Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Sacrament - a Renewal for the Soul

The sacrament becomes a spiritually strengthening experience when we listen to the sacrament prayers and recommit to our covenants. To do this, we must be willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ.  Speaking of this promise, President Henry B. Eyring taught: “That meanswe must see ourselves as His. We will put Him first in our lives. We will want what He wants rather than what we want or what the world teaches us to want.”

As we partake of the sacrament, we witness to God that we will remember His Son always, not just during the brief sacrament ordinance. This means that we will constantly look to the Savior’s example and teachings to guide our thoughts, our choices, and our acts.

“Who is there among us that does not wound his spirit by word, thought,or deed, from Sabbath to Sabbath? We do things for which we are sorry and desire to be forgiven. … The method to obtain forgiveness is … to repent of our sins, to go to those against whom we have sinned or transgressed and obtain their forgiveness and then repair to the sacrament table where, if we have sincerely repented and put ourselves in proper condition, we shall be forgiven, and spiritual healing will come to our souls. …

“I am a witness,” Elder Ballard said, “that there is a spirit attending theadministration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot;you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load being lifted.Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food.”

Our wounded souls can be healed and renewed not only because the bread and water remind us of the Savior’s sacrifice of His flesh and blood but because the emblems also remind us that He will always be our “bread of life” and “living water.”

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Birth of Jesus Christ: "Good Tidings of Great Joy"

There is no story quite as beautiful, or which can stir the soul of the humble quite to the depths, as this glorious story can of the birth of our Redeemer. No words that man may utter can embellish or improve or add to the eloquence of its humble simplicity. It never grows old no matter how often told, and the telling of it is by far too infrequent in the homes of men. Let us try to imagine ourselves out with the shepherds who were watching over their flock that memorable night. These were humble men who had not lost the faith of their fathers, whose hearts had not become hardened as were the hearts of the rulers of the Jews in the days of our Lord’s ministry, for had they been, the angels would not have appeared to them with their glorious message. Let us repeat this wondrous story.

The statement of our Lord that he could do nothing but what he had seen the Father do, means simply that it had been revealed to him what his Father had done [see John 5:19–20]. Without doubt, Jesus came into the world subject to the same condition as was required of each of us—he forgot everything, and he had to grow from grace to grace. His forgetting, or having his former knowledge taken away, would be requisite just as it is in the case of each of us, to complete the present temporal existence.

The true reason for the coming of Jesus Christ into the world … was, first, to redeem all men from the physical or mortal death, which Adam brought into the world, and second, to redeem all men from spiritual death or banishment from the presence of the Lord on conditions of their repentance and remission of sins and endurance to the end of the mortal probation.
We rejoice in the birth of the Son of God among men.
We are grateful for the atoning sacrifice He worked out by the shedding of His own blood.
We are thankful that He has redeemed us from death and opened the door so that we may gain eternal life.
We pray for peace on earth, for the spread of the gospel, and for the final triumph of truth.
We plead with our Father’s children everywhere to join with us in doing those things which will give us all peace in this world and eternal glory in the world to come [see D&C 59:23].
How can anyone read this touching story of the birth of Jesus Christ without wishing to forsake his sins? At this season of the year it is well for one and all—the king in his palace, if there are kings in palaces now, the peasant in his humble cottage, the rich and the poor alike—to bow the knee and pay honor to him who was without sin, whose life was spent in sacrifice and sorrow for the benefits of his fellow man; whose blood was shed as a sacrifice for sin. …
… What of this wonderful story? Have we permitted it to permeate and influence our lives? Have we accepted it in its full meaning without reservations? Do we believe that this babe was in very deed the only begotten Son of God in the flesh? Do we have abiding faith in his mission and are we willing to obediently follow him? If the world had so believed and had sincerely heeded his teachings, then it would not have been torn asunder by strife and wickedness all down through the ages. … There has been too much lip-service among the professed followers of the Son of God and too little real worship based upon the integrity of his teachings.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Work of Latter-Day Saint Women: Unselfish Devotion to this Glorious Cause

