A Brand New Year 2010   Leave a comment

On behalf of the Plainview Texas Branch, of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, From The Elders Quorum Presidency, Happy New Years! (A little late, we know)

If you have not taken the chance to go through and “Digest” the greatest amount of wonderful Spiritual Food available on the Church websites, That being http://www.lds.org/ , (*AND*) http://www.mormon.org/ …. Please do so! The information available at http://www.lds.org/ is frequently updated, but not utilized nearly as much as it should be! Below I will outline some suggestions that the Presidency (Of The Elders Quorum In The Plainview Texas Branch) have to better help the individual, the family and entire brethren of the Church- world wide to apply the Gospel to their lives.

Consider this Quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of The Quorum Of The Twelve;

“Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing.”I testify that that is God’s truth. Christ is everything to us and weare to “abide” in Him permanently, unyieldingly, steadfastly, forever.For the fruit of the gospel to blossom and bless our lives, we must befirmly attached to Him…”
With that plain explanation in mind, I now show how I feel that the above mentioned sites can better
“help the individual, the family and entire brethren of the Church- world wide to apply the Gospel to their lives.”

Suggestion Number 1: The First Presidency Message

As any member of the church knows, we have a monthly magazine called the “Ensign / Liahona” in which one of the members of The First Presidency Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, print an inspirational talk. A message specially delivered through divine revelation needed for the time, (Or month) it is printed in. This is a message in which I have seen in my life, seems to always apply to something going on in my life, or in the life of family or friends both in and out of the church. It never fails to enlighten me;

Is it any wonder why this message is the grounds for our Home Teaching Lessons? Knowing that, is it any wonder why we are to take it and apply it in life and callings as Latter-Day “Scripture” ? Even more phenomenal and amazing to me, is how the first message, for the first Ensign of this new year is a back to basics message.

Although the message for this month, given By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, is labeled Hold on a Little Longer the message is really all about our ability to hang on with greater diligence if we have followed the council given us by the General Authorities. Before listing the suggestions, allow me to pull out the abundant information that I had available to use this past Sunday (January 3rd, 2010) but had time insufficient to pleasantly discuss it all. 

“In a world that is ripening in iniquity (see D&C 18:6),members of the Church face the challenge of sustaining a pattern ofobedience to gospel principles that will result in their beingincreasingly different from the general behavioral trends of the world.This will require all of the spiritual reinforcement that can be drawnupon. Prayer, scripture study, participation in worship services, andthe giving of service will become increasingly essential. The influenceof the temple will be important as a part of this spiritualundergirding.”  (“The Importance of the Temple for Living Members” By Elder Dean L. Larsen Of the Presidency of the Seventy; Ensign » 1993 » April)

Our strength against the wiles, the anger of others, the pains of persecution, the vast and many fingers of scorn by them whom willingly take housing in Babylon, will reside in our conviction and conversion. The courage to turn off that which is not edifying, to stop reading that that does not enlighten and encourage and to steadfastly remain resolute in our interior knowledge and understanding will be the measure of our ability to live the gospel. I have seen this to be the case in my own life. To best understand this, I’d like to use the words of Nephi:

And men are instructed sufficiently that they aknow good from evil. And the blaw is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is cjustified; or, by the law men are dcutoff. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by thespiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserableforever.” (2nd Nephi 2: 5)

Behold, he offereth himself a asacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto bnone else can the cends of the law be answered.
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto theinhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no fleshthat can dwell in the presence of God, asave it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who blayeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the cresurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.” ( 2nd Nephi 2: 7-8)

Then there is a landmark one-two (boxing metaphor) that follows, saying……

And because of the intercession for aall, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be bjudged of him according to the truth and choliness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the dpunishmentwhich is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition tothat of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the eatonement—For it must needs be, that there is an aoppositionin all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness,righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neitherholiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things mustneeds be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it mustneeds remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption norincorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no apurposein the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroythe wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and themercy, and the bjustice of God.And if ye shall say there is anolaw, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is nosin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be norighteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousnessnor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these thingsare not bthereis no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; forthere could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to beacted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away” (2nd Nephi 2: 10-13)

I take that all, into this (very short paraphrase) “You’ve Been Told The Way, You’ve Been Shown The Way, The Scriptures Have Instructed The Way, You Can (And Must) Walk The Way”.

