Friday, May 25

Becoming As A Little Child

How to become like a little child...according to the scriptures.

Matthew 18:1-14
 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
 And said, Verily I say unto you, 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.
 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
 ¶Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
 10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
 11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
 12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Doctrine & Covenants 78:17-18
 17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;
 18 And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.

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, 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.

Why we need to become like little children:
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

How are we like little children? 
We are like little children because we cannot be saved without the Savior. Without Him, we are lost. Also, we are like little children because we cannot possibly understand how great are the blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for us.

How will the Lord help us?
The Lord will lead us along and prepare the kingdom and our endless blessings for us.

Ways we can become like little children: 
  • By yielding to the enticing of the Spirit
  • By putting off the natural man 
  • Becoming submissive
  • Becoming meek
  • Being humble
  • Being patient
  • By being full of love
  • By being willing to submit to all things the Lord inflicts upon us
  • By our obedience
We must strive to exemplify the humility, patience, and innocence of a little child. For all little children will enter the kingdom of heaven, which is of course, our ultimate goal.  

Wednesday, May 16

The Feeding of the Multitudes

Matthew 14:14-21

And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick
And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals
But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. 
And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 
He said, Bring them hither to me. 
And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to hisdisciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 
And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. 
And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

Matthew 15:32-38

Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

How many people were present
5,000 & 4,000

What did they need? 
They needed food because they had been following the Savior for three days & They needed food because they also had been with the Lord three days

What were they able to offer in an effort to meet that need? 
5 loaves of bread, 2 fishes & 7 loaves of bread, a few fishes

What words or phrases describe the Savior's feeling toward the multitude in their time of need? 
The Savior was "moved with compassion" & He had "compassion on the multitude."

What words or phrases describe what the Savior was able to provide for the multitudes? 
Everyone ate and "was full," and then 12 baskets full remained & They all ate and "were full," and then 7 baskets full remained

In each instance, the available food was insufficient to feed the multitude, yet with the help of the Lord the insufficiency was overcome. 

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

What is another way human effort is insufficient in receiving the glory of God?
Without Christ, we would not be able to use the atonement to repent of our sins. Our efforts are insufficient in this way because we cannot receive the glory of God without being able to repent and become perfected in Christ. In order to obtain His glory, we must follow Him and allow Him to take care of the part we are incapable of filling for ourselves. 

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.

How does the Lord help us overcome this insufficiency?
The Lord desires that our sins will humble us so that we will require His grace to become strong. We must have faith that the Lord knows our insufficiencies and He knows our limits. He will not push us harder than we can handle but will lift us when the burden seems to become too much. He will strengthen us through and despite our weaknesses because He loves us each so much. 

Wednesday, May 9

Parables of Great Worth

 Matthew 13
The parable of the treasure

44 ¶Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto atreasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

What sacrifices am I willing to make to obtain the treasures of the gospel?
Knowing the importance of the gospel, it is easy to say I would be willing to make any and all sacrifices necessary. I do want the treasures of the gospel, particularly eternal life, but it hard to always have an eternal perspective. While obtaining Celestial glory is my ultimate goal, it is sometimes hard to think of it every day when school, work, family, and other church things are frequently claiming my attention. But it helps me to remember that as long as I am doing the little things (reading scriptures and praying daily, attending church, etc.) I am in the process of perfecting myself, and therefore becoming more like the Savior Jesus Christ. I know that as I do this, my joy will continue to grow, and I will be blessed for my efforts--if I sincerely give it my very best.

The parable of the pearl of great price

45 ¶Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one apearl of great price, went and sold ball that he had, and bought it.

What sacrifices have I and others already made for the gospel?
There are sacrifices that we, as Latter-day Saints, make on a daily basis. Avoiding worldly evils, for one, is a sacrifice, though it may not feel like it for those of us who were raised in the gospel. Being a constant example of Christ is very difficult, especially when we feel far from perfect. But by sacrificing our worldly desires and the behaviors of the common man, we are demonstrating obedience to the gospel. And living the gospel is a sacrifice. I know that such sacrifices do not go unnoticed. Those men and women who dedicate their time to teaching their children correct gospel principles will be blessed beyond measure. Our sacrifices will become pearls of great worth in our lives.

The parable of the net cast into the sea

47 ¶Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and agathered of every kind:
48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
 49 So shall it be at the aend of the world: bthe angels shall come forth, and csever the wicked from among the djust,
 50 aAnd shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

What does the net represent in the parable of the net cast into the sea? 
The net represents the kingdom of heaven (gathering good people of every kind).
What does it mean to be gathered into the net?
To be gathered into the net means that we all have the potential to enter the kingdom of heaven. All of us. Some may be kept, others may be cast out, but we all have that potential.
What is represented by the act of gathering the good into vessels and casting the bad away?
The act of gathering the good into vessels represents the righteous being accepted into the kingdom of heaven. Casting out the bad refers to the way that the unrighteous will be cast out of heaven.

I am very grateful for the message of these parables and for the knowledge that if I am doing my best, however simple that may seem, I can still prove myself worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven, where I know a loving Heavenly Fathers welcomes us with joy.

