In April 2018, our Br. Aadam Yates was elected to the position of Zion’s Advocate Editor. Br. Aadam shortly thereafter emailed the ministry requesting Zion’s Advocate submissions. I replied and congratulated our brother. My brother replied in return asking if I could write an article on the topic of hope. I told my dear brother I would do so.
It is a blessing to be in the service of God and I HOPE that this article will be a blessing to you. There have been many times when I have read an article in Zion’s Advocate but have not applied it to my life. Therefore, I HOPE that you take advantage of the effort that our Br. Aadam and others put into the Zion’s Advocate publication. I see how we are all tempted to wander away from the Lord and neglect these teachings from God, just as those in our scripture did to their eventual destruction. They had forgotten their first love. They no longer had a thirst for instruction and God’s Word.
Thinking about hope, I realized that there were many ways I could approach the topic. Instead of writing a lengthy dissertation on what scripture says about hope, I decided to keep the article simple and just ask these questions: What things should we be hoping for? What things do I hope for? Would the things I hope for bring edification and value to my life, as well as the lives of my brothers and sisters and those I come in contact with on a daily basis? In trying to answer these questions, I formulated a list of hopes I have for you to consider. Note that I am keeping with the common definition of hope as we understand it in our daily usage of the word.
I HOPE that this list is pleasing in the sight of God. I’ve tried to correlate these hopes below with what I believe is conveyed in the Word of God that we should strive for. The things we hope for should also be converted into prayers that are delivered to our Father in heaven. I fall short too many times in directing my hopes as prayers. Only God truly knows what is good and right and what we need. God will deliver if our hopes and prayers are pleasing to Him and according to His will.
These are the things I HOPE for:
- I HOPE that we do not idolize the things of the world, ourselves, our wisdom, or our knowledge above God:
I could make a long list of things in this world that draw our attention away from our God, but I will not do that. You know what those things are in your life that you are tempted to elevate above God. Everyone’s list is different. We all have a list of things that have drawn us away from God in our past or even currently.
We also tend to elevate ourselves above God and think we always know what is best. We say to ourselves, “I surely know what’s best. This is me we’re talking about and not them. Everyone else is different from me. I’m special, and I’m the one that is in tune with the Lord and know what’s right. My way always agrees with God’s way.”
Job 31:24-28 – 24 “If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; 25 If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much; 26 If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; 27 And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: 28 This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.”
2 Nephi 3:62 – 62 “I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.”
Proverbs 3:5 – 5 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Romans 1:24-25 – 24 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
Isaiah 2:8 – 8 “Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:”
Psalm 31:24 – 24 “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”
- I HOPE we are able to be directed by God through His Spirit above man:
We have a tendency as humans to look to man for our answers. In the world we see how pastors and preachers are elevated and worshipped. People attend churches specifically because of the pastor that serves there. They boast of them and lift them up to others. Both the Israelites and those in the Book of Mormon wanted a king. We at times also put people on pedestals and allow ourselves to be led only by them, and neglect direction from God.
Acts 5:29 – 29 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
2 Nephi 7:21 – 21 “For I the Lord, the King of heaven, will be their king; and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words.”
- I HOPE and pray that God will allow us to be instruments in the physical healing of others… Through our prayers, administration, and the faith of those being administered to:
As we go through life, at times we may come across someone who is in need of a physical healing or has an ailment of some sort. This might be someone outside the church that we do not even know. We may come across this person sometime during the week during our normal daily routines.
When I see people that need a blessing of healing my heart sometimes pours out with compassion for them. This especially happens to me when I see a child that is suffering. I wish sometimes that they would let me administer to them, that they would have the faith to be healed, and God would bless them with a miraculous healing. Of course this is possible, and we have seen it before. We also read about great episodes of healing in our scripture as Christ walked the earth. The people that Christ administered to had sufficient faith to be healed in many cases. Unfortunately, in our day and age this at times is lacking.
It’s somewhat ironic that I say these things. Shortly after I was called as an elder I had a dream. I was walking around in the back of a church looking out over the congregation. The congregation was full and someone was preaching up front (I don’t know who it was. It was just the shadow of a person). I then saw someone I love sitting in one of the church pews. They are not accepting of my beliefs and are not currently a member of the Church of Christ. They were looking down and shaking their head to the left and right. It was impressed upon me in the dream that they were repenting of how they had treated me in the past because of my beliefs, and that they had made a mistake. I then saw someone else I love walking down the side aisle of the church. My three daughters ran up to this person and gave them a hug. This person also is not a member of the Church of Christ. I believe this occurance will be in the future, and these two people I love will be brought to accept the fullness of the gospel. That is my hope.
