I would like to express my gratitude to speak with you today; when I listen to a talk, I rarely take notes or email myself on things a person says. What I like to note are the thoughts that come to my mind when I am feeling the spirit during that talk.
I would invite all of us to listen to our thoughts, and if you feel the spirit, or if it prompts you, I invite you to email yourself or set a reminder to do whatever the Spirit has put in your mind and has invited you to do. If you create this pattern, the Holy Ghost will learn that this is a time where you will listen to Him and He will inspire you in those times in the future as well.
In my opinion, the reason we listen to talks is not to feel the Spirit or to feel good, that is nice, but that alone misses the point. We must be actively listening to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost and what He is inspiring us to change or do.
The world would teach us that we are fine as we are. That we should follow our desires and do whatever we want. We have heard people say, “Jesus loves me as I am” or “Jesus accepts me for who I am” or even “Jesus invited me to come as I am.” Yes, He does. He loves us and invites us to come unto Him. To come as we are….but expects us not to stay that way. He invites us to change. The scriptures sometimes call this a “mighty change of heart” or ‘becoming a new creature”.
The Saviour told the woman caught in adultery to go thy way and “sin no more.” He effectively said, “I do accept you. I do love you. You ARE forgiven. Now go and change your behavior.” He did not say, “I accept you and your behavior, Keep it up.”
Our Father in heaven loves us and wants us to come home to Him. To do this, we need to improve who we are, follow Him and start in the path of becoming like Him and Heavenly Mother. We need to “put off the natural man” and follow His ways.”
If we want to feel comfortable in their presence we must be start growing to become like them.
The Stake theme for this year is to Come unto Him. All of the High Council talks this year are based on that invitation from our Saviour. This is found in Matt 11:28-30
28 ¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The first requirement to get rest or relief is that we need to labor, we must learn of him, and come into Him. Are we, or our ministering families laboring in their families? Are we doing the basics? Family Home Evening, come follow me, and the youth initiative. We must take His yoke, if we want rest. His yoke is our callings and responsibilities. No matter how much we love them, we cannot do this for others; we can only do this for ourselves.
We can be an example, and encourage, but we cannot force or make others follow these promises. The Saviour’s invitation is to come towards Him, not to stay where we are. We come towards Him by learning of Him, emulating His example. Of course we will stumble, we may stumble often, but He has provided the Sacrament for us to repent, and continue our path towards Him and the example he set.
His invitation is followed by a promise, that if we will come unto Him, he will give us rest, spiritual rest. How can He do this? He invites us to take His yoke upon us. Our covenants and our callings are the yokes that connect us to the Lord. We are linked to Him when we do what He would do, act as He would act, and minister and serve as He would serve.
In ward conference, you all saw the example of President’s Beyler and Mckell yoking themselves together. If one of them tried to go in the wrong direction, the yoke would keep them together on the path. By covenanting with the Lord and staying yoked to Him, or continuing to try in our callings and covenants, He will bring us back to the path. So then, why do we sometimes resist the yoke of covenants, callings and families? It is usually because of Pride, lack of faith, or selfishness. Our yokes connect us to the Saviour; they help us see others as He sees them and help us to serve others as He serves them.
This scripture teaches that we can find rest unto our souls. How can a calling or responsibility bring rest? This may seem counterintuitive. Have you ever been tired or heavily burdened going to a meeting or ministering visit, but when you went there you felt the spirit, and were replenished? When the spirit is present, it rejuvenates us; it gives us energy and is as rest for our souls.
Often times the work week can stress me out and I find myself looking forward to Sundays, church service, or serving my family during the week because as I serve others it is a rest from my daily work. It can rejuvenate me. Much of this depends on my attitude; if I go about my calling grudgingly I do not find that rest.
When we take upon us His covenants and fulfill our callings it is a rest from the cares of the world and we can find peace amid life’s turmoil’s and difficulties. When we serve others our thoughts and concerns change to help others and we forget our own cares and concerns. This is discipleship and what we need to practice to become like Him.
My mom knew this principle well. She struggled with cancer most of her adult life. It had deformed her body, limited her movement, and altered her personality dramatically. Cancer was a burden she bore most of her life. I cannot fathom the weight of dealing with a life-threatening disease over and over again. She had 4 different types of cancer. It seemed each time she would eliminate a cancer, a new type would infect her body. She knew well that serving others would lift her burden and cares during that service.
She had an acronym that she lived by. HIDAGITWT.
This was taped to the fridge at my home growing up. It means Have I Done Any Good In The World Today? She lived it. As my mother was struggling with cancer the Relief Society was taking her dinner; it was the assignment of Tracy Santos that day. As Tracy came to the house loaded with food, my mom was on her way out to deliver a meal to Nona Quist that was struggling with her own health issues. My mom needed to spend time lifting another’s burdens so that her burden could be lifted during that time. Even when her health made her too sick to leave the house, she would make a phone call or leave or mail a letter to lift someone else.
The reason we are here is to change… to become more like our HF, we are here to ACT on the Spirit, to make goals, and progress. Then we come next week and repent of what we were not able to accomplish and become a little better, until we mess up again the next week, and repeat the process.
