----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Francis Harper
Francis Harper Message for 11/8/2019
The popularity of Jesus with the multitude continued until the supply of loaves and fish was exhausted. “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:66-69).
The Lord’s question, “Will ye also go away?” is still appropriate for each of us to consider and answer today. There are many in our nation, and even in our church, who accepted Jesus, were baptized and promised to follow him all the days of their lives, who no longer walk with him! According to a survey conducted in 2018-2019, 65% of Americans now consider themselves Christians. This is down 12 percentage points within the last decade. Jesus, speaking of the time of his second coming, prophesied: “And then shall many be offended, . . . And because iniquity shall abound, the love many shall wax cold; but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:12-13).
We need to remember the song we occasionally sing: “I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, No turning back. Tho’ none go with me, still I will follow, No turning back, No turning back. The world behind me, the cross before me, No turning back, No turning back.” I recall the Nepalese saints singing this at their baptismal services. Becoming a faithful Christian is always costly, but this is especially true in countries where Christians often face persecution, imprisonment and even death.
Jesus taught: “Wherefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you. For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have the money to finish his work. . . signifying there should not any man follow him, unless he was able to continue . . .” (Luke 14:28-31).
Jesus also said: “. . . no man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Paul mentions a fellow servant, Demas, being with him in the ministry. Later, in his letter to Timothy he writes: “. . . Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). This is the sad commentary that could be written for many who have good intentions to follow Jesus who do not finish well. Paul could truthfully say: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
There’s always opposition. As it is written: And to bring about God’s “eternal purposes in the end of man . . . it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life” (2 Nephi 1:97-100).
Our most formidable foes are Satan and ourselves. The natural man is an enemy to God and to ourselves. God will help us if we ask: “Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wand’ring heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, O take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above” (Hymns of the Restoration #10).
The words of Peter have been tested and proven to be true: “God knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation...” (2 Peter 2:9). If we rely on him, he will help us “endure unto the end.” And we shall be saved! (Mark 13:13).
I promised the Lord I would write a message each week if he would give me a subject and assist me with the writing. In the early hours of October 27, I was awakened by a quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit. I was given a one word message. The word was endurance.
As I pondered upon the word endurance I thought of the many saints through the ages who have endured. Paul listed many of these: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, David, Samuel and the prophets. See Hebrews 11.
Paul could have named many others who have suffered great hardships for the cause of the kingdom. He was not aware of Lehi, Nephi, Abinadi, Alma, Samuel and others who suffered great trials to bring forth the kingdom in the western hemisphere. Finally Paul reminds us of Jesus: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith: who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God . . . consider him that endured . . . ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin . . . wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:2, 4, 12).
In our review of those who have willingly suffered and endured in supporting truth and righteousness we must mention Joseph and Emma Smith and their associates. Joseph was mocked and persecuted from the beginning of his ministry. He was beaten, tarred and feathered, imprisoned and was finally killed. Through all their trials, Joseph and his wife Emma, never wavered in upholding their testimony of truth.
What must we endure and overcome today? Most of us, especially in America, are not being threatened physically. The threats we face in the USA are primarily in the spiritual realm. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We have heard the words such as the “deep state” and the “swamp” being used to describe the corruption within our government. This corruption is undoubtedly due to the decline of the spiritual values of those who govern and in those who elected them.
The pollsters report the following percentages of American (USA) adults who approve of the following listed behaviors: Gambling 61%, Adultery 42%, Fornication 60%, Abortion 45%, pornography 38%, profanity 38%, drunkenness 35% and homosexuality 30%. Christianity appears to be losing ground in our nation.
At one point in my life I prayed: “Lord, is your kingdom only a utopian dream? Shortly after I offered this prayer I was awakened in the night with these words being repeated again and again: “In this world we have no continuing city.” I was not acquainted with any scripture expressing this thought. I searched for the word in my Bible Concordance using the word “continuing.” The scripture being repeated to me is found in Hebrews 13:14: “For here [in this world] have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come [an eternal, everlasting city]. This experience was blessed assurance that God’s kingdom will come, even as Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven” (Matthew 6:11 IV; 6:10 KJV). Would Jesus teach us to pray for God’s kingdom to come, if it will never come? I think not.
We look forward with great anticipation to the day when “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout . . .” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). “For behold, he cometh in the clouds with ten thousands of his saints” (Revelation 1:7). Enoch and his city of Holiness will be among them, “Then they [saints] who are alive, shall be caught up together into the clouds . . . to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
“And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost. And if they endure unto the end, they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 3:187-188).
My Love to All,
High Priest Francis Harper