On the 17th day of March, 1842, the Prophet Joseph Smith met with a number of the sisters of the Church in Nauvoo and organized them into a society which was given the name of “The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo.” … That this organization was by revelation, there can be no doubt. This truth has been abundantly demonstrated throughout the years and today its value and necessity are abundantly attested.
Surely the Church of Jesus Christ would not have been completely organized had not this wonderful organization come into existence. … This restoration would not have been complete without the Relief Society in which the sisters are able to accomplish a divinely appointed service so essential to the welfare of the Church.
The Relief Society … has grown to be a power in the Church. Absolutely necessary—we speak of it as an auxiliary, which means a help, but the Relief Society is more than that. It is needed.
The Lord is pleased with your labors. You, through your service, have helped to build up and strengthen the kingdom of God. Just as necessary is the labor of the Relief Society in the Church as it is—shall I say?—with the quorums of the Priesthood. Now some may feel that I am expressing this a little too strongly, but my own judgment is that the work that you, our good sisters, are doing, finds its place and is just as important in the building up of this kingdom, strengthening it, causing it to expand, laying a foundation upon which we all may build, just as much as it is for the brethren who hold the Priesthood of God. We can’t get along without you.
You can read all the words of President Joseph Fielding Smith in Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Lesson #23.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christlike Attributes

The restored gospel enables you to become like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Savior has shown the way. He has set the perfect example, and He commands us to become as He is (see 3 Nephi 27:27). Learn of Him and seek to incorporate His attributes into your life. Through the power of His Atonement, you can achieve this goal and lead others to achieve it also.

Christlike attributes are gifts from God. They come as you use your agency righteously. Ask your Heavenly Father to bless you with these attributes; you cannot develop them without His help. With a desire to please God, recognize your weaknesses and be willing and anxious to improve.

Faith
When you have faith in Christ, you believe in Him as the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father in the Flesh. You accept Him as your Savior and Redeemer and follow His teachings. You believe that your sins can be forgiven through His Atonement. Faith in Him means that you trust Him and are confident that He loves you.

Hope
Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement. The scriptures often describe hope in Jesus Christ as the assurance that you will inherit eternal life in the celestial kingdom.

Charity
Charity is a gift from God. The prophet Mormon said that we should “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love” (Moroni 7:48). As you follow this counsel and strive to do righteous works, your love for all people will increase, especially those among whom you labor. You will come to feel a sincere concern for the eternal welfare and happiness of other people. You will see them as children of God with the potential of becoming like our Heavenly Father, and you will labor in their behalf. You will avoid negative feelings such as anger, envy, lust, or covetousness. You will avoid judging others, criticizing them, or saying negative things about them. You will try to understand them and their points of view. You will be patient with them and try to help them when they are struggling or discouraged. Charity, like faith, leads to action. You will develop charity as you look for opportunities to serve others and give of yourself.

Virtue
Virtuous people are clean and pure spiritually. They focus on righteous, uplifting thoughts and put unworthy thoughts that lead to inappropriate actions out of their minds. They obey God’s commandments and follow the counsel of Church leaders. They pray for the strength to resist temptation and do what is right. They quickly repent of any sins or wrongdoings. They live worthy of a temple recommend.

Knowledge
The Lord commanded, “Seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). He also warned, “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance” (D&C 131:6). Seek knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge. Study the scriptures every day, and also study the words of the living prophets. Through study and prayer, seek help for your specific questions, challenges, and opportunities. Give special attention to scripture passages you can use as you teach and as you answer questions about the restored gospel.

Patience
Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith—you must wait for the Lord’s promised blessings to be fulfilled.

Humility
Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. It includes gratitude for His blessings and acknowledgment of your constant need for His divine help. Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of spiritual strength. When you humbly trust Him and acknowledge His power and mercy, you can have the assurance that His commandments are for your good. You are confident that you can do whatever the Lord requires of you if you rely on Him. You are also willing to trust His chosen servants and follow their counsel. Humility will help you as you strive to be obedient, to work hard, and serve selflessly.

