Monday, August 5, 2013

Awesome Letter From Pres. Sperry Received 7-29-2013

 Elder Powell :

After the Lord had revealed to Joseph Smith some things about the three degrees of glory he made what to me has become a very intriguing statement. He said, “And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received” (D&C 88: 32). I like the word “willing”. Sometimes the Lord is willing to give us things, but we aren’t willing to receive them because we aren’t willing to do the things that would allow Him to bless us. I believe that this principle holds true for missionaries in our mission.

In June 1829, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were called to search out the Twelve Apostles (D&C 18: 37 and then in April 1830, Oliver was called to be the second elder of the Church (D&C 20: 3). Oliver was a second witness to many of the events of the restoration. Whenever keys were restored he was with Joseph. In July of 1830, the Lord said: “And thy brother Oliver shall continue in bearing my name before the world, and also to the church. And he shall not suppose that he can say enough in my cause; and lo, I am with him to the end. In me he shall have glory, and not of himself, whether in weakness or in strength, whether in bonds or free; And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men” (D&C 24:10-12).

Wilford Woodruff said this about Oliver: “I have seen Oliver Cowdery when it seemed as though the earth trembled under his feet. I never heard a man bear a stronger testimony than he did when under the influence of the Spirit. But the moment he left the kingdom of God, that moment his power fell…. He was shorn of his strength, like Samson in the lap of Delilah. He lost the power and testimony which he had enjoyed, and he never recovered it again in its fullness while in the flesh, although he died [a member of] the Church” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodfuff [2004], 105).

That isn’t all that Oliver lost when he left the Church. On January 19, 1841 the Lord gave what Oliver could have had to Hyrum Smith. The Lord said of Hyrum:

 94 And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a aseer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph;

 95 That he may act in concert also with my aservant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the bkeys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant cOliver Cowdery;

 96 That my servant Hyrum may bear record of the things which I shall show unto him, that his name may be had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever. (D&C 124: 94-96)

“Oliver Cowdery had been called as the second elder of the Church and was a second witness of the things pertaining to the restoration of the gospel to the earth. However, because of transgression he lost that privilege and it was given to Hyrum Smith. President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “I am firmly of the opinion that had Oliver Cowdery remained true to his covenants and obligations as a witness with Joseph Smith, and retained his authority and place, he, not Hyrum Smith, would have gone with Joseph Smith as a prisoner and to martyrdom at Carthage.” (CR April 1930)

It might not seem like a blessing to be killed with Joseph at Carthage but I think that Oliver lost a lot when that privilege was taken from him. Just as Oliver Cowdery lost an opportunity to be called by the Lord we sometimes lose opportunities because we aren’t willing to receive what we could have received. There are times that I have decided to give missionaries a leadership position, but I had to revoke it because I found out that they were not being obedient. They weren’t willing to receive what they might have received, because they weren’t willing to be obedient and diligent.

Hyrum sealed his testimony by giving his life at the side of his brother, and his name is had in honorable remembrance throughout the Church in all the world today.The phrase “his name may be had in honorable remembrance” is similar to what the Lord said to Oliver Granger. President Boyd K. Packer spoke of this in Conference. He said:

“There is a message for Latter-day Saints in a seldom quoted revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1838. “I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord” (D&C 117:12).

Oliver Granger was a very ordinary man. He was mostly blind having “lost his sight by cold and exposure” (History of the Church, 4:408). The First Presidency described him as “a man of the most strict integrity and moral virtue; and in fine, to be a man of God” (History of the Church, 3:350).

When the Saints were driven from Kirtland, Ohio, in a scene that would be repeated in Independence, Far West, and in Nauvoo, Oliver was left behind to sell their properties for what little he could. There was not much chance that he could succeed. And, really, he did not succeed!

But the Lord said, “Let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord” (D&C 117:13).

What did Oliver Granger do that his name should be held in sacred remembrance? Nothing much, really. It was not so much what he did as what he was.

When we honor Oliver, much, perhaps even most, of the honor should go to Lydia Dibble Granger, his wife.

Oliver and Lydia finally left Kirtland to join the Saints in Far West, Missouri. They had gone but a few miles from Kirtland when they were turned back by a mob. Only later did they join the Saints at Nauvoo.

Oliver died at age 47, leaving Lydia to look after their children.

The Lord did not expect Oliver to be perfect, perhaps not even to succeed. “When he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord” (D&C 117:13).

We cannot always expect to succeed, but we should try the best we can…

Now another generation of youth comes forward. We see a strength in them beyond what we have seen before. Drinking and drugs and moral mischief are not a part of their lives. They band together in study of the gospel, in socials, and in service.

They are not perfect. Not yet. They are doing the best they can, and they are stronger than the generations that came before.

As the Lord told Oliver Granger, “When [they fall they] shall rise again, for [their] sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than [their] increase” (D&C 117:13).

Some worry endlessly over missions that were missed, or marriages that did not turn out, or babies that did not arrive, or children that seem lost, or dreams unfulfilled, or because age limits what they can do. I do not think it pleases the Lord when we worry because we think we never do enough or that what we do is never good enough.

Some needlessly carry a heavy burden of guilt which could be removed through confession and repentance.

The Lord did not say of Oliver, “[If] he falls,” but “When he falls he shall rise again” (D&C 117:13; emphasis added)…

Today we fulfill the prophecy “that [Oliver Granger’s] name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever” (D&C 117:12). He was not a great man in terms of the world. Nevertheless, the Lord said, “Let no man despise my servant Oliver Granger, but let the blessings … be on him forever and ever” (D&C 117:15).” (CR Oct. 2004)

Now, if you are breaking mission rules then you need to repent and do better, but if you are doing your best and striving with all of your heart to do God’s work, don’t fret, and worry and tear yourself down and beat yourself up. When you fall, rise again, and your name will be had in sacred remembrance by the Lord and those you serve.

I love you and thank you for your goodness.

President Sperry

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