Thursday, March 4, 2010

Elder M. Russell Ballard said:

“In the Church, we often state the couplet, ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ As we observe television shows that make profanity, violence, and infidelity commonplace and even glamorous, we often wish we could lock out the world in some way and isolate our families from it all. …

“Perhaps we should state the couplet previously mentioned as two separate admonitions. First, ‘Be in the world.’ Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement. Second, ‘Be not of the world.’ Do not follow wrong paths or bend to accommodate or accept what is not right. …

“Members of the Church need to influence more than we are influenced. We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead of passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 100–101; or Ensign, May 1989, 80).

We need to stop complaining about the problems that our all around us and try to present solutions. We can even become the solution.

Recap: Abraham was reared in Ur of Chaldea. The Lord asked Abraham to leave Ur and settle in Haran. Here the Lord revealed Himself to Abraham and established the covenant with him. The Lord gave the promised land of Canaan to Abraham and to his seed after him. Because of a famine in Canaan, Abraham and his family went to Egypt. Again, Abraham returned to Canaan.

Abraham and his nephew Lot were both prosperous men. They had many possessions, many flocks, and much cattle. When they returned to Canaan together, arguments ensued between Lot's herdmen and Abraham's herdsmen. Abraham did not want to have strife with his nephew. He said to Lot, Look all around us. There is so much good land. Choose what land you want, and if it be on the left hand, I'll take the land on the right hand, and vice versa. Abraham didn't get bogged down with the problem, but Abraham offered a solution.

So Lot saw the land that was near Sodom. It was beautiful, like the garden of Eden. There was much water and grass for his flocks. It was everything he could want. So he pitched his tent near Sodom with his tent door facing Sodom.(Before long, Lot moved right into Sodom.)

King Benjamin's people also pitched their tents. But they pitched them near the temple, and their tent doors faced the temple.

How might pitching our tents towards Sodom lead us into Sodom? How might pitching our tents towards the temple lead us into the temple, and then further into the presence of the Lord? Where am I personally pitching my tent? Which direction does it face? I hope that we will all turn our thoughts and our hearts towards the Lord and towards the temples.

Different kings from many city-states began to war with one another. Lot was taken captive. Abraham came to rescue Lot with 318 armed men. Soon, thereafter, Abraham met Melchizedek, the great high priest. Abraham gave him tithes of all. Whether this means that Abraham paid his tenth and his surplus alone to Melchizedek or whether he took tithes of all that were in his household, the scriptures aren't clear. I believe that it was the latter.

The king of Sodom wanted to reward Abraham for coming to the rescue. Abraham would have none of it. He did not want to receive anything from an unrighteous king, not even so much as a thread. From whom do we seek our rewards? What rewards do we seek after? We should consider that a thread of immorality may lead us to deep immorality just like pitching a tent outside of Sodom led Lot into Sodom. A little white lie, or a thread of dishonesty, can lead to greater coverups and dark dishonesty and complete loss of integrity. If we compromise our standards in the entertainment we seek or in our business endeavors, we may find ourselves unworthy to enter the temple. We may find that we are members of Sodom, so to speak.

Abraham truly had it right. He had a covenant with the Lord, and he knew what rewards he was seeking after. He paid his tithes to Melchizedek because he loved the Lord and he loved righteousness. He would not accept any outside gift that would pull him away from his purpose of keeping his covenants and following the Lord by being faithful and keeping the commandments.

Because of iniquity Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Many times Abraham petitioned the Lord to spare these cities if righteous people could be found in them. Their were none that were righteous, so the cities were destroyed. It was the righteous of Abraham that saved lot.

Because of Abraham's prays and his faith, Lot's family was offered deliverance. They were given the choice to leave and escape destruction. His sons' in law would not budge. The enticements of Sodom held them fast. (Have you ever been in a compromising situation that you were unwilling to leave?) So Lot left Sodom with his wife and his two daughters. The angels warned them not to look back, yet Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

In the Miracle of Forgiveness, President Kimball tells us that when we repent, we should not look back. That sometimes means dissolving friendships, getting rid of momentos, not listening to certain music, getting rid of perfumes. Whatever may remind us of misdeeds in our past, we may need to carefully dispose of certain things and not look back. Sometimes we must choose new friends and a new environment. We must pitch our tents towards the temple with the door facing the temple.

Lot was counseled to escape to the mountain, but he saw another place that he'd rather go. When we are endangered or feel like evil is engulfing us, we must remember that we need to get to higher ground. We must escape to the mountain; we must go to the temple. In the temple, we can indeed escape from the evils of the world for a short time. More importantly, in the temple, we are endowed with power from on high and then we can go out into the world and properly minister and keep our covenants. With renewed strength we can be in the world but not of the world because we are endowed sons and daughters of God.

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Our world is now much the same as it was in the days of the Nephite prophet who said: ‘… if it were not for the prayers of the righteous … ye would even now be visited with utter destruction. …’ (Al. 10:22.) Of course, there are many many upright and faithful who live all the commandments and whose lives and prayers keep the world from destruction” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 7; or Ensign, June 1971, 16).

Because of Abraham's righteousness and because of his prayers, Lot was saved. We can be like our righteous father Abraham. The world is now even being spared destruction because of the righteous few. Instead of just seeing the problems and grumbling because we live in an imperfect world, we can be more like Abraham and start looking for solutions. We can love everyone around us and pray for their safety and happiness. We can get to higher ground ourselves and then invite others to join us on higher ground. We can offer the blessings of Abraham to all the world around us.

Yes, we live in this world, but we all come the world where we were all children of our Heavenly Father, children of Light. Even now, everyone that enters into this world is born with the light of Christ. Resolve to let your light so shine before men that others may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

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