Thursday, June 8, 2017

Power to change

Change,-Craig Conover,Atonement,Behavior,Faith


There was a great question posed in my family Gospel Study Group and I thought I would say a few words in an effort to shed some light on the answer. 

"So many times in the scripture they say "my spirit is wanting my flesh is weak", that is the ultimate thought to describe wanting change.

So again there's things that I need to work on and that everyone needs to work on so how do we change our deepest thoughts and motivations to do whatever it is that we need to change?"

Boyd K. Packer made a statement that should never be underestimated.

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.

“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. ... That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel”
Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (“Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).

Why is this so vitally important? In my opinion it is because the Gospel of Christ speaks to our spirits in a way that nothing else can, regardless of how good it is. It contains within its teachings every principle and truth to exalt man and through their pursuit, man is perfected and purified. 

Now, hold that thought, and let me tell you a quick story. 

My company put on a 3-day live event last September. During an Q&A session, a lady asked the question, "how can we go from version 1.0 of ourselves to version 2.0 of ourselves, how do we cross that line?" All three founders were on stage, Brendon Burchard, Dean Graziosi, and Ethan Willis, and had great responses, but let me share what Ethan said. He said that when he has a project that he is working on, he goes into his theatre room, shuts the door, and starts to visualize the project. He might be there an hour or longer and visualizes the whole project, in as much detail as possible. To the extent that when things happen, it doesn't surprise him, because he has already created it. 

Ethan is an active member of the church, and I have great respect for him. As he spoke, the Spirit fell upon me and told me, that what he was saying was a powerful demonstration of faith. 

So, here we are at the first principle of the Gospel, which is faith. The more I learn about faith, the more I realize it's importance. I think that it is the first principle, because it is the most important. When we were born, air was the first thing we took into our bodies, because it is the most important and without it, life would end. Similarly, I am a firm believer that if we don't learn how to have and use faith, we can't and won't progress spiritually at all. But like air, faith is ever present and in use in our very lives, either on the one hand or on the other. 

Joseph Smith taught us in the Lectures on Faith:

9 From this we learn, that faith is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen; and the principle of action in all intelligent beings.


Here we see that faith is the "principle of action in all intelligent beings" in the pursuit of that which we want. Using the words "intelligent beings" shows unto us, that it is only when we are acting rather than being acted upon (2 Nephi 2:13-14) that our action is based on faith. 

This is a very pertinent component to understand as we look at changing our ways. When we act because we are being enticed by the evil one, we are being acted upon, thus faith is not present. Another way to look at it, is when we follow the path of least resistance we become crooked like rivers, and faith is not present or active in us. 

Joseph continues to demonstrate or prove faith as a principle of action: 

10 If men were duly to consider themselves, and turn their thoughts and reflections to the operations of their own minds, they would readily discover that it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action, in them; that without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.

11 ...Are you not dependent on your faith, or belief, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom and intelligence? Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence, unless you did believe that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown if you had not believed that you would reap? Would you have ever planted if you had not believed that you would gather? Would you have ever asked unless you had believed that you would receive? Would you have ever sought unless you had believed that you would have found? Or would you have ever knocked unless you had believed that it would have been opened unto you? In a word, is there any thing that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions, of every kind, dependent on your faith?

12 And as faith is the moving cause of all action in temporal concerns, so it is in spiritual...

13 ...But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power, also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven, or on earth.

17 Who cannot see, that if God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them, and that faith is the principle of power? And that if the principle of power, it must be so in man as well as in the Deity? This is the testimony of all the sacred writers, and the lesson which they have been endeavoring to teach to man.


Amazing, faith is not only the principle of action but also of power, both in man and God. Last piece of the faith puzzle to consider today.

Moroni 7:33
If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. 

So to bring this all together, when we act for ourselves in the pursuit of that which we desire, action is created and taken, and if it is expedient to God, He will give unto us power to accomplish that thing, regardless of what it is. 