Next, lets visit another statement:

“Nurturing our testimonies and growing in spirit require increasedeffort as we move up the spiritual ladder. This is hard work, and weare not always willing to pay the price of promised blessings. As weconsider the atonement of Jesus Christ, which caused him, “even God,the greatest of all, to … suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18),we can ask ourselves the sobering question, Can we expect to repent ofsin, overcome faults, abandon cherished but false beliefs, and growspiritually as we desire to do without effort commensurate with thegrowth and blessings we seek?”

“Personal righteousness is a prerequisite to personal revelation andcontinual spiritual growth. In our zeal to lay a figurative pipeline toheaven, do we sometimes forget the small daily things essential to ourspiritual advancement, like prayer, scripture study, acts of serviceand charity? Can we not be content if our pathway to progress consistsof small, almost imperceptible changes associated with regularrepentance?” ( “I Have A Question” [Ensign; July 1993, 54-55] )

Getting warmer in understanding? There are many things (Listed above) which are things that need be done as a pre-requisite to having all the strength needed to “Hold On A Little Longer” – [January 2010 First Presidency Message] .

“We know that our physical bodies require certain nutrients tosustain life and to maintain physical and mental health. If we aredeprived of those nutrients, our physical and mental vitality areimpaired and we have a condition called malnutrition.Malnutrition produces such symptoms as reduced mental functions,digestive disorders, loss of physical strength, and impairment ofvision. Good nutrition is especially important for children, whosegrowing bodies are easily impaired if they lack the nutrients necessaryfor normal growth. Our spirits also require nourishment. Just as there is food for thebody, there is food for the spirit. The consequences of spiritualmalnutrition are just as hurtful to our spiritual lives as physicalmalnutrition is to our physical bodies. Symptoms of spiritualmalnutrition include reduced ability to digest spiritual food, reducedspiritual strength, and impairment of spiritual vision. We know the principal sources of spiritual food: prayer, studying thescriptures, attending inspirational meetings, singing the hymns ofZion, serving in our callings, fasting, partaking of the sacrament, andmaking other covenants, such as in the temple. We also know that someexperiences can interfere with the assimilation of spiritual food, justas certain poisons can interfere with obtaining needed physicalnourishment from physical food. For example, anything that drives awaythe Spirit of the Lord, such as pornography, profanity, or anger, willprevent us from obtaining the spiritual nourishment we need fromexperiences that would normally be effective as spiritual food. Somephysical substances, like those forbidden by the Word of Wisdom, areharmful to both body and spirit.” ( “Nourishing The Spirit” From An Address Given At Ricks College by Dallin H. Oaks on 13th February 1996 )

What a great bit of information to review, as spoken by Elder Oaks. Sadly, alot of what weakens us, we allow to do so;

One of the most impressive doctrines found in the Book of Mormon isthat Satan’s power over a person increases as that person becomes morewicked, until eventually the person is “taken captive by the devil” andbound with the “chains of hell.” (Alma 12:11.)Satan’s method is to influence the thoughts of men, tempting them andenticing them, always working “in the hearts of the children of men.” (2 Ne. 28:20.)Nephi chillingly describes the method: “He whispereth in their ears,until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is nodeliverance.” (2 Ne. 28:22.)

But Satan’s power is not unrestrained. Joseph Smith taught that Satan has no power over us unless we give it to him. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel.Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 181.)And Nephi explained that the righteousness of a people deprives Satanof his power, “for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, forthey dwell in righteousness.” (1 Ne. 22:26.)
Between the extremes of Satan’s power to captivate and his utterpowerlessness stretches the spectrum of his ability to entice or tempt.As a being of spirit, he works in the realm of spirit, counterbalancedby the Spirit of God. In this way, free agency is preserved, giving usa choice between good and evil. As Lehi taught, “Man could not act forhimself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.”(2 Ne. 2:16.) If Satan entices us to do evil, so the Holy Spirit “entices” us to virtue. (See Mosiah 3:19.) Free agency demands that neither the Holy Spirit nor the evil spirit have power to control the person against his will.

