Thursday, December 15, 2016

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 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 An 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 out some or result, it is our faith in that thing that causes us to take action to obtain that desired result or outcome. 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: faster 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?

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. 


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.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Gratitude: The Catalyst of Discipleship


Gratitude: The Catalyst of Discipleship

When I extended the gratitude challenge, I had no idea what I was going to write about it. As a matter of fact, I was getting a little nervous because day after day, I had nothing. In the second session of the Phoenix Temple Dedication the Spirit opened my understanding in part to what gratitude really was. That night, I began to write my thoughts down and it was absolutely amazing, the spirit just began to teach me. Day after day my understanding of gratitude grew. What was interesting was that I had to progress to a certain point before the next door of understanding would open. Truly, the Lord gives "unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little" (2 Nephi 28:30).

Catalyst is defined as: "something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected. (dictionary.com).

We are all familiar with the Moroni challenge found in Moroni 10:4-5, but I wonder how often verse 3 gets missed or overlooked altogether. I always share verse 3 when I share the Moroni challenge with a non-member. There is something personal and special, to point out that God, in His wisdom has given the Book of Mormon to them at this time to read. Plus, I feel that it begins to soften their heart and prepares them for the next two verses. While this may be true, I believe it is much more than that though. I think it helps everyone, members and non-members alike to prepare for and opens the door to the influence and the power of the Holy Ghost along their pathway to discipleship. Moroni 10:3 reads,

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
Before I continue, let me tell you a story to strengthen my point. You already know the story, so bear with me.

    I took Kiera to the doctors for an ultrasound visit. We knew something was wrong when the Ultrasound tech asked Kiera, "Who told you that you were pregnant." After a long time she sent us back to the doctors office without telling us anything. We were very concerned. The doctor told us that our sweet Alexa was a tubular pregnancy and showed us a close up picture of the ultrasound where she was located in the tubes. He said that there was a heartbeat but that there was no way to save the baby. Reluctantly, we headed over to the hospital for the surgery. We were living in Illinois at the time and so we asked the missionaries to come and help me give Kiera a priesthood blessing. It was hard watching them wheel her off, so I did the only thing I could do; pray. After the surgery the doctor came in and related to us what had happened. He told us that there's a tool that they normally use which scrambles everything up and would flush out the baby even if it was in the uterus. He said, "Something told me not to use that tool." He went in with tweezers and went up and down both tubes and couldn't find our baby. He called in another doctor to get a second opinion and he couldn't find the baby either. They even did an ultrasound to see if they could find the baby in the uterus and couldn't find our baby. I have never heard of a doctor losing a baby before, but that is what happened. We came back a week or so later and there was Alexa, in the uterus, as if nothing had happened. We knew that she wasn't lost. The Lord in His mercy chose to miraculously save the life of our sweet miracle baby, Alexa.

Now with this new perspective let's look back at Moroni 10:3, "remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men." After my previous story, does this not have a much different or deeper meaning? One thing's for sure; I will never, and I mean never, just simply "remember" this experience. When I remember, my heart literally swells within me with gratitude to my Lord and my God for his mercy and love for me and my family. There are not words sufficient to express the gratitude and love I feel for my Savior for this one act of mercy, let alone all the acts of mercy towards all the children of men.

Moroni gives us direction to help us remember correctly when he said, "and ponder it in your hearts." Going through an experience requires less pondering than one we just read or heard about. Talking about the coming of Christ on the earth, Alma said, "Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice" (Alma 13:25). Why will he rejoice? Because, he has given himself to much pondering to the extent that Christ had become real, as if He had already come among him. Mosiah teaches us this concept too:

13 And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them. (Mosiah 3:13)
To sum it up so far, when we remember and ponder in our hearts, our thoughts are instinctively drawn to gratitude and love for that thing. With this in mind, I would like to further demonstrate the power that gratitude has in our lives. To do this, let's turn back to the scriptures.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

