Sunday, December 16, 2007

What The Birth of the Savior Means to Me

I thought that it was rather funny, because I was asked to speak on the Birth of the Savior the same day that I had updated my blog with a new Christmas header. When I was designing the header I wanted to focus more on the Savior and so I started with a picture of the baby Jesus in the manager. As I thought about that scene, my mind was taken to contemplate his life and what it means to me. I then wanted to express in my header what came from this child who was born in such humble beginnings. So I merged with the baby Jesus a picture of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane with his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his ascension into Heaven. I posted it on my blog with the words, "May we never forget the true meaning of Christmas." Then only a few hours later I was asked to speak on The Birth of the Savior and what it means to me.

It is hard to put in words my feelings of the Birth of the Savior and what it means to me, but with the limited time I have, I will try.

I feel to rejoice and to burst with joy when I think about Samuel the Lamanite. The Nephites were known for their righteousness and the Lamanites for their wickedness, and yet the Nephites became very wicked. Samuel taught by the Spirit and went where the Spirit directed him.

Heleman 13:3
"But behold, the avoice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his bheart."

So, he was sent to preach unto the Nephites and to teach them that doctrine which was rightfully theirs but through wickedness most had become darkened and had rejected the truth. It is not only what he preached and how he preached that brings me to my knees in absolute gratitude. After the Savior appeared to the Nephites, he had their records brought to him. He wanted to know where were the preaching and the prophesying of Samuel the Lamanite.

Truly, That is such an amazing thing. Samuel had preached, nothing short of the words that the Lord wanted him to teach, for he prophesied of him in such simplicity. But, his preachings were not recorded and yet the Savior and Lord of all, asked for his words to be written. To me that gives greater importance to the words that he prophesied than anything else. My heart aches to thank my God and my Savior for caring for all those whom he guides by the Spirit. I think that we all can feel by this that our very lives are not and will not go unnoticed and that he who is mighty to save will set all things in order.

I do not think lightly upon the birth of the Savior because every step leading up to that point were absolute miracles. The very son of God was born into this world, and one may think of the circumstances that would normally be fit for a king to be born, and yet the King of all and Lord of all was born in a manager of straw because there was no room for him in the Inn.

What an amazing child, how must Mary of felt knowing that she was chosen above all women to be the mother of such a child, even the Son of God. I have often pondered on what His brothers and sisters must of felt knowing that their brother was the Savior of the world? I have also thought on many occasions of what great opportunity we have as his brothers and sisters because we have the privilege of seeing all his deeds and studying his life and words. My question to myself and to you is; do we carry that great opportunity and responsibility lightly, do we take the time to build our relationship with Him. Simply knowing of the stories of Jesus is not sufficient, we must personally get to know Him. I know that I need to improve my relationship with Him. I can vividly remember the moment when the Spirit bore testimony to me, like never before, that all that is written of the Savior and His life is true, as true as I am here before you. I have always known, but now I truly know without any doubt and not of myself only but because the Spirit bore testimony to me. I now have a great responsibility to testify of Him, for now I know. All those that have that testimony of the Savior have the same responsibility to share our testimony.

I also love how Ammon and Aaron taught King Lamoni and his father about God and his Christ and the plan of salvation. Did not King Lamoni and his father say that they would give up all their sins to know him and to know how they could obtain eternal life. Here are the words of the father of King Lamoni:

Alma 22:15-18
15 And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: aWhat shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be bborn of God, having this wicked spirit crooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up dall that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.
16 But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt abow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the bhope which thou desirest.
17 And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did abow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried bmightily, saying:
18 O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck aas if he were dead.

What great faith, he was even willing to forsake his kingdom. Alma the younger and Nephi gave up the Judgment seat which is similar to giving up a kingdom and for what purpose? The rich man that came to the Savior was asked to sell his riches and give to the poor and he could not. Why is it that some will give all and even die to know God and others can not let go of the things of the world?

What are we willing to give up to know our Savior and build a relationship with him? The Savior has told us repeatedly "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will blose his life for my sake shall cfind it (Matt 16:25)." I desire that I may be able to grasp hold of even a fraction of the spirit and love of righteousness that these great men had. We all know the great scripture about Moroni,

Alma 48:17
Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto aMoroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the bdevil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

Now, let me share with you the very next verse,

18 Behold, he was a man like unto aAmmon, 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.

When we desire to give up all that we have to know the Savior we will find greater power to resist the temptations of the adversary and we too can be like unto Moroni and these other great men. And there is no doubt in my mind that the women that stood next to these great men were truly great women.

All along the way the Savior said that "there is none agood but one, that is, God (Matt 19:17)". He never took the credit. I desire to be more like him. What does the birth of the Savior mean to me? My reply is everything for with this noble birth came nothing short of salvation for all who will believe in his name and follow in his footsteps.

2 Nephi 31:12
And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father agive the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, bfollow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

One of those footsteps that we must follow put the Savior into the river of Jordon to be baptised. He who needed no baptism, stepped into the waters and was baptised.

