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This last summer, my wife and I decided to start homeschooling our girls. It works out nicely because I do most of my work for the year during the summer which gives me freedom to focus on other things for the rest of the year. The first thing we wanted to focus on was homeschooling and then finish up my schooling at BYU Hawaii in January. Our school is called, Zion’s Academy, and I am the Principle and Seminary teacher, and my wife is the Vice Principle, and teacher, but we actually do the teaching together, it is kind of fun. Our girls even gave us names while they at school, Mrs. Mom and Mr. Dad. I still get a kick out of it when they call me, Mr. Dad. I have to tell you that I never realized that teaching could be so much fun; we just have tons of fun every day.
I have really been thankful for the opportunity of spending 30 minutes every day teaching my girls about the Gospel. They learn so quickly and it is neat to see how their little minds work. I had to learn a lot also, because I tend to teach at a higher level than could be most effective. I have noticed that when I bring it down to their level they really soak it all up.
I tell you this because for just a minute I want to talk specifically to the children and try to help them understand what Charity is and some suggestions on how to help them learn to develop charity in their own lives and then I will finish by addressing the whole congregation.
For starters, I bet many of you children already know what Charity means, but for those that don’t, “Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is the love that Christ has for the children of men and that the children of men should have for one another” LDS.org. Now lets see… What does the “pure love of Christ” really mean? To start off with we need to understand what pure means. Hopefully, all of you like ice cream, I know my girls do. It seems that they would do about anything for ice cream. Each of you children close your eyes and imagine that you have a big bowl of your favorite kind of ice cream, maybe Rocky Road, or cookies n’ Cream, or whatever is your favorite. Imagine taking a few bits… I can almost taste my bowl, it creamy and just absolutely yummy? Go ahead and take another bite, but now instead of yummy goodness, it has loads of salt in that bite. Hopefully none of children have ever had a bite of salt because it is very yucky. Ok, back to our imagination, did that bite taste very good, of course not? What if every other bite of your yummy ice cream was salt instead of ice cream? Would that bowl of ice cream be very good? No, it would not. So, we could say that a pure bowl of ice cream was simply that, just creamy, yummy ice cream goodness, right? Now that is the same with the pure love Christ. It is simply that, pure love without any salt or in other words, angry thinking, mean actions, selfishness, and things like that.
Now, that we have a better understanding of what pure means let’s see if we can understand what the pure love of Christ means, at least in part. Let me ask a few quick questions to all the children, but first can I have all you children raise your hand high in the air, like this, and keep it up to show me that you are ready for the question… Let me see all those hands…
?-That is perfect!… Now, keep your hand raised high in the air if you have a favorite toy, that you just love? If you are like my girls you probably have several.
-Very good!… Now for the next question, can you switch hands and put your other hand high in the air.
?-Good job!… Ok, now keep your hand raised high in the air if you love your mom very much? Wow, look at all that love. That is the reason that I choose mom instead of us dads, because I was a little nervous of the outcome.
-Ok, are you children ready for the last question? Lets see how ready you are. For this question can you raise both of your hands really high in the air.
?-You children are so good. Ok, here is the question. Keep your hands raised really high in the air, IF you love your mom more than your favorite toy?… Again, keep your hands raised really high in the air if you love your mom more than your toy?
-Look at all those hands, this is so cool looking. Let’s see if you children can impress your mommies and daddies by taking both of those amazing hands of yours and folding them up real tight in your lap… Like this… Good job! You are all so awesome.
Now, can each of you see the difference in love between the love that you have for your toy and the love that you have for your mom? Can you see how the love that you have for your mom is much greater than the love that you have of your toy? You love your mom and I know that she loves you even more. But, did you know that your Father in Heaven and your older brother Jesus Christ love you with an even greater love? Isn’t that amazing. You are loved by your parents and you are loved even more by your Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. Hopefully, now you can see, how charity or the pure love of Christ “is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind of love and the most joyous to the soul” LDS.org. How can you children learn to love with such great love? You are probably thinking of a few ways right now, but there are many ways to develop such great love. Each of your parents, try and help you on a daily basis to develop such great love. Let me give you just two quick examples that my wife and I have done to help our girls learn to develop charity or the pure love of Christ. These two examples should help each of you children to think of some ways that you can learn to love with Christlike love.
The first example is that in our home, our girls have a daily routine chart that they complete each morning, well… we are not perfect at it, but they do a good job. Anyway, one of the things that they have on their chart is, to do one nice thing for someone that day. Once they do one nice thing, then, they get to put a star on their chart. They do different things each day, whether it is helping their sister make their bed or helping their younger sister get dressed. The result is always the same. They feel very happy inside and the sister they served feels happy inside as well. Because of this small act of service they both, now, have an increase of Christlike love in their hearts. It is so neat as a parent to see your children serving each other.
