Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cleansing Agent - The Holy Week - Given the Holy Ghost

As I read in John 16 I felt amazement and great joy just as Jesus Christ explained to His disciples what they would feel.  He says as speaking about His coming suffering for our sins and crucifixion,

 “Verily, Verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned to joy. (Like) A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now have sorrow: but I will see you gain, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. “(vs. 20, 21, 22)

What an undeniable prophesy come true that the whole world would rejoice at this event.

 How true that even us as His disciples - in this day – would also have hearts that shall rejoice and no man can take this joy away from us.

As I consider the twelve and few followers that Jesus had as He spoke these words, and as I consider this Holy week celebrated by Christians around the world  ( especially in Latin American Countries ) I hear stories of the parades and reenactments of these sacred events in celebration of Jesus Christ along the streets -  I see how no man could have spoken such a prophesy, and not just any man could have given the world this gift that could never be taken away - He was not just a man – He was the Son of God, and because of Him I will forever rejoice.

I was discussing with a friend a few days ago, and she made the comment that, “We can’t worry or try to be perfect because that will stress us out.” While I understand this thought process, I wanted to share with her exactly why no man will ever be able to take the joy that the Savior gives us.

My response to her was, " I want you to know that you are already perfect because of what Jesus Christ has done for you. (Assuming that you have repented in prayer throughout the week for the things you may need to repent of.)

Jesus Christ would not ask us to do anything that we cannot do, (1 Nephi 3:7) and He has not only asked us to be perfect but He commands it. (Matt. 5: 1)

 Because Jesus Christ took our sins upon Himself - each time that we recognize we have sinned, we can pray for forgiveness, and ask for help to change - given that we do our best to change – we are perfected through Him.

I explained that we do not need to be stressed out about the command to be perfect because – We do not even have to wait until Sunday to partake of the Sacrament in order to know that we have become perfect again through Jesus Christ as we repent– 

The Holy Ghost whom is promised as our constant companion as members of His church is a cleansing agent in our lives.

John 16, as Christ is about to suffer He explains that it is expedient that He should leave in order for us to receive this Holy Ghost or comforter (vs.7)

Obtaining the Gift of The Holy Ghost is also a significant gift that He left us that Holy Week.
For the Holy Ghost is with us cleansing us from our sins each time that we repent.

2 Nephi 31:17 – For the Gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and the Holy Ghost.

Alma 5:54 – They have been brought into this church, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Alma 13:12 – Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence.

3 Nephi 27:20 – Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

Romans 15:16 – That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 6:11 – But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Moroni 6:4 – and after they had been received unto baptism and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ.

I personally testify that because of this gift that our Father in Heaven gave us of His Son, to take upon us our sins , resurrect and leave us with the ability to have the Holy Ghost with us through the Priesthood - we can be full of joy each and every day.

I am very full of joy and I live in deep thankfulness that because of Him I could be made new into a new creature. (2 Corinthians 5:1) and I know that I am being made perfect each day through Him.

I hope that we can all pause and consider the great gift of the Atonement not just today, but every single day. My heart aches at the price that God My Father paid in Giving Us His Son, but I cannot linger there long enough to rejoice as I must at the gift that He has given us of perfection through Christ.

President Eyring stated: “If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost during this day, or even this evening, you make take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in our life. “ (CES FIRESIDE SEPT.06 BYU) 

“Reception of the Holy Ghost is the cleansing agent as the atonement purifies you, and when He is your companion, you can have confidence that the Atonement is working in your life.” (Come unto Christ, BYU Fireside, Oct. 1989)

Or as I also take this - if you have felt the Holy Ghost in your lives today my loved ones, you can know that you are being perfected. What great reason we can rejoice?  In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Easter Hope

This week in our reading we learn very much about whom Jesus Christ and His Father are. 

 In April 2014 President Uchtdorf explains in his address titled " The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship" that there is much distortion about whom our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ really are, as he states in his address:

" Sadly enough my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any Gods at all, they want them to be Gods who do not demand much, comfortable Gods, smooth Gods who do not only don't rock the boat but don't even row it, a God who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds." 