2 Nephi 31:13
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall afollow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no bhypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real cintent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are dwilling to take upon you the ename of Christ, by fbaptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the gbaptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the htongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

We must follow him into baptism. Another footstep was that of service, he taught that "whosoever of you will be the achiefest, shall be servant of all (Mark 10:44). We must serve others with a Christlike attitude. Another footstep was into repentance. The Savior needed no repentance but he went below all things and he suffered for every sin, sickness, infirmity, and more. In the words of the Savior himself,

D&C 19:18
Which asuffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might bnot drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
We must repent in order to have such a gift as the atonement work in our lives if not we will have to suffer as he did. There are many other footsteps that he took, that we too must follow if we desire to be like him and go where he is. He has promised us:

2 Nephi 31:17-21
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and abaptism by water; and then cometh a bremission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
18 And then are ye in this astrait and narrow bpath which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which cwitnesses of the dFather and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow apath, I would ask if all is bdone? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken cfaith in him, drelying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to esave.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life.
21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the away; and there is bnone other way nor cname given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the ddoctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the eFather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is fone God, without end. Amen.

It is truly hard to express my feelings for the Savior and what his birth gave to me. I will forever reverence his great name and every time I see him in the manger I will take a moment to reflect on its meaning to me. I love my Savior more that words can tell, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Kiera's Talk on the Birth of the Savior

I just wanted to take a minute to introduce me and my family. I am Kiera Conover and a few minutes you will be able to hear from my wonderful husband Craig Conover and if you listen real well you will probably be able to hear from a few of our girls, too. We have been in the ward for just about 2 months. We have 4 little girls Lacie who is 5, Alexa is 3, Ashlyn who will be 2 in January and Kembri who is 2 months old. We are from AZ. And we are really excited to be here.

I want to begin today by reading a few verses out of Luke 2. Verses 11-14 It reads:

11 For unto you is aborn this day in the city of David a bSaviour, which is Christ the cLord.

12 And this shall be a asign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 aGlory to God in the highest, and on earth bpeace, good will toward men.

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said, “The most important event in the history of the world was the birth of Jesus Christ. From the days of Adam to John the Baptist—some four millennia—righteous men and women looked to the day of His heralded birth. Prophets foretold the event, and sacrifices, symbolism, and signs portended His birth.

Many prophets in the scriptures prophesied of the birth of the Savior. The Nephites waited years for the sign of His birth. Righteous men and women looked toward the birth of Christ for thousands of years. And even now millions of people every year take the time to celebrate his birth. There are so many reasons his birth is so important. He taught us by example the importance of Baptism, of Service, of Charity, He taught of Christ like love, He atoned for the sins of all mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane and because of him we too can be resurrected someday.

I am so grateful for our Heavenly Father for sending down his son, I am so grateful to Mary for being worthy to be the mother of the Son of God. And I am so thankful to our dear elder brother Jesus Christ to have so much love for us that he would come down and teach us and suffer so much for each and ever one of us. I love the hymn I Stand all Amazed, it describes my feelings so well:

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

Jesus Christ loves each and every one of us so much. He knows us. He cares for us probably more than we can even really comprehend. I love so much at this time of year, even in a world that Satan is trying so hard to get us to forget about our Savior and our Heavenly Father, people still take the time to stop and reflect on and not only reflect celebrate the Birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Many call it the Spirit of Christmas but what it is the Spirit of Christ. When we take the time to think about what is really important and to try to be more Christ like, we become more charitable, we become more loving.

In the 9 days approaching is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I would like you to think how you would have felt to have been alive a little over 2000 years ago and to know that in 9 days the Messiah would come into the world and the prophecies fulfilled. Now think about today, We have been given prophesies foretelling the glorious return of our Savior. As we watch we are seeing these prophesies being fulfilled. We don’t know when the Savior will come again. But just as the prophets of old looked toward his birth, we can look toward him coming again.

President Benson Said,

“Because Jesus Christ is God—even the Son of God—He will come again as He promised. He will come in a day of wickedness—a time when men and women will be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” He will come at a time of great upheaval and tribulation when “the whole earth shall be in commotion.” He will come as a thief in the night, when the world least expects Him to come: “But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only.”

I know Jesus lives. I know He was born unto the Virgin Mary. I know he is the Son of God. And I know he will return again.

In Isaiah 9:6 it reads,

“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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

During this Christmas season I challenge you to take the time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ even more then you have in previous years. I challenge you to try even harder to follow in the example he has given unto to us, spread his love that he has for each and every one of us and I know as we do that we will find more peace and more Happiness.

I want to bear my testimony that I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that he is at the head of this church and he is leading it. I know that Gordon B. Hinckley is a true prophet of God, just as in the days of old we have a prophet guiding us today. I know that because the gospel was restored I am able to be sealed to my family for time and all eternity. I love my Savior and I am so thankful for all that he has done for us.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Exaltation made possible through the gift of bodies


I have been doing a lot of studying and pondering the things that I have been learning about. It is amazing how when we dedicate ourselves to study, prayer, and pondering how the Spirit will distill upon us and solidify our learning or take it to new heights. I am thankful for such a gift from my Father in heaven. This morning I was taught about the importance of our bodies. I realized how important our bodies are to exalt ourselves. Because we have been given bodies we have the means to perfect ourselves and become gods. It is important to note that we of ourselves can not exalt ourselves but because the Savior has paid the price for us it is now left to us to decide to rise or fall and we have all that we need to achieve our desires.

