Monday, November 16, 2015

Circumcision of the Heart and The Holy Spirit of Promise

As I was considering if I could move on from Genesis 19 or  if there was more to be taken for myself, yourself, and my posterity in this chapter of the Old Testament; I did feel a connection between what I had been reading in regards to the circumcision or reminder of a covenant with God and "The Holy Spirit of Promise." 

As I read from David Ridges, Gospel Study Series, I read : 

" In many places the Lord speaks of true circumcision as being the circumcision of the heart. The heart that is circumcised is one that loves God and is obedient to the spirit. ( Ezekiel 44:7; Deuteronomy 10:16 ; Jeremiah 4:4; Acts 7:51 ) "

 Though a person may have had the token of circumcision in the flesh, unless he was righteous the covenant was invalidated and the circumcision became profitless. Thus, circumcision was only a sign or token of what needed to happen to the inward man. If the inward change had not taken place, then the circumcision was virtually meaningless. ( See Jeremiah 9: 25-26 , Romans 2:25-29; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:1-6; 6:12-15; Philippians 3:3-4 ) "

Likewise, even if one enters into baptism, goes to the temple and takes upon himself covenants between himself and the Lord, unless he does so with his heart in the right place, and full commitment and desire to keep the covenants - he will not have the blessing of the Holy Ghost, nor will The Holy Spirit of Promise seal the blessings of those covenants upon the individual. I am eternally thankful that the Lord does look upon our hearts, intentions, and thoughts. I hope and pray that He can be pleased with what He sees in me, and I hope that someday I can be worthy of being sealed to a righteous Priesthood Holder that loves Him the same as I do through The Holy Spirit of Promise. 

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

To seal is to ratify, to justify, or to approve.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie states the following : “The ratifying seal of approval is put upon and act only if those entering the contract are worthy as a result of personal righteousness .

The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Spirit promised the saints, or in other words the Holy Ghost. This name-title is used in connection with the sealing and ratifying power of the Holy Ghost, that is, the power given him to ratify and approve the righteous acts of men so that those acts will be binding on earth and in heaven. ‘All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations,’ must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, if they are to have ‘efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.’ (D. & C. 132:7.)
To seal is to ratify, to justify, or to approve. Thus an act which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is one which is ratified by the Holy Ghost; it is one which is approved by the Lord; and the person who has taken the obligation upon himself is justified by the Spirit in the thing he has done.
The ratifying seal of approval is put upon an act only if those entering the contract are worthy as a result of personal righteousness to receive the divine approbation. They ‘are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.’ (D. & C. 76:53.) If they are not just and true and worthy the ratifying seal is withheld.
When any ordinance or contract is sealed by the Spirit, it is approved with a promise of reward, provided unrighteousness does not thereafter break the seal, remove the ratifying approval, and cause loss of the promised blessing. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 55; vol. 2, pp. 94–99.) Seals are placed on contracts through righteousness.
The operation and power of the Holy Spirit of Promise is best illustrated by the ordinance and contract of baptism. An unworthy candidate for baptism might deceive the elders and get the ordinance performed, but no one can lie to the Holy Ghost and get by undetected. Accordingly, the baptism of an unworthy and unrepentant person would not be sealed by the Spirit; it would not be ratified by the Holy Ghost; the unworthy person would not be justified by the Spirit in his actions. If thereafter he became worthy through repentance and obedience, the seal would then be put in force. Similarly, if a worthy person is baptized, with the ratifying approval of the Holy Ghost attending the performance, yet the seal may be broken by subsequent sin.
These principles also apply to every other ordinance and performance in the Church. Thus if both parties are ‘just and true,’ if they are worthy, a ratifying seal is placed on their temple marriage; if they are unworthy, they are not justified by the Spirit and the ratification of the Holy Ghost is withheld. Subsequent worthiness will put the seal in force, and unrighteousness will break any seal.
Even if a person progresses to that state of near-perfection in which his calling and election is made sure, in which he is ‘sealed up unto eternal life’ (D. & C. 131:5132:18–26), in which he receives ‘the promise … of eternal life’ (D. & C. 88:3–4), in which he is ‘sealed up unto the day of redemption’ (D. & C. 124:124Eph. 1:13)—yet with it all, these great promises are secured only if the ‘performances’ are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise” (Mormon Doctrine, 361–62).
An act which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise … is one which is approved by the Lord."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Covenants in Ancient Times

 As we read in Genesis 17 we learn a great deal about the patterns after which God  works with His children here on earth. The impact that the covenant the Lord makes with his son Abraham during this chapter has had significant influence on the traditions of the world that we live in today. Abraham was given the law of circumcision as a token of the covenant that was made between God and Abraham's posterity.

Genesis 17:10 - This is my covenant, which ye shall keep between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised. 

 Through this we are reminded again that the covenants that we make with the Lord require a sacrifice from us. The token of covenants provide a daily reminder of what we have promised and for those not spiritually ready, covenants can seem overwhelming or extreme. However, the pattern is clear and this way is seen from the most ancient of times that God tutors and rears His children by giving them promises or covenants to make, and reminders for us to keep them.

I can imagine how the less spiritually minded young men must have felt when they heard as it states in Genesis 17:11 - 

Genesis 17:11 - And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 

The physical pain of circumcision may have felt unbearable at the time but the promise to be multiplied exceedingly greatly triumphs the token that would be a reminder of great blessings.