The last example has to do with the time of year that we are in. Do you children know what time of year it is? Yep, its Christmas time. This month is a easy month to learn to love with a more Christlike love. As a family we go to Chickfilet on Tuesday nights because they have family night with kid crafts and of course, cheaper food. It is always fun. Well, the last time we went, they had a Christmas tree with ornaments all over the tree. Each of these ornaments had a child’s name on it and something they would like for Christmas. Each of these children were in need and less fortunate. My wife grabbed one for our family to buy a gift for, and then on the way to the car she asked if she could get one for each of our girls so that they can have that wonderful experience themselves also. It was such a great idea of hers. I just wish that I could think of others even a fraction as much as my wife does. If I could do that, I would be much better off, but that is why I married her, she is just awesome. So each of our girls went back in and picked out their own ornament and child that they wanted to buy a gift for. When they got in the car they were so happy, it was just neat.
Now I would like to shift my remarks back to everyone. I was so excited when I heard that one of the topics we were to speak on was charity. I told my wife the two topics that we were given and told her to pick which everyone she wanted. I thought for sure she would pick service but she picked charity. I have to say that I was quite disappointed. It was weird, but, it almost felt as if something precious and dear to me was taken from me. Well, to my great joy, and I mean it literally, when my wife sat down to prepare her talk she decided to change to service and I got back my precious topic of charity.
Well, my talk preparation took an unexpected turn on Friday night just before I went to bed. I had been praying about my topic and I felt strongly that I needed to direct my initial remarks to the children. At first I was a little reluctant because I had already been preparing and gathering my thoughts which consisted of many of my favorite prophets and their powerful words on charity. But as I started to prepare for the children my talk just seemed to fall into place. I had a renewed desire to help them understand this vitally important God-like characteristic that we all must be found possessed of it at the last day. So, here I am with just a few minutes left and I pray that the Spirit will be with us as I try to convey to your hearts a little of what is in my heart.
If you have your scriptures please grab them and follow along because theses verses are so very powerful. I want to use Moroni 7 as my guide and wow there is so much in this chapter it is crazy. So let’s get started.
We read in verse 1:
This is great, Moroni took precious room left on the plates to record the words of his father. It is not hard to understand why he would do that. All you have to do is read it and it is all clear. This is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon and it had to of been one of Moroni’s also. Ok, moving on. So we come to the great three, faith, hope, and charity.
I used to want to look at these three as a ladder, where you can take one at a time and could advance to the next. But no matter how I looked at it they still got all twisted together. I now look at them as a bike. If you separated the bike and the two peddles would the move forward? No, but together they propel forward. I consider the bike frame to be charity and one peddle is faith and the other is hope. Let me show you in the scriptures. Turn with me to verse 40-42.
Do you see why they can’t be looked at as a ladder, but as peddles, each giving a little at different times but also each constantly present. Now for the frame, but remember that the frame is not necessarily next it is just more evident now that the bike is in motion. Turn to verse 43-44
Now that we see the correlation between these three God-like attributes we can talk in more detail about what charity is. We don’t have to travel very far, just to the next verse, 45-47:
There is no summing that up, it is very clear to the simplest of minds. Now I must close and I want to close with the big why. Why; is charity so important, Mormon tells us this as well, verse 48:
Is that not the goal, to see him as he is and to be purified even as he is pure?
I want you all to know that I love this Gospel with all my heart. I know that it is the only true church upon the face of the whole earth. I know that it was restored again upon the earth by Joseph Smith, whose sacrifice and focus causes my heart to overflow with love and gratitude. I also know that Moroni under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost gave us chapter 7, that if we learn and apply these teachings we will one day become like our Father in Heaven and give glory to Jesus Christ for giving us such teachings. I also know that we will one day embrace Moroni and shed tears of joy and gratitude for him being an instrument in the Lords hands in giving us these great teachings, and then we will have an opportunity to embrace and thank Mormon for his inspired words. If we heed these teachings, there will be such a day as I have testified and our joy will be full and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
My wife, Kiera, and I were asked to teach a combined 5th Sunday lesson in our ward back in August. I kept meaning to compile this lesson into a talk and still will at some point, but until then here is our lesson notes. I took the sections in black and my wife took the sections in blue. For my sections I have changed the text color to red for the things that I taught that were not in the lesson.
Unity in Marriage
The Lord has commanded husbands and wives to be one.
