Monday, 22 April 2013

Mission Farewell Talk!

My Farewell talk: I know this is a little long, but I hope it can help you with anything that you need help with:

Christ-like Attributes

Good morning! I have been asked today to speak on Christ-like attributes. The nine attributes listed in Preach My Gospel include: faith, hope, charity, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence, and obedience. While all of these attributes are important and crucial in order to be like Christ, I will focus on the attributes I find to be of greatest value and importance as well as adding to the list.

Ether 12:6, “…Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” You won’t get very far without faith; faith in Jesus Christ is one of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel and as stated by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quarm of the 12 Apostles, “Exercising faith in Jesus Christ is essential. It is the foundation of the plan of Salvation. When that faith is coupled with sincere effort based upon a willingness to harken to His counsel, great personal growth and blessings follow.” “…by faith all things are fulfilled…If there be no faith among the children of men, God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after the trial of their faith.” Ether 12:12

One person that I think of who has had a trial of their faith is Job. He was a very righteous man who was careful to avoid doing evil. For Job’s trial, he lost his expansive livestock, his servants, and his ten children’s lives due to robbers and natural disasters all in one day. Job was also afflicted with skin sores, and yet he still praises Heavenly Father. Job’s wife encourages him to curse Heavenly Father, but Job refuses to do so. Job’s friends come to comfort him, but after a while they blame Job’s losses and curses on his own wickedness, and Job refuses to believe it and his friends are offended and leave him abandoned in his sorrow. Job still praises God and for his unwavering faith, he is blessed with health, longer life, and double what he had before his trial began.

Job is a great example as to how we should have unwavering faith and trust in the Lord throughout our life. Doctrine and Covenants 121: 7-10 announces: “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversary and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if though endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.” These scriptures are always good to look back to if you are every having a hard time, it can comfort you and reassure you that you are never alone. The more you realize this principle, the stronger your faith will grow in the long run. Job was given back twice as much as he had before he endured his great trials, and D&C 127:4 likewise speaks to us to “…let your diligence, and your perseverance, and patience, and your works be redoubled, and you shall in nowise lose your reward, saith the Lord of Hosts. And if they persecute you, so persecuted they the prophets and righteous men that were before you. For all this there is a reward in heaven.”

Patience can be defined as the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. By those standards, patience can easily be one of the hardest attributes to acquire for oneself. Patience doesn’t come very quickly; it is a process through experiences that help us develop our patience over time. President Thomas S. Monson put it best when he said that “Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.”

With technology now, we, as a society, are very accustomed to receiving instantaneous answers without having to wait too long. This is a factor in weakening our patience, but it is not the only reason. Impatience can come from many other sources, and each person is different in what they can and can’t be patient in.

Here are a few ideas on how to become more patient, but this is not all that you can do. First off, you need to figure out why you are impatient, what sorts of situations or triggers cause you to lose your patience. Then keep track of what your triggers are in a journal. Once you have them written down you can try to focus on trying to be more patient when a certain situation comes up. This can involve altering your attitude bit by bit, and trying to relax when you feel like you are becoming impatient. Being patient will help you grow closer to Father in Heaven because you will be happier with yourself for your efforts and how it impacts others around you.

When you are patient you are able to hold up under pressure and are able to face trials calmly and hopefully that all will turn out as it should. In Alma 34:40-41, Amulek speaks to his people about patience by saying, “…my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions; that ye do not revile against those who do cast you out because of your exceeding poverty, least ye become sinners like unto them; But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions.” If we endure to the end and try to be more patient, we are becoming more like Christ, the perfect example for all of us to follow.

Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. Ammon has a great sense of humility when he proclaims, “ ...I do not boast of my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I wil rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; year, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.” (Alma 26:11-12). Ammon gives praise to the Lord not for his own efforts, because he knew that it was the Lord that allowed him to do all that he had done in converting King Lamoni and his people to the gospel of Christ. We are also instructed by the Lord in Ether 12:27 that “…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 ne, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” That is a powerful promise that the Lord gives to all of us; if we are humble, He will turn our weaknesses into strengths. This would be a great goal to strive for, and all we need to do is to learn to be more humble, not boasting in what we have done, but thanking our Heavenly Father for all that he has given us.

In order to be like Christ, we have to put off the natural man and be submissive, meek, full of love, humble, teachable, and have a contrite spirit that is open to the principles of Christ and willingly accept them and follow in His footsteps so that we can return home to him. King Benjamin told his people to “…Humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith…If ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and yes shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, of in the knowledge of that which is just and true. (Mosiah 4:11-12)

Diligence is steady, constant, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord’s work. Diligence is all about doing what you are told and when you are told to do so, no procrastinating. Two weeks ago we were fortunate to hear general conference and messages from the general authorities. They provide us with counsel and advice as to what we should be doing to strengthen our faith and become more like Christ. We are supposed to act upon the counsel that they give us, but most of us don’t always get around to it immediately. That means, that we are not being as diligent as we could be, but it’s not too late to start incorporating their counsels into our lives. 2 Peter 3:14 tells us to “be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” General conference should still be fresh in our minds, and now would be the perfect time to go back and re-read what our leaders have counseled us to do so that we can learn more and become more like Christ, day by day.