I feel as we read in John 14, 15 & 16 - We especially learn that though God has given us the cure for our terrible illness of sin and death and eventual death, we must follow through with the instructions that He gives in order to have His love and promised blessings. 

Just as we would not go to our family physician to receive instruction in obtaining health- we should not expect to go to the great physician as He can cure us - yet not follow the care plan or instructions given and expect to be healed, or obtain eternal health ( or exhaltation ) from Him.

As I read these chapters it was helpful to consider Elder Russell M. Nelsons, explanations from  his address titled " Divine Love " in Feb. 2003 -

 Nelson's address explains that God's love, ( Also the medicine for our illness of sin ( repentance and the atonement working in our lives ) is not unconditional as the world often considers it.

Nelson states :
" What does conditional mean? The term conditional comes from the latin roots, " con", meaning " with " and " dicere " , meaning " to talk" , thus conditions are based on things that have been communicated verbally." 

Nelson also explains that promises of eternal life, forgiveness of sin, and even His love for us always include statements of condition such as -

if you follow the condition - then the promise is given

Here are some examples in these chapters - 

John 14:7 - IF you know me - Then you know my Father :

  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

John 14:12 - IF you really believe in me - Then you will do the things I do - and even more so than I did in the world 

 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

John 15:10 - IF you keep the commandments - Then you will abide in His love.

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

John 15:14 - IF you  do what I command you - Then you are my friend
 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

John 16:27 - The Father loves you , IF You love Jesus Christ

 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

This Easter as we celebrate the inconceivable gift of the repentance process that our Savior has provided for us in His Atonement, I especially hope that I can remember to also do my part in being worthy of this great gift that He has left for me- as I ponder on what I need to repent  of in prayer , ask for His grace to help me change, and lastly  do the works that I have seen Him do. ( John 14:12 )

  I hope with all my heart that I can be His friend because I have kept His commandments. ( John 15:14 )

The orders from the doctor do help us temporarily , But the orders from Christ our great physician will bless us eternally and most importantly they will show Him that we love Him, and are thankful for His gift of the ressurection and repentance process that He has made available to us. For  IF we truly love Him we will keep His commandments. ( John 14:1 )

I pray that I can be ever mindful of the orders on how to obtain The love of God, and Eternal life - given in the scriptures, temple and from prophets and apostles.

I know that when I make a mistake and sin that I am deeply blessed to be able to repent and be made strong through Him. ( Hebrew 11:34 )

I love Him so very much and
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Do it Unto Them - You Do it Unto Him

As I was reading in Matt.26 this week I felt the love that the woman with an alabaster box full of ointment showed unto Jesus.

   As I read that some of Jesus’ disciples were upset at her actions and telling her that she could have sold the box of ointment and given food to the poor with that money – I paused and wondered if I too might have said that same thing - thinking that is what Jesus would have ultimately wanted?

As I pondered this event - I realized what Jesus was trying to teach His disciples in approving of this action was not so much the importance to Him that He was anointed before His burial, but rather the fact that this woman was hearing the message of the impending events with attentive eagerness to do all that she could to show love unto Jesus Christ during His most needful time of comfort. She was really hearing what He was saying and taking it deep into her heart with a desire to show love.

With our recognition and celebration of these events is coming up (Easter) this has caused me to consider if I am truly attentive, eager and trying to do all that I can to show my Savior Jesus Christ that I am thankful for the Atonement and Gift of Resurrection that He has given to us all?

I have considered if I am following after my own wills? Or if I am following the example of my Savior and saying, “Not my will Lord, but thy Will be done.” (Matt.26:39)

And lastly, I have considered my actions even this day – were my actions a good gift to Him - as this woman with her alabaster box filled with ointment?  Or were my gifts wrapped with selfishness, materialism, and only the scraps left of me inside the box to give?

I consider these words from my Beloved Savior, whom I want to serve better through my actions towards others as He explains:

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

I say this in Jesus Christ’s Holy Name, Amen.