You might be wondering what faith, hope, and charity have to do with gratitude. But, the question you should be asking is, what does gratitude have to do with faith, hope, and charity? A slight variation makes all the difference in the world. Moroni will be our guide, but first, Joseph Smith gives us great clarity in unlocking Moroni's words.
7. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews, in the eleventh chapter of that epistle and first verse, gives the following definition of the word faith:
8. "Now faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
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.
10. If men were duly to consider themselves, and turn their thought 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.
Lectures on Faith, Lecture 1

Now back to Moroni 7:40-44. I will try to simplify the concepts as we go along and I will also draw a parallel between faith and hope in Christ to obtain eternal life with faith and hope in studying for a test to get a good grade. Also, notice the role that gratitude plays during the whole process.
40 And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?
  • We develop faith for things that we want to have hope in. Remember Joseph Smith's words above. Gratitude is born, because there is a way and means to achieve what you want.
  • If I study hard (faith) for the test, I can get a good grade (hope). I want a good grade therefore I study. I am grateful that I am able to study to achieve a good grade.
41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
  • We hope to obtain eternal life and this because of our faith in Christ that he is able to save us. As we remember and ponder His life we are filled with great gratitude for Him, which strengthens our faith and hope.
  • I can get a good grade on the test (hope) and this because I have the best study guide (faith in). I am so grateful that such a study guide exists to study from. My faith and hope is strengthened.
42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
  • We have faith in Christ, because of who he is and what he overcame, which means eternal life is possible. Because Christ exists -- Eternal Life exists. Gratitude continues to build and strengthen faith and hope.
  • Because the best study guide exists (faith) -- Good Grade exists (hope). Gratitude continues to build and strengthen faith and hope.
43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity...
(Moroni 7:40-44)
I looked up meekness in the Guide to the Scriptures and the first word defining meekness was "Godfearing." The scriptures are filled with references of fearing God. The archaic (very old) definition of fear means: to regard (God) with reverence and awe. In order to do this, one must have a deep and abiding gratitude for God. Meekness is the fruit of gratitude, and the prerequisite of charity. Meekness, is Godfearing, submissive, willingness to be taught and to be obedient to God.

Lowliness in heart is the opposite of pride. Gratitude is being grateful for someone or something besides yourself. When we are grateful for something we develop a love for that someone or something other than ourselves. Charity is the pure love of Christ which is pure love for others.

We have faith in Christ because of His power to save us from our sins and to rest our souls in the mansions prepared for the righteous, which is eternal life. Because of our faith and hope, we gladly submit to His will (with gratitude in our hearts) and are willing to obey His commandments and to be taught how to be like Him; to qualify ourselves through His grace to live the life He lives, even eternal life.
I trust in the study guide (faith in and gratitude for) because it contains sufficient knowledge to secure a good grade (hope). Because of my faith and hope, I am willing to submit myself to sufficient study (faith, cause of action) and am willing to be taught the knowledge it contains (meekness).
Verse 44 contains another powerful key, "if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ..." Moroni 8:26 helps to unlock this key:

26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.
Moroni 8:26

How does the remission of sins bring meekness? Very simply, because when one receives the remission of their sins, his or her's whole soul is filled with gratitude and love for Him who is able and who has power given to Him by His Father to forgive sins, even our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thus, gratitude springs forth within him, giving birth to or greatly enhancing his sense of awe and reverence towards God, which begats meekness and lowliness of heart, and "because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love."

The climax of the whole topic is this: Faith, hope, meekness (fruit of gratitude), and charity can only grow or diminish as fast or as slow as each other. Individually and collectively they are proportionally linked. "One for all, and all for one." For if one grows dark, they all grow dark. On the other hand, if one grows lighter, then they all grow lighter, in direct proportion to the growth of the one. And this is how men rise or fall.

To bring this talk to a full circle, I am convinced that the Lord prompted Moroni to put verse 3 in the 10th chapter of Moroni before verse 4-5 for a very specific purpose. To prepare the reader for their journey of faith in Christ and their hope of receiving all the promised blessings, even life eternal. This through their remembering and pondering, which fills their souls with gratitude, which begets meekness and lowliness in heart, which opens the door to the visitation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the truthfulness of Him and His power to save us. All of these forces working individually and collectively together, thus developing true discipleship in Christ.