Diligence
Diligence is steady, consistent, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord’s work. The Lord expects you to work diligently—persistently and with great effort and care. A diligent missionary works effectively and efficiently. Diligence in missionary work is an expression of your love for the Lord and His work. When you are diligent, you find joy and satisfaction in your work.

Obedience
“The discipline contained in daily obedience and clean living and wholesome lives builds an armor around you of protection and safety from the temptations that beset you as you proceed through mortality.” (Elder L. Tom Perry)

Excerpts taken from Preach My Gospel.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Are We Not All Beggars?

Down through history, poverty has been one of humankind’s greatest and most widespread challenges. Its obvious toll is usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional damage it can bring may be even more debilitating. In any case, the great Redeemer has issued no more persistent call than for us to join Him in lifting this burden from the people. As Jehovah, He said He would judge the house of Israel harshly because “the spoil of the [needy] is in your houses.”

A journalist once questioned Mother Teresa of Calcutta about her hopeless task of rescuing the destitute in that city. He said that, statistically speaking, she was accomplishing absolutely nothing. This remarkable little woman shot back that her work was about love, not statistics. Notwithstanding the staggering number beyond her reach, she said she could keep the commandment to love God and her neighbor by serving those within her reach with whatever resources she had. “What we do is nothing but a drop in the ocean,” she would say on another occasion. “But if we didn’t do it, the ocean would be one drop less [than it is]. Soberly, the journalist concluded that Christianity is obviously not a statistical endeavor. He reasoned that if there would be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety and nine who need no repentance, then apparently God is not overly preoccupied with percentages.

Now, lest I be accused of proposing quixotic global social programs or of endorsing panhandling as a growth industry, I reassure you that my reverence for principles of industry, thrift, self-reliance, and ambition is as strong as that of any man or woman alive. We are always expected to help ourselves before we seek help from others. Furthermore, I don’t know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot always help themselves. But I know that God knows, and He will help you and guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again.

Brothers and sisters, such a sermon demands that I openly acknowledge the unearned, undeserved, unending blessings in my life, both temporal and spiritual. Like you, I have had to worry about finances on occasion, but I have never been poor, nor do I even know how the poor feel. Furthermore, I do not know all the reasons why the circumstances of birth, health, education, and economic opportunities vary so widely here in mortality, but when I see the want among so many, I do know that “there but for the grace of God go I.” I also know that although I may not be my brother’s keeper, I am my brother’s brother, and “because I have been given much, I too must give.”

Excerpts taken from Elder Holland's, October 2014 Conference, Address, Are We Not All Beggars?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Individual Responsibility

Through sermons and actions, President Smith repeatedly taught the principle he shared with Brother Haycock: He emphasized that although Latter-day Saints should diligently help others receive the blessings of the gospel, salvation is an individual responsibility. He also encouraged the Saints to be self-reliant and to work industriously in temporal pursuits. “That is what life is all about,” he said, “to develop our potential, and especially to gain self-mastery.”

We are here for a great purpose. That purpose is not to live 100 years, or less, and plant our fields, reap our crops, gather fruit, live in houses, and surround ourselves with the necessities of mortal life. That is not the purpose of life. These things are necessary to our existence here, and that is the reason why we should be industrious. But how many men spend their time thinking that all there is in life is to accumulate the things of this world, to live in comfort, and surround themselves with all the luxuries, and privileges, and pleasures it is possible for mortal life to bestow, and never give a thought to anything beyond?
Why, all these things are but temporary blessings. We eat to live. We clothe ourselves to keep warm and covered. We have houses to live in for our comfort and convenience, but we ought to look upon all these blessings as temporary blessings needful while we journey through this life. And that is all the good they are to us. We cannot take any of them with us when we depart. Gold, silver and precious stones, which are called wealth, are of no use to man only as they enable him to take care of himself and to meet his necessities here.
The Lord … expects us to have knowledge of temporal things so we can care for ourselves temporally; so we can be of service to our fellowmen; and so we can take the gospel message to his other children throughout the world.
He who sent his Only Begotten Son into the world, to accomplish the mission that he did, also sent every soul within the sound of my voice, and indeed every man and woman in the world, to accomplish a mission, and that mission cannot be accomplished by neglect, nor by indifference, nor can it be accomplished by ignorance.
We should learn the obligation that we are under to the Lord and to each other; these things are essential, and we cannot prosper in spiritual things, we cannot grow in knowledge of the Lord or in wisdom, without devoting our thoughts and our efforts toward our own betterment, toward the increase of our own wisdom and knowledge in the things of the Lord.
Our first concern should be our own salvation. We should seek every gospel blessing for ourselves. We should be baptized and enter into the order of celestial marriage so that we can become inheritors in the fulness of our Father’s kingdom. Then we should be concerned about our families, our children, and our ancestors.
It is my duty, as it is your duty, my brethren and my sisters likewise—for responsibility is placed also upon you—to do the very best that is within our power, and not to shirk, but endeavor with all our soul to magnify the callings the Lord has given us, to labor diligently for the salvation of our own house, each one of us, and for the salvation of our neighbors, the salvation of those who are abroad.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Proclaiming the Gospel to the World

