Promised Blessings

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Arrakeen
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Promised Blessings

Post by Arrakeen » 06 Apr 2019, 11:48

I've noticed we always talk about receiving "promised blessings," but rarely specify what those blessings actually are. Keeping the commandments, making and keeping temple covenants, paying tithing, going on a mission, etc. are supposed to qualify us for promised blessings.

What blessings are we actually promised? Where are these promises from--scriptures, wording of ordinances, modern revelation? I feel like most of the talk about blessings is incredibly vague, and the few that are specific don't quite work out (I live the WoW, but definitely get weary when I run).

In short, can we actually have any concrete expectations? Is there a predictable cause-and-effect in the gospel?

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Apr 2019, 13:39

Yes, I beleive there are. I beleive they are not financial and usually not tangible.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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dande48
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by dande48 » 06 Apr 2019, 21:59

The more "amiguous" the promised blessings are, the more likely they are to happen in this life. If they throw around anything more concrete, it's all about the next life, where no one can prove them wrong.

In life, there are no concrete expectations you can have, only "hedging your bets" and "playing the odds". What those odds actually are... well, that's for you to determine, through evidence and experience.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Apr 2019, 09:14

Elder Renlund is addressing this exact topic in his talk.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Roy
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Roy » 08 Apr 2019, 09:05

I really like the way Elder Renlund began in his talk about receiving blessings.

I especially like that he stated explicitly we don't receive blessings by frenetically racking up points with good works coupons.

I also like that he tied everything into faith in Jesus Christ.

"You don't earn blessings."

"Our puny actions approach zero in the infinite pile, but they are not zero, and they are not insignificant."

I like that he specifically mentioned that Arizona is in North America. It is a little thing, but it is an important thing - and it says something about his recognition that not all members would know that.

"The irrevocable law is time insensitive. If the desired blessing does not come soon, you do not need to drive yourself crazy wondering what more you can do."

I love this talk.
This is one of the talks that I would like to read before opinionating too much. I am hopeful that it changes the conversation a little bit around the obedience = blessings model.
It was the "promised blessings" that made my shelf collapse. When I really inspected with my priesthood leadership what blessings I had been promised I found that there was nothing - NOTHING - that I could bank on in a contractually enforcable way. Lots of hyperbole and puffery - no guarantees.
I now realize that I saw religion as a way to control the uncontrolable. It was an extension of my deep seated desire to provide for and protect my family.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Arrakeen
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Arrakeen » 10 Apr 2019, 13:32

I just finished reading through Elder Renlund's talk. I like how he specifies that we do not earn blessings.

However, it still leaves me with questions.
When you receive any blessing from God, you can conclude that you have complied with an eternal law governing reception of that blessing. But remember that the “irrevocably decreed” law is time insensitive, meaning blessings come on God’s timetable. Even ancient prophets in search of their heavenly home “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off … [and] were persuaded … and embraced them.” If a desired blessing from God has not been received—yet—you do not need to go crazy, wondering what more you need to do. Instead, heed Joseph Smith’s counsel to “cheerfully do all things that lie in [your] power; and then … stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the … arm [of God] … revealed.” Some blessings are reserved for later, even for the most valiant of God’s children.
So when we receive blessings, we know we obeyed a certain law -- is there a way to know which law that blessing is tied to?

And if you don't receive blessings, it doesn't necessarily mean you didn't follow the law. The blessing might come later. I hope this leads to less judgement thinking people who lack some blessing must be unworthy, like when missionaries are told they would have had a better experience if only they were more obedient.
I invite you to faithfully activate heavenly power to receive specific blessings from God.
I feel like I still have no idea what these "specific blessings" are.

So we don't earn blessings, we just exercise faith to qualify for blessings, which may not come for a long time. I struggle with the idea of God's timing. I suppose what I really want is for blessings, and answers to prayer, to be a sort of indication that God is actually there, that the commandments are actually of God and not of man. I want some sort of testable hypothesis to find out what is true, if what I'm doing is right. But the "God's way, God's timing" idea makes it so nothing is predictable or testable.

I guess this is where faith comes in, but it's a struggle.

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rrosskopf
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by rrosskopf » 10 Apr 2019, 16:39

Wonderful topic! From what I understand, there are laws that govern the distribution of blessings. In most cases we don't know what these laws are, but in some cases we do. I look at blessings as miracles. A miracle is when God interferes in human history. A blessing is a positive miracle (hopefully). Moroni gives us the laws that govern answers to prayers. We must 1) pray to God 2) with a pure heart and 3) real intent in 4) the name of his son after 5) we receive these things.
I have had some experience helping people overcome sexual abuse, and there are laws that govern that as well. I didn't know how to do it at first, so I relied heavily on the Holy Ghost to teach me.
There seems to be laws regarding the winning of contests. Learning to have gratitude is a big part of it. You'd be surprised how many contests I have won.
There are laws governing the reception of revelation. I won't go over them here, but suffice it to say the Joseph Smith's first vision is a great example.
Attitudes seem to be connected to every blessing; master the attitude and receive the blessing.