Now, how do we use our faith to change our behavior? Joseph Smith continues, “When a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force. It is by words, instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith.” (Lectures on Faith, pp. 9–10, 61.) To work, by faith, we use our mind and words. Is not this where the battle is fought, in our own minds? We have forces of evil constantly trying to entice us down the wrong path, and if we yeild, we are being acted upon and therefore faith is not active and without faith, the principle of action and power to do that which is expedient to God is gone. Just like going to the gym, muscles not used retrogress in their growth, verses muscles that are used, grow. Our mental/faith muscles are no different; we must use them and use them often. 

Abraham didn't sacrifice Issac in a moment. The mount was a 3 days journey away, let alone the undisclosed time that he had known what he was commanded to do, and needless to say, he had ample time to talk himself out of it many times, but as history shows he stayed true to God. He had learned to use his faith/thoughts to surrender his will over to that of the Lord and then act with and through the power of God. Truly, he overcame this world with his faith and was sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (D&C 76:53). We too can and must do the same. 

We must be vigilant with our thoughts, and when anything enters our mind that does not serve us, we must use our faith to erase and delete it and then replace it. Not just the thought itself but the feelings that accompany the thought. Fear, for example, is never just a thought by itself, it always brings it's big brother emotion with it. So, erase and delete the thought and the emotion and visualize them both leaving your mind and body, and then replace it with your faith, your love of God, faith in the atonement to wash us clean from the stain of sin, and most importantly, put emotion and feeling into that serving and righteous thought. Let the power of faith work within your own mind and body. The stronger the faith, the stronger the emotions and feelings of trust and love in and for God.

This is the process that Abraham used to cast out all fear and doubt and what was left, was pure faith in God and obedience to His commands. It is true that we will all have to pass through an Abrahamic test one day, but let us practice with the day to day trials with perfect faith as the principle of action and power to accomplish all that is expedient to God. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Craig

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Where is the Lord God of Joseph Smith?

Talk source: http://spiritualcrusade.blogspot.com/2017/03/where-is-lord-god-of-joseph-smith.html


I have listened to this talk that Bruce R. McConkie gave and it is absolutely a favorite of mine now. It is so powerful. I searched for a written version to copy and paste, but it is only available in audio form. You have to listen to it to understand the title of this post. I thought about explaining it, but that would ruin the fun. :)


The phrase that jumped out to me was, "God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown." I googled it and found the phrase but it is slightly more descriptive than what was said in this audio. 



"God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown, and the things of God are and can be known only by and through the Spirit of God." The Lord’s People Receive Revelation - Ensign June 1971 - ensign https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/06/the-lords-people-receive-revelation?lang=eng

There is no real way of summarizing the talk, it is so powerful and you should listen to it over and over again pondering its meaning and allowing the Spirit to teach us how we can apply it into our lives immediately. We are responsible before God for our own journey back to him. We must learn to seek Him out through revelation. Please go and listen to this talk. 

Below are some highlights to the talk that I quoted above, although an entirely different talk, it has the same underlining spur to seek out God and His Christ through revelation. Enjoy!

The Lord’s People Receive Revelation - Ensign June 1971 - ensign Highlights

17.8%: 

Background image by: Carsten Frenzl https://flic.kr/p/Sm94HY or http://www.carstenfrenzl.de/

And so it is with the revelations and visions of eternity. They are around us all the time. This Tabernacle is full of the same things which are recorded in the scriptures and much more. The vision of the degrees of glory is being broadcast before us, but we do not hear or see or experience because we have not tuned our souls to the wave band on which the Holy Ghost is broadcasting.

Joseph Smith said: “The Holy Ghost is a revelator.” And, “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [Deseret Book Co., 1968], p. 328.)


23.9%: 
Moroni said: “… by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:5.)


24.9%: 
The Comforter knoweth all things; he is commissioned to bear witness of the Father and the Son, to reveal, to teach, and to testify—and he is broadcasting all the truths of salvation, and all the knowledge and wisdom of God, out into all immensity all of the time.