Spencer W Kimball said, "It seems that evil is always about us. It has been speculated by one of the earlier Brethren that there are hundreds of evil spirits working against each of us. Accordingly, we must be alert constantly. We catalogue our weaknesses and move in against them to overcome them. Christ became perfect through overcoming. Only as we overcome shall we become perfect and move toward godhood. As I have indicated previously, the time to do this is now, in mortality." (Miracle of Forgiveness, Life Seeks Perfection)

I love how he said that we must overcome and in a previous chapter he quoted Ralph Parlette who said, "Strength and struggle go together. The supreme reward of struggle is strength. Life is a battle and the greatest joy is to overcome. The pursuit of easy things makes men weak. Do not equip yourselves with superior power and hope to escape the responsibility and work. It cannot be done. It is following the lines of least resistance that makes rivers and men crooked." (Miracle of Forgiveness, Abandonment of sin)

To put the two together, in order to overcome we must not take the road of lest resistance, we must constantly be growing and striving to become better. If we do slip into a path of little resistance we must immediate repent.

Background image by: Jan Wallin

Elder Melvin J. Ballard said about repentance, “A man may receive the priesthood and all its privileges and blessings, but until he learns to overcome the flesh, his temper, his tongue, his disposition to indulge in the things God has forbidden, he cannot come into the celestial kingdom of God-he must overcome either in this life or in the life to come. But this life is the time in which men are to repent. Do not let any of us imagine that we can go down to the grave not having overcome the corruptions of the flesh and then lose in the grave all our sins and evil tendencies. They will be with us. They will be with the spirit when separated from the body.

Clearly it is difficult to repent in the spirit world of sins involving physical habits and actions. There one has spirit and mind but not the physical power to overcome a physical habit.”

I have heard people say that the Lord will not keep someone out of the Celestial kingdom for cussing or whatever it may be and this was just answered. If we do not overcome all the temptations of the evil one while in this live we must suffer and overcome them in the life to come before we may enter the Celestial kingdom. He also tells us that it is not easy to repent in the life to come. We are told this in the scriptures.

Alma 34:31-34
31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.
32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

Also we are told what suffering will be required for those that choose to not repent,

Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-18
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit--and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink

Now that we know that we must repent while in this life and rise to new heights that we may be able to again come into the presence of our Father in Heaven, Spencer W Kimball said,

“All that has been said and written on this subject should warn the worthy from the beginning not to get entangled in iniquity, but it should not be construed to suggest that it is futile to start again when one has reverted to sin. Being a god in embryo with the seeds of godhood neatly tucked away in him, and with the power to become a god eventually, man need not despair. He should not give up. If he has had problems and slipped from the path of rectitude and right, he must stop in his headlong slipping and turn and transform himself. He must begin again. If he slips, he must regain his footing and protect himself from further slipping and return to the sin no more. If in his weakness he fails time and time again, he still should not despair but should make each new effort stronger than the last.”

The journey upward to our Father in Heaven requires all our energy. It is not easy, and we must be careful that we choose wisely when choosing our master. “No man can aserve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon” (3 Nephi 13:24 and Matthew 6:24). Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explains how this is true, Satan “ties strings to the mind and body so that he can manipulate one like a puppet” (Ensign, May 1986, p. 11). Likewise, Bishop Victor L. Brown, former Presiding Bishop, warned us that “if Satan could but capture our minds, he would have won the battle and the war” (Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 104). Although this may seem scary and overwhelming at times, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught us that those with bodies have power over those, including Satan, without bodies. “The devil has no power over us only as we permit him,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 181). So we have all the power within us to rise above evil and choose the true master and our creator and live forever with Him. We learn from the scriptures, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Now in Alma we find the key to not being tempted above that we can bear, “But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering” (Alma 13:28). We can clearly see that there is great effort required on our part to come unto God and to prepare ourselves against all the fiery darts of the adversary, but we can do it and we must put forth the effort required so that we can return with honor to our Savior.

I would like to bear my testimony that I am forever grateful to my Father in Heaven for giving me such a gift as my body. For because he has given me this body, with that comes power over evil spirits and those who serve them. I am thankful for the power of prayer in which comes the power to control our bodies in ways which seem impossible without that help from on high. I know that if we would take extra time daily to spend a few more moments communing with our Heavenly Father and His Christ that we will find with us greater strength and greater happiness, and one day we will find ourselves back in Their presence wrapped in their joy and glory. Not only will we be wrapped in their joy and glory but it will be sweet unto us because we have overcome the world and been sanctified by fire and we will delight in all things that are righteous and despise all sin. I further testify that we can obtain such joy and love of righteousness in this life as did Captain Moroni, for if we were like him than “the very powers of hell would [be] shaken forever; yea, the bdevil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Written by Craig Conover on 11/7/07.

Click here for printable version.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Testimony of the Book of Mormon

Like many of you, I started gaining my testimony of The Book of Mormon at a very young age. I remember waking up very earlier as a family to read from its pages. I remember the spirit I felt as a kid every time we read from it. It wasn’t an overwhelming feeling or anything it was just a peaceful feeling. I remember the days we would get up to read the scriptures in the morning verses the days we didn’t I felt so much happier throughout the day, the day just seemed to go smoother. I don’t think I ever really took the time to think much about as a child but as I look back I realize that it was the Holy Ghost testify to me of the truthfulness of this book.

Elder Gary Coleman, of the seventy says, “We may come to know the truth of all things God has revealed, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

My testimony continued to grow after I got married. I remember noticing that my husband and I communicated so much better when we were having regular scripture study.