We have heard that we are all missionaries. … We are all set apart, not by the laying on of hands; we have not had a special calling; we have not been singled out to do missionary labor, but as members of the Church, having pledged ourselves to the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ we become missionaries. That is part of the responsibility of every member of the Church.
With a heart full of love for all men, I ask the members of the Church to learn and live the gospel and to use their strength, energy, and means in proclaiming it to the world. We have received a commission from the Lord. He has given a divine mandate. He has commanded us to go forth with unwearying diligence and offer to his other children those saving truths revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
We who have received the truth of the everlasting gospel ought not to be satisfied with anything short of the best, and the best is the fulness of the Father’s kingdom; and for that I hope and pray we shall live and set examples in righteousness to all men that none may stumble, that none may falter, that none may turn from the path of righteousness, due to anything that we may do or say.
There is no cure for the ills of the world except the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our hope for peace, for temporal and spiritual prosperity, and for an eventual inheritance in the kingdom of God is found only in and through the restored gospel. There is no work that any of us can engage in that is as important as preaching the gospel and building up the Church and kingdom of God on earth.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Love - The Essence of the Gospel

We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellowmen if we do not love God, the Father of us all. The Apostle John tells us, “This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.
Actually, love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar. His life was a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. At the end the angry mob took His life. And yet there rings from Golgotha’s hill the words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”—a crowning expression in mortality of compassion and love.
Every day of our lives we are given opportunities to show love and kindness to those around us. Said President Spencer W. Kimball: “We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve. It will do us little good to speak of the general brotherhood of mankind if we cannot regard those who are all around us as our brothers and sisters.”
Brothers and sisters, some of our greatest opportunities to demonstrate our love will be within the walls of our own homes. Love should be the very heart of family life, and yet sometimes it is not. There can be too much impatience, too much arguing, too many fights, too many tears. Lamented President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Why is it that the [ones] we love [most] become so frequently the targets of our harsh words? Why is it that [we] sometimes speak as if with daggers that cut to the quick?”9 The answers to these questions may be different for each of us, and yet the bottom line is that the reasons do not matter. If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with kindness and respect.
Beyond comprehension, my brothers and sisters, is the love of God for us. Because of this love, He sent His Son, who loved us enough to give His life for us, that we might have eternal life. As we come to understand this incomparable gift, our hearts will be filled with love for our Eternal Father, for our Savior, and for all mankind.
Our Challenge this Week:  Find ways to be a little kinder, every where we go.
Excerpts taken from President Monson's April 2014 General Conference Talk, "Love - The Essence of the Gospel"

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Love and Concern for all of our Father's Children

I think if all men knew and understood who they are, and were aware of the divine source from whence they came, and of the infinite potential that is part of their inheritance, they would have feelings of kindness and kinship for each other that would change their whole way of living and bring peace on earth.

