Saturday, February 27, 2016

We Matter to Him

Excerpts from...

You Matter to Him

Second Counselor in the First Presidency

The Lord uses a scale very different from the world’s to weigh the worth of a soul.

The Lord doesn’t care at all if we spend our days working in marble halls or stable stalls. He knows where we are, no matter how humble our circumstances. He will use—in His own way and for His holy purposes—those who incline their hearts to Him.
God knows that some of the greatest souls who have ever lived are those who will never appear in the chronicles of history. They are the blessed, humble souls who emulate the Savior’s example and spend the days of their lives doing good.16
One such couple, parents of a friend of mine, exemplify this principle for me. The husband worked at a steel mill in Utah. At lunch he would pull out his scriptures or a Church magazine and read. When the other workers saw this, they ridiculed him and challenged his beliefs. Whenever they did, he spoke to them with kindness and confidence. He did not allow their disrespect to make him angry or upset.
Years later one of the more vocal mockers became very ill. Before he died, he requested that this humble man speak at his funeral—which he did.
This faithful member of the Church never had much in the way of social status or wealth, but his influence extended deeply to all who knew him. He died in an industrial accident while stopping to help another worker who was stranded in the snow.
Within a year his widow had to undergo brain surgery, which has left her unable to walk. But people love coming to spend time with her because she listens. She remembers. She cares. Unable to write, she memorizes her children’s and grandchildren’s telephone numbers. She lovingly remembers birthdays and anniversaries.
Those who visit her come away feeling better about life and about themselves. They feel her love. They know she cares. She never complains but spends her days blessing the lives of others. One of her friends said this woman was one of the few people she had ever known who truly exemplifies the love and life of Jesus Christ.
This couple would have been the first to say they were not of much importance in this world. But the Lord uses a scale very different from the world’s to weigh the worth of a soul. He knows this faithful couple; He loves them. Their actions are a living witness of their strong faith in Him.

You Matter to Him

My dear brothers and sisters, it may be true that man is nothing in comparison to the greatness of the universe. At times we may even feel insignificant, invisible, alone, or forgotten. But always remember—you matter to Him! If you ever doubt that, consider these four divine principles:
First, God loves the humble and meek, for they are “greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”17
Second, the Lord entrusts “the fulness of [His] gospel [to] be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world.”18 He has chosen “the weak things of the world [to] come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones”19 and to put to shame “the things which are mighty.”20
Third, no matter where you live, no matter how humble your circumstances, how meager your employment, how limited your abilities, how ordinary your appearance, or how little your calling in the Church may appear to you, you are not invisible to your Heavenly Father. He loves you. He knows your humble heart and your acts of love and kindness. Together, they form a lasting testimony of your fidelity and faith.
Fourth and finally, please understand that what you see and experience now is not what forever will be. You will not feel loneliness, sorrow, pain, or discouragement forever. We have the faithful promise of God that He will neither forget nor forsake those who incline their hearts to Him.21 Have hope and faith in that promise. Learn to love your Heavenly Father and become His disciple in word and in deed.
Be assured that if you but hold on, believe in Him, and remain faithful in keeping the commandments, one day you will experience for yourselves the promises revealed to the Apostle Paul: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”22
Brothers and sisters, the most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love.
God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him.
May we ever believe, trust, and align our lives so that we will understand our true eternal worth and potential. May we be worthy of the precious blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for us is my prayer in the name of His Son, even Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Know This, That Every Soul Is Free

"We can make better choices when we understand the importance and sacred nature of our gift of agency and recognize that which will help or hinder us as we seek to use our agency wisely.

Thus the freedom to choose is a very sacred gift. Indeed, President David O. McKay observed that 
“next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man” (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: 
Deseret Book Co., 1993, p. 299)."
~Spencer J. Condie, Of the Seventy

Know This, That Every Soul Is Free

Know this, that ev'ry soul is free
To choose his life and what he'll be;
For this eternal truth is giv'n:
That God will force no man to heav'n.

He'll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heav'n or hell.