35.6%: 
And may I say that the only way to gain true religion is to receive it from the Lord. True religion is revealed religion; it is not a creation of man’s devising; it comes from God.


38.9%: 
Salvation comes from God, on his terms, and the things men must do to gain it can be known only by revelation.


40.1%: 
God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown, and the things of God are and can be known only by and through the Spirit of God.


47%: 

Background image by: Pete Huu https://flic.kr/p/tPtnBM

From an eternal perspective what each of us needs is a Ph.D. in faith and righteousness. The things that will profit us everlastingly are not the power to reason, but the ability to receive revelation; not the truths learned by study, but the knowledge gained by faith; not what we know about the things of the world, but our knowledge of God and his laws.


59.4%: 
It is the privilege and the right of every member of the Church to receive revelation and to enjoy the gifts of the Spirit. 

71.4%: 
“Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Ne. 15:3, 7–11.)


74.2%: 
It is the right of members of the Church to receive revelation. Joseph Smith said: “… God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them. …” (Teachings, p. 149.)


92.7%: 

Background image by: Hilton Chen https://flic.kr/p/xAtCEv

Religion comes from God by revelation and deals with spiritual things; and unless and until a man has received revelation, he has not received religion, and he is not on the path leading to salvation in our Father’s kingdom.

Grace to exalt us requires our best efforts



Image by: Eric Henderson https://flic.kr/p/zPRFUZ

Romans 6:1-2
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/rom/6?lang=eng

On the topic of grace, there are two extremes, on opposite sides of the scale. The first extreme is believing that only through grace are we saved and that works are of no/little value or benefit in our salvation. The other extreme is that we are saved by our works. Grace actually doesn't even appear on that scale for it is not a ratio of grace to works, but rather both extremes exist harmoniously. The secret is that there are many levels of grace and we must qualify for increased grace. 

First and foremost let's look at the last command of the Savior as he gave the beatitudes.

Matthew 5:48
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/5?lang=eng

Now, let's compare that will His closing command to the Nephites during His beatitudes sermon to them.


3 Nephi 12:48
Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

We are here on earth to progress, through our experiences, to become like the stature of Christ.

Ephesians 4:13
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/eph/4?lang=eng

So, how do we come "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ?" First let's look at how Christ accomplished it and came unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of His Father.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:13
13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness; https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/93?lang=eng

Do you see the secret; the levels of grace? His sinless life qualified him to go from grace to grace until He received a fullness. A few verses down we see how this applies to us.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:19-20
19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.
20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/93?lang=eng

It is so exciting, this is how and what we worship. We are to receive a fullness of Christ which is the fullness of the Father. In order for us to receive grace for grace, we must keep His commandments which requires a significant amount of effort and work on our part, but it is not working on our own, but rather we are yoked with Christ, and receive grace for grace along the way which strengthens us and allows us to perform an even greater work. Thus as you can see, grace and works are not separate entities but rather they coexist and only through grace are we capable of performing greater works and yet all glory be to the Father for the grace that strengths and exalts us.

So, to recap, to come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ and the Father, we must keep the commandments (works) and yet the only way to accomplish this is to be strengthened by and through grace and to go from grace to grace which empowers us to keep all the commandments of God and thus we come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, and become like Him in mind and in deed. And all of this is brought about by grace as we do all we can do because then grace will strengthen us to do it again and the process repeats itself until we are like Christ, by His grace. So, we are saved by grace and exalted by works made possible only by and through grace.

Craig

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pure Thoughts Equals Pure Actions

Background image by: Hilton Chen https://flic.kr/p/JHm2gA

I wrote this many years ago and just found it. Enjoy! 

Do you want to be an instrument in his hands? 

One of my favorite quotes has inspired me more than most.  I have allowed my mind to dwell on it quite often.  It has helped me understand my greatest desire which is, how can I be an instrument in the Lord's hands?  Before I read the quote I want you understand that question better.  When I think of someone who was an instrumental to the Lord, I think of the many prophets of the Book of Mormon.  But to narrow the search, I have been learning about Alma the younger this last week or so as I listened to the Book of Mormon in my car on my way to work.  I would now like to tell you about my dear friend and teacher Alma.  As I do, I want you to think about the following question.  What was it about him that made him such an instrument to the Lord?  

