Being thankful seems to be a crux of most of the gospel. One of the scriptures I gave you said that they who are thankful will be made glorious. I certainly believe that is true. As ole Terry McCombs likes to repeat, “to be thankful, you have to remember; remember, remember, remember!”
I like your train of thought on how to be thankful. But I think you might be missing a very important part of sacrifices and burnt offerings. Brad, I am a bit shocked you did not remember this. After all, we had a string of e-mails last year discussing sacrifice.
“And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord. And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me” (Moses 5:5-6).
Notice what comes before the offerings to the Lord, it is worshiping the Lord. Your sacrifices are of no value without the prayers. Just like fasting with out prayer is just starving you. Tithing without the prayer is just putting your money in the coffer. Offerings without prayer is just burning a piece of perfectly good meat!
Think of the temple. When Adam is offering sacrifice before the Lord, if you notice there is something missing on the altar. I think that is very telling. It is certainly more than just trying to save those who could not stomach a piece of burning meat or produce from the garden.
“Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:8).
“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Sam 15:22-23).
So thankfulness is manifest in sacrifice, but don’t forget the most important part of sacrifice. The law of obedience comes first, then the law of sacrifice. Obedience is that you are to do all things in the name of the Lord.
“But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faith; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate they performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul” (2 Ne 32:9).
This thing seemed so obvious to Nephi that he grieved that the people were missing it.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb 13:15-16).
“And it came to pass that we did come down unto the tent of our father. And after I and my brethren and all the house of Ishmael had come down unto the tent of my father, they did give thanks unto the Lord their God; and they did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto him” (1 Ne 7:22).
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is his delight” (Prov 15:8).
Why do we offer prayers? It is so that our heart might be contrite. That is our sacrifice after the obedience. First our heart, then comes the rest. Our will, our ego, our all, then comes the physical.
“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Ne 9:20).
“Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (D&C 59:8).
So, there is some more backing on what goes into sacrifices. Before the sacrifices of meat, or any other type whatsoever (fasting or tithing) it should be preceded by prayer. All things should be done by prayer.
These sacrifices enable us to come unto the Father, the activate more fully the atonement in our lives, to allow the Spirit a stronger influence, and the whole host of blessings that follow.
As with your examples of David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Thomas B Marsh. It is not enough to know, but to continually be seeking the Spirit. One cannot rest on your laurels, or you will be left behind. Then you will fight to regain your place and it will have been lost. Whether eternally, or callings within the present. Do not delay. Be ever diligent in keeping the commandments every day. The Spirit helps us see, understand, know as we are known, and not allow those blasted beams in our eyes to block our vision.
I would like to visit Thomas’ grave in Ogden. We will have to make a trek. I have some more of my own family to find.
Lastly, to comment on your thoughts in relation to Alma 4:19. In bearing down in pure testimony, the only way is by the word of God. First, to have the Spirit (prayer facilitates this greatly) and the advice of Alma, “And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just – yea, it had a more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them – wherefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5). Have the Spirit (which gives you the power of the word) and then use the written word. It has a more powerful effect than anything else.
That is what President Wightman taught us very diligently. That is what I try to do. That is what you try to do. Let us help others understand it. We don’t want to be another slap on the back, feel happy church. We believe in keeping the doctrine pure, and sometimes charity and love hurts, but is always for our best.