Today, quarantine protocols, protests and sometimes riots threaten to rob us of our peace of mind and well-being. These are unique times that we are living in. Contentions and brotherly love can seem to be very cold in the world today. But the Lord invites us to come unto him, to leave the things of this world and focus on Him and His gospel. If we are feeling down or depressed or fearful, He is the answer. The more we seek Him, the more we will have His peace in our lives.
The Lord teaches us about our natural inclinations in Mosiah 3:19. For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever.
We all have the natural man, it is necessary, it is part of our journey here on this earth and it serves an important purpose. Some of us might be attracted to alcohol or drugs, some of us might be attracted to same sex individuals or multiple individuals of the opposite sex. The world would teach that if we have an inclination to do something, we should act on it because only being our true selves and acting on these carnal desires can we be truly happy. Society has seen a dramatic shift in norms since the 1960s and there have been dramatic consequences because of it. According to www.yale.edu the percentage of babies born out of wedlock was about 8% in 1964. This number of children born to unwed mothers jumped dramatically to about 18% by 1980, by 1990 this number rose to 29%, and at the end of the study in 2014 that number rose to about 40%. When we follow out the process of seeking our natural desires we see that it will eventually lead to bondage, sorrow and destruction. The proclamation to the family teaches that all babies deserve to have a mother and a father; it gives them the best chance of success in life. Adam Carolla though Prager University taught that “Every problem we have today – drugs, prison, gangs, domestic violence, stems from broken families. Like recalling a bad medication, stop chasing the side effects and get to the root cause.”
The scripture tells us what the Lord expects us to do with the natural man: Mosiah 3:19 continues: unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
Ether 12: 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
It is God that gives us our weaknesses. He is the one that commanded noxious weeds be spread on the Earth for our sakes. He is the one that allows the adversary to have the power to tempt us. I know I struggle with weakness and temptation in my life, as we all do. I have studied out this scripture and applied it personally.
I promise you that if you recognize your weaknesses, and truly humble yourselves, with effort, over time weak things will certainly be made strong; I have proven this scripture true many different times in my life. This is a pattern the Lord wants us to use and become familiar with for ourselves and so that we can teach this same pattern to our children.
First, we must come unto God. As we read the scriptures, and follow the counsel of our living prophets, we cannot help but see our shortcomings. This is Him showing us our weaknesses. Our weaknesses are a gift and recognizing them makes us humble. Thomas Carlyle taught that “the greatest of all weaknesses is to be conscious of none”. If we think we have overcome and do not have any more weaknesses as a Latter day Saint, we are wrong.
Each Sunday we have a chance to prepare to partake of the Sacrament, to recognize our weaknesses and work on it, repent and be better. Church is not just a day to listen and be inspired by messages, it is a work day, a day to repent and improve and come unto him. Recognizing our weaknesses is so important because it makes us humble. Humility is a requirement of the Celestial kingdom. We cannot enter without it.
Matthew 18: 3-4. “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven”
When I think about all the laws the Lord has given us, it is to protect our freedoms, or our ability to choose. Following the law of chastity protects us from having a child before we are ready and prepared, following it also blesses the child with 2 parents that are committed to the child and each other giving that child the best chance for success in life. Following the word of wisdom protects us from becoming addicted to alcohol, drugs or other substances that can dramatically alter our success and happiness in life.
I have a friend that was addicted to drugs that wasted over a decade of his life and will suffer the rest of his life for getting caught up in this addiction. I did a DNA test to see my heritage, but I also found out the diseases and sicknesses that are in my blood line. Alcoholism is a very high risk factor for me personally, I am very grateful that I have had the word of wisdom to protect me and help me keep my freedom.
We are given weakness that we may be humble and rely upon the Lord. Self-deception is comfortable and safe, easy and natural. It’s also limiting and destructive. To meet the needs of ourselves and others, we must admit failure, learn from it, and modify our behavior for positive future outcomes. Shortcuts do not work with God’s laws. When we try and find exceptions to His rules that our given for our protection, we are only cutting out a portion of our safety.
As we come to church, if we aren’t repenting, the spirit will remind us of our sins when the spirit is there. If our youth are coming to church and not coming repented, they can relate sorrow for sin, and guilt with church. We should be feeling joy and peace at church. That is the fruit of repentance.
We must help our kids understand the spirit will teach us what we need to do so we can be good with our Father in Heaven; to be humble and repent so they can have peace and joy. We must all humble ourselves, and realize His laws are for our ultimate protection, and overcome the natural man, and obey God’s laws, they bring us true happiness and peace and following his laws is the cure to all that ails the world and our families today.
We may not be able to change the world, but we can change the world of our spouses and our children by striving to be better and coming unto Him.
I hope that as you have listened to the Spirit today it has inspired you as to some of the things the Lord want you to improve, perhaps shortcuts you should stop taking. Applying his inspiration will better your life and your family’s lives.
As you work on overcoming these weaknesses, The Lord will strengthen you as you put in the work and He will shape you to become the person he would have you be, along with the eternal joy and happiness that are sure to come.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.