Because God is our Father, we have a natural desire to love and serve him and to be worthy members of his family. We feel an obligation to do what he would have us do, to keep his commandments and live in harmony with the standards of his gospel—all of which are essential parts of true worship.
And because all men are our brothers, we have a desire to love and bless and fellowship them—and this too we accept as an essential part of true worship.
Thus, everything we do in the Church centers around the divine law that we are to love and worship God and serve our fellowmen.
It is no wonder, then, that as a church and as a people we have deep and abiding concern for the welfare of all our Father’s children. We seek their temporal and spiritual well-being along with our own. We pray for them as we do for ourselves, and we try to live so that they, seeing our good works, may be led to glorify our Father who is in heaven. 
I believe it is our solemn duty to love one another, to believe in each other, to have faith in each other, that it is our duty to overlook the faults and the failings of each other, and not to magnify them in our own eyes nor before the eyes of the world. There should be no faultfinding, no back-biting, no evil speaking, one against another, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We should be true to each other and to every principle of our religion and not be envious one of another. We should not be jealous one of another, nor angry with each other, and there should not arise in our hearts a feeling that we will not forgive one another our trespasses. There should be no feeling in the hearts of the children of God of unforgiveness against any man, no matter who he may be. …
… We ought not to harbor feelings one against another, but have a feeling of forgiveness and of brotherly love and sisterly love, one for another. Let each one of us remember his or her own individual failings and weaknesses and endeavor to correct them. We have not reached a condition of perfection yet, it is hardly to be expected that we will in this life, and yet, through the aid of the Holy Ghost, it is possible for us to stand united together seeing eye to eye and overcoming our sins and imperfections. If we will do this, respecting all the commandments of the Lord, we shall be a power in the world for good; we shall overwhelm and overcome all evil, all opposition to the truth, and bring to pass righteousness upon the face of the earth. For the Gospel will be spread and the people in the world will feel the influence which will be shed forth from the people of Zion, and they will be inclined more to repent of their sins and to receive the truth.
Lesson taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Joseph Fielding Smith, Chapter 20:  Love and Concern for all Our Father's Children.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In the World but not of the World

We are living in an evil and wicked world. But while we are in the world, we are not of the world. We are expected to overcome the world and to live as becometh saints. … We have greater light than the world has, and the Lord expects more of us than he does of them.


If we are living the religion which the Lord has revealed and which we have received, we do not belong to the world. We should have no part in all its foolishness. We should not partake of its sins and its errors—errors of philosophy and errors of doctrine, errors in regard to government, or whatever those errors may be—we have no part in it.
The only part we have is the keeping of the commandments of God. That is all, being true to every covenant and every obligation that we have entered into and taken upon ourselves.
As servants of the Lord, our purpose is to walk in the path he has charted for us. We not only desire to do and say what will please him, but we seek so to live that our lives will be like his.
The Sabbath Day
We have no business violating the Sabbath day. … I regret very much that, even in communities of Latter-day Saints, this doctrine is not looked upon as it ought to be by some; that we have those among us who seem to feel that it is perfectly right to follow the custom of the world in this regard. They are partakers of the ideas and notions of the world in violation of the commandments of the Lord. But if we do this the Lord will hold us accountable, and we cannot violate his word and receive the blessings of the faithful.
The  Word of Wisdom
The Word of Wisdom is a basic law. It points the way and gives us ample instruction in regard to both food and drink, good for the body and also detrimental. If we sincerely follow what is written with the aid of the Spirit of the Lord, we need no further counsel. 
Our bodies must be clean. Our thinking must be clean. We must have in our hearts the desire to serve the Lord and keep his commandments; to remember our prayers, and in humility seek the counsels that come through the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord.
Respecting the Name of Diety
Above all other peoples on the earth, the Latter-day Saints should hold in the utmost sacredness and reverence all things that are holy. The people of the world have not been trained as we have been in such matters, notwithstanding there are many honest, devout, and refined people in the world. But we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the revelations of the Lord, and He has solemnly taught us in our own day our duty in relation to all such things.
Dressing Modestly and Keeping the Law of Chastity
I am making a plea for modesty and chastity and for all the members of the Church, male and female alike, to be chaste, clean in their lives, and obedient to the covenants and commandments the Lord has given us. …
… The wearing of immodest clothing, which may seem like a small matter, take[s] something away from our young women or young men in the Church. It simply makes it more difficult to keep those eternal principles by which we all have to live if we are to return to the presence of our Father in heaven.
If we shall search diligently, pray always, be believing, and walk uprightly, we have the Lord’s promise that all things shall work together for our good [see D&C 90:24]. This is not a promise that we shall be free from the trials and problems of life, for this probationary state is designed to give us experience and difficult and conflicting situations.
Life never was intended to be easy, but the Lord has promised that he will cause all trials and difficulties to result in our good. He will give us strength and ability to overcome the world and to stand firm in the faith despite all opposition. It is a promise that we shall have peace in our hearts despite the tumults and troubles of the world. And above all, it is a promise that when this life is over, we shall qualify for eternal peace in the presence of Him whose face we have sought, whose laws we have kept, and whom we have chosen to serve.
These excerpts taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Chapter 20:  In the World but not of the World.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease

