“…and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.
And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them…”
Providing insight to the current refugee crisis in Europe, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shares his experience as a refugee in Germany during WWII. He expresses that as the members of the LDS faith we should never “label” any people, and should help people in need throughout the world, and help them to become self reliant.
Community Effort (Northern Virginia) to assist Syrian refugees:
In church the other day a missionary spoke and shared the story of when his father was being taught by the missionaries. His father had been meeting with LDS missionaries for a while and was skeptical of the fact that we claim to have a living prophet that receives revelation to lead and guide the church. One day the missionary told him boldly, why wouldn’t there be a prophet alive today? With all the turmoil in the world, with all the wars and political and social conflict and unrest? With all the immorality in the world? Why wouldn’t God send a prophet like he did in other times of the world’s history to help show us the way? Why not now? He has sent a prophet today!
I share my own testimony that God loves all of his children throughout history and sends prophets, even today to teach us the truth, and sometimes just to remind us of what is right. Here’s some recent words from President Monson on the happiness that comes from following God’s laws and not giving in to voices that would persuade us to do otherwise:
Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.”7 We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”8
I plead with you to avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come. With his deceptions and lies, the adversary will lead you down a slippery slope to your destruction if you allow him to do so. You will likely be on that slippery slope before you even realize that there is no way to stop. You have heard the messages of the adversary. He cunningly calls: Just this once won’t matter; everyone is doing it; don’t be old-fashioned; times have changed; it can’t hurt anyone; your life is yours to live. The adversary knows us, and he knows the temptations which will be difficult for us to ignore. How vital it is that we exercise constant vigilance in order to avoid giving in to such lies and temptations.
Great courage will be required as we remain faithful and true amid the ever-increasing pressures and insidious influences with which we are surrounded and which distort the truth, tear down the good and the decent, and attempt to substitute the man-made philosophies of the world. If the commandments had been written by man, then to change them by inclination or legislation or by any other means would be the prerogative of man. The commandments, however, were God-given. Using our agency, we can set them aside. We cannot, however, change them, just as we cannot change the consequences which come from disobeying and breaking them.
May we realize that our greatest happiness in this life will come as we follow God’s commandments and obey His laws! I love the words found in Isaiah chapter 32, verse 17: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Such peace, such assurance can come only through righteousness.
I really like this video and the message about strengthening communities by serving together and having community-wide “days of service”. Drawing on an invitation by President Eyring, they looked for opportunities to serve in their community and sought inspiration from the Holy Ghost about which opportunities they should pursue. They then got help from families and others in their community to perform the service.
“Ever keep in exercise the principle of mercy, and be ready to forgive our brother [or sister] on the first intimations of repentance… and should we even forgive our brother, or even our enemy, before he repent or ask forgiveness, our heavenly Father would be equally as merciful unto us.”
In gospel principles class today at church today we had a really good lesson about service. There were several people in the class who aren’t LDS, there was also a few who had recently joined the church. Yet everyone in the class contributed comments or questions or helped read from the manual or scriptures. I love how we’re all from different backgrounds yet there was a unity in how we felt about the need to serve people around us to make theirs and our lives better and happier.
One of the questions our teacher asked was what are some examples from Jesus’s life where he served other people? One person mentioned the washing of the Apostle’s feet and how this demonstrated his humility doing even seemingly undesirable types of service, another girl brought up the feeding of the five thousand, someone else mentioned how the Savior had went away to be alone after the death of John the Baptist and then people still managed to find him– even though he was in mourning and probably had preferred to be alone he still helped the people that came to him.
I thought of when the Savior was on the cross, in his moment of greatest agony he was still thinking of other people. He told the man on the cross next to him (I’m paraphrasing) “today you’ll be with me in paradise”. This was no doubt a huge comfort to a man who had acknowledged he was guilty and deserved to be punished but that Jesus was innocent, yet the Savior wanted him to know there was forgiveness available to him. Also while on the cross the Savior thought of his mother and he told John who was standing near her, “behold thy mother”, in effect giving John the responsibility to care for her since he no longer could. In everything he did, Christ was our perfect example of an unselfish servant of God and of the people around him. He was not concerned with being inconvenienced or with his own suffering or pain, everything he did was to reduce and eliminate the suffering of others and bring light into their lives. He said in Luke:
“…I am among you as he that serveth.” (Luke 22:27)
President Monson speaks with such a kind spirit, confidence and optimism that I think it’s nearly impossible to dislike him. Everything he says is full of inspiration and encouragement. More than that, I know that he is a prophet of God, that has been called to preside over the Lord’s church today and to be a witness of Christ. I’m inspired by his words from a recent general conference address:
“Courage is the word we need to hear and hold near our hearts—courage to turn our backs on temptation, courage to lift up our voices in testimony to all whom we meet, remembering that everyone must have an opportunity to hear the message. It is not an easy thing for most to do this. But we can come to believe in the words of Paul to Timothy:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”
…I pray that we will have the courage to extend the hand of fellowship, the tenacity to try, and try, and try again, and the humility needed to seek guidance from our Father as we fulfill our mandate to share the gospel. The responsibility is on us…”
(See Others As They May Become, Oct 2012 General Conference)
I’ve watched this video 5 or 6 times already since it was released last week (I think) and I love it. It gave me a whole new perspective on the verses in John chapter 8 which it is taken from. While I wonder a little bit if the tone of voice in Christ’s initial statement about being the light of world might have been different than how it’s portrayed here, I find the rest of it carries the truth of Christ’s words.
