Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Power of Ordinances

 1 Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant William, yea, even the Lord of the whole earth, thou art called and chosen; and after thou hast been baptized by water, which if you do with an eye single to my glory, you shall have a remission of your sins and a reception of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands;
 3 And on whomsoever you shall lay your hands, if they are contrite before me, you shall have power to give the Holy Spirit.
Doctrine & Covenants 55:1, 3.

The Fourth Article of Faith teaches us that baptism is “for the remission of sins”.  So at what exact point does the remission of sins happen?
          A.    When the baptismal prayer is said?
          B.     When they are under the water?
          C.     When they come out of the water?
          D.    Other?

Notice in the verses from the scriptures above, there is a condition with the ordinances: “If you do with an eye single to my glory,” “if they are contrite...” So is it possible that the ordinance could be performed without a remission of sins?

Perhaps the answer is found in the truth that with every ordinance there are the Outward aspect, and the Inward aspects.  The outward aspects are proper priesthood authority, the prayer said correctly, immersion, etc…  The inward is the thoughts and commitments to the Lord that need to be happening.  

As a Church, I think we do a great job seeing that the outward aspects of ordinances are done correctly.  But how are we doing individually with the inward aspects of what should be recommitted in our hearts and minds?  For instance, the last time you took the sacrament, did you consciously recommit yourself to following the Savior?  Or did you just go through the motions of partaking of bread and water with little, if any, thought of your commitments to the Lord, and the promises that come with the Sacrament? 

Today’s Takeaway: Doctrine & Covenants 84:20 teaches that, “In the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.” The power to become godly men and women comes from participating in the ordinances; the power comes from, not just the outward aspects, but by the full inward commitment at the same time.  The next time you partake of the Sacrament, or any ordinance, don’t allow yourself to go on “Spiritual Autopilot”.  Deliberately think through how you will strive to better follow Him.  This is when we start to feel the power of God in a greater way in our lives through the ordinances.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

High Yield, Low Maintenance

26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
 27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
 28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
 29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.
Doctrine & Covenants 58:26-29

I’ve told youth that those verses are the perfect formula to getting their parents to trust them more and give them more freedom.  For adults, it is the secret to getting a promotion at work and a good deal of success in life. Read the verses again and look for the powerful secrets for living.
In the Church, there seems to be two types of members:
High Yield, Low Maintenance members 
Low Yield, High Maintenance members

In wards and branches, there are the 10% that do 90% of the work, and there are the 10% of people that demand 90% of your efforts.  So what kind of member are you in God’s kingdom here on the earth?  Yes, there are times in our lives that roles are reversed and we need a great deal of help, but are we generally contributing? Like the scripture refers to, do you have to be told to do something before it gets done? Or do you do good for others, just because you saw it needed to be done?

Today’s Takeaway: Consider some act of kindness you can do for a family member, or someone you know.  Don’t wait for an assignment.  Make the world a better place because you were here. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

"Thou Shalt Love..."

PictureThou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.
Doctrine & Covenants 42:22

“We fell in love.” “We grew apart.” “We just don’t love each other like we used to.” Society often talks about love like it is some passive experience that just happens to you by accident.  You fall in love like one would fall into a ditch. Like it is a state of being in which you have little control.  

The Lord does not feel that way about love. One might say, “But I just don’t love my spouse anymore.” Notice in the scripture above that the Lord does not say, “Thou shalt be in love with thy spouse.” We are commanded to love them. The word in the verse is a command using an action verb. We are commanded to do something: love. Another way to say the verse could be, “Thou shalt act in a loving manner with thy wife with all they heart…”  So how does one “love” another? Remember all the things you would do when you were courting: the kind note, the compliments, the thoughtful words, the shoulder rub, the act of sacrifice and service? 

But one might say, “I just don’t feel like doing those things anymore.” Yet notice God is not requesting, “If you should feel inclined, love your spouse.”  It is a command! The funny thing is, if we will do those things, we will find it changes our own hearts.  We love those whom we act in a loving way towards. The act of loving leads to feeling love. 

Today’s Takeaway: Whom has God called you to love?  If you are married, what acts of love would the Lord have you show today?  If you are single, what family members would God want you to show love towards?  Plan and carry out an extra act of love today, and see if it doesn't increase your love for that person God has purposely placed in your life. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Blurred Lines

And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.
Doctrine & Covenants 42:23

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has some rules about content and what is pornographic. If a show shows certain parts of a body (X, Y, and Z) then it is pornographic and can’t be shown on TV. As you know, those lines have gotten blurred and moved over the years.

So what are God’s lines on what is pornographic? Are they the same as the FCC? In Doctrine & Covenants 42:23 we have God’s definition of what is pornographic and evil. As I read the verse, it is whatever causes sexual feelings towards someone you are not married to.  We are to avoid any medium (TV show, images, book, magazine, websites) where there is content that would stir lust. There is an order to this: verse 22 describes the ideal marriage, verse 24 talks about the sin of adultery, and the verse in between is about lust.  I think the message is that one is leading to the other so stay let’s stay with cleaving to our spouses with all our hearts in verse 22.  Naturally the rule is the same if you are not married.

