I created this to teach the benefits of having a proven system. I think it’s an acrostic, but I still get these two words mixed up, so in this series of articles, I’ll refer to acronyms and acrostics as acronyms.
When I’m teaching teenagers, I use an exercise that I call The Acroname. Generally, the most important word in anyone’s life is their own name. I have the teenagers think up a positive adjective for each letter of their own name. Such as,
If a teen has trouble thinking of an appropriate adjective, everyone pitches in. It’s a fun Family Home Evening activity. Those teenagers who have low opinions of themselves come away with a new way of appreciating who they are. It works with adults, too. What’s your Acroname?
So, acronyms are useful in remembering the important aspects of any subject.
That brings us to our study of the Old Testament in 2022. A primary ‘take away’ from our study of the Old Testament is a list of divine injunctions, called The Ten Commandments.
The first of the ten commandments is…
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
I wondered what acronym I could design to deepen my commitment to live this first commandment–to constantly remind myself to NEVER put God second and to ALWAYS put God first—in everything in my life.
The word that distilled into my mind was the word FIRST.
The word first is used dozens of times in the scriptures. Here are just a few:
I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. Isa 44:6
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
And one of the scribes came, and…asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12: 28-30
Yes! The word FIRST could be an excellent acronym.
What words should we use for each letter of the acronym? I invite you to come up with the words that you would choose for the acronym F.I.R.S.T. Enter your suggestions in the remarks below this article. Or create your own acronym. Will your acronym be a memorable word like S.M.A.R.T.? Or will your acronym be a sentence like Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge? Let’s see who can come up with the most interesting acronym.
As for myself, I’ve decided to use the word F.I.R.S.T. to represent 5 important reminders. There are many concepts starting with the letter ‘F’ that one could use as the first letter.
Focus. Family. Fulfill. Foremost. Foundation. Etc.
So, what should be the first step in finding the right word? As Nephi taught:
…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 thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul. 2 Nephi 32:9
Yes! Go first to the Source. In my prayer, I asked. “I want to put thee first, Father. I’m trying to come up with a simple acronym to help my forgetful mind to remember. What would thou recommend as the first word?”
The spirit whispered almost immediately: “Faith. Put your faith in Me first.”
Yes! Faith. It felt right. It made perfect sense. We learn in Primary: We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: First: Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ…
I asked myself, “Is building faith in God and Christ the first item on my daily To-Do List?” I decided that this would be my first action of the day. After all, the first commandment is:
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
So, when my day begins, I try to put no other gods before Him. Not the google god, or the texting god, or the email god, or the TV god, or the newspaper god, or the iPhone god, or the Apple News god, or the hot chocolate god. He comes first. Before everything else.
In this first symbolic act of the day, I commit to postpone my goals, my interests, my curiosities, my pressing problems to have faith enough to prioritize First things first. The word ‘prioritize’ means to put some things prior to…or before…other things. To strengthen my faith, I try to prioritize the reading of sacred words. To ponder. And pray. That’s how l start my day.
This is not easy. We are distracted by the immediacy of the world. We are immersed in it. It buzzes and interrupts and tugs at us almost every minute. Too much information. Too many opportunities. Too many challenges. Too many distractions. It’s easy to be diverted from remembering God. That’s why a simple acronym can help us (or at least me) to remember.
What is faith?We learn in The Lectures on Faith:
Faith being the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness, necessarily claims the first place in a course of lectures which are designed to unfold to the understanding the doctrine of Jesus Christ…
The Lectures go on to explain that “…three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
First, that God does actually exist;
Secondly, a correct idea of his character, his perfections and attributes; and
Thirdly, that the course which we pursue is according to his mind and will.”
If you’re reading this, you probably put a check next to the first item:
____that God actually exists.
You’re not alone. People worldwide were asked in a recent WIN/Gallup Poll,
Do you believe in God?
Seventy-one percent (71%) of the people on the planet answered ‘yes’ to this question.
The second necessary step is to understand, “Who is this Being on whom we place our faith?
____a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
The Lectures on Faith highlight many aspects of His character and attributes. He is eternal, merciful, unchangeable, truthful, fair, loving, powerful, knowledgeable.
For me, I summarize all of His characteristics and attributes into this one word: OMNI.
What does that really mean? Omni comes from the Latin word omnis, meaning “all.” And potent comes from the Latin word potis, meaning “powerful, able, capable.”
God is all-powerful. He wills it and it is done.
Sometimes we doubt. Like Laman and Lemuel, we often worry about the ‘Labans’ of the world.
