Then Shall the Remnants…Be Gathered In – 3 Nephi 20:13

13 And then shall the remnants, which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them.
(3 Nephi 20:13)

On the second day of the Savior’s visit to the American continent, after praying for the people who had gathered to hear Him, and after administering the sacrament, He began to teach them. Reminding them that the day before he had quoted some of the words of Isaiah, He promised that the fulfillment of those prophecies would coincide with the fulfillment of the covenants the Father had made with the house of Israel. The people of the covenant who had been scattered throughout the world would again be gathered.

What does it mean to be gathered?

Earlier this year, President Russell M. Nelson invited the young people of the Church to participate in “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today.” He testified that “the gathering is now, and it is real.” He defined the gathering of Israel as “offering the gospel of Jesus Christ to God’s children on both sides of the veil” (“Hope of Israel,” Worldwide Youth Devotional, 3 June 2018).

The word “gather” suggests a change of location. But we can “gather” to the gospel of Jesus Christ without moving to a different place. As the Savior indicates in the passage above, to be gathered is to be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God” and to receive His redeeming power. As President Nelson has taught:

The choice to come unto Christ is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment. People can be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord” without leaving their homelands…. The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea; and so forth. Zion is “the pure in heart.” Zion is wherever righteous Saints are. Publications, communications, and congregations are now such that nearly all members have access to the doctrines, keys, ordinances, and blessings of the gospel, regardless of their location.
Spiritual security will always depend upon how one lives, not where one lives. Saints in every land have equal claim upon the blessings of the Lord (“The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” General Conference, October 2006).

Today, I will be grateful for the opportunities I have been given to participate in the greatest work on the earth. I will remember that the gathering of Israel is about proximity to God, not necessarily about physical location, and that the blessings of the Lord are available to all people, regardless of where they may live.

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They Were Filled with the Holy Ghost – 3 Nephi 19:13

13 And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
(3 Nephi 19:13)

At the end of the first day of Jesus Christ’s visit to the American continent, He administered the sacrament. He blessed bread and wine and gave it to the people instructing them to “always observe” this ordinance. He promised them that, if they would always remember Him, they would always have His Spirit to be with them.

The following morning, a much larger multitude gathered at the same place. Word had spread of the miracle that had occurred the day before, and many people “did labor exceedingly all that night” to be at the place where the Savior had promised to return (3 Nephi 19:3). After being taught by the twelve disciples whom the Savior had chosen the day before, they knelt in prayer. Mormon tells us that they prayed “for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.” (3 Nephi 19:9). They wanted the blessing the Savior had promised the day before. Shortly afterward, they were baptized, and as we read in the passage above, “the Holy Ghost did fall on them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost.”

President Henry B. Eyring has reminded us that we all receive this promise when we are baptized: “These words are said by the Lord’s authorized servant with his hands on our head: ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’ At that moment you and I have the assurance He will be sent. But our obligation is to choose to open our hearts to receive the ministration of the Spirit over a lifetime.”

President Eyring identified some of the actions we can take to open our hearts:

  1. “Be humble before God.”
  2. “Pray with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
  3. “Obey exactly. Obedience may mean to move quickly. It may mean to prepare. Or it may mean to wait in patience for further inspiration.”
  4. “Pray to know the needs and hearts of others and how to help them for the Lord.”

(“His Spirit to Be with You,” General Conference, April 2018)

Today, I will seek for the blessing the Savior has promised: to be filled with the Holy Ghost. I will open my heart by humbling myself, by praying with faith, by obeying the promptings I receive from the Spirit, and by seeking guidance on how I can bless other people.

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If Ye Do Always Remember Me – 3 Nephi 28:7-10

7 And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you….
11 And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.
(3 Nephi 18:7, 11)

What is the key to consistently enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost? It is to always remember the Savior. Remembering Him consistently is the key.

After teaching the people, healing their sick, and blessing their children, the Savior ended the first day of His visit to the American continent by giving some instructions about how to worship. The purpose of these instructions was to help them remember what they had seen and felt when they were in His presence. Specifically, He instructed them to:

  • Partake of bread and wine in remembrance of His body and blood (v. 1-14)
  • Pray always, including at church and in their families (v. 15-21)
  • Meet together often, and turn no one away from their meetings (v. 22-25)

In the passage above, we learn why He wanted them to establish these habits. They had participated in an extraordinary event, which they would never forget. To see the Savior descend from heaven, to touch the wounds in His hands and feet, and to hear Him teach the gospel–this certain knowledge that He was their Savior and Redeemer would surely remain with them for the remainder of their lives.

