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.

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 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 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.

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.

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 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 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 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.

“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.