Tuesday, May 1

Blessings and the Beatitudes

Matthew 5:3: *Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

*The Latin beatus is the basis of the English “beatitude,” meaning “to be fortunate,” “to be happy,” or “to be blessed.”

Definitions (according to the Institute Manual under "The Sermon on the Mount teaches us what we must do in order to draw upon the power of Christ in our quest for perfection"):
1. Blessedness: Being higher than happiness; an inward fountain of joy in the soul itself, which no outward circumstances can seriously affect.

Matthew 5:4: Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:5: Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:6: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Matthew 5:7: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Matthew 5:8: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Matthew 5:9: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Matthew 5:10: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:11: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 
Matthew 5:12: Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Harold B. Lee: “Christ came not only into the world to make an atonement for the sins of mankind but to set an example before the world of the standard of perfection of God’s law and of obedience to the Father. In his Sermon on the Mount the Master has given us somewhat of a revelation of his own character, which was perfect, or what might be said to be ‘an autobiography, every syllable of which he had written down in deeds,’ and in so doing has given us a blueprint for our own lives.” (Decisions for Successful Living, pp. 55–56.)

President Lee Teaches Us About the Beatitudes
Can you see from this that the Beatitudes form the stairway to Christ by which you can receive power from him to become like him? But remember, it takes effort to climb this stairway. Some say it is impossible, but that is a false idea.  
It was late one night when I was abruptly awakened out of my sleep by a telephone call. On the other end of the line was a voice of a distraught ward member. He indicated that there had been some problems in the home and wondered if I could come over. 
When I walked into Richard and Jennifer’s home, the atmosphere was charged with tension. Richard spoke first. He was nearly in tears. Jennifer wanted to leave him and the children. He spoke vaguely of some problems she had had earlier during the day, obviously wanting to protect her. Jennifer then interrupted, “Why don’t you quit beating around the bush, Richard. Say it. Tell him that I struck one of the children. Tell him what I’ve said to you and the children! Or are you afraid what the bishop might think of our ‘model’ home!” Richard only looked at me. 
“Suppose, Jennifer, you tell me what’s wrong,” I said. 
“I’ve had it—that what’s wrong, Bishop. I’m fed up with my husband—my kids—and this house. I’m tired of the pretense of being an ideal Latter-day Saint family when we’re anything else but. I want out of this situation, the sooner the better.” 
And so I listened—from 1:00 A.M. until 3:00 A.M. in the morning—to a woman who had previously enjoyed the Spirit of the Lord but who was now filled with vindictive, accusing feelings. It is not necessary to attempt to recreate the sordid scene, nor the events of that day or days previous which brought about this nightmare. It is sufficient to say that the Spirit which had once attended this sister was now gone. All feelings of refinement, sensitivity, kindness, congeniality, and charity had disappeared. In their place were accusation, coarseness, abusiveness, and hatred. I prayed inwardly for the wisdom beyond my natural ability to help. 
When she had finished her tirade, she said defiantly: “Now I suppose, Bishop, that you’re going to try to dissuade me from leaving Richard.” 
“No, Jennifer, it appears to me that you have already made up your mind about what you‘re going to do. Neither I nor anyone else could dissuade you. So perhaps the thing for you to do is to leave.” I paused and then added, “But, Jennifer, I want you know before I leave here tonight that there is a way out of your misery if you’re willing to try.” Though she didn’t say anything, her eyes pled for help. 
“Do you remember what the Savior taught those who sought to be his disciples? You have probably read or heard some of these teachings many times. You remember as a girl in Sunday School how you were asked to memorize the teachings of Jesus called the Beatitudes. Tonight as you were talking I couldn’t help but think that they must apply here. 
“‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ The first step, Jennifer, is to realize that you have need for the Lord’s help. The Book of Mormon states: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me. ’ This is the way you can solve this problem—by coming to the Lord for help. But how can you come unto him? 
“‘Blessed are they that mourn.’ We come unto the Savior by manifesting a broken heart and a contrite spirit. In other words, we mourn about the condition which prevents us from becoming his friend and having his Spirit with us always. I’m not talking about self-pity, Jennifer. I’m talking about the kind of sorrow that purges ugly feelings and desires from the heart. The Savior then tells us how we may overcome this depression and despair that is such a burden for you right now. 
“‘Blessed are the meek.’ To be meek is to humble ourselves before the Lord and ask and plead for his help to overcome our weakness. The Savior has also said, ‘My grace is sufficient for the meek.’ What does that mean? ‘If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they be humble . . . for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.’ [Ether 12:26-27]
“‘Now, Jennifer, you have discovered a weakness in your character that is preventing you from having the Spirit of the Lord. Don’t you desire the blessings that will enable you to overcome your weaknesses? Don’t you desire that joy and happiness that has been absent from your life during these past months? 
“‘Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.’ That’s the blessing you need so desperately, Jennifer! Now let’s consider the rest of the Savior’s beatitudes. 
“Do you want to be more kind? ‘Blessed are the merciful.’ 
“Do you really desire to overcome hypocrisy? ‘Blessed are the pure in heart.’ 
“Do you want peace in your own home? ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ 
“And then there is the teaching about being able to bear persecution. But what about bearing up against stress and persecutions of the adversary in your own home? 
“The point is, Jennifer, if you really want these attributes, they are available to you as you ‘hunger and thirst’ after them. This is the righteousness the Savior is referring to—these are the blessings that come as one is filled with the Holy Ghost. By recognizing your need to depend daily, even hourly, upon the Lord, by fasting and prayer you can overcome this problem that is now leading you to such misery. Here is the Savior’s promise to you: 
“. . . remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.’ [Helaman 5:12]
I then bore testimony to her of the truthfulness of these principles. Her tears, the first indication of the spirit of repentance, told me she also knew them to be true. There was a way out. There was a hope. Perhaps for the first time in her life, she began to sense how the gospel becomes a power to solve our problems, to refine our natures, and to help us become more Christlike in our disposition. 
Before leaving that night we knelt in prayer together. As we arose from our knees, I knew that Jennifer would not be leaving her husband or her home. 
It has been seven years since the incident of that evening. Jennifer and Richard have added three more children to their family. Overcoming her problems has not been easy; in fact, it has been an intense struggle. Gradually, however, by applying the principles of the Savior on a daily basis, she has found a strength she did not previously know. 
(Based on a true experience.) 
As with Jennifer, you may find your weaknesses and problems difficult to overcome. But could you feel justified before God if you failed to make the effort to climb the stairway to perfection? Can you see that it is possible for you to progress a step at a time toward your ultimate goal of perfection?
Now you might wish to review the remainder of the Sermon on the Mount, asking yourself this question: How can I apply the qualities suggested by Jesus that will help me to grow toward perfection? 