I always knew how important it was to have regular scripture study but I was never very good at it. I would go for awhile reading and then I would go for awhile just reading here and there. Then when I would get a new determination to make sure I read everyday I would usually start at the beginning and go from there. Because of this I never was able to get through the entire Book of Mormon.

When I married my husband he of course had read the Book of Mormon several times and had not only a very strong testimony of it but he has a love for it that I don’t see in very many people. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I started gaining that deeper testimony and that kind of love of this book.

Many of you remember in 2005 when Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley made the challenge for everyone to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover by the end of the year. When I first heard this I thought great my husband and I are already about half way done so we can do this. But after thinking more about it my husband and I decided to start from the beginning and read it all the way through a faster pace then we had been doing.

So we did that. We read pretty well. We had figured out how much we had to read each day so we could be done by the end of the year. Well December came and even though we were trying hard to stay on our schedule we got behind. So we had to read quite a lot each day to finish. But I remember 4 days in Dec. of 2005 when my husband got the flu really bad. He was stuck in bed almost all week. I remember it so well because during those days I read to him. I read all day for days so we could fulfill this challenge the prophet gave to us. During these days is when my love for this remarkable book began. I gained such a strong love for Nephi, Alma, Ether, Mormon, Moroni and all of these prophets. I will always be so thankful for our inspired prophet who gave us this challenge. It was because of this I took the time to read the Book of Mormon straight through and not only read it but reading more then a chapter or so a day so I was finally able to really understand what was going on and to really grow to love these people.

One of my favorite parts of the Book of Mormon is of the prophet Ether. He was the only righteous man on the earth. He had to go up in a cave and watch his people destroy each other through their wickedness. Yet he stayed faithful. I think this and so many stories relate to us so well. How many of you youth, are, or just feel like you are, the only ones out there trying to do what is right? How many of us adults at times feel that way? Yet unlike Ether, we are able to come to church on Sundays, listen to general conferences, read from the Ensign and New Era so we know there are so many others out there trying so hard to stay faithful as well. Can we just have the faith and determination of Ether and endure till the end no matter what is going on around us.

From the Book of Mormon we learn about:,

The plan of salvation

The doctrine of Christ and the Atonement

Why death is necessary

Life after death in the spirit world

The workings of Satan

The order of the priesthood

Sacramental prayers

A sure way to judge between good and evil

All are parts of the fullness of the gospel

When I first was asked to talk on my testimony of the Book of Mormon I started thinking a lot about it. I knew I had such a strong testimony of the truthfulness of it. I know without a shadow of doubt that this book was preserved by God himself and brought to us through the hands of Joseph Smith and translated by the Urim and Thumim by the power of the Holy Ghost. But I still wondered “Why?”

Why is this Book so important? Why were these certain bits of information so important so many sacrificed so we could have them now in the latter days? Why are we told to read this particular book everyday over and over again?

I asked my husband this question and he told me it was because it contains the fullness of the Gospel in it. He said it tells us everything we need to know for this life. And I knew that to be true but it still bothered me. What is it about ever single chapter in this book that is so important that they were preserved? Because we know there were pages lost. We know that the prophets were told only to right certain things down and leave out other details. So from that it tells me that these few pages we have are priceless. Every single page is so important. And it dawned on me. Which you guys will probably think it is crazy it took this long for me to really understand it. But our Father in Heaven knew that the world was going to get so wicked that his gospel would get completely lost. So he had his righteous men right down the most important things that they could tell us so we would have there words here in the later days. When I think of it in modern day way, and I think about if Heavenly Father knew that all righteousness was going to be destroyed in the next 20 years don’t you think he would have somebody compile the most important prophesies our latter-day prophets have had. So in generations to come they would again be able to have the fullness of the gospel on the earth. So many of the prophets in the Book of Mormon were shown these latter days. They saw the things we were going to face. Don’t you think it is important to continually study the warnings they have for us. For us in this day and age.

Elder L. Tom Perry says, “The Book of Mormon is a voice of warning to this generation.”

In the Book of Mormon chapter 8 verse 35, Moroni writes, “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.”

President Ezra Taft Benson says: “The Book of Mormon was written for us today. God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessing today. Those people never had the book—it was meant for us. Mormon, the ancient prophet after whom the book is named, abridged centuries of records. God, who knows the end from the beginning, told him what to include in his abridgment that we would need for our day” (“The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, May 1975, 63).

Elder L. Tom Perry says,”Each time we read the book we should probably ask ourselves: “Why did these writers choose these particular stories or events to include in the record? What value are they for us today?”

What are some of the lesson we can learn from the book of Mormon?

Elder Perry answers this, “Among the lessons we learn from the Book of Mormon are the cause and effect of war and under what conditions it is justified. It tells of evils and dangers of secret combinations, which are built up to get power and gain over the people. It tells of the reality of Satan and gives an indication of some of the methods he uses. It advises us on the proper use of wealth. It tells us of the plain and precious truths of the gospel and the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for all mankind. It informs us of the gathering of the house of Israel in the last days. It tells us of the purpose and principles of missionary work. It warns us against pride, indifference, procrastination, the dangers of false traditions, hypocrisy, and unchastity. Now it is up to us to study the Book of Mormon and learn of its principles and apply them in our lives.”