May we no more our pow'rs abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.

Text: Anon., ca. 1805
Music: Roger L. Miller, b. 1937

Helamen 14:30-31

 30 And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.
 31 He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.
2 Nephi 10:23-24
23 Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.
 24 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.

Quotes from President David O. McKay
"the divine gift of free agency" 
"As members of society, we should appreciate freedom and

 promote the responsible use of it.

Freedom of speech, freedom of action within boundaries that do not infringe upon the liberty of others are … divine gifts “essential to human dignity and human happiness.”
"It is the right of each individual to be master of his own time and actions consistent with fairness and justice to his fellow men and with harmony with the laws of God. … It is freedom of choice, a divine gift, an essential virtue in a peaceful society."

Joshua 24:15
 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lordchoose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Distinguishing Between Truth and Error

Excerpts from:
Keeping the Faith in a World of Confusion
By Bishop Gérald Caussé
First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

 All (individuals) at some time in our lives face moments that test the sincerity and strength of their testimonies. Braving these trials of our faith helps us stand firm in a world that is falling more and more into the depths of confusion. This confusion is evident in the barrage of messages that surround us. With the advent of the Internet, for example, an uninterrupted avalanche of contradictory opinions and information invades our everyday lives. These contradictions can become disconcerting and paralyzing.

How can we distinguish between truth and error? How can we avoid becoming like those who are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it”? (D&C 123:12).

It is up to us whether we remain firm in our testimonies. When I think about my past, I realize that the success of my personal journey depended on a few simple principles that kept me on course. These principles allowed me to develop myself spiritually despite the “mists of darkness” (1 Nephi 12:17) and snares that surround all of us.

Seek the Truth Continually

To those who claim that “ye cannot know” (Alma 30:15), the Lord has answered, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). That is a marvelous promise.

Disciples of Christ hunger and thirst every day after spiritual knowledge. This personal practice is founded on study, contemplation, and daily prayer. 

Studying the word of God protects us from the influence of false doctrines. The Lord said, “For unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (2 Nephi 28:30).

Accept Unanswered Questions

In our search for truth, we can be tempted to want to understand everything right away. However, the intelligence of God is so infinite that “it is impossible that man should find out all his ways” (Jacob 4:8). We must accept living for a time without answers to all of our questions. Like Nephi, we faithfully acknowledge that God “loveth his children; nevertheless, [we] do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17).

The Lord, nevertheless, supplies us with the knowledge necessary for our salvation and exaltation. He promises, “Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you” (D&C 88:64). We receive these answers progressively, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30), depending on our needs and our capacity to comprehend.

It is up to us to distinguish between questions that are truly essential to our eternal progress and those that result from intellectual curiosity, need for proof, or desire for personal satisfaction.

Seek the Testimony of the Spirit

Each of us may experience moments of personal doubt. These doubts are rarely alleviated by the search for rational explanations. For example, some scientific or archaeological discoveries may reinforce our testimonies of scripture, but spiritual knowledge cannot be proven by logic or physical evidence.

Knowledge of the truth is based on the testimony of the Spirit. As the Apostle Paul said, “The things of God knoweth no man, but [by] the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

We have the assurance that “the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not” (Jacob 4:13). The Spirit can have an even more powerful effect on us than our physiological senses. To the Apostle Peter, who had just declared his faith, Jesus replied, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). 

Nourish Your Faith

We do not receive a “witness until after the trial of [our] faith” (Ether 12:6). Faith has the power to unlock knowledge of eternal truths. 

To strengthen our testimonies and protect ourselves from error, we must therefore constantly nourish and fortify our faith. To begin with, we need to have pure hearts and great humility. 

Next, we must exercise works. The Apostle James taught that “faith [was] wrought with … works, and by works was faith made perfect” (James 2:22). We cannot hope to receive personal revelation unless we conduct ourselves like faithful disciples of Christ. Respecting the covenants we have made with God qualifies us to receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost, who enlightens our intelligence and causes our spirits to blossom.

“And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, … and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst” (Alma 32:42).