Thursday, January 25, 2018

Talk on the Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost

I would like to thank you for extending to me this honor of speaking on the Holy Ghost, and I pray that the Spirit will be with me as I speak and with you as you listen that we may all be edified. 

The crowning chapter of the Book of Mormon, is 3 Nephi 11 when the Savior of the world appeared to the Nephites in the flesh. An interesting fact, baptism is mentioned 19 times and Holy Ghost 8 times between 3 Nephi 11:21 and 12:2 [only 22 verses].

Let's go on a journey back in time, to right before the Savior appeared to the Nephites.

  • Think about it... The great destruction is over and the 3 days of darkness has just lifted. 
  • Where are you at? 
  • What do you smell? 
  • What do you see?
  • What do you feel?

You stand up and walk over to a great multitude that had gathered together, round about the temple, and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and are showing one another the great and marvelous change which had taken place... They are also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death.

3 And... while you were all conversing one with another, you heard a voice, as if it came out of heaven. You don't understood the voice. It's not a harsh voice, or a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce you to the center, insomuch that it did cause you to quake; yea, it did pierce you to the very soul, and did cause your heart to burn.
  • This is the Holy Ghost bearing record that what you are hearing is true.
4 And... again you hear the voice, and understood it not. 5 And again the third time you hear the voice, and did open your ears to hear it; and your eyes were towards the sound thereof. You understand the voice which you hear; and it says unto you: 7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
  • Imagine, you just heard the voice of Elohim even God the Eternal Father.
You see a Man descending out of heaven; and clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in your midst; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another. He then stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: 

10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. 11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.


So the 1st thing Jesus did was to show that He was the son of God, even Jesus Christ whom all the prophets had prophesied would come. He did this verbally but He also desired for each and everyone of them to know for themselves. He said, "Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world." 
  •      Can you imagine actually being there and feeling his hands, feet, and side for yourself. It would be amazing!

The 2nd thing Jesus did, was to give the priesthood unto Nephi and others, so that they could baptize the people after He had again ascended into Heaven. Of all the things He could have done or taught, he chose to establish and teach baptism.

The next thing Jesus did was to teach his doctrine, which again includes baptism.

 32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. 
 33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. 
 34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. 
 35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.


That is a simple doctrine. The Father commandeth...
  • all men, everywhere, to repent
  • believe in me 
  • whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Verse 35 contains a powerful key. "whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost." If we believe or in other words, have faith in Christ, the Father will confirm our faith in the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I find it very interesting how the Lord teaches us the existence of something, by the existence of something else. We are taught that because we exist thus God exists. Another favorite of mine is 2 Nephi 33:10

10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

Same concept with the Holy Ghost. When we feel the Holy Ghost, we know that it comes from God because of our faith in His son, even Jesus Christ. So, because the Holy Ghost is real, and we know it is real because we feel it and it is discernible, then without any doubt Christ and God are real. Looking at it another way, the Holy Ghost is the undeniable and authentic signature or seal of God and His Christ. By the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives, we then have the presence of or approval of God and Christ in our lives.

Therein lies the doctrine of Christ. We must repent, so we can be baptized, and after we are baptized with proper authority, we are then baptized with or are given the gift of the Holy Ghost which testifies of God and Christ. With that one gift, we can be led to all truth. The Holy Ghost will be our Liahona or guide. Through the approval of the Holy Ghost, we know of a certainty that we have the approval of God and his Christ, in that thing.

1 Corinthians 12:3 "no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." 


This poses a question, if we can only know that Jesus is the Lord by the Holy Ghost, how is that true if you receive the Holy Ghost after baptism? 

The Lord in His goodness made it possible for the Holy Ghost to appear or manifest itself to any seeker of truth. This is known as the power of the Holy Ghost. 

_________, you were brought back to this point in your life because of the power of the Holy Ghost, and it has led you to the waters of baptism. Now it will be your privilege to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost which can remain with you at all times.

This means that the Holy Ghost can be your constant companion to help you to become more like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To be clear, the Holy Ghost can come upon any man, woman, or child regardless of their religious background, nationality, race, or personal worthiness but he cannot be their constant companion. That is why the gift of the Holy Ghost is so important. 

Genesis 5:22 it says, "Enoch walked with God." 

We too have that opportunity. As shown earlier, if we so live that we can feel the Holy Ghost with us in all we think, say, and do, then we literally will have the seal of God in all our thought, words, and deeds. We would become one with God, and if we are one with God, then He will be in us, and is this not walking with God? 

_________, you will soon have hands placed on your head and hear the words "receive the Holy Ghost."

The word receive is the key word. If I were to hold up $100 bill as a gift for you, what would you have to do to receive the gift?

That's right, you would have to take action, you would have to come and take the $100 bill from me. Would it be possible not to take the necessary action to receive the gift? Of course. 

Your Father in Heaven will give you the gift of the Holy Ghost, but you must take action to "receive" it. The action that you and I must take is to live worthy of that gift.

Alma poses these questions, "can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?"

How will we know of God's image is in our countenances? As mentioned earlier, when we feel the Holy Ghost in our thoughts, words, and actions, we will know that God countenance is upon us. 

With the gift of the Holy Ghost we can become more fruitful servants of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and eventually become like Him. Parley P Pratt, a great missionary of the early church, summed up its transforming power:

The gift of the Holy Ghost...quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form, and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being."