I know in my own personal life there has been several times when I have been struggling with a problem and I turn to the scriptures and open them up and the answer is right there. Moments like that I truly feel as if Heavenly Father has just sent down a letter from heaven just for me.

I think one of the biggest lessons I learn from the Book of Mormon is of the pride cycle. It starts in just the first book of Nephi and goes through the entire Book of Mormon. When things are tough they turned to the lord and they are humbled so Heavenly Father blesses them yet once things started to get easier they would stop relying on Heavenly Father they tend to rely on themselves more and they get prideful so Heavenly Father has to humble them and the whole cycle begins again. We read these stories and think why don’t they ever learn. But how many times have we gone through the exact same cycle. When things are really hard or when we have a really big problem we turn to Heavenly Father. We pray more at that time then any other time. But the thing we need to learn from the Book of Mormon is that we need to continue to turn to him in times of plenty.

As we study this book over and over again and as we open it up when we are having problems we will be able to get answers we will be able to learn from these past prophets so we don’t have to go through the same trails.

I know this is why this book was preserved through generation and generation. This is why there is about 5,000,000 currently being distributed each year. Because this book is the word of God. This is our instruction manual that he has prepared for us here in the latter-day.

Near the end of the Book of Mormon Moroni says, “And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust? …

“And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true” (Moro. 10:27, 29).

Pres. Hinckley says,” It is the only book that contains within its covers a promise that by divine power the reader may know with certainty of its truth.”

I know that this book is the true word of God. I know that Moroni compiled these books from the words of true prophets of God. He then buried these plates in the ground. Years later an angel came to Joseph Smith and taught him until he was ready to receive these plates. Then Heavenly Father led him directly to the place Moroni had buried them. I know there, is where Joseph Smith also received the Urim and Thumim and through this he was able to translate this ancient record. And I know that the reason we have this today is because this is what Heavenly Father knew we needed to know for these latter-days and to be able restore the fullness of the gospel upon the earth today. So we to can return to him again. I know the more and more we study the Book of Mormon the stronger our testimony will grow. Each and ever one of us can know with every bit of our being that this is the true word of god.

Written by Kiera Conover on 6/24/07.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Talk on Hope in Christ

Hope in Christ
An Anchor to the Soul, Sure and Steadfast


I was asked to help put together some of my thoughts on Hope in Christ because my wife's uncle was giving a talk. As I thought about hope in Christ I thought of many different ways that hope plays a role in our spiritual lives. So I will express some of my thoughts and findings on hope but there are many other aspects of hope in Christ.

4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with asurety bhope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which chope cometh of dfaith, maketh an eanchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in fgood works, being led to gglorify God. (Ether 12:4)
I feel that this scripture in and of itself explains hope in Christ in its truest form. There is so much in this scripture and so I would like to further analyze this scripture.

First, belief in God brings a hope of a better world.

I believe that all men have a desire within him to return to that being that gave him life. Satan is trying his hardest to prevent the human family from being acquainted with our Father in Heaven. Joseph Smith said,

"What is the object of our coming into existence then dying and falling away to be here no more? This is a subject we ought to study more than any other, which we ought to study day and night... If we have any claim on our heavenly father for any thing it is for knowledge on this important subject (Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph)."
We have a right to know for ourselves that God exists and that he is our Father. Once we know Him and are more acquainted with Him then we have a right to know why we are here, and where we are going after this life. As our relationship with our Father in Heaven and His only begotten son even Jesus Christ grows, than our hope for a better life is greater and greater.

Second, Hope cometh of faith

David A Bednar teaches us in his talk, Seek Learning by Faith:
Faith in Christ is inextricably tied to and results in hope in Christ for our redemption and exaltation. And assurance and hope make it possible for us to walk to the edge of the light and take a few steps into the darkness—expecting and trusting the light to move and illuminate the way (see Boyd K. Packer, "The Candle of the Lord, " Ensign, Jan. 1983, 54). The combination of assurance and hope initiates action in the present.
Faith as the evidence of things not seen looks to the past and confirms our trust in God and our confidence in the truthfulness of things not seen. We stepped into the darkness with assurance and hope, and we received evidence and confirmation as the light in fact moved and provided the illumination we needed. The witness we obtained after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6) is evidence that enlarges and strengthens our assurance.
Assurance, action, and evidence influence each other in an ongoing process. This helix is like a coil, and as it spirals upward it expands and grows wider. These three elements of faith—assurance, action, and evidence—are not separate and discrete; rather, they are interrelated and continuous and cycle upward. And the faith that fuels this ongoing process develops and evolves and changes. As we again turn and face forward toward an uncertain future, assurance leads to action and produces evidence, which further increases assurance. Our confidence waxes stronger, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little… (Seek Learning by Faith, February 3, 2006)"
I love how Bednar explains hope and faith tied to action and evidence.

Moroni continues to instruct us on hope and faith in Ether 12:6:

6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that afaith is things which are bhoped for and cnot seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no dwitness until after the etrial of your faith.
This hope and faith requires action on our parts. I remember when I was in 8th grade and I wanted to make the 9th basketball team and so that summer I would go to YMCA practically from open to close and practice. I knew that just hoping would not get me on the team, but my hope of making the team caused me to take actions that would allow me the opportunity to make the team. I did make the team but I worked my tail off in the meantime. Hope and faith work the same way. We must be willing to take action and progress and then our hope and faith will be sufficient to be tried of the Lord and if we endure it well we will gain a witness even like unto Nephi:

15 But behold, the Lord hath aredeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his bglory, and I am encircled about eternally in the carms of his dlove (2 Nephi 1:15).

