Sunday, March 28, 2010

Let Them Worship What They May

The 11th Article of Faith reads:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may.

I think President Dieter Uchtdorf sums this up very well when he stated;

"When my own family contemplates the phrase “faith of our fathers,” often it is the Lutheran faith that comes to mind. For generations our ancestors belonged to that denomination. In fact, my son recently discovered that one of our family lines connects back to Martin Luther himself.

We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who have loved God, even without having the fullness of the gospel. We lift our voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father."

I have so many friends who belong to so many different faiths. I respect and admire them for their dedication to their beliefs and worship. They help make this world a better place and I am grateful for that.

I am grateful that we live in a country where we have freedom of religion and can practice our beliefs openly. I know that this great land of America was consecrated for this very purpose. God desires for us to have these freedoms and to have our free agency. I am grateful for this blessing and this I say in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Savior's Return - Are You Ready?

The tenth article of faith reads:

10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

This is something I think about daily. We can see this is progress in our day which to me is very exciting.

Isa. 11:11-12

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

“And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth”

Just as the Lord had gathered the house of Israel the first time under the leadership of Moses, he promised to gather them a second time after their long dispersion. The Lord told Jeremiah that this second gathering would be a glorious event (Jer. 16: 14-15).

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we are taught that we are living in the last days and we will witness the signs of the times in our day. We are taught which signs to look for in the scriptures. Though frightening to some, it is exciting to me because the sooner these signs come to pass the sooner the Savior will be here. I look forward to this day very much and I think about it each day. I am doing all I can to prepare me and my loved ones for this great event.

In 1977 Bruce R McConkie stated:

“I shall speak of the gathering of Israel and of the building up of Zion in the last days. As we all know, the Lord scattered Israel among all the nations of the earth because they forsook him and broke his commandments. As we also know, he is now gathering in the lost sheep of Israel and laying upon them the obligation to build up his latter-day Zion.

This gathering of Israel and this budding of Zion in the last days occurs in stages. The early part of the work, which involved gathering to the United States and building stakes of Zion in North America, has already been accomplished. We are now engaged in gathering Israel within the various nations of the earth and of establishing stakes of Zion at the remote parts of the earth.

Zion shall be built up—she shall obtain that perfection and glory which is hers—when the Lord appears in his glory. She shall then become as she once was. This will be during the Millennium when the restoration of all things is completed. Zion shall be perfected after the second coming of Christ.

But in the meantime, and as of now, the Lord has laid upon us the responsibility to lay the foundation for that which is to be. We have been commissioned to prepare a people for the second coming of the Son of Man. We have been called to preach the gospel to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. We have been commanded to lay the foundations of Zion and to get all things ready for the return of Him who shall again crown the Holy City with his presence and glory. Our call to all men everywhere is, “Come to Zion, come to Zion, and within her walls rejoice.

This is a work of great magnitude and importance. There is no work like it in all the world. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest thing in heaven or in earth. We rejoice in the glorious truths of heaven we have received. We praise the Lord for his goodness and grace. And we know within ourselves of the truth and divinity of these things.

By the revelations of the Holy Spirit to my soul, I know this work in which we are engaged is true. I know the Lord’s hand is in it. I know that we will be successful in our labors. The day will come when the knowledge of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. …This is the Lord’s work. It is true, and I so testify in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

This is a topic that I talk about often with my family and I could talk about if hours. From what I have been told in my Patriarchal blessing I will participate in this great work. I know that we are closer to this event than most of us realize and that some of the signs that must come to pass may occur after the Savior has returned, which is why it is important to realize that it could happen very soon. Many of us think that all the signs must occur before Christ returns but if that were the case then we would all be ready because we have been counting down these signs. We might say, “Oh there is still plenty of time. Certain sign have not come to pass yet.” It’s important to know that Christ will return in an hour when we least expect and many of us who were watching for the signs will be caught off guard.

So know this; “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”. Follow the counsel of the prophets. Be prepared in all areas of your life. Have a 1-2 year supply of food storage and emergency essentials. Become pure in heart and humble. Be ready to heed the call of instruction from prophets, leaders and the Lord. Pay close attention to the Spirit and he will guide you through this. Most importantly do not fear. Be of good cheer and look for the good in all things. Be a beacon of light for those around you as the dark times that lie ahead spring upon us. Have faith in the Lord and He will take you by the hand.

What a magnificent day it will be when the Lord returns and there is peace on Earth again. I look forward to this day each and every day of my life. Be prepared, be prepared. This I say in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

God Reveals in Our Day

The 9th article of faith reads:

9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

The scriptures contain many past revelations from God through the words of the prophets and from God Himself. Though many of these revelations were for the people of ancient times we also believe that many of them were given for our day.

Today God sends revelation though our modern day prophet Thomas S. Monson. Through General Conference and the Ensign magazine we receive revelation each month from God for our day. Believing and following this revelation will help us through hard times to come and help us through challenges we may have today. It also gives us hope and helps us live our lives in accordance to the Lord.

We know that God continues to send revelation down from heaven and that He will continue to reveal important things to us that will help us in our day and time.

I remember when I was a newly wed about 9 years ago and the prophet at the time gave us new revelation that women in the church should only wear one pair of earrings. I remember at the time I had seven piercings in my ears because I had previously worked in a jewelry store and piercing ears was part of my job. It was in style at the time and I loved all my little silver hoops and diamonds. It was difficult for me to understand at the time and I was hesitant to follow this counsel.

It then occurred to me that we are not ever asked to “understand” God’s commandments, counsel and revelations, just to follow them. If I wasn’t able to follow something as simple as wearing one pair of earrings then what would happen down the road when something greater was asked of me. I knew that the Lord often tests our loyalty to Him through small ways. If we can handle the small things then we will be prepared for the bigger things to come. I knew what I needed to do.

Now that I am a mother I look back at all the counsel I had been asked to follow in the past that did not make sense at the time and I can see God’s wisdom now. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we need stand out among the world and not blend in with the world. Blending in with the world clouds our light and it is difficult for others to recognize our values and where we stand.

I remember in high school many people were surprised when they learned that I was LDS. I didn’t understand why. I went to church, to seminary, and was active in my callings – why did I blend in with the world? It is clear to me now that the way I dressed back then, the people I hung out with, the music I listened to and the guys I dated are a clear reason why people made this assumption. I blended in. I was attracting the wrong kind of guys which was drawing me away from real happiness. Had I listened to the words of the Lord and the prophets I would have stood out more – my light would have shown brighter.

I know that the Lord knows us individually and he knows our struggles, our challenges and our weaknesses. He gives us revelation to help us in a dark and dreary world. If we believe it and follow it we will be led back to him. He has not forgotten us and he continues to speak to us through revelation. We just need to listen and follow. I say these words in the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.