Saturday, April 25, 2009

Paul's Epistle to the Phillippians, III

So the next thing that I want to point out that Paul teaches is that we should forget the trials of the past and press forward to the future. He says, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

I don't think that "forgetting those things which are behind" means we abandon the lessons learned but rather that we don't continue to suffer and stir up past trials. Some trials, we pass through. Gain the strength, learn the lessons, and move on! There are, for certain, going to be more trilas to pass through! There are also some trials which we must learn to live with. These, I believe, we must allow to grow with us though. These type of trials attempt to define us. While such trials for me have, in my mind, defined what type of person I am, I don't want to be known for "the one ______" (fill in the blank for whatever trial(s) I am having to live with)! Does that make sense?!

My "BIG" trials (Laurie Ann's death, Roland's illness, there's others but they don't need to be listed). . .these things for me have shaped me, refined me, helped me to be spiritually stronger, enabled me to become more reliant upon my Savior. I don't want, however, for everyone who knows me to say, "Oh, that's Patti Merrill. The one who's daughter died" or "who's husband is so sick". It's ok that people know these things about me, but I don't want that to be what defines me. If you looked up "Patti Merrill" in the dictionary, I don't want my trials to be listed!!! Rather, I would want things like faithful, valiant, kind, loving, compassionate, etc.

(Ok, anyone out there reading this?!!! Share with me your thoughts on these things. How do you feel about what Paul's teachings teach us? Give me your perspective on the whole enduring our trials thing!)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Paul's Epistle to the Phillippians, II

(This is a multi-part post. It will take several days for me to put everything. I understand if you don't read it all. It's just my ramblings regarding what I learned from the epistle of Paul to the Phillippians.)

The next thing Paul teaches by his attitude is that through our sufferings, we can aid in our own salvation. In verse 19, chapter 1 he says, "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."

If we endure our trials, our hardships, our sufferings well we will enjoy many great blessings. Even all that "salvation" encompasses.

D&C 136:31 (which by the way, I was looking for a different D&C scripture but came upon this one which is so perfect) says that we "must be tried in all things, that [we]may be prepared to receive the glory that [God has] for [us], even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom."

There are many scriptures in the D&C that teach if we endure our afflictions well, we will be blessed. The one I was thinking of before I found the one above is where the Lord comforted Joseph Smith while he was in the middle of a huge trial. It is D&C 121 starting in verse 7

"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes."

As we pass through this mortal existence, it is requisite that we experience grief, sin, pain, temptations, sickness and other things that will try us. These things are meant to aid in our salvation. And as we recognize this, I truly believe, it will strengthen us. Can we remember (and when I say "we" I really mean "I") this in the middle of our trials?! Can we have such clarity?! If we can then it will certainly help us to "endure it well". Knowing that there is purpose. REAL purpose.

I think, also, that it is paramount that we always remember that it is because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can even have a hope for salvation. We must always remember that he went forth, "suffering pains and afflictions and temptation of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:11-12)

Which leads me to the next thing Paul teaches us. Phillippians 3:10 says "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." Paul teaches us that through our experiences in life we can come to know Christ and the power of the resurrection.

I think that as we struggle and suffer even some of the same types of things that Jesus suffered for us--sickness, pains, afflictions, temptations, etc--that we can have a greater sense of gratitude. For, while what we suffer is difficult, it is our pains alone. The Savior's suffering was for all the inhabitants of the world! Such great love. Such great mercy! To borrow a line from one of my all-time favorite hymns, "I stand all amazed!"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Paul's Epistle to the Phillippians, I

We had a really good lesson in Seminary last week. I truly enjoy teaching Seminary! I love feeling the Spirit as I bear testimony and teach Gospel truths. This particular lesson, however, was especially meaningful to me.

We were covering Paul's letter to the Phillippians. It's a short little book in the New Testament, but as I studied it enough to teach it, I discovered some wonderful things that will probably help me for many years to come. I find myself wanting to be more like Paul. He was steady in the midst of his trials.

When Paul wrote this letter to the Phillippians, he was in a Roman prison. He was put there for preaching the gospel! What kind of justice is that?! Here he is, doing the right thing and how is he rewarded?! It seems that he could've been spared such treatment. That God would've protected him and helped him. He'd done it before. . .He has the power. Yet, He allowed Paul to be put into jail. To suffer many great hardships.

Paul's attitude as he endured these hardships shines through as he wrote this epistle. He does not question why. He does not whine and complain or get angry (all of which I often do in the midst of my own trials). Rather, he expresses his total faith and willingness to endure.

In verse 12 of the first chapter he says, "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel." In other words, he is saying that because of the things that have happened to him, the gospel has moved forward. Others have been brought closer to the Savior.

This causes me to reflect on my own life. I ask myself, "have the things which have happened to me, the way that I've dealt with my trials, my attitude, my example. . .has it helped anyone else come closer to our Savior?

I feel like I can answer in the affirmative. I also, however, fear that I haven't always been as faithful, as valiant as I could've been. How differently, how much better trials and hardships can be endured if we have the attitude of bringing others closer to the Savior because of what we are experiencing. To glorify God in all things. I love this example from Paul. It is so powerful!

(to be continued. . .)