Three Degrees of Glory

As I read this week about the Parable of the Ten Virgins and the Parable of the Talents (Matt.25)
I recognized the great witness that we have in the New Testament which is in harmony with the revelations of Joseph Smith concerning three degrees of Glory. 

As you look at the beginning of these parables in Matt. 25 : 1 Jesus explains that – This is what it will be like in Heaven –

Following Christ goes onto explain the lowest degree of Glory and the ones whom 
“Knew Him not “   (Matt. 25:12)

Then again as Christ begins the Parable of the Talents He again states: “For the Kingdom of Heaven “  (Matt.25:14) explaining again the order that will follow in the next life, or Heaven.

Servants or all of us will have different kinds of talents or circumstances in life. (Matt.25:15)

Following, Christ explains what each servant will be rewarded based on what talents or circumstances that they were given.

Two of the Servants are blessed because of their work to produce more and they are given to “be ruler over many things “ ( Matt.25:21 )

And one servant because he did not produce more with his circumstances or talents had it all taken from him.

From these parables we clearly see that there are different degrees of glory in the next life.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Being Spiritually Prepared

Putting it all together – Emily Turano
In Matthew 24 we see and learn of many of the signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to teach the Relief Society lesson in my ward.  It was helpful for me as I was reading so many signs ( in example: wars and rumors of wars, etc. ) to know that we have been and are given continual counsel on the ways that we can be prepared for the events that will unfold within our lifetimes.
It was a blessing for me to be asked to teach the specific Relief Society that I was asked to teach.
I was asked to teach from the recent G.C. address by Elder Bednar.
This address went perfectly with the parts in the New Testament that I was reading because Bednar’s address was about being spiritually  prepared for the last days, and helping our children be prepared through a system  that he calls “ The early warning system “ .
Here is the outline of the lesson that I was so blessed to write and teach with His help:
Based on concepts learned in “Watching with All Perseverance” – April 2010 – Elder Bednar
1.       A Spiritual early warning system is given to us all. Just as we have warnings for sickness – such as a fever, severe weather – such as alarms and news warnings, etc. We are also given spiritual warnings by God about what we should do to be prepared or to be safe in certain circumstances such as the last days even.

A.      Noah was alerted by God of things that he needed to do to be protected. ( Hebrew 11:7 )
B.      Lehi was warned to leave Jerusalem and take his family into the wilderness because of those who sought to kill him. ( 1 Nephi 2:1-2 )
C.      The Savior Himself was spared through Angelic warning, “ Behold the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying , “ Arise take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word. For Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” ( Matt.2:13 )

2.       What kind of warnings have we been given in our day to spiritually prepare us and our children?

A.      This very address that we are studying is a warning that we need to watch for instructions about what we should do to be prepared.

“Spiritual warnings should lead to increasingly vigilant watching. You and I live in a day of warning and because we have been warned, we need to be as the Apostle Paul admonished, “Watching with all perseverance “(Ephesians 6:18)

B.      On Feb. 28th 2016 Elder Ballard gave some warnings to Seminary Teachers that we should all be aware of and consider how we as Mothers should apply this instruction:
“Each of you needs to consider the changes that you should make in the way that you teach and prepare. Also consider what you teach if you are to build unwavering faith in the lives of our precious youth. Gone are the days when a child asked an honest question and we can respond don’t worry about it? Gone are the days when a child raised a sincere concern and we bore testimony in response to avoid the issue. Gone are the days our children will be protected from those who attack the church. “
C. Consider a warning of how we can be prepared and prepare our children through our Prophets last words to us in his General Conference address titled, “Be an Example and a Light.” :
“I reiterate what we have been told repeatedly that in order to gain and keep the faith that we need, it is essential that we read and ponder the scriptures. “
D.A Promise and warning was also given in his address with the outcome of following his “ Spiritual Warning System” that he recommends:
“ Parents who do these things faithfully will be blessed to recognize early signals of spiritual growth in , or challenges with their children and better prepared to receive inspiration to strengthen and help those children. “ – Bednar, Watching with all Perseverance
3.       What are the steps of the Early Warning System that Elder Bednar teaches?

