"There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah"
2 Nephi 2:8 (The Book of Mormon)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What Shall be the Sign of thy Coming?

In Matthew 24, the Savior lays out for His followers the signs which will fill the world before His Second Coming.  As you read through this list of precursors to His return, see if  you can find even one that isn't readily identifiable in our world today.

5- False Christ's will rise and deceive many.
6- There will be wars and rumors of wars.
7-There will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places.
9- Followers of Christ will be hated for His name's sake.
10- Many will be offended (think of our politically correct culture).
People will betray and hate one another.
11- False prophets will rise and deceive many.
12- Because of wickedness, the love of many will wax cold.
14- The gospel will be preached in all the world; 
and then shall the end come.

He goes on to comfort, assure, warn and counsel His faithful followers who will abide the day.
6- See that ye be not troubled.
15- When you see these signs, stand in the holy place.
22- Those days will be shortened for the sake of the elect.
28- Wheresoever the carcase (Christ's Church) is, there will the eagles (the elect) be gathered together.

Who are the elect? 

In D&C 29:7 we learn that the elect are those who hear the voice of God and harden not their hearts.

In Colossians 3:12-17, we learn that those who are filled with charity, the perfect love of Christ, are the elect.

Christ  tells us the signs of His coming because He wants ALL to be prepared for His return. It is up to each of us to do our part to be counted among the elect.  We must seek out holy places in which to stand.  Our own homes must become places of refuge from the deluge of filth so celebrated in society.  We must seek out true and pure sources of His voice and receive His word with gladness.  We must pray for God's grace in developing the pure love of Christ and then give our best effort in learning to love as He does. 

We are blessed to live in the last days before the Savior will return to redeem His people!  As we choose to stand with Christ, we choose to stand in His safe-keeping.  Over the next two weeks we will study out His admonition for those who will follow Him.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Choose to Receive!!!

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have heard many times from friends not of my faith, that mine is a religion which focuses too much on "doing" and not enough on "being".  This is a valid concern, which I am grateful that loved ones have shared so freely with me.  It is my hope today, to share with you my understanding of the companionship principles of "doing" and "becoming".

I believe that God calls His essential list of "dos" and "don'ts" Commandments, not suggestions, for a reason.  He knows that a life dedicated to this discipline, is one filled with joy and freedom from unnecessary bondage and misery.  In addition, Christ teaches,
"If ye love me, keep my commandments."

Obedience is a demonstration of love for our Father in Heaven.

Towards the end of Christ's mortal ministry, He pronounced woes upon the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy.  They did so many of the right things (i.e. tithed, fasted, prayed) for the completely wrong reasons.  In the 23rd chapter of Matthew, Christ condemns them saying,
5- All their works they do for to be seen of men
13- Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ invites us to do our alms in secret and not for the glory of men, affirming that our "Father, which seeth in secret, Himself shall reward thee openly".  From this we learn that the action, while essential, is merely a fraction of what He is looking for.  His focus is on the heart or the motivation behind our actions.  Do we do the right things so that others will think that God is first and foremost in our lives?  OR do we do the right things because God IS first and foremost in our lives?  It is possible to do all of the right things and still have your heart removed far from Him.

As a Latter-day Saint it is my life's purpose to learn of my Savior and to give my best effort in patterning my walk after His.  Ultimately, through His grace and mercy, I hope to one day become like Him.  This requires that I not only strive to follow what He did, but that I seek His grace in developing the internal virtue that motivated His actions.  As I study the life of the Savior, it becomes more clear that everything He did was motivated by LoveLove of His Father... and Love for each of us.

 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.

Here's the beautiful thing!  As we demonstrate our love for God through obedience, we choose to be in His presence and receive His love.  As we experience His love and goodness... our nature's are gradually changed and we become filled with His love.  This in turn springs up obedience from a  more sincere place.  It is a continual cycle which turns deeper and deeper into our souls.  God's love is unconditional but our ability to receive His love is not.  Receiving His love and goodness is a moment to moment choice.  As we make the effort, as flawed as it may be, His grace carries us the distance!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Come Forth!