Third, Hope maketh an anchor to our souls, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in fgood works, being led to gglorify God.

I feel that this is the crowning effect of great hope. I love the use of the word, anchor. defines it as, “any of various devices dropped by a chain, cable, or rope to the bottom of a body of water for preventing or restricting the motion of a vessel or other floating object, typically having broad, hooklike arms that bury themselves in the bottom to provide a firm hold.” Our hope can literally become an anchor that prevents us from moving one way or another.
Joseph Smith tells us about this hope that acts as an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast.
Now for the secret and grand key. Though they might hear the voice of God and know that Jesus was the Son of God, this would be no evidence that their election and calling was made sure, that they had part with Christ, and were joint heirs with Him. They then would want that more sure word of prophecy, that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation. Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. (Teachings, pp. 149-151.)
Robert D. Hales in Conference Oct 2000 talks about true conversion which leads to such faith as has been mentioned.
"The scriptures confirm that the truly converted do more than just forsake the enticements of the world. They love God and their fellowmen. Their minds and hearts are centered on the Savior's atoning sacrifice. From the moment of their respective conversions, Enos, Alma the Younger, Paul, and others turned wholeheartedly to the task of bringing themselves and their fellowmen to God. Worldly power and possessions lost their former significance. The sons of Mosiah refused an earthly kingdom and risked their lives for the sake of others. These faithful sons were driven by the hope that they might be able to help save even one soul--thus winning for themselves and their brethren a place in God's eternal kingdom.
Joseph Smith said, “Never cease striving till you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief, and nothing can prevent you from coming to God (Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph)."
If this is not enough, Spencer W Kimball said,
“Why will only a few reach exaltation in the celestial kingdom? Not because it was not available to them, not because they did not know of its availability, not because the testimony was not given to them, but because they would not put forth the effort to pattern their lives and make them like the Savior's life and establish them so well that there would be no deviation until the end.
There are … many members of the Church who are lax and careless and who continually procrastinate. They live the gospel casually but not devoutly. They have complied with some requirements but are not valiant. They do no major crime but merely fail to do the things required-things like paying tithing, living the Word of Wisdom, having family prayers, fasting, attending meetings, serving. …
… The Lord will not translate one's good hopes and desires and intentions into works. Each of us must do that for himself. …
Only the valiant will be exalted and receive the highest degree of glory, hence "many are called, but few are chosen."
We must do better, we must draw closer to our Savior, even Jesus Christ, and continue in the faith until we have obtained the faith and hope sufficient unto salvation. I testify that we can follow these teachings and if we do the blessings and powers of heaven will rest upon you and you will have greater hope in Christ than ever before. I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Learning in the Temple

I planned to go to the Temple today after work but when I got home I was so tired. I went in and got undressed and grabbed my shorts to put on and had a thought put into my mind to drop the shorts right now and start getting dressed for the Temple or you will not go. I felt that push and luckily obeyed.

I can not tell you about everything that was taught to me while in the session but so much was running through my mind. I will share a few thoughts. First of all I felt in the smallest degree how the prophet Joseph Smith Jr felt when he said,

"It is my meditation all the day & more than my meat & drink to know how I shall make the saints of God to comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge, before my mind" (WJS, p. 196).
For I felt an overwhelming need to record my thoughts for any and all that read but mostly my family can grow from these teachings, and yet I was stuck in a position that I could not record and knew that many of them will be lost from my memory. I am not by any means comparing myself to this great prophet of the restoration which the words and will of God flowed to and through him. I just had the smallest fraction of what that may of felt like.

My mind was drawn to the experience that I had when I was told, "to drop the shorts." I know that I am guilty of not being willing to do what is needed to grow spiritually. It comes in may forms whether it is just being to tired or lazy we as saints of the most High must improve our commitment to our Father in heaven. My mind was brought to think about the Stake Conference or Regional Conference the Saturday session that I had to paint faces (one of my jobs at the time) and decided not to go. One of the speakers explained how everyone has their own personal barriers that are too great to cross. He used that session to explain that those that choose not to attend this session are missing out on many blessings. This is where they should be and yet for some that commitment was too great or unimportant enough to arrange their lives in order to attend. This struck me to the very core and I knew then that we must not allow our own wills to stop us from doing the will of Him that sent us.
Luke 2:49
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? awist ye not that I must be about my bFather’s business?

John 5:30
30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is ajust; because I seek not mine own bwill, but the cwill of the Father which hath sent me.
We also must not strive to do our own will but the will of the Father just like our elder brother, Jesus Christ. I also thought about a Stake President that someone told me once that he said that he does not watch TV or listen to the radio because he can't afford to lose the Spirit. Do we just not care or is that too much to ask of us. What is too much to ask of us. Do we have to be commanded in all things.
D&C 58:26
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is acompelled in all things, the same is a bslothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
I thought to myself what if I were called to be a Stake President tomorrow, what would I change. Then then thought came, why do I have to wait to change. We are told to carry our cross, I see nowhere in scripture where it says to wait until called to carry your cross.
Matthew 10:38
38 And he that taketh not his across, and followeth after me, is not bworthy of me.