Even after being reproved by an angel…Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us? 1 Ne 3:31
Nephi reminds us…let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands? 1 Ne 4:1
The ‘world’ distracts us so that we often forget that He is…
What does that mean? Omni comes from Latin omnis, meaning “all.” And scient from the Latin word scientia meaning “knowledge.” Yes, He is all-knowing. He sees the past, present and future. Does he know our future? Yes. He sees it, but He lets us choose it.
Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes; I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me. D&C 38: 1-3
Let us remember that God is also…
What does that mean? He is everywhere, in everything, and every place in the Universe through His spirit. Because He is everywhere, he knows exactly how to align our needs with the appropriate solution at the right time—even if it’s outside this earthly time frame.
Speaking of time, he is…
This is a word we don’t hear often. Omnis Tempus. He exists in all times. Timeless. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, Moses asked him for his name. He said,
I am who I am. (Exodus 3:14 NLT)
Another translation puts it this way: I am. I was, I will be.
In other words, I just AM.
Yes, He is eternal. How can that be? The angels, who live in the timeless space of heaven must have a hard time understanding us temporary-minded creatures. We think there is an end to everything. But some things have no end and no beginning. Was there ever a time when 2 plus 2 didn’t equal 4. It’s an eternal truth. God is like that. He has always been.
He is also,…
What does that mean? Omni meaning “all,” and bene meaning “good” and volens meaning “willing. He is the Source of perfect or unlimited goodness. In a word, He is Love. He always has our best interests in mind. He is the Ultimate Father. If you’re a parent, you know what you’ll do for your kids—almost anything. (Although it’s harder with teenagers.)
Well, we are God’s teenagers. Yet, He still loves us.
But Love can be tough. What did He do for us, His kids? He asked his #1 Son to pay an unbelievably expensive price for us—an atoning price that we could not afford to pay for ourselves. What a Brother! What a Father!
As King Benjamin taught,
9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend…I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come… Mosiah 3: 9-11
Yes, we are his offspring, yet we have a LOOOOONG way to go for our divine DNA to fully manifest.
He is not just magnificent. He is omnificent. Omni plus the Latin word faceremeaning “to do.” He is all-creating. His creative power is unlimited. And the evidence is EVERYWHERE. Just imagine the TRILLIONS of stars in the Universe…multiplied by the trillions of distinct, individual forms of life on this planet and trillions of other planets…multiplied by the trillions of cells in each human body—a body patterned after that of our Father in Heaven.
What more proof does one need of God’s omnificence!
Where should we put our first faith? In the omni-ness, the all-ness—the omniety— of God.
Yet, in this profane world, we often under-estimate Him. We under-remember Him. We under-appreciate Him. We under-honor Him. We under-respect Him. We under-praise Him.
Since he is Omni-everything, he is the PERFECT resource to help us determine the third necessary step to faith…
____that the course which we pursue is according to his mind and will.
Another word for Faith is trust. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn to trust God. We usually exercise our free agency and first try to do things our way. And when things don’t work out, we eventually learn to exercise our faith and to trust His way. As Solomon wrote:
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5,6
And Christ said it best, For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. John 6:38
Once again, we can learn from Nephi:
As Alma taught…faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. Alma 32:21
Faith means to invest time and effort—to put Him first—even when the evidence is sometimes limited or ‘not seen.’
Faith is trust that God exists and that his promises will be fulfilled. In these modern times, it seems like People of Faith are being challenged on all sides by those in the ‘great and spacious building.’
Rather than exercising faith, people seek first for a sign. And when the proof is ‘not seen’ immediately they feel entitled to Do Their Own Thing—to break the commandments right and left. It appears that those who have Faith to keep the commandments are being left behind—as if their investment in faith is not paying off.
But notice this conversation that the prophet Malachi reports between God and those struggling with their faith,
13 “You have said terrible things about me,” says the Lord. “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’
14 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? 15 From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’”
16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.
17 “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. 18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” Malachi 3:13-17 NLT
I want to have my name on that Scroll of Remembrance, don’t you?
When I think of the word Faith—this is what it helps me to remember…
Yes, God exists.
Yes, He is Omni.
Yes, He stands ready to direct the course we pursue in accordance with His mind and will.
Yes, we still have a LONG way to go. That’s why we need Him now, more than ever!
Yes, faith is the straightest path back to Him. In the next article, I’ll share with you what I think is the 2nd letter of the F.I.R.S.T. acronym. And why. Please share with all of us your thoughts and acronyms in the comments below.