In getting to my point, someone then approached me in my dream and asked if I would administer to someone in need. I said yes. I eventually made it over to a room where I was to administer to this person. As soon as I reached the door two elders walked out of the room and said, “They’ve already been administered to.” I then woke up from the dream.
Sometime later I was contemplating about this dream and I realized the point of that last statement. I need to make sure I do my job and administer when it’s required, and offer up my assistance quickly in this regard. When I was first called I would get nervous when administering to individuals. I now try to direct my prayers up to the Lord with compassion for the person more fully, and that nervousness has subsided as I have grown, though I admit a part of me is always a little nervous when I do any work for the Lord. But how can I say I want to see people be healed when I have been reluctant in the past to administer to them?
Do we have compassion for people on our prayer list and people that we pray for during a church service? If we do not, then we are not exhibiting the love of Jesus Christ and fall short.
3 Nephi 8:6-8 6 “And he saith unto them, Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you: Have ye any that are sick among you, bring them hither. 7 Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner, bring them hither, and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; 8 My bowels are filled with mercy; for I perceive that ye desire that I should shew unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient, that I should heal you.”
- I HOPE that we read our scripture:
I had another dream towards the beginning of June 2018. I was in the process of leading a scripture study along with another brother at the Bradley Local. We were discussing various things, and I don’t remember exactly what topic we were discussing; What I do remember is that at one point during the study I paused and then spoke very plainly. I said to those that were listening that it is our responsibility to read our scripture regularly and to apply it in our life. After I woke up that statement hit home and I realized its importance. I had actually been thinking about the need for more personal scripture study during the few months leading up to that dream. The dream reinforced this thinking.
One of my daughters reads scripture with me or my wife every week. Each week she asks, “When are we going to read?” She always reminds me. She has a strong thirst for the gospel and wants to know what she believes. She is not waiting or putting it off. The time to do this is NOW, and she is cognizant of that.
Matthew 4:4 – 4 “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
- I HOPE that our prayers are expressed from the heart.
In the last year I’ve made an effort to better express my prayers from my heart. We need to be in tune with the Lord if we are going to offer up a prayer. It is certainly hard to pray when our lives aren’t right with God. If we are not right with God, it’s just lip service and we will have difficulty finding the words. If that is the case, then we are not only hurting ourselves but those around us that also need our prayers.
I am a man short on words, but I try to make my words count when I do speak. The length of the prayer doesn’t matter, but the intent of the heart. Sometimes the most efficient prayers are the prayers expressed from our innermost being without even speaking a word.
Are we praying to God or praying to those in the church who are listening to our prayers? Are we uniting ourselves with one another as we pray together?
Matthew 6:7-8 – 7 “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
- I HOPE that we can all see eye-to-eye in the body:
This, of course is hard. If it’s not one topic that we disagree upon, it’s another. Some topics are minor and others are much more serious. We may agree with someone on one topic, but find ourselves in complete disagreement with that same person on something else. Therefore, who you choose to ‘unite’ yourself with may vary from year to year. Unite yourself with God first, and then we will become united as a body. I long for this day when we all fully will be in one accord:
Isaiah 52:8 – 8 “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.”
Philippians 2:1-4 – 1 “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
- I HOPE that we are able to confess our faults and work together to edify one another.
I am a great sinner and I make mistakes. I may also have one gift but completely lack in another. We need to work together to take advantage of each other’s strengths. Where I fail I want you to help me. I want to help you where you fail. Also, without an attitude of pure humbleness and love for one another, we will find ourselves tearing down someone instead of building them up. I have seen people torn down in church in front of an entire congregation. Hurtful things are said to people even when one person’s intent may have been to please God. In many of these cases it becomes very painful to the person who was criticized so openly.
James 5:16 – 16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Proverbs 12:18 – “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”
- I HOPE that we can be encouraging.
I am not the best encourager. I know others who are and have greatly encouraged me. I appreciate the encouragement those at the Bradley Local have shown me over the years, as well as many of our apostles who are much wiser than I. Instead of always being a taker, I am striving to be more of a giver. Maybe you have the gift of encouragement? Are you using it? Are you trying to develop that gift?
I have been a supervisor now for a few years. This week I took aside an employee I supervise and let them know what a good job they were doing. It appeared to me they were having a bad day and I wanted to let them know how much I appreciated them. I was able to brighten the day of this person and he really appreciated the things I had to say. I have a long way to go here in developing this characteristic, but it’s a start.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – 1 “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”
- I HOPE that we are able to eliminate any indecision, fear, confusion, and mistrust within the Church of Christ.