After relating a story about his friend's pickup truck experience, Elder Bednar said the following:

Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: “Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?”

Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most.

Consider the Lord’s uniquely individual invitation to “take my yoke upon you.” Making and keeping sacred covenants yokes us to and with the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the Savior is beckoning us to rely upon and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His. As we trust in and pull our load with Him during the journey of mortality, truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and “strength beyond [our] own” (“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,”Hymns, no. 220). As the Lord declared, “Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end” (D&C 100:12).

There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (seeAlma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Living by Every Word that Proceeds from the Mouth of God

The Lord has given to man a code of laws that we call the gospel of Jesus Christ. Due to lack of inspiration and spiritual guidance, men may differ in relation to these laws and their application, but there can hardly be a dispute in regard to the fact that such laws do exist, and that all who seek entrance into that kingdom are subject to them.

We believe that worship is far more than prayer and preaching and gospel performance. The supreme act of worship is to keep the commandments, to follow in the footsteps of the Son of God, to do ever those things that please him. It is one thing to give lip service to the Lord; it is quite another to respect and honor his will by following the example he has set for us. … I rejoice in the privilege of following in his footsteps. I am grateful for the words of eternal life which I have received, I am very glad to say, in this world, and for the hope of eternal life which is mine in the world to come if I will remain faithful and true to the end.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.]

… I believe the Lord meant just what He said, that we should be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect. That will not come all at once, but line upon line and precept upon precept, example upon example, and even then not as long as we live in this mortal life, for we will have to go even beyond the grave before we reach that perfection and shall be like God.

But here we lay the foundation. Here is where we are taught these simple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in this probationary state, to prepare us for that perfection. It is my duty, it is yours, to be better today than I was yesterday, and for you to be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you were today. Why? Because we are on that road, if we are keeping the commandments of the Lord, we are on that road to perfection, and that can only come through obedience and the desire in our hearts to overcome the world. …

… If we have a failing, if we have a weakness, there is where we should concentrate, with a desire to overcome, until we master and conquer. If a man feels that it is hard for him to pay his tithing, then that is the thing he should do, until he learns to pay his tithing. If it is the Word of Wisdom, that is what he should do, until he learns to love that commandment.

Challenge this Week:  Find something you are struggling with and look for ways to be more diligent.

Excerpts taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Joseph Fielding Smith, Chapter 18.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sealing Power and Temple Blessings

President Smith taught that family history is about more than finding names, dates, and places and gathering stories. It is about providing temple ordinances that unite families for eternity, sealing faithful people of all generations as members of the family of God. “Parents must be sealed to each other, and children to parents in order to receive the blessings of the celestial kingdom,” he said. “Therefore our salvation and progression depends upon the salvation of our worthy dead with whom we must be joined in family ties. This can only be accomplished in our Temples.” Before offering the dedicatory prayer in the Ogden Utah Temple, he said, “May I remind you that when we dedicate a house to the Lord, what we really do is dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service, with a covenant that we shall use the house in the way he intends that it shall be used.”

