Monday, November 15, 2010

Talk on Gratitude for Jesus Christ

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

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 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. I heard this quote in a church lesson, if I remember correctly, and although I can not find the source and possibly it is not an official quote by Spencer W Kimball, but it is one of the greatest view points on missionary work. With that understanding, here it is:

“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.