A.      Reading and talking about the Book of Mormon with your children.

1.       What ways have you found work best for your family to hold scripture study together?
2.       Have you been able to discern your children’s spirituality strengths and weaknesses as you have done this?
3.       “ I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program of reading each day from the Book of Mormon there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the loving reality of the Son of God. These blessings are far more valuable than material possessions. “  - President Hinckley

B.      Bearing Spontaneous Testimony

1.       What blessings have your children gained as you bear testimony unplanned and anywhere – formal and informal?
2.       How has bearing spontaneous testimony blessed your life?
3.       In order to bear testimony spontaneously we must first have our own testimony.
4.       “ Testimony is as elusive as a moonbeam; it is as fragile as an orchid; you have to recapture it ever morning of your life. You have to hold on by study, and by faith and prayer. If you allow yourself to be angry, if you allow yourself to get into the wrong kind of company, you listen to the wrong kind of stories, you are studying the wrong kind of subjects, you are engaging in sinful practices, there is nothing that will be more deadening as to take away the spirit of the Lord from you. That which you possess in testimony is either going to increase or it is going to diminish, depending on you. “  - President Harold B. Lee ( Chapter 5 teachings of the Prophets )

C.      Inviting children as gospel learners to act and not be acted upon

1.       What does it mean to be an agent unto yourself?
2.       James Faust said, “Being acted upon means that someone else is pulling the strings.”
3.       In what ways does the adversary try to pull your strings which leaves room for his control in your life?
4.       How can we teach our children to only be influenced by themselves and the spirit of God?

Bear testimony and ask for additional experiences from students.

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

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

In Your Patience You Possess Your Souls

As I was reading in Luke 21 while considering how it would have felt to be one of the apostles whom the Lord was prophesying ; " they would be hated for his name's sake" and some be " put to death " because of following Him -

I  felt the depth of truth in His last message. He said,


I paused in awe at this message. I thought to myself - if we are to follow Jesus Christ and do as He did ( John 14:12 ) ;
Then how much more patience should I give to those that I know; which are not hating me or wanting to kill me ; but that I struggle to understand at times? Perhaps I feel frustrated or offended at them when I really should do as the Lord instructs His apostles - have patience.....

I felt the depth of the message " in our patience we possess our souls". I understood that sometimes it is the persecutions, lack of respect, or mistreatment by others that actually help me to learn to become more like Him, and do the works that I saw Him do. ( John 14:12 ) 

As I learn to respond in love, and not only respond in love, but to feel love - even in a moment that has caused me pain - this is a large part of getting to know Him. ( Matt.25:12 ) 

I see how this patience will end up saving my soul through Him and His example.

I hope and pray that I can learn the patience that I need to learn. I do desire with all my heart to do better at finding love even in a moment that I feel a need to speak out in defense, or correction. 

I am so very thankful for my Savior whom gives me this example and instruction. I love Him and want to live with Him and serve Him in His kingdom. 

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

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Parable of Two Sons

As I began reading in Matthew 21, I imagined what it might have been like to show Jesus Christ honor and adoration as the multitude did " spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from trees" and placed straw on the path that the donkey would carry Him through the crowd as they shouted " Hosanna, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest." ( Matt.21:8-9 ) 

As I continued reading however, I began to realize that the kind of honor that this multitude was showing Christ was good, but not the extent of honoring that He hopes for us all to show Him. 

I was impressed especially by His message to the Chief Priest and Elders at the temple.

Jesus gives a parable in which two sons were asked by their father to go to work in his vineyard. The first of his sons answered that he would not work in his vineyard, but later he repented and he went to work in his vineyard. 

The second of his son he also asked to go work in his vineyard, this son said yes, he would work in his vineyard, but he " went not " .

To end Christ asked the Priests, " Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, the first. Jesus saith unto them, verily, I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you." ( Matt. 21:28-31 ) 

From this parable I realized that the honor and adoration that Jesus Christ is teaching us to give is our work in His vineyard as we keep our baptismal and temple covenants. 