I don't know about you, but I am just blown away at how embedded gratitude is in discipleship. It truly is the catalyst of discipleship. I want you all to know how much the Gospel means to me and my family. I love the Savior and try to emulate His example. I loved learning about gratitude and testify that as we embrace an attitude of gratitude, the Lord will begin to use us in miraculous ways to build His kingdom in these last days. I say these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Law of Tithing

A devoted man in Hungary lived a life of poverty. The floors in their home were made of dirt. Having no money to replace them, he mended his garmants on a daily basis, so that he could continue to wear them. He had a crippled walk and only one good arm. He didn’t have enough money to by a car or pay for public transportation. Through all this he faithfully attended his church meetings as often as he could. In order to do so, he had to walk an hour to catch one bus that would get him close enough to walk the rest of the way to church. He went alone, being the only member in his family. With all the trials of life that he faced, this valiant man was a faithful full tithe payer. He did not simply go through the motions of paying a full tithe, he truly understood the law of tithing.



We will all come to points in our lives when we may ask what that includes. For example; Does one pay tithing on a scholarship received for college? Does one pay tithing on their tax return? This is where the Spirit will guide the true of heart. Tithing is not just a duty to check off the list, it is much more. Tithing is a test of our faith.



Joseph F. Smith said: “By this principle [tithing] the loyalty of the people of this church shall be put to the test. By this principle it shall be known who is for the kingdom of God and who is against it. By this principle it shall be seen whose hearts are set on doing the will of God and keeping his commandments, thereby sanctifying the land of Zion unto God, and who are opposed to this principle and have cut themselves off from the blessings of Zion. There is a great deal of importance connected with this principle, for by [our payment of tithes] it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful. In this respect it is as essential as faith in God, as repentance of sin, as baptism for the remission of sins, or the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. For if a man keep all the law save one point, and he offend in that, he is a transgressor of the law, and he is not entitled to the fullness of the blessings of Jesus Christ. But when a man keeps all the law that is revealed, according to his strength, and his ability, though what he gives may be little, it is just as acceptable in the sight of God as if he were able to do a thousand times more. The law of tithing is a test by which the people as individuals shall be proved. Any man who fails to observe this principle shall be known as a man who is indifferent to the welfare of Zion, who neglects his duty as a member of the church… He neglects to do that which would entitle him to receive the blessings and ordinances of the gospel.”



This faith, necessary for our development on earth, may start as a simple seed to be nurished. Showing forth a particle of faith, is the very key to achieve the faith of a giant.



Russell M. Nelson said, “To develop enduring faith, an enduring commitment to be a full-tithe payer is essential. Initially it takes faith to tithe. Then the tithe payer develops more faith to the point that tithing becomes a precious priviledge. Tithing is an ancient law from God. He made a promise to His children that He would “open the windows of heaven, and pour… out a blessing, that there may not be room enough to receive it. Not only that, tithing will keep your name enrolled among the people of God, and protect you in the day of vengeance and burning.”



If we all truly understood those promises and blessings, not one soul would deny themselves the right to be so blessed. To be protected “in the day of vengeance and burning”. What a wonderful promise. We have been told to gather food storage, learn self reliance, and prepare temporally for the days that lay ahead. Should we not also prepare spiritually by paying a full tithe?



The prime purpose behind tithing is for the tithe-payer. The Church is grateful for our giving and it is used to further the Kingdom of God, however, we are the greatest beneficiaries.



Blessings may come immediately or in future times when the Lord knows best. We are blessed with the necessities of life. This does not mean wealth, yet we are blessed with what we need. The Lord blesses us with wisdom the manage our material resources, and our remaining 90%.



Spiritually we are blessed with further guidance of the Holy Ghost and a strengthened faith and testimony. We are able to develop a submissive and grateful heart, that confesses his hand in all things.



“Tithing makes its greatest appeal to the sincere mind because of its spiritual significance. It is an unfailing source of spiritual power. True and constant obedience to this law will give as much spiritua ldevelopment as will obedience to any other principle of the gospel.” (President David O. McKay)



It would be impossible to list all the possible ways that the Lord enriches our lives. The bottom line is that we cannot afford not to pay tithing.