These four words were presented to a brother in a vision many years ago. The vision presented was a crossroads with those particular four words placed at that crossroads. I have found myself at times with indecision, fear, confusion, and mistrust – indecision regarding a choice I should make, fear regarding what might or might not happen, confused and unable to follow, understand, or determine the Lord’s direction, and mistrust of someone or something I hear them say. I also have seen these characteristics exhibited by others within the church. These things clearly are among us to this day. (Additional articles have been written about this vision and are available in past issues of Zion’s Advocate such as Volume 92, Number 6, November-December 2015, and Volume 63, Number 7, July 1986).
The past year has been particularly hard for me at times, as I know it has been for some of you as we try to sort out various issues within our minds, pleading to God for His direction. In the past year I had become so frustrated with a situation that it felt like I had put the weight of the entire world upon my shoulders, and it was up to me to solve. It was a heavy burden and was affecting my relationship with others, including some in the church. Satan was working very hard to discourage me. I didn’t understand how God could allow some things to happen, and I still do not understand all of His ways. My discouragement, though, was not what God wanted, and this was made very clear when a sister in the church told me about an experience she had. In this experience she saw my face and felt the weight of this very heavy burden that was weighing me down. I only recently turned this burden over to the Lord. I never want to go back there again. I am no expert on how to fix various problems, and only the Lord can get us to where we need to be. God has the answers we need, and we need to continue to go to Him in humbleness.
3 Nephi 8:47 – 47 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye are led away captive by him.”
- I HOPE that we do not become overconfident in ourselves:
I have heard it said that we are “right where we need to be” as a people in the church. This is perhaps true in some ways, but certainly not in many other ways. There’s one particular scripture that I think of:
2 Nephi 12:25-26 – 25 “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; 26 And thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”
I see how dreams and visions have been given to those in the church who were truly reaching out to God and looking for help in ways they can be corrected. God has offered that correction in various forms to different individuals, including myself. I have also seen others who I have put on a pedestal corrected by God. Please remember that God loves who He corrects. I would rather be loved and corrected than not corrected and not loved.
- I HOPE that the Lord will use us to bring the fullness of the gospel to others:
The sons of Mosiah risked everything to go and preach the gospel to the Lamanites. They are a great example to us. Jesus Christ gave His all for us, yet why are we unwilling to do the same for others?
Mosiah 12:1-4 – 1 “Now it came to pass that after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things, they took a small number with them, and returned to their father, the king, and desired of him that he would grant unto them, that they might, with those whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi, 2 That they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites, that perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and convince them of the iniquity of their fathers; 3 And that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, 4 That they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God hath given them.”
- I HOPE we are able to withstand persecution or difficulty for the sake of the gospel:
Matthew 5:10 – 10 “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- I HOPE that we are able to eliminate all pride:
Is pride really that bad? The Book of Mormon makes it very plain that pride is a terrible and unacceptable thing. This to me is another one of those “plain and precious things” that the Book of Mormon offers.
Alma 3:50 – “Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, If ye are not, ye are not prepared to meet God.”
- I HOPE that we can speak up for what is right:
This one is hard for some people and easy for others. Some are very bold while others are more timid. There’s a time to keep our peace, but there’s also a time to speak up.
I’ve been on Facebook actively now for about a year (perhaps to my detriment?). I post dreams and visions from those within the Church of Christ for people to consider. I know I have probably offended some people (particularly those outside of the Church of Christ that I know resist it). There are also three people I work with that see my postings. I’ve wondered if that’s a good thing. On the other hand, multiple people I know that are not members of the Church of Christ are reading these dreams and visions and are learning about God through them… They have told me this. From time to time an old friend from high school contacts me and tells me he is reading the dreams and visions. My neighbor reads them regularly and seems to find comfort, direction, and hope in them, though they are not a member of our church. (They even have liked some of the Book of Mormon scriptures I have posted though they don’t use the Book of Mormon in their church.) A part of me didn’t expect this would happen, but of course my whole reason for posting them in the first place was to reach out to others. I believe these are blessings God has given to me, as He understands the intent of my heart and has blessed my efforts.
In order to make a difference, sometimes we have to speak boldly, and God requires it of us no matter what others might think. One day we will be rewarded, assuming those things we speak of boldly are in harmony with God. That is the hard part if we are not careful.
Acts 9:29 – 29 “And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.”
Jude 1:3 – 3 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
- I HOPE we do not separate ourselves from one another if we disagree:
I’ve seen articles in older Zion’s Advocates about this very subject. I see it in the present-day Church of Christ to some extent. People separate from one another when they disagree on even minor matters. Sometimes we aren’t willing to love someone, talk to them, or even sit down with them for lunch or dinner at a reunion or during conference. If you separate yourself from a brother or sister and one day you realize it was you that had the problem or were in error, then you will regret it later. It will be to your and their detriment. This may cause others to stumble as well. Don’t you know that your positive influence may help that brother or sister in need?