1. Have everyone take a min to think about a vacation that they have not taken but would like to. Think about how to explain it to someone in 60 seconds.
2. Now turn to whoever is next to you and I want both of you to explain your vacation in 60 seconds. You will do it at the same time and be prepared to report on the vacation.
3. Have a few explain their experience?
– How does that apply to unity in marriage?
Read Genesis 2:24 with them.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
Read Three Principles of Marriage
Three Principles of Marriage, Matthew O. Richardson, Ensign, Apr 2005, 20–24
All couples can review their relationships, regardless of how long they have been married, to see if they have left or are allowing others to leave appropriately. Our personal hobbies, the choice of how we use our discretionary time, the people we choose to spend time with, or our quest and love for things may be dampening our relationships.
By scriptural definition… we find that God expects us to “cling” to our spouse or to “stick” with him or her. But it should also be understood that this is not a one-time event but a condition that lasts throughout a couple’s marriage.
In 1831 the Lord revealed the law of the Church to the newly gathered Saints and commanded, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22). This is the only place in scripture where the Lord asks us to love anything or anyone with all our hearts besides Himself. President Hinckley has… said that a husband should regard his wife “as the greatest treasure of his life.” 8 In Matthew 6:21 [Matt. 6:21] we read, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (see also 3 Ne. 13:21).
When a man and a woman fully understand that they can be complete only with each other, they learn to appreciate their differences and adjust their behavior as required in the Lord’s plan of happiness… the Lord taught Joseph Smith, “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27).
Unity in marriage is not achieved simply by kneeling at an altar and accepting a spouse. It requires effort for a couple to become one… [It] requires a change of heart, a change of mind, and even a change of living… Today we find that too many people are trying to change the Church, the scriptures, or gospel principles to match their designs rather than changing themselves to match the message of the Savior. How many couples try to shape marriage to fit their own perspective rather than undertaking the process of trying to shape themselves to the type of marriage God has ordained?
-Many times marriage is represented by circles interlocking.
“If Ye Are Not One Ye Are Not Mine”
The Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, said of those who would be part of His Church: “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). And at the creation of man and woman, unity for them in marriage was not given as hope; it was a command! “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Our Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be knit together. That union in love is not simply an ideal. It is a necessity.
-Another representation of marriage puts the Savior at the top signifying our journey toward him and then the wife on one side and the husband on the other. Notice now how as we move closer to our Savior we draw closer to each other.
I personally like to visualize the circles on each corner and as we draw closer and closer to our Savior we truly become one. We become a new creature, Paul says, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17), I believe this applies to marriage, we become new creatures as we become united and one with the Savor at our head.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have” (“I Believe,” Ensign, Aug. 1992, 6).
- • Why must husbands and wives value one another as equal partners to be one?
- • What are some attitudes or customs that keep husbands and wives from being equal partners in their marriage? What can husbands and wives do to overcome such challenges?
- Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
- “It was not meant that the woman alone accommodate herself to the priesthood duties of her husband or her sons. She is of course to sustain and support and encourage them.
- “Holders of the priesthood, in turn, must accommodate themselves to the needs and responsibilities of the wife and mother. Her physical and emotional and intellectual and cultural well-being and her spiritual development must stand first among [their] priesthood duties.
- “There is no task, however menial, connected with the care of babies, the nurturing of children, or with the maintenance of the home that is not [a husband’s] equal obligation” (“A Tribute to Women,” Ensign, July 1989, 75).
As I read this I thought of the Joseph Smith movie. Joseph is out cleaning the rug and one of the other brother came by and said that he didn’t think that the prophet of the church should be seen doing such menial chores. I can’t remember exactly what he said but it was something to the affect of marriage is intended to last for eternity and we should only hope that our wives will want us for eternity.
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled priesthood holders: “As a husband and worthy priesthood bearer, you will want to emulate the example of the Savior, whose priesthood you hold. You will make giving of self to wife and children a primary focus of your life. Occasionally a man attempts to control the destiny of each family member. He makes all the decisions. His wife is subjected to his personal whims. Whether that is the custom or not is immaterial. It is not the way of the Lord. It is not the way a Latter-day Saint husband treats his wife and family” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 32; or Ensign, May 1999, 26).
- a. They share responsibility for ensuring that the family prays together, conducts family home evening, and studies the scriptures together.
- b. They work together in planning how family finances are used.
- c. They consult together and come to agreement on household rules and how to discipline children. The children see that their parents are unified in such decisions.
- d. They plan family activities together.
- e. They both help with housekeeping responsibilities.
- f. They attend church together.