Our children need to be taught from a young age the true meaning of tithing. We do not want to rob them of blessings they can receive, by not distilling in them a testimony of this law. Teach them during family home evening, or as they receive their allowance, birthday, or christmas money. Show them through your example the importance of tithing. Take them with you to tithing settlement so that they get the opportunity to report to the Bishop on their own, and above all, to see your faithfullness as you report.



After time and again of hearing young teens say they cannot pay their tithing because they need to save for their missions, Elder Hales encouraged us to teach them young. Teach them now, so that when they do serve their missions they are able to have a testimony of it on their own, to teach others. Teach them to pay with a cheerful and willing heart.



“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully.


Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”


2 Corinthians 9:6-7



Laman and Lemuel followed their father and journeyed just as Nephi did, yet they did it grudgingly. In contrast, Nephi followed with a cheerful heart.



The same can be said of tithing. There are those who give out of necessity, all along thinking of all the other purchases they could be making with that money. And there are those who give cheerfully, considering it a priviledge. They pay with a grateful heart, feeling indebted to the Lord for all He has given them.



It is our priviledge to participate in the building of the kingdom of God, both temporally and spiritually. When we grow spiritually we can help others do the same, therefore building God’s spiritual army.



Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude for Jesus Christ

Written by: Craig Conover Published on: November 14, 2010

Click here for a printable version


Gratitude for Jesus Christ


I am truly honored to be able to speak to you today and on such a great topic.

First of all, I would like to warn you that I use a lot of scriptures in my talks because of how valuable they are. If you recall that there are several entire chapters in the Book of Mormon that Nephi and others recorded word for word. Every word in the scriptures was selected by the power of God and delivers great power unto all that listen with the Spirit. So if you want to follow along, go ahead and grab your scriptures.

I would like to start by telling you how the spirit was manifest in my life through this talk. A while back I started a new tradition, in my family, an even though I am the only one that participates for the most part, I still call it a tradition. It is called the monthly talk tradition. For years I wanted to compose talks and have them ready whenever I was called on, so about 6 months ago I decided to do it and to share it with my family. So I try to put together a talk a month and send to my family. It has been real fun and I have learned so much. After I sent off the last one, I started to think about what topic I wanted next months talk to be on. This was about a week ago, and the thought came to me that I had not talked about my Savior yet, and that it was time for me to do that. I then began to focus my mind on my Savior, and I will tell you that as I allowed my thoughts to focus only upon him I received great strength and felt so close to him. There is a power that He can bring into our lives. Alma the younger describes in part this power to his son Helaman in Alma 36:17-20: After recalling how an angel appeared to him commanding him to stop destroying the Lords church, and he had a fallen that he could not speak or use his limbs and was taken before his father.


17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!


I too have felt this power in my life. On Monday the counselor in the Bishopric left a message for me to call him back. I thought that he might ask me to speak, and I thought it being Thanksgiving weekend he would probably give me a topic on Gratitude. All night I started to think about how neat it would be, if that was the topic, because I would show my gratitude for my Savior. The following day he called me and gave me the topic of gratitude for Jesus Christ. The Lord truly works in mysterious ways. So today I will be able to talk to you for a brief minute about my best friend and my God. I thought about how I would structure such a topic because my heart is filled with love and gratitude for him and I was not sure how to have you feel what I felt. So I pray that the spirit will be with me as I attempt to express my gratitude for Him. There are two aspects that I would like to touch on, and that is why we should be thankful for him, and then how we can show our gratitude to him.

Why we should be thankful for him, this does not need to be explained, but I would like the opportunity for you to feel what I feel. To begin is very difficult because he is the corner stone or the central belief in all that we believe in, there is no start or end to his influence.

3 Nephi 9:18

I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.


D&C 19:1

I AM Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world.


But let me begin by explaining who he was. As a child he started the same as all of us did, and had to become perfect step by step. Elders I apologize you heard this quote last week. James E. Talmage shows us this, in Jesus the Christ.