From the New Testament there is the indication that during His ministry Jesus was continually surrounded by both doubters and believers, as well as others who hadn’t yet made up their mind about Him. He repeatedly had to deal with those who wanted to discredit and demonize Him and also take His life, and at the same time still be the great teacher and example of love and truth that He was in word and action. Everything He did was in love and patience, yet the darkness and unbelief that was in the Pharisees who questioned Him here was so great they couldn’t see the beautiful Savior that was right in front of them. In this sense it’s extremely sad to watch the portrayal of their disbelief, to see the encounter between them and Christ unfold as He says, “…if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.”
When considering how the Pharisees kept mentioning Abraham and their connection to him and at the same time that they considered Jesus to be blasphemous by simply declaring the truth of His being the fulfillment of all of the prophets before Him, I can’t help but make a comparison to today. There are some who look back to Christ’s day and believe he was is the Son of God and that the Bible is true (which is good), but then they find it hard to believe the great things God has done in our day and would even oppose it, and would regard any continuation of revelation and of God’s speaking to man in a similar way today, as being blasphemous.
While Jesus is walking away there is the sense that He is deeply saddened by their hardened hearts, sad for them rather than for the fate ahead of Him as he says, “…But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God …Why do ye not understand my speech?”
I know Jesus is the light of the World, without Him there would be no love, no forgiveness, no happiness, no joy in this world. But He does live, He did suffer and die for us, was raised the third day so that we could all be resurrected. He fulfilled His mission, His arm of mercy is extended to us even in our times of bitterness and disbelief. He has a pure love that never fails, if we’ll place our trust in Him and follow His words we can live with Him eternally.
This video looks a little dated, or at least the opening title screen makes it seem that way but the message is a good one, detailing an experience Brigham Young had that led to his conversion.
What is it that convinces man? It is the influence of the Almighty, enlightening his mind, giving instruction to the understanding.
…Anything besides that influence, will fail to convince any person of the truth of the Gospel of salvation …Sermonizing, dividing, and subdividing subjects, and building up a fine superstructure calculated to fascinate the mind, coupled with the choicest eloquence of the world, will produce no good to them.
…The world, with all its wisdom and power, and with all the glory and gilded show of its kings or potentates, sinks into perfect insignificance, compared with the simple, unadorned testimony of the servant of God. (Brigham Young, 1852)
I love the lessons learned from prophets of God who have preached repentance throughout time. I have no doubt that we as individuals and as a society would be blessed greatly if we would hear this call now.
Repentance has been defined as “…a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness.” (ref.)
Old Testament Prophets Preached Repentance
The prophet Jonah was called by God to preach repentance to the people of Ninevah. Jonah first tried to run away and avoid this heavenly commission, he consequently ended up in the belly of a “fish” (or a whale). He prayed to the Lord mightily for mercy and the Lord delivered him. Jonah then went to Ninevah and did as he was commanded “…and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The king of Ninevah sensed the truth of his preaching and his heart was softened. He joined Jonah’s cause and spread the call of repentance throughout the land, telling his people to “cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands”, also proclaiming, “Who can tell if God will …turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” (Jonah 1-3)
Through Jonah’s preaching the great work was brought about of convincing the people of Ninevah to turn their hearts to God. They repented and were spared destruction.
We learn from the Book of Mormon that Melchizedek, king of ancient Jerusalem in Old Testament times, was called to preach repentance:
“Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days;” (Alma 13:17-18)
The Savior’s Commission to Preach Repentance
John the Baptist went before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. The Book of Mark states that “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4)
After His resurrection, Jesus Christ briefly returned to Jerusalem and taught “…that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47)
After the Savior’s ascension into heaven, in the book of Acts there is the account of Peter preaching the Lord’s gospel of repentance and baptism boldly to the people of Israel:
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
…Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:22-38)
Repentance preached in our day
With the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith, God has again sent prophets to preach repentance to all nations as Jesus has commissioned, and they will continue to do so until peace, righteousness and “…love of God and neighbor rules the world” (Elder Jefferey Holland, Oct 2012).
The prophets are not alone in their call to repentance:
For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory. And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon…
And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance; (Alma 13:24-25,27)
Alma also taught earlier in Alma chapter 5:
Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.
…I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life.