Over the past several months, it has become more and more apparent that simply maintaining our current spiritual activity will not always be enough.
President Russell M. Nelson made this clear in both General Conferences last year as he made the adjustments of ministering and a home-centered Church. He invited us to minister and live in “a higher, holier way.” 1
Today, he also told us that time is running out to prepare ourselves and make needed changes in our lives.
As the adversary advances, we must prepare ourselves to face him and push on in the Lord’s work by anticipating the opposition and strengthening our foundations.
We’ve heard of the signs of wars, rumors of wars, calamities, storms, and all sorts of violence. According to many prophets and apostles, we can expect these things to not only continue in the future, but to increase, so we need to prepare for them.
Now, I’m not going to talk about getting food storage together or setting up financial savings. These are good things to do, but the temporal preparations are secondary to and a result of spiritual preparations.
After all, we are not only told of the physical signs of the times. 2 Nephi 28:20-22 reminds us:
20 For behold, at that day shall he [the devil] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well – and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none – and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.2 Nephi 28:20-22
The progression of the Lord’s work is matched by the opposition of the devil. We know that the devil can never beat God, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be pain or challenges in the process.
We have also been warned that in the last days, in the face of everything prophesied, “men’s hearts will fail them.”2 I’ve talked about this a bit before (see “Finding Hope in Fear“), but to take another angle on it, we must establish our own spiritual self-reliance in the face of this fear.
President Nelson’s invitations have offered us opportunities to establish ourselves more firmly in the gospel of Jesus Christ. His and others’ continued guidance combined with our own determination will help protect us as the time of the Second Coming grows nearer.
But How Can We Establish Ourselves Spiritually?
Just listening to the prophet, wonderful as he is, will not be enough. Action is expected of us.
Alma 48:7-9 gives us the example of Captain Moroni taking action against his enemies:
7 Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.
8 Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.
9 And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites.Alma 48:7-9
Moroni does three things before he faces down his enemies.
1. He Prepares “The Minds of the People to be Faithful” to God
This could entail several things. Perhaps in Moroni’s time this meant preaching the word of God to the people. While that is one part of our own practice, we can also include several other things such as personal scripture study, temple attendance, and sincere prayer.
President Nelson has offered invitations for each of these things. In the October 2018 Women’s Conference, he asked that each sister read The Book of Mormon and mark each place that talks of Christ.
President Monson before him also asked that we daily read from The Book of Mormon to gain and strengthen our testimonies of it. Clearly, we have prophetic promises of strength and prepared minds if we spend time in the scriptures.
President Nelson also said in the October 2018 General Conference,
“I invite you to worship in the temple and pray to feel deeply the Savior’s infinite love for you, that each of you may gain your own testimony that He directs this sacred and ageless work.”3President Russel M. Nelson, “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints”
The temple can invite such a sweet spirit into our lives as we prioritize it. It helps us to remember our Savior in our every day lives.
These and other invitations from our prophet in the last year ask us to prepare our minds, become more self-reliant and established, and to take the personal action needed to do so. These invitations are backed by divine promises that will be fulfilled, if we accept the invitations.
2. Moroni Builds Safe Places
We have all heard the phrase, “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved” (D&C 87:8). Moroni, after encouraging the people to be in holy places in their hearts and minds, then uses that preparation to build safe places.
This could be both a temporal and a spiritual action. We can set up our apartments, homes, families, relationships, etc. to be spiritual safe places for us and our loved ones. This action could also lead us to the temple and to attending our church meetings.
Building safe places is an individual effort and need. Only you can know where those safe places are and could be, and by preparing our minds first, we can receive the revelation we need to form these safe places.
3. Moroni Locates the Weakest Points and Strengthens Them
Weakness is inevitable in humans. It’s simply fact of our fallen existence. But with the help of Christ, “weak things will be made strong” (Ether 12:27).
Ministering can also factor into this. It may take time to learn the best ways to minister to those around us, but that shouldn’t hold us back in the meantime. We can be strengthened while also strengthening others, which strengthens the Church as a whole.
Weakness can be overcome. We have that hope in Christ, so we simply need to move forward in faith, trusting that He will strengthen us.
How It All Paid Off
Alma 49 explains what happened when the Lamanites came to fight the Nephites after Moroni’s preparations.
First, they came to the city of Ammonihah because, having destroyed the city in the past, they thought it would be weak. But it had been rebuilt and strengthened, so the Lamanites went to the city of Noah instead… only to find it was even stronger.
This time, they decided they might as well make an attempt to take the city. And here’s how that turned out:
21 And it came to pass that the captains of the Lamanites brought up their armies before the place of entrance, and began to contend with the Nephites, to get into their place of security; but behold, they were driven back from time to time, insomuch that they were slain with an immense slaughter.
22 Now when they found that they could not obtain power over the Nephites by the pass, they began to dig down their banks of earth that they might obtain a pass to their armies, that they might have an equal chance to fight; but behold, in these attempts they were swept off by the stones and arrows which were thrown at them; and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies.
23 Thus the Nephites had all power over their enemies; and thus the Lamanites did attempt to destroy the Nephites until their chief captains were all slain; yea, and more than a thousand of the Lamanites were slain; while, on the other hand, there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain.Alma 49:21-23
Thanks to Moroni’s efforts and the efforts of the people, the Nephites were protected, preserved, and overcame every onslaught of their attackers.
The prophets have been clear. We have to live in a higher way than we have in the past.
If we prepare ourselves and our families the way Moroni and the prophets have shown us, we should have nothing to fear.
How are you going to prepare yourself this week?
And what did you learn from General Conference this weekend?
Let us know in the comments below!
- Nelson, Russell M. “Opening Remarks.” Ensign, 6 October 2018.
- McConkie, Bruce R. Millenial Messiah. pp. 404
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