Background image by: Pixfineart https://flic.kr/p/23BnG3W

I bear testimony that the Holy Ghost will be our constant companion and lead us to all righteousness as we do our part to live worthy of such a great gift. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Craig

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Talk on Seeing Christmas through New Eyes



“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” What is interesting, is that this scripture is found in the Book of Mormon, by Nephi, and the Bible by Isaiah. 2 Nephi 19:6 compare Isaiah 9:6 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/19?lang=eng


These words were written long before, even hundreds of years before, He was ever born into the world. They were written by Isaiah and then quoted by Nephi. The Lord loves to show forth his word and power in the mouth of at least two witnesses. Both of these great prophets not only knew by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost that He was to come, but because of their faithfulness and their determination to righteousness and their undying love of their Savior, they were shown all things. Not just a few scenes of history or prophecy here and there, but all things. Could you not have two greater witnesses than these? They truly saw His day and rejoiced in it and was glad. I think that they saw Christmas through new eyes. 

That is my topic today and it is based on Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk, “Seeing Christmas through New Eyes” and I am excited for this opportunity to speak to you today. I have a spiritual blog and one thing that I do every week is a ponderize post with supporting picture and quotes throughout the week to help people to better ponderize the scripture. The above scripture I read to you was my ponderize scripture for last week. And I will say that my love of that scripture has grown significantly. I feel that it has prepared me for this talk in a powerful way.

President Uchtdorf spoke about, "The Grinch, that memorable character from a classic children’s story by Dr. Seuss, had a heart that “was two sizes too small,” and he hated everything about Christmas. Through the course of the story, however, he undergoes a dramatic transformation when he learns that there is more to Christmas than decorations and gifts.

He continues: We know what the Christmas season ought to be—we know it should be a time of reflection on the birth of the Savior, a time of celebration and of generosity. But sometimes our focus is so much on the things that... overwhelm us that we can almost hear ourselves say in unison with the Grinch: “Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! … But HOW?”

I know that for us, Christmas can be a hectic time. Just on Friday at 3:04 my wife texted me that she still needed to get 60 presents. It is not easy or cheap buying presents for a family of 11, plus our extended family exchange gifts. I know that for me, it is easier not to get so stressed but let's be honest, my wife carries most of the load. If Christmas was up to me, it would be a disaster. She does such an amazing job.

Uchtdorf's said, While it’s true that we can find materialism and anxiety in Christmas, it is also true that if we have eyes to see, we can experience the powerful message of the birth of the Son of God and feel the hope and peace He brings to the world. We, like the Grinch, can see Christmas through new eyes.

He suggests three things for us "to study, ponder, and apply in this season of preparation."
Rejoice in the Birth of Our Savior, Ponder His Influence in Our Lives Today, and Look Steadfastly for His Coming

What an awesome way of thinking about Christmas. As I read this talk, I envisioned that if the Savior was here, he would not focus so much on His birth as He would on the purpose of His birth. I think of it similar to how the whole Christian world seems to have the cross as the symbol of their faith, which is a very important that of the Savior's mission, and yet His Resurrection is an even greater part of His mission, which is why us as Later-Day Saints do not use the cross as other religions do. Uchtdorf's message has a similar angle. The Savior's birth is powerful and amazing, and yet it only marks the beginning of His mission and we need to look more at the purpose of His birth. 

For His second point: Ponder His Influence in Our Lives Today, he said,  "Christmas is a time for remembering the Son of God and renewing our determination to take upon us His name. It is a time to reassess our lives and examine our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Let this be a time of remembrance, of gratitude, and a time of forgiveness. Let it be a time to ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its meaning for each of us personally. Let it especially be a time of renewal and recommitment to live by the word of God and to obey His commandments. By doing this, we honor Him far more than we ever could with lights, gifts, or parties."



The third point was, Look Steadfastly for His Coming. Look at the scriptures and you will find that the coming of the Messiah in power and glory is what all the holy prophets have testified of, and the major reason that the Jews have rejected Him as the Messiah. Sadly, many generations have lived and died not knowing the truth and allowing their hearts to grow in love and respect for our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ. As members of the Church we have the clearest understanding of the Savior than any other group, for we have the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We should also set the supreme example as we look forward to His second coming when He WILL come in power and glory and fulfill all the prophecies ever written or spoken of Him. 

Uchtdorf said, "The early disciples of Jesus Christ yearned for the time when He would come again. For them, mortality was a time of preparation and growth, of sifting and refining, a time for trimming their lamps and preparing for the return of their beloved Savior."

He continues, "We live in the 11th hour before the coming of the day of our Lord. Let us therefore look forward to that blessed day when the King of kings descends with a shout, takes away death, dries up tears, and ushers in a new era of peace, joy, and learning.

We live in the 11th hour before the coming of the day of our Lord. Let us therefore look forward to that blessed day when the King of kings descends with a shout, takes away death, dries up tears, and ushers in a new era of peace, joy, and learning.”

I opened my talk with Nephi and Isaiah who saw with an eye of faith the birth, death, resurrection, and final triumphant in power and glory at His second coming. We too can look with an eye of faith and our hearts will be filled with love and gratitude for our Savior and King. We will then be bold as we play our part in preparing for His second return. We will have our hearts invigorated with a desire to open our mouths and share the glad tidings of good news and help to prepare all of God's children for that great day when the Lord of Lords and King of Kings returns in His power and glory. We will rejoice at that day with all those who we played a part in their preparations and we will be His disciples. 

With the hustle and bustle of Chritmas nearly over, it is the perfect time to refocus our thinking this Chritmas season. Uchtdorf said, "I pray that during this season and always, we will see the purity of the story of the Savior’s birth and feel sincere gratitude for His life, teachings, and saving sacrifice for us. May this gratitude cause us to renew our determination to follow Him. May it also lead us to draw closer to our family, our church, and our fellowmen. And may we look steadfastly forward to that blessed day when the resurrected Christ will walk the earth again as our Lord, our King, and our blessed Savior."

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.