In the 11th chapter of John, we read the account of Lazarus who was a dear friend of the Savior.  One day while Christ was with his disciples, Mary and Martha, Lazarus' sisters, sent for Him saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 
17- When Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.  
The sisters were distraught and Martha cried, 
21-Lord if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  But I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 
25- Jesus said unto her,  I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. 
When Mary heard that Christ had arrived she arose quickly and came unto him.  When she saw him, she too fell down at His feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  Jesus, hurting for his beloved friends wept.  
41- Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid.  And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me...
43- And when He thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, 
Come Forth.
44- And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin.  Jesus saith unto them, 
Loose him, and let him go.

This story has powerful application for each of us!  For His friends, Christ performed this life restoring miracle.  How do we become friends of the Savior... so that we too can receive His life giving power in our lives?  In John 15:14 Christ teaches

Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Obedience demonstrates love for and devotion to Him.  Obedience indicates our desire to have His companionship and blessing in our lives.  As we become His friends we gain access to His power to free us from those things which bind us and ultimately bring death.  His invitation fills me with hope and assurance!  Christ invites us to leave the remnants of death behind and come to something far greater... Him!  In Him lies freedom and life... life here and now... and life everlasting!  

"The passage of time has not altered the capacity of the Redeemer to change men's lives.  As He said to the dead Lazarus, so he says to you and me: '...come forth.'  Come forth from the despair of doubt.  Come forth from the sorrow of sin.  Come forth from the death of disbelief.  
Come forth to a newness of life.  Come Forth!"

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Eternities

I want to use today's post to respond to a question my cousin asked after reading the post "Our Father's Love" earlier this week.  She wrote...  

What do you mean by the word eternities? I know we have talked about having a different "language" within our different belief system. I was just wondering about your definition of this word. Thanks for your love and patience with me! Hugs, Erin

Thank you... thank you... THANK YOU Erin for your love and interest!  It touches my heart deeply that you would take the time to first of all read my blog and secondly engage in discussion about it! Historically, I have taken inquiries about my blog and have either written a personal email or had a phone conversation answering the question.  The spirit quickly directed me this time towards a written post.  One of my main goals with this blog is to open up discussion on the Savior and His gospel.  I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share a little of my heart with you about the Savior and today, specifically, concerning the eternities.  The question becomes... how in depth shall we go???  This post will give a basic overview of my belief as a Latter day Saint on the subject of eternal life.  I am always excited to go deeper if you would like.  Let me know!

The use of the word "eternities" as opposed to "eternity" in my mind simply emphasizes the infinite nature of time.  Everlasting to everlasting is a common phrase found in the scriptures illustrating this concept.  The present moment we are in lies smack in the middle of the eternities...infinite time before now and infinite time to come.  This life is merely a blip on the eternal timeline.  Each of us are here to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling before God. (see Philipians 2:12 & Mormon 9:27)   We "are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil". (see 2Nephi 2:27-30)  The Father's ultimate goal is to make us joint-heirs with Christ, crowning us with His eternal glory. (see Romans 8:16-17)  I love the following words of Peter, which sum all of this up beautifully.  
5-... be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
6- Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time:
10-  But the God of all grace who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
1 Peter 5

Mormons interpret this doctrine literally.  Ask yourself, 

"What is it that Christ has inherited and as a joint-heir with Him... what does that mean I will inherit?"

"What is the eternal glory of the Father that each of us are called to?"

Because of Christ's atoning sacrifice I can be made whole and become perfected like unto my Father.  Through the merits of He who is mighty to save, I can return to live with God my Father and pattern my eternity after His eternity... receiving His eternal glory.  I marvel at His love and goodness... His grace and mercy.  His generosity and vision for my life never cease to fill me with awe.  I truly am one who stands ALL amazed!

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