Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Soft Heart - Good Soil

The principle of a soft heart 

In Matt.13 we read the parable of the seed falling into stony ground, or good ground. 

I really appreciated these explanations from the Lord as to why He speaks in parables.

 It is very merciful as the Lord teaches in such a way that - only those who are spiritually desiring and ready to follow Him will understand His words. This  serves as a protection for those whom have hard hearts because they may understand - yet - not desire - to follow His instructions- therefore, they would have blessings " taken from him " ( Matt. 13:12 ) being condemned.

 The Lord explains that there will be those who " hath not " and those who "hath " ( vs.12 ).

 Jesus goes onto explain what this " hath not " represents as he states in verse 15:

vs.15 : " For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart and should be converted and I should heal them." 

I appreciate the explanation that the Savior also gives about what indicates that these word of God have fallen  into a soft heart, or he that " hath " as Jesus states in vs. 23:

Matt.13:23 :
" But he that received seed into the ground is he that heareth the word and understandeth it, which also beareth fruit and bringeth from some hundred fold , some sixty and some thirty. 

Because of previous teachings of Christ in Matt. 7:20, and various other references - we can understand that the "fruit" is righteous works or actions. 

This also teaches again - one of my most favorite principles " By their fruits ye shall know them." ( Matt.7:20 ) Or by the fruits a person produces - we can know if they have the Holy Spirit. 

Galatians 5: 22 : But the fruit of the Spirit is love , joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. 

I enjoyed finding additional instructions in a talk given by Marvin J. Ashton in 1988, titled " The Measure of our Hearts ". In this talk Ashton gives four questions that we can answer in order  to know the condition of our hearts. In other words, what kind of soil that the seeds of truth are being planted in, or whether or not the truth will take root for us?  

Ashton states four questions: 

First Question: How honest in heart am I?

Honest-hearted persons are individuals without pretense, without hypocrisy. They are reliable in word and action. They have no “hidden agendas” to deceive others or to misrepresent facts. In contrast, those with conniving hearts will deceive and misrepresent.

Second Question: Do I have a willing heart?

A willing heart describes one who desires to please the Lord and to serve His cause first. He serves the Lord on the Lord’s terms, not his own. There are no restrictions to where or how he will serve.

Third Question: Do I have an understanding, loving heart?

An understanding, loving heart is the pinnacle of all human emotions. As the Apostle Paul said, charity “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (1 Cor. 13:7.) We come closest to becoming Christlike when we are charitable and understanding of others.
One may have many talents and knowledge but never acquire wisdom because he does not learn to be compassionate with his fellow man.
We will never approach godliness until we learn to love and lift. Indifference to others and their plight denies us life’s sweetest moments of joy and service.
Last Question (this taken directly from the Book of Mormon): “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, … can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26; italics added).

Having a “change of heart” at one time in our lives is insufficient to give us an understanding heart today. Helping and understanding a person years ago do not fill us with the love of God today.Christlike love must be continuous and contemporary.
I greatly desire to be pleasing to the Lord, and I hope that my heart is qualified to receive the revelations and insights that He would like me to come to understand. I trust in Him, and know that as I strive to keep my hearts desires pure and unselfish, He will continue to bless me, as He already has in great measure. 
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Testament - Giving without Expectation

Luke 6:33 Principle of loving and giving without expectations

This scripture explains that if we only love those who love us we are only as good as a sinner, because they do the same.

I take care of ill individuals in my employment as a Nurse’s Assistant. One day as I was coming home from work I pondered upon the satisfaction that comes from caring for ill patients. I considered the similarity of taking care of my own children and husband in my home. I wondered why I was able to deal with angry patients with such kindness at times, but that it often seems harder to do this in my own home? My mind was brought to this scripture. I was taught by the Spirit that the reason why I am so happy in my job in the hospital is because I am practicing the principle of giving love and care without anything in return; yet at home I feel that I deserve to be treated a certain way because of the care that I give. I learned that the attitude in my home ; the care and love that I give has been rooted outside of the principles of the gospel. I realized if I followed this principle of giving with out expecting anything in return not only in my employment of caring for sick patients, but in my home – I would be happier as a mother to my children and wife to my husband.
·         New Testament

33And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 

New Testament- What Are Your Motivations?

When reading in Matthew 6 Jesus Christ states that we should not do alms before men. 

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

As I ponder this scripture I know the principle of pure motivations is being taught.  Michael Ringwood of the Seventy calls the principle -  "Truly Good and With Out Guile " in his recent General Conference talk. 

Because only one chapter prior to this principle being taught - Jesus explains that " men should let their light shine before men that they may see their good works and glorify your father who is in Heaven"( Matt. 5:1 ) - we can see that we are commanded to share and be good examples, but the authentic motives are the key indicator to whether or not our actions are pleasing to and glorifying God. 

Michael explains in his talk: " Unfortunately there was a time in my life when I was motivated by titles and authority. I heard so many positive things about my brother serving and being a Zone Leader, I couldn't help but want those things said about me....I learned a lesson about this on my mission......Even more impressive than formal callings are the many who without the calling find ways to consistently serve and lift others." 

I found this quote to be helpful when assessing my own heart and motives? 

" Great men and women are always more anxious to serve than to have dominion." - Spencer W. Kimball 

I take great faith in knowing that the Lord looketh upon my heart and knows the thoughts and intents therein. ( 1 Sam. 16:1 , Alma 18:32 ) 

I desire more than anything to be pleasing to my Father, and I know that His work and His Glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man( Moses 1:39 ), which is done within the gospel of Jesus Christ  - therefore I desire to help strengthen and bring all of my brothers and sisters here on this earth to Him or closer to Him. 