Today’s Takeaway: Is there an area where you have been compromising with pornography (not by the world’s standard but God’s standard of pornography)? Get rid of those media and books.  Take away the ability to access those things that kill. Remove that slow acting poison out of your house and life immediately. It will hurt more than just yourself. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Autopilot Prayers

PictureAnd the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.
Doctrine & Covenants 42:14

So how do we get the Spirit in our lives? As the verse says, the answer is, the “prayer of faith”.  But is there a difference between just a “prayer” and a “prayer of faith”? I think there is.  Faith is a principle of action. Imagine you are in a class and in the opening prayer the person says, “Help us to feel the Spirit… help us to apply these things in our daily lives.”  So when they say those things, are you thinking about how you are going to make that happen? Are you going to keep yourself free of distractions in class because the prayer said, “Help us to feel the Spirit”? The “faith” in the “prayer of faith” is you doing all you can to make it happen.  To consciously pray with intent instead of praying on autopilot.

Do you know what the word “Amen” means that we use at the end of all of our prayers?  It means that you agree to what has been said or “so let it be”. In a group setting, when you say amen, you are telling God that you are agreeing to everything that the other person just said.

But is saying “Amen” just an autopilot response for you? Do you say it just because that is what you’ve decided you’re supposed to do?

Today’s Takeaway: Today, try to consider everything that you are saying in your own prayers, and what is said in others’ prayers. If you are going to say “amen” at the end of prayers, then mean it.  Do all you can to make those prayers happen.  Get off the autopilot and pray to God with real intent.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

His Hands - Your Hands

And I will lay my hand upon you by the hand of my servant Sidney Rigdon, and you shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom;
Doctrine & Covenants 36:2

This verse holds one of the most amazing principles about Priesthood service, and how we all are to serve our fellow beings. Notice that the Lord tells Edward Partridge that He (the Lord) would lay His hands upon him (Edward), by the hands of his servant Sidney Rigdon. So what is this teaching about what happens when we are performing Priesthood ordinances?  That when we are worthily performing the ordinance, our hands become the Lord’s hands.  When following the direction of His Spirit, our words, become His words.  This can become a scary proposition. Every Priesthood holder has to ask himself if he is living his life in such a way that at any moment he can represent the Lord and be His hands, and His voice, and a conduit for His power, in another person’s life.

Likewise, whether male or female, we all take upon ourselves the name of Christ.  That means we recommit ourselves each Sunday to represent Him in every situation. All of us are to be His hands and His voice to everyone around us.

Today’s Takeaway: Try to live today so that you can be God’s voice today to someone.  Try to follow His Spirit so you can be His hands in someone else’s life. Who’s life does God want you to touch for Him today?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"Spare Not"

PictureOpen your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.
 Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you.
Doctrine & Covenants 33:8-9

          When it comes to sharing the Gospel, do you select some to share the Gospel with, and “spare” others because “They’re not the type” or “I bet they wouldn't be interested?” Maybe you have been so selective that you haven’t been sharing the Gospel much at all. The scriptures here are saying to “spare not”! It is not for us to decide who to share the Gospel with and who to spare. How many of us have seen people whose lives changed dramatically through the Gospel of Jesus Christ? If someone doesn't seem like the “LDS type”, then good; they need the Gospel even more.  President David O. McKay taught, “The purpose of the gospel is … to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature.”

Today’s Takeaway: Who have you been “sparing” from the Gospel? Why spare anyone from something so amazing? Make a list of people you may have overlooked to invite to a Church activity or Church meeting. Consider who you could share a pass-along card with. Like verse 8 says, open your mouth and it will be filled. Be on the lookout today. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's The Little Things

PictureTaking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked;
Doctrine & Covenants 27:17

Metaphorically, what is the weapon of choice of the Adversary? A battle axe? A ball and chain? Perhaps a pitch fork? No, the scriptures talk about his “fiery darts”.  Why?  What is the lesson behind Satan trying to get us with a puny dart?  Because in the spiritual warfare we fight in this life, Satan will try to destroy us with the little things first.

            No, you are too spiritually strong for him to come at you with something big like a battle axe, so he will try something small like a dart.  No, Satan’s temptations to “rob a bank” are probably not going to work on you, but how about to cheat a little bit in school or not be completely honest with your time at work?  No, a temptation to suddenly hire a prostitute is not likely to work, but what about to look at inappropriate images or a book that entertains lust?  No, the Devil probably can’t get you to kill another person, but what about something small like fighting with someone in your family, or refusing to forgive?

            In hand to hand combat like in ancient times, with the adrenaline flowing, perhaps one could get hit with a small dart and not even worry about it.  It’s something so small.  But the darts were often poisoned.  What looked fairly harmless would cause them to get a little dizzy and then suddenly they could be hurt by something much bigger.  It’s the same with us. Satan will start in his attempts to kill you spiritually with things that seem so small.

Todays’ Takeaway: What are the “little things” in your life that you could think “I can handle it” or “It’s no big deal”?  In what small ways is Satan trying to get you to compromise?  Identify one or two areas in your life where you might be compromising in small ways.  Now STOP IT! Those small things will kill you spiritually and will start you down the road to misery, sorrow and regret. Repent and beware of the “little things”.