When Alma was younger, he "became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities."  As him and his friends were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them..[and said] Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people…  Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith." (Mosiah 27:8-14).  Alma repentented of his many sins and from that day forth went "throughout all the land of Zarahemla, and among all the people who were under the reign of king Mosiah, zealously striving to repair all the injuries which [he] had done to the church, confessing all [his] sins, and publishing all the things which [he] had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them" (Mosiah 27:35.)

He never looked back and he began to be an instrument in the Lords hands.  Before Mosiah the king died he set up a more democratic system of government with judges to govern the people and "Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church. (Mosiah 29:42).  Only about 8 years passed and the people began to be exceedingly wicked, so Alma decided to step down from Chief Judge and preach the Gospel.  Imagine the President of the United States stepping down to go on a mission.   And Alma went and began to declare the word of God unto the church… according to the revelation of the truth of the word which had been spoken by his fathers, and according to the spirit of prophecy which was in him, according to the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who should come to redeem his people from their sins, and the holy order by which he was called… (Alma 6:8).  He was instrumental in bringing Amulek, Zeezrom, and many of the people of the wicked city Ammonihah to the knowledge of their redeemer, and brought them out of the city before it was destroyed.   Peace was restored throughout the land because of the teaching of the word, "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 had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them…" (Alma 31:5).  He continued which was started by his father to teach the gospel unto his children with much diligence, and many prophets came of his seed.  He was even taken home to his Lord and Master without tasting of death.  It is written of him:


Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God. Alma 48:17-18

Now for the quote by Joseph Smith:

Background image by: Craig Conover, a digital painting I made of a dream I had several years ago.

"We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. 
Today I want to propose that one of the major factors of Alma's success as an instrument in the Lords hands has to do with what Joseph quoted, "the clearer are his views."  Why were his views clearer?  Because he had learned to master his thoughts to the point that his “eye was single” to the glory of God.  Jesus Christ said, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42)  His eye was single to the glory of His Father, likewise Alma's eye became single to the glory of the Christ.  Horses have blinders put on them that they only see that which his master desires for them to see, we too need to put on our blinders that we may only think that which our Master desires for us to think.  Submitting our thoughts to the will of God is essential to becoming an instrument in the Hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thoughts can be hard to control, but I know that with the help from on high we can do it.  


"Probably the greatest challenge to people of any age, particularly young people, and the most difficult thing you will face in mortal life is to learn to control your thoughts. As a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7.) One who can control his thoughts has conquered himself."  Boyd K. Packer Inspiring Music- Worthy Thoughts

"Elder J. Thomas Fyans made the following comments about thoughts:
"Not only is this Amazon the greatest river in the world, but even many of its tributaries are great rivers.
 
"One interesting feature about these rivers is their different colors. The Madeira, for example, is called a white river because its waters carry fine clay particles along its course. The black color of the Rio Negro comes from decaying organic materials picked up in the forests through which it passes. Still other rivers flow over white sands and often appear emerald green or turquoise blue. 

"Just as these rivers are colored by the substances picked up as they flow along, so the streams of our thoughts are colored by the material through which they are channeled. 

"Some rivers are sluggish and meander through low places. Their waters are dirty and full of debris.

"Other rivers flow down from the high places. Their current is strong, and as a result, these furnish electricity for our needs, and great ships sail upon them"

I guess the question is what does our river look like?  Is it polluted, and if so is a “service project” in order to clean it up.   President McKay helps us to know how to identify the pollution level of our rivers, "Tell me what you think about when you do not have to think, and I will tell you what you are.”  Ok, we now have an idea of the color of our river, George Q. Morris tells us why the color of our river is so important, "Thoughts are the tools with which we shape our character, just as truly as a great sculptor with chisel and mallet chips and chips on the rough marble until it's shaped into a splendid and perfect work of art. Just so every thought is shaping our character and, consequently, shaping our destiny and our lives. Therefore the result is, in all our thoughts, the creation of [our] character" (The Importance of Habits, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [20 May 1953], 2).

