Sermoncitos, a family tradition
Faith to Have a Chapel
“Behold, this is the tithing and the sacrifice which I, the Lord, require at their hands, that there may be a house built unto me for the salvation of Zion - for a place of thanksgiving for all saints, and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of the ministry in all their several callings and offices; that they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you” (D&C 97:12-14).
Forty and fifty years ago, the Saints in Lupton had to travel to Sanders or Gallup for meetings. During the 1970s and 80s they met in Lupton in a small trailer. They were promised a building if they would show faith. The sacrifices they had to make were worth the effort to them. They persisted year after year with attendance in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, until they were blessed with a beautiful brick building in May of 1993. The day of the dedication there were 134 people in attendance at Sacrament meeting. The next Sunday there were 27, which became the average attendance for the year, as the initial excitement wore off. During the next 11 years the branch saw a steady growth in attendance, which is a true measure of faith and willingness to accept the presence of the Lord. By early 2005 there were many Sundays with attendance in the 50s and 60s. Then in the early Fall, faith was shaken, the attendance dropped by 1/2, and on October 15 a fire was started in the building. By Sunday morning the 16th, there was no more chapel. The next two years of meeting in Gallup was a terrible strain on the faith of the members. The first meeting in Gallup was attended by the branch president, the missionaries, and Ben Brown. Many times there were fewer than a dozen. The weekly average dropped steadily from the 20s down to the teens. The members rallied when construction started in the summer of 2007. The first to return and accept assignments were those same people whose faith gave them strength to serve during the entire history of the branch.
The church was organized 177 years ago with 6 members in a small rural village. Now there are 13 million members in 126 nations. Daniel saw that the Kingdom of God in the latter days would start small like a stone cut out of a mountain, but keep rolling persistently until it fills the earth. Speaking of his descendants, Nephi prophecied, “the fullness of the Gospel shall come unto them, they shall come to a knowledge of the forefathers and of the gospel of their Redeemer; wherefore, they will rejoice, give praise, receive strength and nourishment, come unto the true fold of God” (1 Nephi 15:13-16). In fulfillment of prophecy, there have been one million missionaries, 133 million copies of the Book of Mormon have been printed in 105 languages, and 6,000 join the Church weekly. In his day Nephi did not succeed in activating all his family for, “he spake many great things unto them which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought” (1 Nephi 15: 2-11). The history of Lupton is like the history of the church in all times, that is, some do not have the strength to persist in the face of adversity, and others look unto the Lord in faith no matter what happens. The destiny of the branch is to have faith and prosper (2 Nephi 30: 3-5).
We have a chance to once again bring the Gospel to the Lupton area, “and inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it; Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God” (D&C 97:12-16). The Spirit of the Lord will come to all the people of this area, and this new chapel is the catalyst.
Every time I assign a sermon at church, I tell them that I want to build the faith of the people. The result of my assignments is a lot of speeches about the nature of faith; but today I want to explore how to build faith. Elder Workman of the Seventy gave me an insight today in stake conference. He explained that each person who accepts the challenge to obey a commandment builds faith if the reward is delayed. “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Body and spirit comprise a living soul; and each soul is pulled in spiritual and carnal directions. As we respond to the body’s desire to seek pleasure now and avoid pain now, we are in danger of hardening our hearts to the tender feelings of the spirit. “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and inticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:14,15).
Faith is the first principle of the Gospel, because we must believe that God lives and that we have a Redeemer who can raise us from our carnal state through grace. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved” (Ephesians 2:5). The faith that allows us to accept this grace will grow as we act in faith. “Of his own will he begat us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only...” (James 1:18, 22).
Faith grows as we accept commandments like these in James 1:
“...be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (v.19)
“...lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (v.21)
“...bridle your tongue...” (v. 26)
“...visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, keep yourself unspotted from the world” (v.27).
When we act in faith, we must not waver like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed, “for let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6,7). Yet if we do act upon God’s word, and are patient for the response, then we are sure to grow in the kind of faith that gives us power.
When young Joseph Smith pondered which church to join, he studied the scriptures, which gave the Spirit an opening to reveal to him what to do: “...ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering...” (James 1:5,6). When he read this scripture, the spirit prompted him to bring his question to Father in Heaven. When he acted in faith, then his faith grew, and he gained knowledge and power. This same principle applies to each of us.
I knowby personal experience that faith grows as we act on the promptings of the spirit. I gained my testimony by being willing to apply the principles of the scriptures in my own life. I know that each of you can also grow in faith and find power in your life by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.