Obedience is the first law of heaven; it is an act of faith. As you are obedient, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom. Elder L. Tom Perry spoke on the topic of obedience and the commandments last conference and said, “…the commandments are loving counsel from a wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father. His goal is our eternal happiness, and His commandments are the road map He has given us to return to Him, which is the only way we will be eternally happy…Sin will always be sin. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings… His commandments and blessings do not change. Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws…Obedience to law is liberty.” Obedience to all the counsels of the Lord will help us to become stronger people and strengthen those around us by our example and desire to do what is right. As stated in D&C 82:10, “I, the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”

We receive blessings when we are obedient, just as the wise man was a symbol of a man who was obedient and the foolish man was a symbol of a man who was disobedient. The wise man built his house on a rock, while the foolish man built his house on the sand. When the storms came, the foolish man’s house was destroyed and fell, while the wise man’s house stayed firmly on the rock. That rock was the foundation of Christ, but it was more than just knowing who the Savior was, the wise man followed the teachings of Christ to make sure that he was secured in righteousness so that evil could not tear him down. The wise man started building his house deep within the rock, not just on the surface and following some of the commandments; he followed all of them to the best of his abilities.

President Thomas S. Monson stated that “A soul-stirring account of obedience is that of Abraham and Isaac. How painfully difficult if must have been for Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, to take his beloved Isaac into the land of Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice. Can we imagine the heaviness of Abraham’s heart as he journeyed to the appointed place? Surely anguish must have racked his body and tortured his mind as he bound Isaac, laid him on the alter, and took the knife to slay him. With unwavering faith and implicit trust in the Lord, he responded to the Lord’s command. How glorious was the pronouncement, and with what wondered welcome did it come: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do though anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Abraham had been tried and tested, and for his faithfulness and obedience the Lord gave him this glorious promise: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Although we are not asked to prove our obedience in such a dramatic and heart-wrenching way, obedience is required of all of us as well.”

Our obedience to the Lord will be seen in how we live our life from day to day, and the Lord knows whether you are following His commandments or not, even if no one around you knows. If you obey Him in public and in private He will readily bless you for continuously living a righteous life.

The standard dictionary defines charity as: benevolent feeling, especially toward those in need or in disfavor. Whereas the Bible Dictionary says that charity is the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ. It is never used to denote alms or deeds or benevolence. The definitions in the bible dictionary and the standard dictionary are representative to me of Zion and the world. We live in the world be we should not be of the world. My 9th grade seminary teacher described it best by saying that Zion was on one side and the World was on the other and there is a small crack in between the two sides. We have one foot on each side to begin with, but as the world grows stronger and more contrary to the teachings of righteousness, the two sides start to distance themselves from each other. If we are still trying to be in both the world and Zion, your feet are just going to spread out more and more until there is no turning back and you are stuck, and then you finally fall. If you choose early to be in Zion, you won’t fall. The world is very deceptive and enticing, but we just have to make sure we have our priorities in order, so we won’t be caught off guard, because when the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past. (Thomas S. Monson)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks also teaches that “Eternal life is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason—for the pure love of Christ. The Apostle Paul illustrated this in his famous teaching about the importance of charity” in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 it says, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” “The reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness is that charity is not an act, but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes.”

We need to be charitable to everyone because “… the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to parish.” (2 Nephi 26:30) When you are filled with charity, you obey God’s commandments and do all that you can to serve others and help comfort them when they are in need of comfort. Charity alone envelops many other attributes, like faith, hope, patience, diligence, and obedience. You need to listen to others and see their points of view, and be patient with them. You need to have faith and hope that through charity anything is possible. You need to be diligent and obedient in serving to help out where ever there is a need.

Moroni testifies that we need to “…cleave unto charity which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moroni 7:46-47). Charity is an attribute that we must constantly be trying to improve, because of charity, Christ gave his life for us so that we could live and be forgiven of our sins.

Now I want you all to think about your best friend, the person you love most. The person who has always been there to support you no matter what. They could be a role model, a friend, a family member; whoever you feel you can trust most in the world. Now keep that person in mind, but think about the person you dislike, even hate the most. Maybe it’s even someone who doesn’t like you and you know that they don’t. Now compare the two people. Would you be willing to die for both of them, or just the person you love? Christ died for both of them, because he loves everyone, even if they don’t love him back. He died for all of us, but could we die for the people we don’t like?

Forgiveness is another trait that I think is important to mention when speaking of Christ. D&C 64:9-11 says that we “…ought to forgive one another; for he that fogiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. And ye out to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.” No matter the sins we commit, we can be forgiven of them, although some may take quite a bit longer and have a lot more involved to cleanse the sin, it can be done. Christ wants to forgive everyone, that’s why we have the atonement, so that we can return home to our Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ sets the perfect example for us and shows us how we can return home.

In closing, I would like to say that I know that Christ lives. He is not only our Savior and Redeemer, but He is our brother and our friend. The Book of Mormon is true and testifies of Christ. This is the restored gospel, and I am so blessed to be a part of it. Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and we have a living prophet today. There is not stronger foundation, then the foundation of Christ with The Book of Mormon as the cornerstone of our religion. By listening to the counsels of the prophets and following in Christ’s footsteps, we can be strengthened and protected throughout our lives. I say these things in the humble name of Jesus Christ, Amen.