Alma organized a “service project” to clean up his thoughts and actions, and by doing so he became a great prophet and most defiantly an instrument in the Lords hands unto the salvation of many souls.  We too can take up the challenge and organized a “service project” on our thoughts and actions and we too can become instruments in our Lords hands and “shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.” (D&C 6:8).  

I testify of the truthfulness of this Gospel and am truly indebted to my elder brother Jesus Christ, who loved even insignificant me, that he suffered for our sins and laid down his life and took it up again for the sole purpose of bringing us back to our Heavenly Father crowned with salvation and everlasting life if we just come unto him.  I would like to close with the beautiful words of Joseph Smith,

“The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him.”

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Talk on Baptism


This is a talk on baptism that I gave on Saturday. It was a Stake baptism and only three boys were being baptized, one of which was my nephew, Jake. 

I am honored to have been asked to give this talk on baptism here today. What a special day for each of you that are getting baptized. And what a special day for your parents and families to share in this wonderful occasion. What an awesome sight to see all of you dressed in white ready to be baptized and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

2 Nephi 31:5
And now, if the Lamb of God [or the Savior], he being holy [or without sin], should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy [with sin], to be baptized, yea, even by water! 

We have the privilege, of following our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism, which is pretty exciting.

But, why is baptism so important?

In John 3:5 ​we read, Except a man be ​​​born​ of ​​​water​ and ​of​ the ​​​Spirit​, he cannot ​​​enter​ into the kingdom of God.

We want to return back to live with our father in heaven, don't we? Being born of water is same thing as being baptized. And being born of the Spirit, is the same as receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, which you Will have the opportunity of receiving both here today.

You might be wondering though, how is baptism like being born?

Paul helps us understand this better. 

Romans 6:4
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

When a baby is born they "walk in newness of life" don't they? That is a fancy way of saying that we are born of the Spirit.

So just to sum it up, as we are buried in the water, that is symbolic of the Savior's death. As you are raised out of the waters of baptism, it is just like the Savior being raised from dead. You too are raised up or born of the water to "walk in newness of life." 

I love the phrase, to "walk in newness of life." After our baptism our lives should be different. We know that the age of eight is the age of accountability, so we know that from now on we are going to be held accountable to our sins, or the mistakes that we make, that causes our Father in Heaven to be sad. 

Now, to demonstrate this a little bit better, I need a couple volunteers. Which of you that are being baptized would be kind enough and brave enough to come up here for a quick demonstration?

Disappearing Ink Demonstration 
Which of you being baptized are brave enough to come up and help me with a demonstration. Don't be shy, come on up. 
- Talk about how after they are baptized here today, they will be pure just like the white clothes they are wearing. When you go home, you are going to make some misrakes and sin. They Lord has provided us with the sacrament as a way to become clean again and have our sins forgiven. When you come to the sacrament meeting with a prayer in your heart and feeling sad about the sins you committed during the week and worthily partake of the sacrament, you renew your baptismal covenants and are made clean again. 
- Give an example or two of something they might do this week, like be mean to a sibling, and then squirt them with the disappearing ink.
-  Explain how our sins stain our souls just like this ink stains your clothes. Luckily, this is special disappearing ink, and it will show how with repentance and the sacrament we can be made pure and white again. 
- Show how the ink is disappearing already.

Thank you so much for your help, you may sit down.

We'll look at one more scripture here today. This scripture helps us understand more fully the covenants that we make when we are baptized.


