"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, September 25, 2011

Just a Thought

This has been a very busy week for me!  I was hoping to have time to write my post today, but am just now getting to the computer and it is 10:00 at night!  So I thought I would simply share a scripture with you from my study of the book of Romans this week.  I love Paul... he is absolutely inspirational to me!  In Romans 12:1-2 he says,

I beseech you therefore, bretheren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to the world: but be ye transformed to the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

This week, I invite you to sincerely seek God's will in your life.  Ask Him how He would use you and what He would have you do.  Commit to follow through on the promptings you will receive.  Your will is the only thing you truly have to offer God.  I have found a deep sense of peace and fulfillment as I have made genuine effort to conform my will to His and to sacrifice my wants and needs to His vision.  I would love to hear about your experiences!  Have a beautiful week!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Is It I?

In the 26th chapter of Matthew we read the account of the Savior's last supper with His disciples before His Atonement and crucifixion.

20- Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.
21- And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22- And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, 
Lord, is it I?

It is deeply touching to me that each of the eleven, with great love for the Savior and awareness of their own weakness, would feel concern that the traitor could possibly be them self.  Doesn't it strike you that not even one of them said, "Is it Judas?  He totally seems like the traitor type!"  Their response serves as a great pattern for each of us who love and honor the Lord.  

Have you ever noticed how it is almost instinctive, when hearing a call to repentance, for your mind to immediately jump away from yourself over to another person in their perceived weakness?  Rather than openly and honestly take a look at your own human frailty, so frequently the enemy of your soul diverts your attention from your own shortcoming and turns a critical eye onto another.  In so doing, he not only succeeds at keeping you stuck in your own errant ways... he leads you to commit another sin of unrighteous judgment. 

I will never forget my father telling me of a time he had stewardship over a group of saints who were being torn apart by a particular sin.  One man, specifically, seemed to be the leader of this destructive practice.  My dad, knowing that he must call the group to repentance, prayerfully prepared a direct and pointed message.  He felt deep concern over the possible offense that could be taken by this man in particular.  Relying on the Lord, he stood before the body and delivered the inspired sermon.  After the meeting concluded, he sat at the front of the room and noticed the man walking toward him.  He silently prayed for guidance as he anticipated a difficult discussion.  To his surprise, the man shook his hand and said, "Thank you so much for that wonderful talk.  The whole time I couldn't help but wish that Sister So and So would have been here!  She really struggles with that!"  Dumbfounded, my dad quietly nodded and left shaking his head.  How blind we can be to our own weakness! 

The disciples example of, "Is it I?" is one of powerful trust in the merits of the Savior.  What grace! What power!... can come into our lives as we strive to honestly view our own human fallibility through the lens of Christ!  The desire to overcome our weakness, to do better, and to become a little more are met with a sense of sufficiency and hope which only Christ can give.  This introspective approach enables us to turn our weakness over to the Savior in exchange for His strength.   How blessed we are to be loved so completely by the incomparable Savior!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dividing His Sheep from the Goats

I want to discuss with you one more parable the Savior gave to His disciples to help us prepare for His return.  Once again He illustrates the correlation between developing charity and being counted among His elect.
31- When the Son of man shall come in his glory...
32- And before him shall be gathered all nations:  and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33- And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34- Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35- For I was an hungred and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
37- Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty and gave thee drink?
40- And the King shall answer and say unto them, 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.
41- Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42- For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
45- Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46- And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The distinguishing characteristic between the goats and the sheep is charity demonstrated through loving action.  The sheep cared for their fellow man and the goats did not.  It's as simple as that!  Isn't it funny how it always boils down to love 

Why is this?  Love is the very essence of who God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ are.  If we want to dwell in their presence we must become like them.  Knowing that we are created not only in the image of God, but also in His likeness... we can trust that love is fundamental to who we areAs we demonstrate our love for the Savior through obedience to His commands His love pours out freely upon us.  As we feel of His love, we can't help but internalize it.  Consequently, we become vehicles of Christ's love and it naturally extends to those around us through loving action.  Charity, the pure love of Christ, is the ultimate evidence of the converted heart.  Charity never faileth!

For more thoughts on Charity... check out my post "It's ALL about Love"

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Oh Be Wise!

In the 25th chapter of Matthew, Christ gives a powerful parable stressing the importance of constant personal preparedness for His Second Coming.  The parable of the Ten Virgins is a warning for each of us that NOW is the time to prepare for His return.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” 

What does the oil represent and How do I fill my vessel?
The oil is a representation of spiritual preparedness.  This type of oil is accumulated by righteous living, one choice at a time... one drop at a time.  As we exercise the faith necessary to walk in line with God's will, He in turn strengthens our faith and righteous living becomes natural and instinctive.  As we discussed last week, those who are prepared (the elect) are those who "hear the voice of God and harden not their hearts" and those who are filled with charity.  A life devoted to the becoming of these qualities is the life of filling one's vessel.

In this process, the fundamental need for the grace (enabling power) of Jesus Christ cannot be overstated!  Each of us will misstep at times.  I am SO grateful for a loving Father who tenderly beckons me back into His fold through the infinite Atonement of His Son.  Drawing on His grace is essential to filling my vessel.

Why didn't the wise share their oil?
"The wise were not unkind or selfish when they refused oil to the foolish in the moment of truth. The kind of oil needed by all of us to light up the darkness and illuminate the way is not shareable."

"How can one share the blessings that come through visiting the sick? How can one share in the blessings that come from assisting the widow or the fatherless? How can one share a personal testimony? How can one share the blessings of conference attendance? How can one share the lesson of obedience learned in living the principle of tithing? Certainly each must accumulate this kind of oil for himself. Let us not procrastinate. Midnight is so far and yet so close to those who have procrastinated. “But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure. …” (Hel. 13:38.) "

Now is the time to prepare to meet God!  What a gift it is to live a life of devotion to the Father!  The peace and assurance that are born of this commitment are beyond price.  Don't be one who falls victim to the fallacy that midnight will never come.  While no man knows the day or hour that the Son will come... we can be certain that He indeed will return to redeem His people!  The signs He gave as a warning for those who would follow Him are upon us!  The responsibility to fill our lamps is one which we must not procrastinate.  Today is the day to seek His grace in walking in His will!

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