, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree I saw thee. Nathanael answered and said unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God . . .” (John 1:47-49). We may be able to hide our sins from our family and friends and excuse ourselves for our transgressions but they will never be hidden from the Lord.
David, “the man after God’s own heart,” had committed many sins but he repented and was forgiven. See 1 Kings 11:33. David prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). This prayer is appropriate for all of us. We need to ask the Lord to turn his divine flashlight upon our hearts, our thoughts and our lives to reveal those things for which we need to repent and be forgiven.
Perhaps it was due to David’s prayers that the Lord sent Nathan, the prophet to ask him: “Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? . . . thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:9-14). We need to be aware that our imperfections and weaknesses do not reflect the true light of Christ. What a challenge! O’ Lord help us to reflect your light in all we do and say.
When Nathan said: “Thou art the man,” David became acutely aware of himself as a sinner, and of his need to repent. This revelation caused him to pray from the depth of his heart: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1).
In the presence of the Holy Spirit we are awakened to a “lively sense of our guilt” and suddenly we know ourselves as we are known. (Mosiah 1:83). In the presence of Jesus, Simon Peter “fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).
When we know as we are known, we will kneel before the Lord with broken hearts and contrite spirits and he will forgive us. The Lord proclaimed to Moses; “The Lord God [is] merciful and gracious, long suffering, . . . forgiving iniquity and transgression” (Exodus 34:6-7). He has said: “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Psalm 89:34. God forgave David. He will also forgive us if we confess our transgressions and come before him with “a broken and a contrite heart, acting no hypocrisy, and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of our sins.” See Psalm 51:17 and 2 Nephi 13:16.