Blessed are the pure in heart.
To me, this is one of the most important Beatitudes, and one that I am continuously working on developing. I want to be pure in heart and mind, and with this, always morally clean. I want to always have the Spirit welcome into my home and wherever I am. I also want to strive for innocence. In high school, everyone thought it was sweet that I was so innocent because I am a Latter-day Saint. Well to tell the truth, largely thanks to the poor influences of classmates, I was not as innocent as they believed. I do not want this to be taken the wrong way; I was very obedient to my parents and to the principles of the gospel and I always avoided evil influences to the best of my ability. But the fact is, I live in the world. That sounds silly, but it's true. I live in the world, but not of the world. I know about evil and unfortunately have been exposed to it. But I avoid it in all forms. I keep it out of my thoughts, my words, my deeds. And my insistence of turning away from evil turned into the belief that I was completely innocent. It is simply not possible to live in this world and not be exposed to evil. But we all have choice and accountability. We can choose not to accept evil and to turn away from it at all costs. I hope my efforts to do this will truly make me pure in heart.
Blessed are the merciful.
I think this is an important one. What first comes to mind is the parable of the debtor and the ensuing discussion of justice and mercy. The Savior is the Mediator. He provides mercy to us, but in order for us to be extended this blessing, we must be merciful to others. This does not mean letting others walk all over us. But it does mean that we ought to demonstrate compassion for our fellow men. I try to be merciful, and particularly, I've noticed, at school. This may sound strange, but I try to be merciful on my teachers. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt and be a participant. I feel sympathy for my teachers, especially when I can tell they are enthusiastic about a subject or lesson that perhaps they have spent extra time preparing. I extend mercy by being a good student. I listen, ask questions, and give answers. I will not lie, I have even laughed at a few jokes that did not really strike me as funny, but because I know how disappointing it is when additional effort is put in with less than the desired result. I suppose, re-reading this, I sound like a suck-up. But truthfully, my motives are purer than that. I genuinely care about others. I want them to feel loved and appreciated. This means I also make an effort to love those (or sometimes put up with) who are a little bit stranger than most of us. To me, this is a small way that I, and we as people, can extend mercy to our fellow men. 
Blessed are the peacemakers.
This Beatitude is definitely one that I need to work much harder on. My patriarchal blessing actually makes reference to this--more specifically, making my home a place of peace where the Saints will want to be. Because of this, I feel that I have a responsibility to develop habits of establishing peace in stressful situations. I need to be the one who keeps the peace. This means (for me personally) not becoming easily offended. Sometimes I get down on myself and allow myself to wallow in misery and feel worthless. Nothing good comes of this. In fact, the result is the opposite of what this Beatitude would have me do. I become irritable and prone to getting offended over little things that should and could be overlooked. The result is a contentious atmosphere and that is quite contrary to what I want. So what I need to do is: a) not get offended so easily, b) choose to think the best, c) be positive and bring the Spirit into our home, and d) keep the peace. 

I know that Heavenly Father wants the best for us. He loves us all and can help us despite our many flaws and imperfections. He wants us to return to Him, and more importantly, to bring others with us. I know that families are forever and am so grateful that I am sealed to mine and my WONDERFUL husband, Dalin. He makes me more happy than I can express. I am thankful to my Savior, Jesus Christ and for His infinite atonement, which I constantly need. I am trying to be like Him. 

I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.