Read 1 Corinthians 11:11 with participants.
Read Elder Richard G. Scott:
“In the Lord’s plan, it takes two—a man and a woman—to form a whole. … For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed. Their efforts interlock and are complementary. Each has individual traits that best fit the role the Lord has defined for happiness as a man or woman. When used as the Lord intends, those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, and rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally. That is the plan” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 73–74).
Give each participant a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Ask each participant who is married to list some of his or her characteristics and abilities and some of the characteristics and abilities of his or her spouse. Ask each participant who is single to think of a married couple and list some characteristics and abilities of the husband and wife. After participants have had a few minutes to write, ask the following questions:
-My blessing that I received where the Lord told me that Kiera was my strength and that I was her strength. I can’t tell you how many times my mind has reflected back on those words and now I see how true that really is. I am nothing without her.
“We loved each other; there was no doubt about that, but we also had to get used to each other. I think every couple has to get used to each other. Early on I realized it would be better if we worked harder to get used to each other than constantly try to change each other” (Church News, 26 Sept. 1998, 4).
-experience of preparing this lesson
There is a little story I want to read from the 1982 Liahona it is by Hugh W. Pinnock:
“Several years ago while visiting in Florida I talked with Frank Shorter, a world-class marathon athlete. He won his event in the 1972 Olympics, placed second in 1976, and has won many other long-distance races. As we talked about his training schedule, I learned that he has dedicated a great part of his life to success in athletics. He knows exactly what foods to eat, how many kilometers to run each day for his needs (which is about 20 miles,) the attitude he needs to have if he expects to be victorious and a number of other characteristics relating to perfection in his chosen field.
While thinking of Frank Shorter and others who have succeeded in their chosen line of work, hobby, or profession, I asked myself, “Why couldn’t more of our husbands and wives have the same type of dedication to a successful marriage?”
I know of nothing worthwhile in life that comes easy—and nothing in life is as valuable as a strong marriage and a secure family.”
He goes on to say:
“Most strong marriages have been severely tested. Husbands and wives who encounter and surmount suffering, pain, misunderstanding, and temptation can enjoy a marriage that is beautiful and eternal. But I do not want us to look to the past—let us look only to today and the future.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Determine that there will never be anything that will come between you that will disrupt your marriage. Make it work. Resolve to make it work. There is far too much of divorce, wherein hearts are broken and sometimes lives are destroyed. Be fiercely loyal one to another” (“Life’s Obligations,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 2, 4).
- • What does the word loyal mean to you? (Answers may include being faithful, true, and trustworthy in a relationship.)
The Lord emphasized the need for husbands and wives to be loyal to one another. Read Doctrine and Covenants 42:22 22 Thou shalt alove thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt bcleave unto her and none else.
This commandment applies equally to husbands and wives.
President Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Church, taught: “The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse” (Faith Precedes the Miracle , 143).
- • How can a person keep social, occupational, and Church commitments from interfering with loyalty to his or her spouse?
- a. A husband can reschedule work, recreation, or other appointments to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
- b. A wife can pray daily for the success of her husband in his activities.
- c. They can listen to each other, even when doing so may not be convenient.
- d. They can speak lovingly and respectfully about each other in conversations with family members and friends.
This whole week my mind kept coming back to the question of why is it so important to be unified and the thought kept coming back to me that one reason is for our children. Then I found the quote that sums this up, it is by Spencer W Kimball.
When two Latter-day Saints are united together in marriage, promises are made to them concerning their offspring that reach from eternity to eternity. They are promised that they shall have the power and the right to govern and control and administer salvation and exaltation and glory to their offspring, worlds without end. And what offspring they do not have here, undoubtedly there will be opportunities to have them hereafter. What else could man wish? A man and a woman, in the other life, having celestial bodies, free from sickness and disease, glorified and beautified beyond description, standing in the midst of their posterity, governing and controlling them, administering life, exaltation and glory worlds without end.
In order for us to achieve such an honor we need to learn to be united with our spouse and serve them as if their comfort is all that matters because in the eternal scheme of things that is all that does matter.
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.
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:
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.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,
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,
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 31:17-2117 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.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.
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:
12 And this shall be a asign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
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.
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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.
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.
31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and aharden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the bday of your csalvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and dharden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.
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.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful acrisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth bpossess 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,
17 But if they would not repent they must asuffer even as I;
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.
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 btwo 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 ataken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be btempted above that ye are able; but will with the ctemptation also make a way to descape, that ye may be able to ebear 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 awatch and pray continually, that ye may not be btempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be cled by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, dmeek, 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.