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

New Testament- Be Content With Your Wages

When reading in Luke 3 this week I found John the Baptist's instructions to be a powerful message for us today.
As John was teaching those whom had come to him for baptism, they asked him what they should do to be prepared  in order that they would not be that part that was " cast into the fire " 
( Luke 3:9 ) 
John gave instructions that we too need to follow in order to be prepared for Jesus Christ's Second Coming. 
He answered - 
Luke 3 :
11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?
13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.
14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.
As for myself, I know that I need to give more often of the blessings and things that I have been given, or give of  coats and food.
As for myself, I know that I need to not take unto myself more than is needful. 
As for myself, I know that I need to be happy with the income that my family makes, and not seek to make more money in order that I can have fancier or more entertaining things for myself.
 I need to use the extra time that it would have taken for me to obtain more wages - to be in service to Him in my church callings more fully - reach out to befriend my neighbors better, and most importantly spend that time rather on - teaching my children the gospel through example of righteous work and scripture study. 
Hearing these instructions allowed me to know some changes that I still need to make in myself and the desires of my heart to be more pure before Him.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

New Testament - Would be Men Most Miserable - John The Baptist's Example

This week as I pondered the things that I read and learned in the scriptures, the thing that stuck out in my mind the very most was the sacrifice that John the Baptist made in order to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. I realize that he must have felt very happy to see the day come that he had been preparing individuals for - Jesus Christ's ministry - but I can't imagine how hard that would have been to put in jail and end by being killed. I consider how much John the Baptist must have desired to see the outcome of his work, rather than being in jail. 

This taught me to recognize that sometimes we will never see with our own eyes the efforts of our own work for the Savior, but that we must continue in faith and know that our work is being used for good for the Lord, even if we can not see it at that moment. This also taught me that we must remember that this life is a short time in comparison to eternity. I can imagine John was sad and hurt to know that he was in jail and going to die, but I am certain he held onto his knowledge that having faith in this life only, would make him a man most miserable.
 ( 1 Corinthians 15:19 ) 

My life is changing because of the witness that I have of the past prophets and the way that they sacrificed for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the way that their sacrifices directly affect me. I hope that I can follow their example and give all that I have to the building of God's Kingdom on the earth. 

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Testament - Doctrine of Baptism

The Doctrine that I have chosen to discuss is the requirement of baptism to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Matthew 3 we witness Jesus Christ visiting with John the Baptist in order that John could baptize Him. Of course Jesus was perfect and did not have any sins to be washed away. This led John to explain to Jesus that he could not baptize him; as he was thinking that under this circumstance baptism was not necessary.
Jesus then teaches us the doctrine of baptism and it's necessity for everyone as he states:
Matthew 3:15
And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
We also have many other examples of baptism being a necessary ordinance for exaltation. One is written in the book of John.
In John 3, a Rabbi was discussing with Jesus. Once again Jesus taught this same same doctrine of baptism and exaltation.
John 3:3
Jesus answered and said unto him, verily verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of Heaven.
And then Jesus goes on to explain how the baptism should be performed:
John 3:5
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the Kingdom of God.
Another example is written in Ephesians 4:5 : One Lord , one faith, one baptism.
During the four years that I was called by God to be a Ward Missionary ( one year in a previous ward and three-years in my current ward ), I did come across individuals of various Christian faiths that did not believe the doctrine of baptism in order to receive exaltation. These individuals justified that a belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world was sufficient evidence of being born again, and that a person did not need to follow through with the act of baptism.
Similarly, I am aware of those whom believe that sprinkling of water upon an innocent infant, whom has had no agreeance to their belief in Jesus Christ, even as a historical figure for that matter; as means enough for this baptism that Jesus Christ spoke of.
As I was pondering upon the Perfect, Sinless, Almighty Jesus Christ being baptized I understood more deeply why it was that Jesus Christ followed through on this act of emersion in the water, and that He did not just teach the doctrine, but he also participated in the action Himself.
I understood that Jesus did this because He knew that this doctrine could be easily forgotten or manipulated into a convenient ploy of Priestcraft, where there was no effort necessary for a member to gain membership into a church.
But as Jesus Christ and His works are perfect we were left with His example written in the scriptures, not only the doctrine that we should be baptized, but also after the manner which a person is to be baptized ( by full emersion and by their own free will and choice ).
In the past couple years I have witnessed four adult friends join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after this manner of baptism. Every time that I attended their baptisms I felt the Spirit witness to me and as I imagine my Savior being baptized this very same way...
I know that this is pleasing to Him.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

New Testament - Doctrine of Laying on of Hands to Receive the Holy Ghost

Doctrine of  laying of Hands to Receive the Holy Ghost
In Mark - John explains that he will be able to baptize but that he cannot give the Holy Ghost, but that Jesus will be able to do that.
Mark 1:8 – I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost
When Jesus Christ was living among individuals they did not need the Holy Ghost because they were with Him there guiding them and the Spirit would fall upon them. 
Some have stated that the laying on hands is not necessary because the Holy Ghost falls upon individuals as it did during the day of Pentecost. (After Christ resurrected, returned to the Father, and all of His Disciples gathered to find a replacement for Judas)
Acts 2:4 – “and they were filled with the Holy Ghost “
It is true that the Holy Ghost can fall upon individuals as stated in
 D&C 130:23:
A man may receive the Holy Ghost and it may descend on him and not tarry with him.
However, we have an added witness to this doctrine of the laying on of hands as the apostles had come across individuals whom had been baptized by John, and they still needed to receive the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands, which they proceeded to do.
Acts 19: 2-3
2He said unto them, have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 
3And he said unto them, unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 
5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 
6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.