Exercising Our Faith in Christ
Talk given by Tory Stephen, Member of the High Council, in December 2016
Today President Beyler has asked me to explore the subject “Exercising Our Faith in Christ”, it is my prayer that I can present my thoughts in a manner that will motivate each of us to action that we may receive the promised blessings.
Simply put; by living a Christ centered life we are exercising our faith in him. He stated in John 15:10 “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”. Isn’t abiding in Christ’s love a promised
blessing of keeping his commandments and an outward expression of our faith and love for Him?
This past year President Beyler has asked us to address the following subjects: Sabbath Day Observance at Home and at Church, Personal Prayer, Scripture Study, Family Home Evening and Temple Worship. The commandments for Latter-Day Saints, so to speak. I believe that if each of us between the ages of 12 and our departure from mortality, can sit down on a regular basis with our priesthood leader authorized to ask us the specific questions for a temple recommend and answer those questions honestly and be found worthy to receive a temple recommend, we are all on the path to the promised blessings of exaltation. I believe that a temple recommend and consistent sacrament worship is what makes us Latter-Day Saints. It keeps us clean and unspotted from the world, worthy to enter the presence of the Father and Son. When I say worthy for me; I imagine that I will be comfortable in Their presence and I will feel joy. Of course the flip side to that will be discomfort and guilt. The gift of exaltation is to all, the Father and the Son desire that ALL return to them, They want us there. The determining factor of wither we stay or not will not be Their decision but ours.
Based upon the previous assumptions Temple worship is a key element of our path to exaltation. One that should be a regular event and if not one that we are diligently working toward. I would like to focus on one aspect of being Temple worthy, that is tithing.
The Lord outlined the law of the tithe in the old testament in Malachi. The Lord begins the chapter by pleading with his people to be obedient and to return to him and then He states:
7 ¶Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
8 ¶Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.
I don’t know about you but I certainly would like to have blessings poured upon me. I would also like the symbolic fruits of my ground not destroyed, or my vines not to cast their fruit before its time and to have the devourer rebuked in my behalf.
Alma’s discourse on the Melchizedek Priesthood in the 13th chapter of Alma contains another hint as to the importance of the payment of tithing. Alma states: 13 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.
14 Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.
15 And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed.
16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.
The payment of tithes requires humility and sacrifice and that sacrifice brings a remission of sins, again, I don’t know about you but the blessing of a remission of my sins and entering the “rest of the Lord” for the payment of my tithes sounds good to me.
Note in the two previous scriptures from Malachi and Alma they both reference “ordinances” as it relates to the payment of tithes. Now lets see what the Lord told Joseph Smith in Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants: 19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
I know that all those who pay a full and honest tithing each have life examples of the Lord’s blessings for doing so, I guarantee it. If you struggle to pay a full and honest tithe, humble yourself, let go of the fear and pay. Trust the Lord, follow Him as He has followed the Father. Think of the Savior as He entered the Garden to begin his suffering for the sins of the world or when he was upon the cross about to command His Spirit to leave his body, maybe He wondered if He would be able to take His body back up again. Even the Savior had to exercise faith in the Father, just as He askes us to exercise faith in Him to pay our tithing.
If you are ready to repent and begin to pay a full and honest tithe you need not feel that you must pay what you have not paid in the past, the Lord does not expect you to. Satan puts that thought in your mind, to create a sense of defeat making you think that you will never be able to “catch up” and get square with the Lord. The Lord does not expect that, what he does expect is that you will rely on His “arm” and exercise faith and pay your tithing from this time forward.
I admit that I was lucky, I grew up in a culture of tithe paying. Every time I saw my grandmother Eva or spoke to her on the phone the very first question she ALWAYS asked was: “are you paying your tithing”? And you did not want to cross grandma, she was a tough bird, let me tell you! Now grandma has been gone for 12 years, but I still hear her voice in my mind, reminding me to pay my tithing and I am sure that when I pass through the veil she will be there to check if I was faithful in my tithe payment.
For me the Lord has blessed me my whole life with the necessities of life. I have never wanted, I have always had a meal to eat, a warm bed, roof over my head and clean modest clothing to wear and a job or work to do. I specifically attribute that to the payment of my tithing.
Not everything in my financial life has gone as I had hoped, as a matter of fact 3 years ago I was experiencing total financial disaster. My expenses were beyond my income, the bank had begun the foreclosure process…I was in the process to “loose everything”. Ultimately we declared bankruptcy, we lost our home to a manageable short sale and had to move back to California away from your children and grandchildren for a new job. 2013 was a rough year, one of my roughest, but I experienced the highest level of joy and happiness I think I ever had for two simple reasons: I paid a full tithe and attended the temple once per month with a travel time round trip of 7 hours. The Lord has always watched over me and my family, I trust Him, I hope that if you do not now trust Him that you will.
Alma taught in chapter 26: 22; “Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed”;…
Brothers and Sisters please exercise your faith in the Savior Jesus Christ, pay a full and honest tithing and go to His house on a regular basis. I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that he will never let you down, abandon you or forget you. He will watch over you and bless you in ways that will astound you. I leave this promise with you and the blessings of President Beyler with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.