Alma 22:13 “The plan of [salvation] ….was prepared from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on his name.”
The plan of salvation is God’s plan for the happiness of His children. It is centered on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we learn about this plan, we find the answers to three questions: “Where did I come from?”, “What is my purpose in life?” and “Where will I go after this life?”.
1 Nephi 22:1-2 “And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had read these things which were engraven upon the plates of brass, my brethren came unto me and said unto me: What meaneth these things which ye have read? Behold, are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh? And I, Nephi, said unto them: Behold they were manifest unto the prophet by the voice of the Spirit; for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh.”
Why do we have prophets? (22:2) “A prophet is a man called by God to be His representative on earth. When a prophet speaks for God, it is as if God were speaking (see D&C 1:38). A prophet is also a special witness for Christ, testifying of His divinity and teaching His gospel. A prophet teaches truth and interprets the word of God. He calls the unrighteous to repentance. He receives revelations and directions from the Lord for our benefit. He may see into the future and foretell coming events so that the world may be warned”. Heavenly Father loves his children, “yesterday, today and forever”, so it makes perfect sense that he would have a prophet to guide his children in this day as in days past!
Malachi 3:8-10 “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Great blessings are promised to those who obey the commandment to pay tithing. Heavenly Father loves us and wants to bless us in all aspects of our lives. The commandments He gives through His prophets will help us to live a happy life. The commandment to pay tithing, which was given to his ancient people and then restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, gives us an opportunity to participate in building up the kingdom of God on earth. Obedience to this commandment is a requirement for baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Tithing is the donation of one-tenth of one’s income to God’s Church.
What a great Stake Conference we had the privilege of attending this past Saturday and Sunday!
Elder Larsen gave us a new name and meaning to Visiting and Home Teaching, asking that we “Minister” to those we have the privilege of visiting.
He gave us a pattern of how “not to be deceived.” The Proclamation to the Family being first. When President HInckley read it in a General Relief Society Meeting September 23rd, 1995 many of us wondered WHY we would need guidance on such simple subjects. 22 years later, we need it more than ever!
Elder Larsen told us to also read Doctrine and Covenants 52 and The Book of Mormon. On Sunday he told us to read 3 Nephi, to continue to minister to our children and to never, never give up.
We also heard from President and Sister Baldwin of the Ogden Temple Presidency. Come to the Temple!!
Our wonderful Stake Relief Society Choir sang “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today,” and “Our Savior’s Love.” We were led by Sister Kay Kilgore and accompanied by Joyce Montgomery.
President Wadman shared a dream he had with us and encouraged us to seek higher ground and to “Be of good cheer!” He asked us to do four things:
Go home, kneel in prayer and repent
Read 2 Nephi 4 – learn how to be grateful
Prayerfully invite someone to come to sacrament meeting that wouldn’t normally come.
Hold a current temple recommend. Go to the temple.
Other members of our great Stake, including Sister Wadman, bore testimony of the joy the Gospel brings. Sister Larsen was my favorite!
She said that The Savior gives her strength and she can do hard things with His help! In January we set our resolutions and then get the February Fizzles. She said that sometimes we need a change of heart. We can have that every day, the Atonement heals our stoney heart. Through faith in Jesus our hearts can change. She said there are 3 ways to heal our hearts — Scripture STUDY, prayer and Temple Attendance. A change of heart is not a one time event. We can try harder, we can be better. We should seek the things that soften our souls. As I seek, I trulyhave sunshine in my soul! May we follow the guidance of all those who so lovingly lead us is our prayer for you, our sisters, as your Stake Relief Society Presidency
D&C 88:119 and D&C 97:15-16 “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;” “And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it; Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.”
God’s people have been a temple building people from the earliest history of this earth. The Children of Israel carried with them, in the wilderness for 40 years, a “Temple” Tabernacle where sacred ordinances and sacrifices were conducted according to God’s commands for his children at that time. In this day and age, we continue to build sacred temples, places where sacred covenants and ordinances are conducted. There are many reasons why one should want to come to the temple. The late Dr. John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said: “The temple ordinances encompass the whole plan of salvation”. Temple marriage is a crowning blessing that you may claim in the holy temple. There, in a sacred ceremony, an individual may be washed and anointed and instructed and endowed and sealed. Our prophets have counselled all of us to “Come to the temple” and receive all the blessings God has for each and every one of us.
How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Was one of them to attend the Temple weekly? Come join the Stake Relief Society the first Thursday of each month. The next one is February 2nd. We meet in the Chapel at 9:15 for the 9:30 session. If you can’t meet us for the session, come some time during the day, even if it’s just to do a few names in initiatory.
We are SO blessed to have the Ogden Temple within 20 – 30 miles of us. “For others, there are oceans to cross and miles to go before they enter the holy temple of God.” President Monson said. He goes on to say, “As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith. As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation.”
I testify that your burdens will be lifted, you will leave with a smile on your face. Come to the Temple!
Alma 34:8-10 and Alma 42:23 “….Behold, I say unto you that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world;….For it is expedient that an atonement should be made;….or else all mankind must unavoidably perish….For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, yea….it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice. (A sacrifice that would pay for all sins for all time)” ……
“But God ceaseth not to be God and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.”
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the event that enables each of us to be reconciled to God. To atone is to suffer the penalty for sin, thereby removing the effects of sin from repentant sinners. That is the conditional part of the Atonement, removing sin upon condition of repentance. The unconditional part of the Atonement is resurrection for all mankind, no matter what their repentant condition. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of making a perfect Atonement for all mankind. His Atonement included His suffering for our sins, the shedding of His blood, and His death and Resurrection. Because of the Atonement, everyone who has ever lived will be resurrected. It also provides us with a way, through the principle of repentance, to be forgiven of our sins and to live with God forever.
Luke 2:6-11 “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger;….And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them…And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Christmas celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ. His divine example of love, service, and forgiveness gives Christmas true meaning. President Thomas S. Monson has said, “There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ.” When looking for the true meaning of Christmas, we have only to look within: we each have the Light of Christ within us, and it is ready to be recognized and ignited and put to good use. The Christmas season is a time to reflect and act upon the blessings and opportunities we have because of the birth, life, Atonement, and Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
JST Mark 14:20-24 “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them and said, Take it, and eat. Behold, this is for you to do in remembrance of my body….And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is in remembrance of my blood which is shed for many….And as oft as ye do this ordinance, ye will remember me in this hour that I was with you and drank with you of this cup, even the last time in my ministry.”
The sacrament helps us remember with gratitude the life, ministry, and Atonement of Jesus Christ. We can renew our baptismal covenants each week by partaking of the sacrament. As we renew our baptismal covenants, we are promised that we will have the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, with us always.
2 Nephi 31:20 “Ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
We become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. After we become a member of the Church, we should continue to grow in understanding. We can continue to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, renew our baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament, and follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost. These first principles and ordinances of the gospel are a pattern to follow throughout life. This lifelong commitment is often called “enduring to the end.”
Enduring to the end brings direction, peace, and happiness to life. We can feel the joy of trying to become more like Jesus Christ as we serve and help those around us. We can better understand our relationship with our Father in Heaven and feel His perfect love for each of us. We can feel hope and a sense of purpose in an often unhappy and troubled world.