Each of these forces, being spiritual, works directly on the mind ofman—or the heart, as the scriptures call it—until the individualwillfully chooses to obey one and ignore the other. Then the balance ofpower shifts and the person begins to move upward to eternal life ordownward to destruction and misery. A person who has elected baptismand received the gift of the Holy Ghost has shifted the balance greatlyin favor of God’s influence, whereas a person whose wickedness hascaused his conscience to be “seared with a hot iron,” as Paul says (1 Tim. 4:2),may have put himself wholly within the realm of Satan’s influence. Thespirit of the Lord may cease to strive with such a person. (See 1 Ne. 7:14.)

In his effort to entice, Satan has great power. As Elder JosephFielding Smith taught, “We should be on guard always to resist Satan’sadvances. … He has power to place thoughts in our minds and to whisperto us in unspoken impressions to entice us to satisfy our appetites ordesires and in various other ways he plays upon our weaknesses anddesires.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph FieldingSmith, Jr., 5 vols., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957–66, 3:81.)The temptations we all are subject to often take the form ofwhisperings and promptings to our minds and hearts. ( See Also “Questions and Answers,” Tambuli, Apr 1985, 29–31 )

Why is it important to know the mysteries of God? President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) explained:

“Of all treasures of knowledge, the most vital is the knowledge of God: his existence, powers, love, and promises. … 

“If we spend our mortal days in accumulating secular knowledge tothe exclusion of the spiritual then we are in a dead-end street, forthis is the time for man to prepare to meet God; this is the time forfaith to be built. … 

“Secular knowledge, important as it may be, can never save a soul nor open the celestial kingdom” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [1982], 390).

The knowledge of God and His plan of salvation is the kind ofknowledge that saves, and this kind of knowledge can be obtained onlyin the Lord’s way.

God reveals Himself and His eternal truths—the spiritual food thatthe scriptures call the bread of life and the living water—to those whoseek, who serve, who keep His commandments, and who wait and listen inhumility for His teaching. Study and reason are appropriate to beginthis process, but “the things of God cannot be learned solely by studyand reason. Despite their essential and beneficial uses, the methods ofstudy and reason are insufficient as ways of approaching God andunderstanding the doctrines of his gospel. We cannot come to know thethings of God while rejecting or failing to use the indispensablemethod God has prescribed to learn these things. The things of God mustbe learned in his own way, through faith in God and revelation from theHoly Ghost” (Dallin H. Oaks, The Lord’s Way [1991], 56).

Onlyin this way can we obtain the spiritual illumination, nutrition, andpower necessary to teach and transmit faith and testimony.

Gospel learning is usually initiated by study and reason, but so faras I can observe, intellectual methods, standing alone, are noteffective in transmitting abiding faith and deep spirituality from oneperson to another or from one generation to another.

Missionary work will help in this cause, consider this:

“In this great battle for the souls of men, the rules of engagement inmissionary work are more clearly defined for each of us. Members are toaccompany full-time missionary companionships as they teach the lessonsand play a vital role in the conversion process of others. Missionariesare “to preach my gospel by the Spirit” 17with words from their own hearts, words of truth treasured up by muchstudy and prayer. Our missionaries’ roles in the continuing conversionprocess of others do not end at baptism. They are to continue to teachnew members and others who need spiritual nourishment.”
“Strengthen Thy Brethren” : Robert J. Whetten [Liahona, May 2005, 91-93] )

So, to finish Suggestion 1 and to close this particular post [blog entry] I wish to extend my testimony, and heartfully bear with conviction that following the Prophets, the council of our General Authorities as well as sticking to the basics we can and will rise above the relentless assault of Satan. I know this to be true, and leave that with you brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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