But our memories do fade. Even if we remember the facts of an experience, we don’t always retain the feeling. Our memory of even important events can become less vivid, and their impact on our daily decisions can weaken. We need to proactively engage in activities which help us remember. We need to remember not only facts but also emotions and commitments.

Earlier this year, Elder Claudio D. Zivic observed:

Even those who have had powerful spiritual experiences and have given faithful service could one day go astray or fall into inactivity if they do not endure to the end.

He suggested a formula that would help us maintain our commitment to the gospel over time:

  1. Pray and read the scriptures every day.
  2. Attend sacrament meeting every week.
  3. Pay our tithing and fast offerings.
  4. Renew our temple recommend every two years.
  5. Serve in the church throughout our lives.

(“He That Shall Endure unto the End, the Same Shall Be Saved,” General Conference, April 2018)

Today, I will recommit to participating consistently in activities which remind me of the Savior. I will strive to make these activities meaningful, to let them remind me of feelings I have had and commitments I have made. I will remember the Savior’s promise that, if I always remember Him, I will have His Spirit to be with me.

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Behold Your Little Ones – 3 Nephi 17:21-23

21 And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
22 And when he had done this he wept again;
23 And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.
(3 Nephi 17:21-23)

At the end of the first day of the Savior’s visit to the American continent, He told the people it was time for Him to leave. He promised to return the following day. He acknowledged that He had given them a lot to think about and encouraged them to ponder His teachings and prepare their minds for the following day.

But as He looked at them, He decided to stay a little longer. They didn’t say anything, but the expression on their faces sent a very powerful message. “They were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them” (3 Nephi 17:5).

He responded with compassion. He invited them to bring their sick forward to be healed. Then, He asked them to bring their children to Him. With the children in the front of the group, He knelt down and prayed. Then, as described in the passage above, He tearfully blessed each of their children and prayed on their behalf. He invited the multitude, “Behold your little ones.”

Elder Robert D. Hales taught that a parent’s influence is most powerful during quiet, heartfelt conversations:

Mothers and fathers, as you drive or walk children to school or their various activities, do you use the time to talk with them about their hopes and dreams and fears and joys? Do you take the time to have them take the earplugs from their MP3 players and all the other devices so that they can hear you and feel of your love? The more I live, the more I recognize that the teaching moments in my youth, especially those provided by my parents, have shaped my life and made me who I am.

Elder Hales reminded us that these kinds of interactions don’t just happen. They require intentional effort on our part:

For our interactions with youth to truly touch their hearts, we have to pay attention to them just as we would pay attention to a trusted adult colleague or close friend. Most important is asking them questions, letting them talk, and then being willing to listen–yes, listen and listen some more–even hearken with spiritual ears! Several years ago I was reading the newspaper when one of my young grandsons snuggled up to me. As I read, I was delighted to hear his sweet voice chattering on in the background. Imagine my surprise when, a few moments later, he pushed himself between me and the paper. Taking my face in his hands and pressing his nose up to mine, he asked, “Grandpa! Are you in there?” (“Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders of the Rising Generation,” General Conference, April 2010)

Today, I will pay attention to the people around me, particularly my children. I will observe the expressions on their faces and respond to their non-verbal signals. I will listen to them intently and will share my love for them. I will follow the Savior’s admonition to “behold [my] little ones.”

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The Fulness of the Gentiles – 3 Nephi 16:4

4 And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.
(3 Nephi 16:4)

Help sometimes comes from unexpected places.

After explaining to a group of people on the American continent that they were the “other sheep” He had spoken of in Jerusalem, the Savior made a remarkable prophecy: In a future time, the descendants of His covenant people would lose their faith, and they would receive the gospel from a group of people who were currently outside of the covenant. He called this future time, “the fulness of the Gentiles.”

Approximately 600 years earlier, Nephi had used that same phrase in explaining to his brothers some of the teachings of their father. They were confused by a metaphor their father had used of an olive tree whose “natural branches” had been broken off and scattered. Nephi explained the prophecy this way:

And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed (1 Nephi 15:13).

The Apostle Paul, who identified himself as “the apostle of the Gentiles,” used this same phrase and this same imagery to caution his converts against self-righteousness. Speaking to non-Jewish believers who might be tempted to criticize Jewish people, the apostle wrote:

Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew (Romans 11:1-2).

