Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sacrifice for Salvation??

I've been reflecting on the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for each of us.  Each of us can attempt to comprehend what it was that he suffered for us individually and we will fail each time.  We can't completely wrap our mind around it but we can know that the atonement did take place.  I love the talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland "The Inconvenient Messiah."  In this talk Elder Holland pinpoints our role in relation to the sacrifice of the Messiah.  I would encourage all to read it. 

Society today is all about convenience, faster, easier.  How can we short cut this or that?  What's the latest greatest and leave the things of the past where they belong.  Even in the secular world people begin looking for the "easy road to salvation" and there are churches claiming to offer it.  Today people want to attain heaven with no personal sacrifice, no change, no repentance.

If life wasn't easy for Christ, why should we expect it to be a breeze for us.  Though we will never compare to the sacrifice of the Savior, we are required to sacrifice.  Sacrifice has been in the gospel of Jesus Christ since the beginning.

To sacrifice is to give up something we value for the sake of something of greater worth. As Latter-day Saints, we have the opportunity to sacrifice worldly things for the Lord and His kingdom. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be willing to make any sacrifice required by the Lord. If we were not required to make sacrifices, we would never be able to develop the faith necessary for eternal salvation.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the great and eternal sacrifice at the center of the gospel (see Alma 34:8–16). Before the Savior carried out the Atonement, His covenant people sacrificed animals as a symbol of His sacrifice. This practice helped them look ahead to the Atonement (see Moses 5:4–8). The command to offer animal sacrifices ended with the death of Jesus Christ. In the Church today, we partake of the sacrament in remembrance of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice.

In addition to remembering the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are to offer our own sacrifice: a broken heart and a contrite spirit. The Savior said: “Ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away. … And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 9:19–20).
To have a broken heart and a contrite spirit is to be humble and receptive to the will of God and to the counsel of those He has called to lead His Church. It also means to feel deep sorrow for sin and a sincere desire to repent. The prophet Lehi emphasized the importance of offering this sacrifice: “Behold, [Christ] offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” (2 Nephi 2:7). If we do not offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we cannot fully receive the blessings that come through the Atonement.
If you are willing to sacrifice as the Lord has commanded, you will be accepted by Him. He taught: “All … who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me” (D&C 97:8). With an eternal perspective, you can see that giving up the things of the world is really no sacrifice at all. The blessings you receive are greater than anything you ever give up.

As the famous hymn says "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven."  I testify of the truth of these things.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Commandments and Horses

A couple weeks ago I was able to do some ground work with a young colt.  I started out reviewing things his owner said he already knew.  After I got him feeling comfortable with me I began to teach him to side pass.  As I faced him toward the corral panels and began to apply pressure so he would move away from me, each time I applied pressure on his back end he would move toward me(not what I wanted).  It didn't take long for the colt and I to become frustrated.  He wanted to be obedient but he didn't know what I wanted him to do.  Had the colt know what I wanted, he would have done it from the beginning.  One of the challenges with training anything or anyone is helping them understand what is expected.

By the end of the day my thoughts were on our Heavenly Father and his commandments to us.  Most of us, like the colt, want to be obedient to our Father in Heaven.  However, if we don't know what He expects of us our efforts will only end in frustration and confusion.

I'm so grateful that the commandments are no big secret.  They have been revealed through prophets of the God and we can refer to the scriptures and modern-day prophets to know exactly what we need to do for true happiness.  the commandments are there to protect us, not restrict us.  All who fully observe the commandments of God can testify of the freedom and happiness that comes from obedience.  I know myself of that truth.

"You seldom get what you go after unless you know in advance what you want.  Indecision has often given an advantage to the other fellow because he did his thinking before hand."

May we each choose happiness by choosing to live the commandments each day of our lives.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Seeking a more meaningful life?

In the situations I have found myself lately, I've been brought to ponder about our ability to make correct choices and move forward with those decisions. 

What are we capable of as the children of God?

This is the beginning of a new day.  God  has given me this day to use as I will.  I can waste it---or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of life for it!  When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it.  I want it to be gain, and not loss;  good, and not evil;  success, and not failure, in order that I shall not regret the price I have paid for it.

There is only one day that you and I have to live for, and that's today.  There is nothing we can do about yesterday except repent, and there may be no tomorrow.  The thing for us to do when we arise from our beds  as God gives us a new day, is to take whatever comes to our hands, and do it to the best of our ability.

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we decide to do about it.

Elder Uchtdorf illustrates well what our potential is when he gave this talk to a large group of women.  Apply its meaning to you!  less than two minutes long!

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 preform their labors. (Alma 34:32)

We need to be pro-active.  'Doers of the word and not hearers only.'  Nobody can think straight who does not work.  Idleness warps the mind.  Thinking without constructive actions becomes a disease.  I have generally found that a man who is good at an excuse is good at nothing else.

May we each use this priceless gift of agency or the ability to choose and do with it what our Father in Heaven would have us.  Decide now that you are not going to be a consumer, or an onlooker, but a producer.  Decide not to be a sheep,  or a hireling, but a shepherd.  I know that as we each do this, the world will become a better, happier place.  True happiness comes from righteous action!  The most happiness we can attain in this life can only come to a life that is founded upon the principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

(quotes used from "The Missionaries Little Quote Book")

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is Jesus the Christ?

The world we live in is so hectic and chaotic.  So many are seeking for answers, solutions, and happiness in the things of the world.  Promises of quick fixes to often very deep problems attract the vast majority of society.  Each solution that the world has to offer is always temporary.  With any problem any of us may face, no matter how great or small, there is always one eternal answer and solution we can each rely fully upon.  Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Who is Jesus Christ and why is He important to us?

The words of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles states it best.
“He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. ‘All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made’ (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He ‘went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
“We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.
“He rose from the grave to ‘become the firstfruits of them that slept’ (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His ‘other sheep’ (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised ‘dispensation of the fulness of times’ (Ephesians 1:10).
“Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: ‘His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
“ ‘I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father’ (D&C 110:3–4).
“Of Him the Prophet also declared: ‘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!
“ ‘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—
“ ‘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’ (D&C 76:22–24).
“We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—‘built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone’ (Ephesians 2:20).
“We testify that He will someday return to earth. ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’ (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.
“We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son” (Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2–3).

May I add my deepest personal thanks for a Father in Heaven who loves each of us enough that He sent his son.  I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and that there is no other name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.  He lives!!  There is eternal happiness and safety in relying on Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  For this I am eternally grateful.