Roy
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Roy » 10 Apr 2019, 17:02

I read this talk now in entirety and I am disappointed.

I do believe that hard work and thankfulness tend to yield better results than the opposite of laziness and entitlement.

This is where I believe that Elder Renlund and I part ways. I feel that he spends much of his talk trying to make the case that we can secure divine and possibly miraculous intervention for ourselves if we do our part.
Arrakeen wrote:
10 Apr 2019, 13:32
I struggle with the idea of God's timing
I feel that he introduces the concept of God's timing as a way to forestall criticism in case it doesn't work. I work in casinos. Suppose I tell you that when you put your money into a slot machine it will bless you by multiplying your money greatly ("Gotta play to win!"). If you follow my advice then you are likely to be disappointed. However, if I tell you that the promised pay out will only come at the will and timing of the slot machine then you may continue to feed the machine through long periods of losing streaks until you eventually find fulfillment of the promise. If I tell you that the promised payout may not even occur in this life, but if not then surely in the next, then there is no way to test my promise. If the machine pays out, my promise was true. If the machine never pays out, then my promise was still true but only for the next life.
Arrakeen wrote:
10 Apr 2019, 13:32
I want some sort of testable hypothesis to find out what is true, if what I'm doing is right. But the "God's way, God's timing" idea makes it so nothing is predictable or testable.
Yes, I understand this keenly

What I wish we could do is get out of the business of promising "specific blessings".

As in, "God has a plan for your life and can make all of the garbage and loss and bad stuff work for his masterpiece at the end. That does not mean that God needed the bad stuff - He can also work with good stuff. Whatever happens he can and will use it towards his purposes.
The promised blessings that we can rely on are only to be found in heaven. God will wipe all our tears, right all of our wrongs, and grant us eternal joy but this will only be found in heaven."

This for me would still acomplish the same goal of encouraging acts of faith and rightious living without what seems to me to be the somewhat deceptive "moving of the goal posts".
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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dande48
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by dande48 » 10 Apr 2019, 19:05

Arrakeen wrote:
10 Apr 2019, 13:32
I feel like I still have no idea what these "specific blessings" are.
It's very "broad" isn't it? Like someone could say, "I didn't mean those specific blessings!"
Arrakeen wrote:
10 Apr 2019, 13:32
But remember that the “irrevocably decreed” law is time insensitive, meaning blessings come on God’s timetable.
I intepret this a bit differently. If there is a God, the laws transcend him. Good is still good, bad is still bad, the laws of nature, physics, and the universe will all continue to function regardless of what God or anyone else has to say about it. If God acts, it's within the confines of those laws; if he causes a miracle to occur, it'd be through applied knowledge, not magic. If you want to be healthy, don't smoke, stay away from sugar and exercise more. That's a law. Except you might get run over by a truck, which is also another law. Even better... laws don't require "correctness of belief", or "faith" to apply.

I once heard prayer isn't meant to change the "will of God", but to change us to accept the "will of God". Not that I like that term, but it helps for some people. An analogy I like better, is that life's a bit like being stuck in the middle of the ocean. You flail you arms around hoping for something, anything to grab onto. But you can't grasp water. There's nothing to hold. And if you keep flailing your arms around, you'll exhaust youself and drown. But if you can calm yourself, trust yourself to the "water", and lean back into it, you'll float.
Last edited by dande48 on 11 Apr 2019, 06:26, edited 1 time in total.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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DarkJedi
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by DarkJedi » 11 Apr 2019, 06:01

My whole issue with the idea of blessings is that they are so nebulous. I haven't figured out what a blessing is or what a blessing is supposed to be. I can't look at anyone else and say I think I am more blessed than they are or that they are more blessed than I am. Kind of along the same lines as what Dande is saying, I don't know if people are really blessed or things just happen. I believe the idea of there being no coincidences is pseudo-doctrine. I think everything is a coincidence, although I also believe it is possible that some coincidences are foreseen (but not necessarily specifically planned). That's mostly the deist in me. The only thing I think I know about blessings is that they are nor temporal and that the belief they are temporal is a general misunderstanding - but since I already admitted I don't know what they are that sentiment is probably not worth the time it took me to type it.

So Renlund's talk was sort of a mixed bag for me, and honestly I think he contradicts himself. I have not re-listened to his talk but there were a couple times as he was speaking where I was saying "huh?" to myself. :problem: I suppose from Renlund's point of view I don't know what blessings are because I am not blessed and I am not blessed because of my own lack of faith. I freely admit I lack faith from some points of view.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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