"In such simplicity is the normal, natural development of the Boy Jesus made clear. He came among men to experience all the natural conditions of mortality; He was born as truly a dependent, helpless babe as is any other child; His infancy was in all common features as the infancy of others; His boyhood was actual boyhood, His development was as necessary and as real as that of all children. Over His mind had fallen the veil of forgetfulness common to all who are born to earth, by which the remembrance of primeval existence is shut off. The Child grew, and with growth there came to Him expansion of mind, development of faculties, and progression in power and understanding. His advancement was from one grace to another, not from gracelessness to grace; from good to greater good, not from evil to good, from favor with God to greater favor, not from estrangement because of sin to reconciliation through repentance and propitiation.


Our knowledge of Jewish life in that age justifies the inference that the Boy was well taught in the law and the scriptures, for such was the rule. He garnered knowledge by study, and gained wisdom by prayer, thought, and effort. Beyond question He was trained to labor, for idleness was abhorred then as it is now; and every Jewish boy, whether carpenter's son, peasant's child, or rabbi's heir, was required to learn and follow a practical and productive vocation. Jesus was all that a boy should be, for His development was unretarded by the dragging weight of sin; He loved and obeyed the truth and therefore was free."


Also, in D&C 93:12-14

12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;

13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;

14 And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.


He was born into a royal blood lineage, and that of King David. In Jesus the Christ there is a quote from Canon Girdlestone, “If the crown of David had been assigned to his successor in the days of Herod it would have been placed on the head of Joseph. And who would have been the legal successor to Joseph? Jesus of Nazareth would have been then the King of the Jews, and the title on the cross spoke the truth. God had raised Him up to the house of David.”

He came, not to rule as a King, but to save the souls of those who believe in his name. Jesus in his own words, Matthew 20:26-28, shows us that, whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.


Why should such a being as Jesus Christ come? King Benjamin show us why.

Mosiah 3:5-13

5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

6 And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.

9 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.

10 And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.

11 For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.

12 But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

13 And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them.


I never tire from hearing those words, they awake within me a great abiding love for my Savior. Early I talked about the power that comes in and through Jesus Christ. There is a great quote from Ezra Taft Bensen in a 1986 conference report,

“There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called "the words of life” and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).”


The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, showing to the world that the Christ is the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Therefore the power of the Book of Mormon of which has been spoken, is the very power of God unto the convincing of all that read from its pages of Jesus and of his works, love, and atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. This power is given unto us through our faith in Him. I am always amazed at the account of the brother of Jared, who because of his faith saw God and much, much more.

Ether 3:20

20 Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.

Continuing in 25 he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth.


Mormon uses the Bother of Jared to explain faith:

Either 12:7, 20-21

7 For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world.

20 And behold, we have seen in this record that one of these was the brother of Jared; for so great was his faith in God, that when God put forth his finger he could not hide it from the sight of the brother of Jared, because of his word which he had spoken unto him, which word he had obtained by faith.

21 And after the brother of Jared had beheld the finger of the Lord, because of the promise which the brother of Jared had obtained by faith, the Lord could not withhold anything from his sight; wherefore he showed him all things, for he could no longer be kept without the veil.


Either 4:4 Mormon says

4 4 Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.


So by faith we can come to understand what great things the Savior of the world did for all of us, and it is by faith that your gratitude and joy for Him may consume you even like that of Ammon and the Anti Nephi Lehi's. And they truly were ministered to and it is written in Alma 23:6 And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them-yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.

They had the power of Christ in their very lives, and we too must obtain this power and allow our minds to lay hold on our Savior.

I would like now to talk about, how we can show our gratitude to him. I thought about this quite a bit and several things kept coming to my mind.


John 21:14-17

14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.


It is not enough for us to individually know that Jesus is the Christ, it is evident by the words of Jesus to Peter that we must bring others unto him. I think that it is important to note that this happened after Christ had been raised from the dead, and of all the teachings he could have given, he chose to teach them this great doctrine.

And unto the disciples in the America's he taught them a similar doctrine.
He asked the 12: What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?

3 Nephi 28:2

2 And they all spake, save it were three, saying: We desire that after we have lived unto the age of man, that our ministry, wherein thou hast called us, may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom.


He said, “Blessed are ye because ye desired this thing of me” and explained what would become of them, and then turned to the 3 and asked them: What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?

