Monday, February 1, 2016

Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God

Putting it All Together – Emily Turano

In Matt.13 Jesus Christ gives better understanding of what those in the “Kingdom of Heaven " will have done in order to be there. 

In this chapter Jesus gives many examples of “the Kingdom of Heaven” but my personal favorite reads: 

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant man seeking goodly pearls, who when he found one pearl of great price went and sold all that he had and bought it. 

As I visualize this man searching for something good to buy, I see how many people are seeking for something good to spend their time and money on. I see how easy it would be to pick and choose many things of desire, rather than spending all that you have for one great gift - or essentially losing yourself for the Lord. (Luke 9:24) 

I am reminded of a scripture that my older sister Audrey shared with me.

2 Nephi 26:10 states that: 

They sell themselves for things of naught

This scripture is not only about money and buying things of no lasting value in terms of materials but it has a deeper meaning that correlates with what Christ was teaching in Matt.13. 

 To sell yourself or to sell something is to give away something for something else - like a trade.

We give away our time to work and in exchange we get money. 
We give away money to buy a gallon of milk. 

Essentially everything has a cost, and if we are not careful we may be making unwise trades that will not bring us into “The Kingdom of God." 

When we trade too much time for higher wages, hobbies, recognition in our employment, popularity, shopping, tasting, acquiring, and relaxing - we could be giving up deeper experiences that we could have had with God and our families during service to Him, magnifying callings, helping the poor, sick, and afflicted instead.

When we spend too much time on social media, or our favorite television show, 
We could be trading stronger faith and testimony as we have less time to devote to things that invite the spirit like scripture study, temple attendance, and strengthening bonds with immediate family members. 

We can hold a grudge, hang onto to our desires for justice and trade the peace that Christ's Atonement provides through healing as we turn our anger over to Him in humility. 

We trade acquired attributes like patience, faith, and charity when we make the choice to give up on people. Where we could have prayed for help and He would have taught us how to be more enduring and charitable, we could instead trade for the easy way out which is severing relationships. 

One of my favorite all time talks was written by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, titled “Swallowed Up in the Will of The Father ". 

In this talk Maxwell eloquently explains what it means to “choose first the Kingdom of God “by offering our whole selves unto Him as an offering. Maxwell states:

"To the extent that we are not willing to be led by the Lord, we will be driven by our appetites, or we will be greatly preoccupied with the lesser things of the day. The remedy is implicit in the marvelous lamentation of King Benjamin: “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13). For many moderns, sad to say, the query “What think ye of Christ?” (Matt. 22:42) would be answered, “I really don’t think of Him at all!”
"So many of us are kept from eventual consecration because we mistakenly think that, somehow, by letting our will be swallowed up in the will of God, we lose our individuality (see Mosiah 15:7). What we are really worried about, of course, is not giving up self, but selfish things—like our roles, our time, our preeminence, and our possessions. No wonder we are instructed by the Savior to lose ourselves (see Luke 9:24). He is only asking us to lose the old self in order to find the new self. It is not a question of one’s losing identity but of finding his true identity! Ironically, so many people already lose themselves anyway in their consuming hobbies and preoccupations but with far, far lesser things."Each of us might well ask, “In what ways am I shrinking or holding back?” Meek introspection may yield some bold insights! For example, we can tell much by what we have already willingly discarded along the pathway of discipleship. It is the only pathway where littering is permissible, even encouraged. In the early stages, the debris left behind includes the grosser sins of commission. Later debris differs; things begin to be discarded which have caused the misuse or underuse of our time and talent. "

I hope with all my heart that I can spend all that I have to fully consecrate myself and everything that I have for my Savior Jesus Christ and The Eternal Father, whom so lovingly gave me Him. 

My witness and testimony is that as I have come from a place of desire in my life that was self-centered and selfish in the past. I know from experience that devoting ourselves to Him and His work is what brings the very most joy that I have experienced. I don’t know if I will be able to live in His Kingdom yet, but I can honestly say that the thing that brings me the most joy is trying to help build His kingdom upon the earth- today.

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

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