Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tithing: A Test of Faith with Eternal Blessings

Anciently the Lord commanded, "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" (Malachi 3:10).

In these the latter days the Lord has reiterated this commandment, "that, those who have this been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever . . ." (see D&C 119).

Lately the commandment to live the law of tithing has been on my mind quite a bit. I'm not ready to share all of my thoughts and feelings just yet, but I do want to share this great talk by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles entitled, "Tithing: A Test of Faith with Eternal Blessings," (Ensign, Nov 2002).

This talk focuses not so much on the ins and outs of the law, why ten percent, where the money goes, etc., but on the blessings and results of faithfully living the law of tithing. Taught Elder Scott, "the obedient payment of tithing fortifies our faith, and that faith sustains us through the trials, tribulations, and sorrows in our life’s journey.

"Tithing also teaches us to control our desires and passions for the things of this world. Payment of tithing encourages us to be honest in our dealings with our fellowmen. We learn to trust that what we have been given, through the blessings of the Lord and our own diligent efforts, is sufficient for our needs."

Living the law of tithing requires faith, especially when our resources are few. However, the blessings promised to those who faithfully live this law regardless of circumstance are innumerable.

"Would any of us intentionally reject an outpouring of blessings from the Lord? Sadly, this is what we do when we fail to pay our tithing. We say no to the very blessings we are seeking and praying to receive. If you are one who has doubted the blessings of tithing, I encourage you to accept the Lord’s invitation to “prove [Him] now herewith.” Pay your tithing. Unlock the windows of heaven. You will be abundantly blessed for your obedience and faithfulness to the Lord’s laws and commandments."

I have a deep and abiding testimony of the law of tithing.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why This Holy Land? Symbolism surrounding the life of the Savior

This week in institute our teacher referenced an article in the December 1989 Ensign entitled, "Why This Holy Land?," written by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This article is interesting; it's different than most of the previous articles featured weekly on this blog, but well worth the read nevertheless.

Most who have spent any time in the New Testament or otherwise learning about Jesus Christ know basics of places and events that happened concerning His life. Most probably know Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem in a manger, moved to Egypt to escape death, and returned to Nazareth to grow up. You know specifics on some miracles He performed such as raising Lazarus from the dead and know some of His main teachings such as baptism and the Sermon on the Mount. You know He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary's cross. And many of you know much more about Him and His life than the short list above.

In this great article, Elder Nelson discusses the symbolism surrounding pretty much everything concerning the Savior and His life. He discusses so many symbols and parallels that enhance the meaning of the Savior's life and teachings. I encourage each of you to read this article; it's an easy read and very straightforward, and ends with Elder Nelson's testimony:

So we are one, my beloved brothers and sisters, united in this cause and in the glory of Him who has sent us forth on His errand. May we sense and appreciate the symbolic significance of His mortal ministry in this Holy Land. May we understand His ministry to other sheep that He loved. May we realize our role in the restoration He has required, to prepare the world for His second coming. May we comprehend the eternal consequences of the endless life of our Lord, whose servants we are. May we have power and strength to motivate ourselves to do His will in the mountainous responsibilities that are before us.

We don't need to understand the symbolism of everything ever symbolized to have a deep and abiding testimony of the Savior of the world. We don't need a scholar's knowledge of the Bible in order to receive help and inspiration from the scriptures. And we don't need to know the geogrpahy of the Holy Land in order to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and love of our Heavenly Father. The strength of our testimonies, keeping our covenants, and the needs of our families and neighbors should be our focus. But always striving to understand better the life of the Savior and the scriptures that were given for our benefit is also important and can help us along the path to eternal life. Have a good week.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Tongue of Angels

Last night I was reminded of a talk by the apostle Elder Jeffrey R. Holland entitled, "The Tongue of Angels," given almost four years ago. I have featured this talk once previously on this blog and the principles that Elder Holland teaches are so pure and so true and so needed in our lives that I'm posting the link again that we (and by we I mean I) may all read or reread this talk and benefit from it.

One of the biggest things that stood out to me this time was the power of words to hurt someone whom we dearly love and about whom we care so much. Words are so quick to come and so easy to speak that sometimes we do not even think about what we are saying during a conversation or even after it. We do not always need to be right, we can watch the condescending tone and phrasing we may use when we talk to our friends and associates, we can watch what we say about others when we think that only the right people are around, and one with which I especially struggle-we can watch how we jest and how we give each other a "hard time."

Words have such a power to heal, build, uplift, love, and mend, yet such polar opposite and equal powers to hurt, destroy, tear down, hate, and demean. Many of God's children are tender and even those who portray strength and "immunity" to words are susceptible to sorrow and hurt by things we may say purposefully or accidentally. Of course we are not to take offense, especially where none is intended, but we can ebb the chance of offense becoming a possibility by choosing carefully the words we use and the way we use them.

I have wonderful friends who choose wonderful things to say about others. They are an example to me and they are also patient with my attempts to be less abrasive and more tactful and kind with my words. I have a testimony that Elder Holland is an apostle of Jesus Christ and that the principles he teaches are true and if followed lead to a happier, more blessed life.

Cherish those whom you love and recognize that they are a blessing from God.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Come unto Me with Full Purpose of Heart and I Shall Heal You"

The article this week is short and to the point. My commentary will be the same.

In the most recent General Conference, Elder Patrick Kearon gave a talk entitled, "Come unto Me with Full Purpose of Heart and I Shall Heal You." In his talk, Elder Kearon taught:

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ and as bearers of the priesthood, we know the commandments and standards we have covenanted to uphold. When we choose another path from the one we know to be right, as taught by our parents and leaders and as confirmed to our own hearts by the Holy Ghost, it is like stepping onto the desert sand in flip-flops instead of shoes. We then seek to justify our lazy or rebellious behavior. We tell ourselves we’re not really doing anything that wrong, that it doesn’t really matter, and that nothing all that bad will result from letting go just a little from the iron rod. Perhaps we console ourselves with the thought that everyone else is doing it—or doing worse—and we won’t be negatively affected anyway. We somehow convince ourselves that we are the exception to the rule and therefore immune to the consequences of breaking it. We refuse, sometimes willfully, to be “exactly obedient”1—as it says in Preach My Gospel—and we hold back a portion of our hearts from the Lord. And then we get stung.

Only by acknowledging that the Lord's thoughts are not our own and that His prophets do, indeed, speak His word do we begin down the path that leads to eternal life. We must cling to the rod with all energy and purpose of heart, not justifying, not finding what we wish to believe are loopholes, not comparing ourselves to our peers or the world, but sincerely striving to both understand and live the teachings of the Savior.

And when we feel alone, forsaken, have lost peace of mind or heart, or feel that we have given away our last chance, remember that "complete healing and peace can be found at the feet of the Savior."


Monday, January 3, 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Best Is Yet to Be

"As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives."

Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Best Is Yet to Be", Ensign, Jan. 2010, 22–27

In our quest of goal-setting and resolution-making, Elder Holland offers counsel that helps us remember what is truly important and what should be our focus as we head into the new year. Taught he, "Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the “high priest of good things to come” (Hebrews 9:11).

"Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant and far away. Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever. That is a New Year’s resolution I ask you to keep."

Happy New Year's everyone!