The President of BYU, Kevin J. Wortham stated in regards to covenants:

"Making and keeping eternal covenants with God gives individuals the opportunity to complete their faith through action.
“By entering into a promise to do something to demonstrate our faith and then by following up on that promise, we complete our faith, thereby making it a live, operative power in our lives,” he said.
By entering into and keeping gospel covenants, individuals are able to focus on the future, looking forward with strength to meet trials and challenges. Covenants enliven and strengthen faith, giving individuals the eternal perspective they need to overcome their past and present difficulties." ( Covenants Connect Us to Heaven, June 2015 ) 
As I ponder covenants, and our actions to remember them and keep them, I am reminded of the temple garment. When I first went to the temple at age eighteen, I  was spiritually unprepared for this action that I was taking. I did not understand how God works with His children through promises and actions that will symbolize what we have promised. Instead of searching the scriptures, seeking and praying to gain a stronger testimony of what I now find to be beautiful and an enormous blessing; I avoided addressing my feelings. Eventually, continual avoidance of divine guidance that I should have sought cost me a terrible price and I  would then find myself in the position that I wanted to partake in temple covenants and wear the temple garment but I could not do so with out disruption to my marriage of a non-member. Years past in my desires  to return to the temple and eventually the spirit and my desire to follow God and keep my covenants drove me to accept whatever the consequence would be in me keeping my promises to God and going back to the temple, despite the negative comments from my spouse.
My only regret now is that I did not do that sooner. The impact attending the temple every two weeks has had on my life is astounding and undeniable. My capacity to overcome temptation is strengthened. My heart is healed every time I read the scriptures in the temple, as I open the scriptures to exact passages that answer the questions of my heart that have never been uttered from my mouth. My family is directly blessed as I keep my covenants. As I attend, wear the temple garment and keep my temple covenants, the spirit is with me more fully and angels have charge over me. ( D&C 109:22 )
Oh had I known better how the Lord works with His children in providing daily reminder of what we have promised through the garment, yet I do know the Lord works all things for out good. ( Romans 8:28 ) 
The act of  circumcision was one of Abraham's outward reminders of inward promises, along with many others.
I love the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I understand the great privilege that it is to make and keep covenants with my God and Jesus Christ. I only hope that I can share God's ways and patterns with my children and anyone who will read -in order that they may avoid some of the spiritual maturity that I have lacked and that they will know that as they turn to God in scripture study, prayer and temple attendance; with a pure and humble heart God can teach and will teach those whom desire to learn. I love Him, He is my everything. 
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Be Perfected through Christ and the gifts that HE gives us.........

In Genesis 17 Abraham is commanded to be perfect. This is one of the many times that the Lord commands even mortals to be perfect. ( always and only through Jesus Christ is this possible) 

Deuteronomy 18:13 Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.

Matthew 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

3 Nephi 12:48  Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

3 Nephi 27: 27 And know ye that ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.

D&C 67:13  Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.

This seems very overwhelming and impossible without further study. I am thankful for the talk that I came across while searching and my scriptures to find what the Lord would have me know regarding perfection. The interesting thing was that I was actually looking for something in regards to the ways that the atonement perfects us, but I was instead led to this and I know it was not chance. Christ's Atonement does give us grace to overcome weaknesses, but this message is a crucial process of perfection that I am thankful that I was taught. 

From the talk " Messages from the Doctrine and Covenants, Seek ye earnestly the best gifts " by Elder Arnold of the Seventy:

"The Savior commanded us to become perfect . Although none of us will obtain perfection in this life, Heavenly Father will inspire us, as we ponder and pray, to seek those gifts that will best help us perfect ourselves. President George Q. Cannon (1827–1901) stated: “If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. … No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them.” 3

How Can We Obtain Spiritual Gifts?

We are taught that in order to receive any spiritual gift, we must be worthy of it. The Lord has said that spiritual gifts “are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me” (D&C 46:9).
When we seek to obtain a spiritual gift, we can study the examples and teachings of the Savior that pertain to that particular gift and then try to incorporate those teachings into our life. For example, let’s suppose we are seeking the gift of charity. We could study Moroni 7:45 [Moro. 7:45], where we would find that there are 13 separate qualities we will need to seek as part of the process of obtaining charity. Kindness is one of the first that is mentioned." 
From this talk I learned that being worthy and asking to receive spiritual gifts are a large portion of the way that we become perfects through Jesus Christ.  
Another helpful quote for me was stated by Joseph Fielding Smith as stated:
" Salvation does not come all at once; we are commanded to be perfect even as our Father in Heaven is Perfect. It will take us ages to accomplish this end for there will be greater progress beyond the grave and it will be there that the faithful will overcome all things and receive all things, even the fullness of the Father's glory. I believe the Lord meant just what He said: that we should be perfect, as our Father in Heaven is perfect. That will not come all at once, but line upon line and precept upon precept, example upon example, and even then not as long as we live in this mortal life, for we will have to go even beyond the grave before we reach that perfection and shall be like God. But here we lay the foundation. Here is where we are taught these simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in this probationary state, to prepare us for that perfection. It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today. Why? Because we are on that road, if we are keeping the commandments of the Lord, we are on that road to perfection, and that can only come through obedience and the desire in our hearts to overcome the world."  ( Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2, page 18-19 ) 
Oh how I want to overcome my weaknesses and I am thankful that I was led to read this talk about how to seek for spiritual gifts. Although I have prayed to receive spiritual gifts, I most surely can do better with this along with the study of each gift. 

"To receive a gift we must “practice virtue and holiness before” the Lord continually (D&C 38:24), and we “must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth” (D&C 50:40). We must “ask of God, who giveth liberally; … in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly … , doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving” (D&C 46:7). When we ask for a gift, our will must be aligned with God’s will (see D&C 46:30)." - Elder Arnold 

Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1915–94) pointed out some less conspicuous but very important gifts: “the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.” 

I say these things with a thankful heart, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.