3 Nephi 28:5-10

5 And they sorrowed in their hearts, for they durst not speak unto him the thing which they desired.

6 And he said unto them: Behold, I know your thoughts, and ye have desired the thing which John, my beloved, who was with me in my ministry, before that I was lifted up by the Jews, desired of me.

7 Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.

9 … and all this will I do because of the thing which ye have desired of me, for ye have desired that ye might bring the souls of men unto me, while the world shall stand.

10 And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;


After this they were caught up in heaven and were minister unto, and when they continued their ministry on the earth they went through all the land and all were converted unto the Lord and united unto the church of Christ.

There is nothing greater than to bring souls unto salvation. Spencer W Kimball has one the greatest view points on missionary work, he said,

“If only you could see the vision as I have, I wish I had your bodies to do the mission work, I would run to every house to teach the gospel and when I could no longer run then I would walk, and when I could no longer walk, I would crawl on my knees, and after my knees were so bloody that I could not use them, I would use my arms to drag myself, and once every muscle in my body was gone I would begin to yell! Oh that you could see the vision that I have."

How powerful is that. And for what purpose? To bring the knowledge of the Savior, into as many lives as would believe.


I would like to express to you my gratitude for him at this time. I can look at my life and see that my testimony is founded on Jesus Christ though the Book of Mormon. I have loved the Book of Mormon as long as I can remember. My first Book of Mormon I had through High School and I think that I marked every line red. I lost it and then a year or two later, my brother told me that it was at the seminary building and that his friends would comment, how they couldn't read it because it was all marked up. I didn't stop there though, my wife had a nice quad and since I didn't have mine she said I could use hers. I asked her if I could mark them and she said I could, she thought she knew what that meant. A year or so later she picked up “my” scriptures and to her surprise, her pages were red, green, and purple, she wasn’t very happy I might add. I can truly say that it is because of the Book of Mormon and the testimony and words of those great men that I have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In those sacred pages are teachings and stories that are chosen by the Savior himself through the Holy Spirit for us to have. It is written several times, that it is impossible to write an hundredth part of the proceedings of this people or hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people. Of all the proceedings, revelations and manifestations of the Spirit to the nephites, Lamenites, and Jaredites, Mormon was inspired to abridge only that which would be plain and precious to convincing of the all men that Jesus is the very Christ and the only name whereby salvation can come unto the children of men. I have prayed many times that I could feel what the prophets were trying to convey, to feel of their spirit, because of the awkwardness of writing. Mormon explains this to some degree for us in Ether 12:23-27


23 And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;

24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.

25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.


I have noticed that as I would pray for greater understanding, He truly has made weak things become strong unto me and that I could comprehend at a greater level what they were saying; they are becoming more alive to me than ever before. I am also starting to understand more than ever what Alma teaches us in ch 30:

40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.

41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true.

44 …The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.


All knowledge and wisdom is light and He is the light of the world. As the Lord teaches Mormon in

Ether 4:12

12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good; he that will not believe my words will not believe me-that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.


To me the testimony of Joseph Smith in D&C 76:22-24 sums what I feel.

22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives

23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father-

24 That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.


He has been my light through out my life. I had an experience a few years back that has given my testimony great strength. I was sitting in sacrament meeting, and had began something new, I would take an instance in the life of the Savior and would envision myself there and try to take myself there, and try to walk along side the apostles and be close to the Savior. At this time my mind was taken to the time when Jesus administered the sacrament to his apostles, before he was to be betrayed and crucified. All of the apostles were there and they were busy making ready the Passover for Jesus. I was among them, but the Savior was not there yet, I found myself looking all over the room for him. The door was hidden and a small maybe 5 foot long hall way led to the room. I remember looking down the hallway when suddenly I saw him enter the room down the hallway, my heart soared and what joy filled my heart I was taken back by what power radiated from his being as he approached us.

I am forever grateful for the Book of Mormon and those prophets that spent their time under candle light or whatever means of light they had to record those things that teach us of one Jesus Christ who should come and did come and will come again. That I may know of him and through faith he can become my best and truest friend, my master, and my Savior. Of Him and this great work I leave my testimony that it is all true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.