These Jewish Priests were supposed to be those great religious leaders of their time, yet Christ explains through this parable that just because a person is a member of His church - it does not make them immune from the danger of becoming a Sabbath Day Christian. 

We may go to church on Sunday, lead in our callings, and even serve in various areas; but if we are not like the first son whom repents and gives our all His vineyard beyond Sunday worship, then we would be better off being as he explains " a publican and harlot " that has not made covenants to serve the Lord, but once they do, they do so wholeheartedly. 

As we read the recent General Conference talk , " Are you Sleeping through the Restoration " by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf we can see that we are living in time that is just as exciting as the time that Jesus Christ did ride upon that donkey, and His admirers celebrated Him. 

We learn in Uchtdorf's talk that we may be sleeping through our great and exciting times with in our our realm of history. 

I hope, pray and seek that I can do His work in His kingdom that is here upon the earth in a manner that would be pleasing to Him and allow Him to desire for me to close to Him after I die. 

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

Here is my favorite excerpts from his talk : 

"There is too much at stake for us as individuals, as families, and as Christ’s Church to give only a halfhearted effort to this sacred work.

We Are Living in the Time of the Restoration

Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.”2 Brethren, the exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is one of the most remarkable periods of the world’s history! Ancient prophets yearned to see our day.
When our time in mortality is complete, what experiences will we be able to share about our own contribution to this significant period of our lives and to the furthering of the Lord’s work? Will we be able to say that we rolled up our sleeves and labored with all our heart, might, mind, and strength? Or will we have to admit that our role was mostly that of an observer?
I suppose there are a variety of reasons why it is easy to become a bit sleepy with regard to building the kingdom of God. Let me mention three major ones. As I do, I invite you to ponder if any might apply. If you see room for improvement, I ask you to consider what could be done to change for the better.


First, selfishness.
Those who are selfish seek their own interests and pleasure above all else. The central question for the selfish person is “What’s in it for me?”
Brethren, I am sure you can see that this attitude is clearly contrary to the spirit required to build God’s kingdom.
When we seek self-service over selfless-service, our priorities become centered on our own recognition and pleasure.
Past generations had their struggle with variations of egotism and narcissism, but I think today we are giving them serious competition. Is it any coincidence that the Oxford Dictionary recently proclaimed “selfie” as the word of the year?3
Naturally, we all have a desire for recognition, and there is nothing wrong with relaxing and enjoying ourselves. But when seeking the “gain and praise of the world”4 is a central part of our motivation, we will miss the redemptive and joyful experiences that come when we give generously of ourselves to the work of the Lord.
What is the remedy?
The answer, as always, lies in the words of Christ:
“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”5
Those who wholeheartedly turn their lives over to our Savior and serve God and fellowman discover a richness and fullness to life that the selfish or egotistic will never experience. The unselfish give of themselves. These may be small gifts of charity that have a grand impact for good: a smile, a handshake, a hug, time spent in listening, a soft word of encouragement, or a gesture of caring. All these acts of kindness can change hearts and lives. When we take advantage of the unlimited opportunities to love and serve our fellowmen, including our spouse and family, our capacity to love God and to serve others will greatly increase.
Those who serve others will not sleep through the Restoration.

Competing Priorities

A third obstacle that prevents us from fully engaging in this work is the many competing priorities we face. Some of us are so busy that we feel like a cart pulled by a dozen work animals—each straining in a different direction. A lot of energy is expended, but the cart doesn’t go anywhere.
Often we devote our best efforts in pursuit of a hobby, a sport, vocational interests, and community or political issues. All these things may be good and honorable, but are they leaving us time and energy for what should be our highest priorities?
What is the remedy?
Once again, it comes from the words of the Savior:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”8
Everything else in life should be secondary to these two great priorities.
Even in Church service, it is easy to spend a lot of time just going through the motions without the heart or the substance of discipleship.
Brethren, we as priesthood bearers have committed to be a people who love God and our neighbor and who are willing to demonstrate that love through word and deed. That is the essence of who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Those who live up to these principles will not sleep through the Restoration."
- April 2014 - Dieter F. Uchtdorf - Priesthood Session