Matthew 5:44 – 44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
- I HOPE that we do not cause a brother or sister to stumble by what we teach or believe:
This is a hard one because we all are capable of sinning and misleading others. We all are capable of making the wrong choices and being led by Satan one way or another. Sometimes we have to make choices. If I choose incorrectly, then I may cause someone to err also, and that could have very serious consequences. Before making a quick judgment (of which I have been guilty of doing), take some time to go to the Lord and get it right before you promote a particular belief. Hopefully, your belief will be in harmony with God’s Word.
1 Nephi 3:175 – 175 “And because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceeding great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them;”
Matthew 18:6-7 – 6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”
- I HOPE that even when we stumble we can recover and still be of use to one another:
I’ve seen church people make wrong choices in their lives, but have later repented of those choices and made changes. Unfortunately, some brethren reject them entirely for the remainder of their life or question their service because they once made an incorrect choice; that being enough for them to permanently separate themselves from their fellowship. A permanent lack of trust develops, as does their opinion about that person. Perhaps this can be related to that crossroads vision that had the word, “mistrust.”
Mosiah 9:28 – 28 “And now it came to pass that Alma, who had fled from the servants of King Noah, repented of his sins and iniquities, and went about privately among the people, and began to teach the words of Abinadi;”
1 John 1:8-10 – 8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
- I HOPE that we are among the foolish and weak things of the world:
God indeed has used the foolish and weak things of the world to do His work in the past. Who among the ministry was called into his position because of a degree or speaking ability? I see within the church that the humble people are the ones God truly works with. It’s the humble and weak ones that God powerfully uses to achieve His purposes. Consider Joseph Smith Jr., the boy that God used to do a great work. He was certainly perceived as foolish and weak by the world. I see young men in the church who have not put any confidence in themselves, and they cry out to the Lord. It is certainly possible that one day these men may be called into the ministry. Others perhaps need more humility before they are able to do even a greater work for God. I think many members of the ministry had to go through this process prior to their calling, including myself. I need to stay in that place of weakness and humbleness for the remainder of my life.
1 Corinthians 1:25-29 – 25 “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.”
Ether 5:28 – 28 “I give unto men weakness, that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
- I HOPE for no more contention:
Since joining the Church of Christ in 2005, and especially after becoming an elder, I have seen things that have broken my heart. I also look back at things I have done that I regret doing. On the other hand, I have seen some very special things, and there have been great blessings.
I never thought something so beautiful could be so hard at times. I am learning more and more that it can be hard to wander through various problems and make sense of them. I wonder why some of us can’t get along, and then I realize the great power Satan has to tear us apart.
After my first Ministers’ Conference I walked out the door to that piece of land we call the temple lot and cried. I saw anger and contention that was exhibited on that particular day, and I, too, have even participated in this to a degree on a few occasions. I was told that another brother had the same experience the first time he attended the Ministers’ Conference. These contentions make grown men weep and cry just as Nephi wept on his pillow at night for his people.
Another brother was in a Ministers’ Conference and listened while the ministry discussed a topic on which there was much disagreement. After taking a break and then moving into the next session, this brother spoke up and said he had heard the Holy Spirit weeping as the ministry debated on the matter from the previous session.
I also see unhealthy contention exhibited on social media sometimes and it breaks my heart, especially for those that are looking in as outsiders on the conversation. It’s very difficult to not slip up on these occasions and say something we shouldn’t. People disagree on a matter, and some may think they are justified in saying hurtful things to another for the entire world to see without any shame. If we have something against a brother or sister, it’s more appropriate to talk to that person individually instead of over Facebook, or even for us in front of everyone at church, at Conference, a Ministers’ Conference, or other. Be careful what you write electronically for the world to see. Believe me, I know. If I am not careful, I will slip up again in the future. We all face this danger if we use social media. There are some emails and texts I would certainly like to have back (personal as well as work emails)!
We know some of these verses so well:
3 Nephi 5:30 – 30 “For verily, verily I say unto you, He that hath the spirit of contention, is not of me, but is of the devil, which is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger one with another;”
James 3:13-18 – 13 “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:7 – 7 “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;”
Proverbs 17:27-28 – 27 “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. 28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
Matthew 18:15-16 – 15 “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”
Ephesians 4:29-32 – 29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
- I HOPE you know how much every one of you means to me:
Philippians 1:8 – 8 “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.”
In summary, as I write these things down my heart breaks at times. I think of my own shortcomings and I think of those things we need to work at as a church body. These things weigh on my heart… Please forgive me of my shortcomings and slip-ups.
I HOPE that this list will be of some benefit to both to you and to me. May God help and bless us in the years to come as we turn to Him and try to stay on the straight and narrow path.
Romans 8:24-25 – “24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”