2 Nephi 9:18
18 But, behold, the arighteous, the bsaints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the ccrosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall dinherit the ekingdom of God, which was prepared for them ffrom the foundation of the world, and their gjoy shall be full hforever.

Jacob 1:8
8 Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men anot to rebel against God, to bprovoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his ccross and bear the shame of the world...

Alma 34:33, 35
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many awitnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not bprocrastinate the day of your crepentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the dnight of edarkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
• • •
35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become asubjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth bseal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
Begin today with me to carry our cross that we may be called his disciple and numbered among His sheep that hear his voice.
John 10:27
27 My asheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they bfollow me:
Another thing that I thought about was how on earth Jesus had not a place to lay his head.
Matthew 8:20
20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Now he has not only over a hundred Temples on earth but He now has dominions, palaces, kingdoms, and in short all that the father hath.
John 16:15
15 All athings that the bFather hath are mine...
Let me just sum it up by saying I cried a lot and feel closer to my Father in Heaven and yet feel to repent and become better. I feel just as Joseph Smith felt when he proclaimed,
Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p47
If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses, for if we are not drawing towards God in principle, we are going from him and drawing towards the devil. Yes, I am standing in the midst of all kinds of people.
Search your hearts, and see if you are like God. I have searched mine, and feel to repent of all my sins.
I absolutely love the Temple and love my Savior.

Written by Craig Conover on 1/8/07.

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Talk by Cindy Conover: Discipleship

I will be giving my talk from President Faust’s talk, “Discipleship”. I really like this talk because it is something I thought about through out my entire mission. When I was in the MTC during a devotional the speaker told about a very successful sister missionary. And I really wanted to be able to be successful and accomplish what I needed to, so I said a prayer telling my Heavenly Father that I wanted to do that too, and asking how to do it. And I received a very clear answer that if I really changed my life and made up my mind not only during my mission but for ever that I would be successful and be a true instrument in the Lords hand. And that is something I thought about a lot and really worked on, to have a sincere change of heart.

So basically my answer was this very thing, discipleship. Discipleship really is obedience to the Savior. As President Faust puts it, “Discipleship includes many things. It is chastity. It is tithing. It is family home evening. It is keeping all of the commandments. It is forsaking anything that is not good for us.”

“forsaking anything that is not good for us” That is sometimes really hard, because while Our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and gives us commandments for our protection and happiness, Satan tricks us to believe we can find that happiness in other ways. Its hard to choose sometimes between fake happiness, instant gratification, and true happiness, eternal joy and happiness.

President Faust also says, “Self-discipline and self-control are consistent and permanent characteristics of the followers of Christ.” And he adds, “The disciples of Christ receive a call to not only forsake the pursuit of worldly things but to carry the cross daily.” That is very important to remember. Yes, resisting temptations and NOT doing things that we know are wrong, is very important. And just as important is DOING things we know we should do and keep progressing. It is impossible to just coast. We are either moving up or sliding down. I experienced that my first year of college. I was the only Mormon that lived on campus (until I finally discovered two others later in the year), and while I stayed away from all the inappropriate stuff that went on, and stood up for my standards, I felt my spirit diminish slowly because I wasn’t doing what I needed to do to progress.

Now I would like to go over some things we can be actively doing to strenghthen our testimonies and devotion to Christ. There are the three things that everyone knows, that help so much. Pray daily, Study the scriptures daily, Attend our church meetings.

President Faust mentions several things that Jesus did that we can emulate.

1st) Jesus “went about doing good. We can all do something every day – for a family member, a friend, or even a stranger- if we will look for those opportunities. Service is the secret key to happiness that Im sure we all know, but so easily forget. Not only do we lift and bless others, but we too feel great after serving someone, so we too are lifted.

2nd) Jesus was the Good Shepard who watched over His sheep and had concern
for those that were lost. We can seek out the lonely or those who are less active and befriend them. This is so important and you would be surprised what little things we do can be so helpful to someone. I worked with lots of less-actives on my mission, and just about every one of them didn’t come because they didn’t feel comfortable or welcome at church. So many people just need a good friend. I was surprised sometimes that some of the members that were so fun and bubbly even weren’t comfortable. But if we reach out to each other, we can make al the difference in the world.

3rd) Jesus had compassion on many including a poor leper. We too can have compassion. We are reminded in the Book of Mormon that we are “to mourn with those that mourn” You never know what people are going through or what trials they face. But just being a good friend and compassionate is the best help you can give.

4th) Jesus bore witness of His divine mission and of His Fathers great work. For our part, we can stand as witnesses of God at all times. Elder Ballard gave a talk called “Creating a Gospel Sharing Home” (Two conferences ago I believe) And talks about being good member missionaries, and one of the best ways to do that is by our example and how we live. If our friends and acquaintances simply know we are LDS, and then we live the gospel, our example will do much of the teaching. I always loved tracting into someone and they would say “oh I know a Mormon”. I would get all excited and say “Really, who?” And I loved to hear the members names and know that they lived amazing lives and were examples to that person, and many others.

5th) Jesus invited “the little children to come unto Him.” Our children need our attention and love as well as our care. With all that goes on in the world we want our homes to be a refuge, a place where our children (or family) feels loved and welcome.