Then, comparing these Gentile converts to branches of a wild olive tree, he says:

If some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
Boast not against the branches…for God is able to graft them in again (Romans 11:17-18, 23).

He then counseled them not to be “wise in [their] own conceits” because “blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). In other words, their unbelief has paved the way for your belief. Therefore, you have the opportunity and the responsibility to share your faith with them:

For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy (Romans 11:30-31).

We all have ups and downs in our faith. When some of us are doing better than others, that is not a cause for self-righteousness or arrogance, but rather an opportunity to serve and bless the people who are struggling. God loves all of His children and will bring help from surprising places when we need it most. The idea that spiritual strength could come from the Gentiles, the non-covenant people, was counterintuitive to the children of Israel. But it allowed God to show that all of His children are important and that all of them can contribute to His work.

Today, I will be grateful for the spiritual knowledge I have received. I will recognize that my faith provides me with an opportunity to serve others, not an opportunity for self-righteousness.

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One Fold, and One Shepherd – 3 Nephi 15:21

21 And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
(3 Nephi 15:21)

As we grow closer to the Savior, we grow closer to each other.

After sharing the Sermon on the Mount with a group of people on the American continent, Jesus is explained to them that He had told the people in Jerusalem about them. “Other sheep I have,” He had said, “which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). His listeners in Jerusalem didn’t know who these “other sheep” were, but there could be no doubt about His central message: He wanted all of His disciples to be unified. Even if we come from different “folds”–different locations, different educational backgrounds, different life experiences–when we hear and follow His voice, we become unified.

As Elder Ulisses Soares has taught:

The children of God come together in the restored Church of Jesus Christ from different social backgrounds, traditions, and cultures, forming this wonderful community of Saints in Christ. Eventually, as we encourage, support, and love each other, we combine to form a mighty force for good in the world (“One in Christ,” General Conference, August 2018).

Today, I will remember that as I follow the Good Shepherd, I become part of His fold. I will be grateful for the love which God has for all of His children. I will also be grateful for the unity I can experience with other people as we pursue the path of discipleship together.

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This Is the Law and the Prophets – 3 Nephi 14:12

12 Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets.
(3 Nephi 14:12, Matthew 7:12)

After teaching the principle which we commonly call the Golden Rule, the Savior said, “This is the law and the prophets.” What did He mean by that?

The Hebrew Bible, which contains the same text found in the Old Testament, is divided into three groups of books:

  1. The Law – The first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). These are also called the Torah, the Pentateuch, or the five books of Moses.
  2. The Prophets – This group of books represented the writings of prophets other than Moses, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Malachi.
  3. The Writings – All of the other books, including Psalms, Proverbs, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.

These categories were well understood in Jesus’s culture. For example, when a Pharisee asked Jesus, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36), he meant quite literally, “What is the most important commandment in the five books of Moses?” Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Then, He added a second commandment, also from the law: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18).

So when He says in the passage above that the Golden Rule “is the law and the prophets,” He is telling us that this principle sums up everything we might learn from the five books of Moses or from any of the other prophetic writings in the Old Testament.

One of my favorite classes in college was Economics 110. The professor would teach us a principle using a number of examples. The homework consisted of a completely different set of examples which were relatively easy to solve if you understood the principle, but which were confusing if you were trying to tie them back to the examples from class. Without understanding the core principles, you had no hope of understanding how to complete the homework.

It’s the same with spiritual principles. The Apostle Paul wrote, “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And he went on to say, “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:14, 18). I think he meant that, once you get the principles, you don’t have to memorize lists of rules any more. You apply the principles to each unique circumstance you encounter without having to find a precedent for each decision.

President Russell M. Nelson described a liberating experience in which he understood the principle of sabbath observance:

In my much younger years, I studied the work of others who had compiled lists of things to do and things not to do on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until later that I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father.12 With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, “What sign do I want to give to God?” That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear (“The Sabbath Is a Delight,” General Conference, April 2015).

Elder Richard G. Scott taught that identifying true principles is an important part of acquiring spiritual knowledge:

As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle. I have tried to do that with gaining spiritual knowledge (“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” General Conference, April 1993).

Today, I will strive to live according to true principles. I will be grateful for examples of true principles in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. But I will strive to understand and internalize the principles underpinning those examples, so that I can apply those principles to the variety of circumstances I will face.

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