Mosiah 18:8-10
8 ...Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God [explain what witness means, include testifier of God] at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life--
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you? https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/18?lang=eng

Are you guys all excited? I am super excited for each one of you. What a great opportunity you each have, here in a few more minutes, to be baptized even by water and then of course receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and to walk in newness of life and "and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even unto death." 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sabbath a delight


Sabbath a delight
Intro
  • Isn't my wife awesome. I love hearing her speak.
  • I too have been asked to speak on "The Sabbath is a Delight". I would like to focus my thoughts on the, "why" we keep the Sabbath day holy.

Pop Quiz
I would like to start by getting all the kids involved for just a moment. So if you are in primary stand up, and if there are some daring young men or young women that are not "too cool" yet, go ahead and stand up. We are going to do a practice round first.

Practice Round
Stay standing if you are wearing anything with....
  • Black on.
  • White
  • Red
  • Etc...

Official Round
Ok, so everyone gets the idea. Now lets do the official pop quiz. Everyone standup. Stay standing if we have been promised if keep the sabbath day holy...
  • we will recieve answers to our prayers.
  • The Lord shall guide thee continually, 
  • satisfy thy soul in drought, 
  • make fat thy bones: 
  • thou shalt be like a watered garden, 
  • like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
  • Last one, If you believe that man was created and came down here to receive bodies, for the sole purpose of keeping the Sabbath day holy?
  • You guys are all so smart and did a great job.

We read in Mark 2:27 "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath."

Were we created for the sole purpose of reading the scriptures, or saying our prayers, or what about going to church? Of course not, we were created, so that we through Christ may be exalted and live the life that our Father in Heaven lives.

All these things were created for man, really they are tools used to help prepare him to return to the father. 

The Lord's Jewels
Let me introduce a concept real quick.

3 Nephi 24:17 reads: And they [speaking of the righteous] shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

I love how the Lord says he will make his jewels out of the righteous. One of the most precious types of jewels are diamonds. What is interesting about diamonds, is how they are formed. It is not an easy process and doesn't happen overnight.


I found this really good explaination: Diamonds are crystals of pure carbon that form under crushing pressures and intense heat. (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/earth/rock-minerals/diamonds/diamond-formation/)

Look at those three very discriptive and important pieces of the equation:
   1. Crystals of "pure" carbon.
   2. Crushing pressures
   3. Intense heat

To be counted among the Saviors jewels, we will be required to be formed in the same way, and it will not be easy. We will need to be purged of all wickedness and become pure in heart and be tried and sanctified through crushing pressures and intense heat. 

We are all familiar with the story of the rich young man in the New Testament who came to Jesus to find out how he could obtain salvation. 

Matthew 19:20-22 sums up the story.

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

We are left to wonder what could have been if he had just submitted himself over to the process of becoming a jewel. But sadly, not everyone will be willing to go through the process of becoming a jewel to the Lord. Joseph Smith, quoted by President John Taylor said: 

You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and (said he) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God. (In Bowery, June 18, 1883, JD24:197) TLDP:5

And the Lord gave us the same message in D&C 78:7. "If you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you." (D&C 78:7.)

Faith
One more concept before I return to tie everything into the sabboth day, and that is Faith.

I want to ensure that we are all on the same page when it comes to faith. We will turn to Joseph Smith and the Lectures on Faith to help us tackle this feat.

10 If men were duly to consider themselves, and turn their thoughts and reflections to the operations of their own minds, they would readily discover that it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action, in them.. 

11 ...Are you not dependent on your faith, or belief, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom and intelligence? Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence, unless you did believe that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown if you had not believed that you would reap? Would you have ever planted if you had not believed that you would gather? Would you have ever asked unless you had believed that you would receive? Would you have ever sought unless you had believed that you would have found? Or would you have ever knocked unless you had believed that it would have been opened unto you? In a word, is there any thing that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions, of every kind, dependent on your faith? 

12 And as faith is the moving cause of all action in temporal concerns, so it is in spiritual... 

13 ...But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power, also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven, or on earth.

So, when we desire to obtain a particular outcome or result, it is our faith in that thing that causes us to take action to obtain that desired result or outcome. 

