Sabbath Day Blessings

So many things in our lives have changed over the last few months. When suddenly I couldn’t buy toilet paper, bottled water, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes, I thought, “I wish I would have known before so I could have stocked up!” Luckily I had enough of those things in my storage to get by during the shortages. Those are temporal and temporary. What about my spiritual needs? How well is my spiritual storage room stocked? Because one thing is for sure, we have been warned that there are and will continue to be spiritually hard times ahead! For as long as I can remember, those warnings have been given. However, I don’t recall a time when they have been so emphatic.

Think about this and where we are today! In August 2015, Neil L. Andersen said, “In recent months, the First Presidency and the Twelve have felt an undeniable direction from the Lord to declare and reemphasize the Sabbath day and the importance of worthily partaking of the sacrament. As we take the sacrament, we remember the Savior and His Atonement. We come repenting of our sins, pledging our loyalty to covenants made with Him, and hearing again the promises He makes to us. To always have His Spirit with us is a pearl of enormous value. Receiving the sacrament on Sunday is more and more like an oasis in the desert, bubbling with cool spring water, quenching our spiritual thirst, and relieving our parched souls.”1

Two months later, Quentin L. Cook reminded us that “the storms and temptations of this life are often unpredictable. But this we know: they will come! In order to overcome the challenges and temptations that each of us inevitably faces, it will require righteous preparation and the use of divinely provided protections.”2 One of those divinely provided protections is honoring the Sabbath day.  Elder Cook taught, “Honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness. The Sabbath … allows us to be in the world but not of the world. Truly keeping the Sabbath day holy is a refuge from the storms of this life.”2

Remember in October 2018, when President Russell M. Nelson said, “It is time for a home-centered Church. … The adversary is increasing his attacks on faith and upon us and our families at an exponential rate.” It is undeniable that we are surely seeing that these days! He continued, “To survive spiritually, we need counterstrategies and proactive plans.”3 He also encouraged us to “conscientiously and carefully” transform our homes into sanctuaries of faith. He then gave this profoundly personal and individual promise, “I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. … [T]he influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease.”4

David A. Bednar has said, “The Sabbath is God’s time, a sacred time specifically set apart for worshipping Him and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises. … On His holy day, our thoughts, actions, and demeanor are signs we give to God and an indicator of our love for Him. … the Sabbath is to elevate our vision from the things of the world to the blessings of eternity.”5

Sundays definitely look a lot different today than they did eighteen months ago. Churches aren’t open for worshipping. Religious experts are worried that when they do reopen many people will not return. In a newspaper article the other day, Nancy Ammerman, a professor of the sociology of religion at Boston University, said, “People who stop attending church rarely develop or maintain spiritual practices at home.”6

Clearly our prophet feels differently! Home-centered church is a proactive plan that, if followed, will not only help us maintain spiritual practices but where we can “learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.”3

M. Russell Ballard called home-centered church “an opportunity to renew our spirit and our devotion to God within the walls of our homes.”7

And Elder Bednar said, “Our most instructive Sunday School classes should be our individual and family study in our places of residence.”8

Hopefully soon we will be able to gather in our churches to worship together. Until then, may we be ever vigilant in creating sanctuaries of faith in our homes. Elder Bednar gives this prophetic warning we would do well to heed, “Making our homes sanctuaries wherein we can ‘stand in holy places’ is essential in these latter days. And as important as home-centered and Church-supported learning is for our spiritual strength and protection today, it will be even more vital in the future.”8 (emphasis added)

Then Elder Bednar gives us this encouraging reminder, “Compensating blessings will come as we strive to fulfill our individual responsibility to learn and love the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”8

Elder Andersen gives this impressive list of compensating blessings for our righteous efforts that should help ease some of the inevitable anxieties we are all feeling, “The Lord has long anticipated this most important period of human history. He knows the end from the beginning. The Savior has assured us in our day, ‘Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.’ As we find our way in a world less attentive to the commandments of God, we will certainly be prayerful, but we need not be overly alarmed. The Lord will bless His Saints with the added spiritual power necessary to meet the challenges of our day. … As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight.”1

May we find peace and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ every day but especially on the Sabbath day.

References:

1.  A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous – Neil L. Andersen

2.  Shipshape and Bristol Fashion: Be Temple Worthy—in Good Times and Bad Times – Quentin L. Cook

3.  Opening Remarks – Russell M. Nelson

4.  Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints – Russell M. Nelson

5.  Exceeding Great and Precious Promises – David A. Bednar

6.  Church participation has been declining for decades. Will the pandemic make it worse? – Nancy Ammerman

7.  The True, Pure, and Simple Gospel of Jesus Christ – M. Russell Ballard

8.  Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing – David A. Bednar

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