Elijah came to restore to the earth, by conferring on mortal prophets duly commissioned of the Lord, the fulness of the power of Priesthood. This Priesthood holds the keys of binding and sealing on earth and in heaven of all the ordinances and principles pertaining to the salvation of man, that they may thus become valid in the celestial kingdom of God. …

It is by virtue of this authority that ordinances are performed in the temples for both the living and the dead. It is the power which unites for eternity husbands and wives when they enter into marriage according to the eternal plan. It is the authority by which parents obtain the claim of parenthood concerning their children through all eternity and not only for time, which makes eternal the family in the Kingdom of God.

I think sometimes we look at this work for the salvation of the dead rather narrowly. It is a wrong conception to think of the people for whom we are doing work in the temple of the Lord as being dead. We should think of them as living; and the living proxy but represents them in receiving the blessings which they should have received and would have received in this life had they been living in a gospel dispensation. Therefore every dead person for whom work is done in the temple is considered to be living at the time the ordinance is given.

This doctrine of salvation for the dead is one of the most glorious principles ever revealed to man. It is the way in which the gospel shall be offered to all men. It establishes the fact that God is no respecter of persons [see Acts 10:34]; that every soul is precious in His sight; and that all men will, in fact and in reality, be judged according to their works.

There is no work connected with the gospel that is of a more unselfish nature than the work in the House of the Lord, for our dead. Those who work for the dead do not expect to receive any earthly remuneration or reward. It is, above all, a work of love, which is begotten in the heart of man through faithful and constant labor in these saving ordinances. There are no financial returns, but there shall be great joy in heaven with those souls whom we have helped to their salvation. It is a work that enlarges the soul of man, broadens his views regarding the welfare of his fellowman, and plants in his heart a love for all the children of our Heavenly Father. There is no work equal to that in the temple for the dead in teaching a man to love his neighbor as himself. Jesus so loved the world that he was willing to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin that the world might be saved. We also have the privilege, in a small degree, of showing our great love for Him and our fellow beings by helping them to the blessings of the gospel which now they cannot receive without our assistance.

Excerpts taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Joseph Fielding Smith, Chapter 17, Sealing Power and Temple Blessings.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

More Diligent and Concerned at Home


We can begin to become more diligent and concerned at home by telling the people we love that we love them. Such expressions do not need to be flowery or lengthy. We simply should sincerely and frequently express love.  

President Thomas S. Monson recently counseled: “Often we assume that [the people around us] must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. … We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us” (“Finding Joy in the Journey,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2008, 86).


We also can become more diligent and concerned at home by bearing testimony to those whom we love about the things we know to be true by the witness of the Holy Ghost. The bearing of testimony need not be lengthy or eloquent. And we do not need to wait until the first Sunday of the month to declare our witness of things that are true. Within the walls of our own homes, we can and should bear pure testimony of the divinity and reality of the Father and the Son, of the great plan of happiness, and of the Restoration.


In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.

Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.

Your Challenge this Week:  Do something to let your family know you love them.

Quotes taken from Elder Bednar's General Conference Address, More Diligent and Concerned at Home.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Your Four Minutes

As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught:

“To those of you … who may still be hanging back, … I testify of the renewing power of God’s love and the miracle of His grace. …

“… It is never too late so long as the Master … says there is time. … Don't delay.”

Remember, you are not alone. The Savior has promised that He will not leave you comfortless. You also have family, friends, and leaders who are cheering you on.

Ether 12:27
If they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Jeffrey R. Holland
God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as he always has.  But he can't if you don't pray and He can't if you don't dream.  In short, He can't if you don't believe.

Brad Wilcox
Jesus doesn't make up the difference.  Jesus makes all the difference.  Grace is not about filling gaps, it is about filling us.

Linda K. Burton
The Holy Ghost can do for us physically, emotionally, mentally, and intellectually what no man-made remedy can begin to duplicate. 

Your challenge this week:  Look and pray for ways to make your weaknesses, strengths.

Excerpts taken from Brad Wilcox's talk, His Grace is Sufficient and Bishop Stevenson's talk, Your Four Minutes.