Sabbath a delight
Now go with me to Isaiah Chapter 58. As we go over this chapter be thinking of the sabbath as a tool to become a jewel unto Christ and how faith is required in this process. I will be referrencing the footnotes extensively, for they contain great knowledge and clarity.

1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
The Lord is giving his prophet authority to speak on this topic and we would do good to heed these words.

2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

Footnote 2a for "yet" says: "they do all the rituals, but lack something yet."

True faith is required, believing that the Lord will provide the promised blessings and help make the sabbath a delight unto us.

3 ¶Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

Footnote 3a takes us to Malicah 3:13-15

13 ¶Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?

14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?

15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.

They lack faith. What would have happened if the brother of Jared just picked up some rocks and asked the Lord to make them glow? There would have been no effort and therefore there would have been no faith. 

We must have faith in the sabbath and show our faith by our thoughts, words, and actions on His holy day, and then will he cause our light to shine forth in darkness.

Next we are taken to Alma 34:28
28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need--I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.

If we want all of our promised blessings from the Sabaoth day, prayers, etc... We MUST take care of the poor, needy, naked, and sick. 

4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

Footnote 4b tells us: fasting without spiritual motivation only engenders discomfort and irritability

6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

The Sabbath day is the great liberator. It is a day to be freed from the yokes of the world.

7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Picture used in quote by: Gavin Hardcastle https://flic.kr/p/t89aDh

8 ¶Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.

Let me list again these blessings: -thy light break forth as the morning, meaning we will radiate light and be servants of Christ.
-thy health shall spring forth speedily, who doesn't want good health, then make the sabbath a delight.
-thy righteousness shall go before thee
-the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. Rearward, literally means protector. We are promised that the Lord will literally protect us, what more could you want.


9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
How many of us want to have our prayers answered and for the Lord to say, "Here I am." If we want our prayers and petitions answered, then make the sabbath a delight unto you.

10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:


11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

The Lord shall guide thee continually, we will literally be guided personally by the Lord. 
-satisfy thy soul in drought, 
-make fat thy bones: 
-thou shalt be like a watered garden, 
-like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

In these last days, we will want for ourselves and our families to not want for food or water and we are promised deliverance from both if we will but make the sabbath a delight and keep it holy.

12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

13 ¶If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

If we want to be the Lord's jewels, we must surrender our desires and wills over unto God and as we do this, like the diamonds we will begin to transform and over time, our wills will be aligned with that of the our Father in Heaven and his Only Begotten son, Jesus Christ.

14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

The footnote for this verse takes us to Deuteronomy 32:13 (7-14)

7 ¶Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

9 For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:

12 So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.

13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;

14 Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape.

As seen from these scriptures, when the Lord says: "I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father," that the heritage of Jacob is something special. The heritage of Jacob were "as the apple of his eye."

So to sum up the whole matter, first we must have great faith in the Sabboth and in the Lord that he is able and will bless us in proportion to our making the Sabbath a delight unto us. If we have this faith which will lead us to great action and thus our actions would literally bare testimony to the Lord of the degree and level of our faith. And as we do these things, then will we begin to qualify for the crushing pressures and intense heat that will come as we are purified, shaped and transformed into precious jewels of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Remember the promises of the Lord for those who do make the Sabbath a delight unto them:

Thy light break forth as the morning.
Thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; 
The glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
You will recieve answers to your prayers.
The Lord shall guide thee continually.
He will satisfy thy soul in drought, 
He will make fat thy bones: 
Thou shalt be like a watered garden, 
Like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
He will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father.

For me I know that I can do better at making the Sabbath a delight unto me. Let us decide today to make the necessary changes that we need to make, to have our actions testify of our faith in Him. I know that if we make these changes and improve each sabbath day over the last one, then we will begin to see these blessings bare fruit in our lives. We will also find that not only will the Sabbath become a delight unto us, but we will delight more and more in the Lord himself. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 


Craig


Found this after my talk:

Leviticus 26:2-12
2 ¶Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

3 ¶If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;

4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.

7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.

8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.

10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.

11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.

12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.