President Faust continues, “Many think that the price of discipleship is too costly and too burdensome. For some it involves giving up too much. But the cross is not as heavy as it appears to be. Through obedience we acquire much greater strength to carry on.” I love the scripture in Mosiah 24:14-15:…….. We can always turn to the Lord for strength. He will lighten our burdens by strengthening us so that we are able to bear them.

Through our discipleship, we are able to receive the spiritual strength that we need to deal with the challenges of life.

As you strive to become better disciples of Christ pray for that help. We can pray daily to resist temptations in our lives. And we can take one day at a time to incorporate into our lives the acts of Christ. I know that He is there to help us, and that he knows us each so well, and the effort we make. I love this church and know that it is the only true and living church on the earth. That Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and continues to lead us through revelation to a living prophet on the earth. I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Talk by Cindy Conover: Tithing

I will be speaking about one of my favorite commandments to teach. Tithing, that is one commandment that you can keep 100%. We can faithfully pay a full tithe. Hopefully we can say that about all the commandments, that we keep it completely, but with some of them we slip up here and there, maybe not being completely honest, or talking about someone. However we can keep tithing perfectly if we decide.

Tithing is the commandment to pay one tenth of all our interest annually, so one tenth of our income. It was revealed to Joseph Smith on July 8, 1838, after much prayer and supplication. The saints had been previously commanded to live the law of consecration which is a higher law. But they didn’t keep it and had many tribulations. So the law of consecration was withdrawn and they were given the law of tithing. In D&C 119 reads: “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people... Those who have been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever”

The law of tithing prepares us to live the law of consecration, which is to dedicate and give all our time, talents, and resources to the work of the Lord. I think another way we can prepare and practice the law of consecration as much as possible now is doing what we are asked and fulfilling our callings. That’s also a part of given of our time and talents. And with the law of tithing, we each have the privileged and opportunity to contribute our part to the work and kingdom of the Lord here on earth. That always makes me feel good, to know I’m giving a part to this great organization.

The amazing thing is that the primary purpose is for our own growth and development. Yes we are contributing to the church and all its programs, but even more that that we are strengthening ourselves and our commitment to the Lord.

Tithing is test of our faith and righteousness. Joseph F. Smith aid: “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.”

Especially in times when we have financial difficulties we see how tithing can really be a test of faith. Each of us has either had experiences on our own or knows of family or friends that have seen blessings come after faithfully paying their tithing.

I haven’t had any amazing stories to tell but I know I have been abundantly blessed as I pay my tithing. For some reason when I am paying my tithing things seem to just work out. But if I start to forget to pay, I start to be more worried about money, and the same amount of money doesn’t seem to stretch as far. I don’t know how it worked, but I do know it is blessings from paying our tithing.

In Malachi 3: 10 it reads: “ Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there maybe meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” That is an amazing blessing. I don’t know about you but I would love to receive so many blessings that I don’t have room enough to receive them. The blessings may be temporal spiritual or both. They may come immediately or down the road somewhere. But we are promised those blessings and they come specifically for each of us by the Lords will and really, we can’t afford not to pay our tithing.

The easiest way for us to know we are full tithe payers and keep track of it is to set it aside right away. I think of it as a diner. If you invited a very special guest to your home to have diner with your family, you would want to feed the guest first and then feed your family. And there would be plenty to go around. But if you were to feed your family and make sure everyone ate all they wanted, and the try to scrape up the leftovers, you may not have a nice meal to feed him. It is the same thing with the Lord. We should set aside right away that ten percent which is really his and then everything else will work out. President Hinckley said that by paying our tithing we don’t expect to become rich and have everything we want, but we are assured that we will have what we need.

It is nice to know where our tithing is going. We know that it is sacred funds and used to build the church where needed. Shortly after the bishop receives the tithing it is sent to the church headquarters, and the first presidency, quorum of the 12 and the presiding bishopric prayerfully distribute it where needed. It goes to temples, church buildings, maintenance of our buildings, education, welfare, and all programs in the church.

There are also other funds we can contribute to. On the tithing slip there is a list of them, missionary work, education, book of Mormons, ect…. Those we can specifically and additionally contribute to if we wish, but there are 2 in bold that are commandments. One is tithing, which we already discussed, and the other is fast offerings.

A fast offering is the money we donate the first Sunday of each month as we fast. We are asked to give a generous fast offering, and to give the amount we would have spent on 2 meals. And that goes to helping those in need.

Even with fast offerings we can receive so many blessings, both temporal and spiritual. Years ago my father was the City manager in Silver City and when he took the job he was told that City Managers were on a fixed salary and they don’t receive raises. He accepted the job and shortly after that Marion G. Romney spoke about fast offerings and challenged the members to double their fast offerings. My parents looked at each other and knew they would do it. Even though it was a test of their faith they did it, and shortly after in some kind of a city council someone proposed that the city managers were given a raise every 6 months, and it was voted in. So the extra money they were giving to fast offerings was made up.

These are very important commandments that we should teach our children when they are young. Help your children to gain a testimony so when they serve their missions they will have a testimony of this principle as they teach it, and when they start their own family they will have the faith the pay even when times are tough. I am so grateful to my parents and that they taught us at a young age, so that I could experience it and the blessings that come from paying our tithes and offerings. I have a testimony in this and every commandments that we are given, and I know there are for our own good, and development, so that we can progress in our striving to become like Christ.