Scripture of the Day!!!!!

8 But as oft as they repented and sought fogriveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.

Moroni 6:8

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christlike Love

To all those reading this, I hope you got to see the First Presidency Christmas devotional! Every opportunity that we have to hear today's prophets speak is a blessing. It sounds weird though but the part of the devotional that left the greatest impression on my mind is the musical number that immediately followed President Uchtdorf's talk. I'd never heard the song before, but it totally blew me away! The title is "What shall we give to the babe in the manger?" and below is a video of the performance.

Isn't that beautiful? Listening to that brought me an overwhelming feeling of peace and comfort. The first time through I was so busy listening to the sound that I really didn't hear the lyrics, but reading them afterward got me thinking.

What shall we give to the babe in the manger,
What shall we offer the child in the stall?
Incense and spices and gold we've got plenty-
Are these the gifts for the king of us all?

What shall we give to the boy in the temple,
What shall we offer the man by the sea?
Palms at his feet and hosannas uprising;
Are these for him who will carry the tree?

What shall we give to the lamb who was offered,
Rising the third day and shedding his love?
Tears for his mercy we'll weep at the manger,
Bathing the infant come down from above.

Good question what should we give?? Well a couple scriptures leap to mind!
First from the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 9:20
"And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost..."
Here Jesus Christ is very clear what we ought to offer--a broken heart and contrite Spirit. We need to offer Him our whole heart, sincerely sorry for our mistakes and shortcomings, and ready to follow Him wherever He directs.

Second from the Bible, John 13:34-35
"34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
This one struck me because really if you read the scripture, it takes things a step above the earlier commandment to "love thy neightbor as thyself." Loving people the way Christ loves us is a looot more than loving people the way we love ourselves. His love is a pure, unselfish, and unconditional love. His love is so perfect that He willingly suffered persecution, rejection, scorn, abuse, torture, and death, all so that His antagonists could have a chance of recieving forgiveness for their sins. I love a lot of people in my life right now (especially since I've been serving my mission), and there are many I would honestly die for. However, Christlike love is not selective. It is a love of all.
So what shall we give to the babe in the manger this Christmas? Well it is my humble opinion that the best gift we can give to our Savior is to learn to love like Him. As our feelings towards our fellow men begin to mirror Christ's feelings for us, we will experience a new kind of joy and peace, and we will be doing more than ever before to find the true meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Being Open to Answers

Today I had an interesting idea while I was reading from the Book of Mormon. One of those "aha!" moments that feel so good.
Chapter 7 in the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon is an interesting story. It's kinda confusing, but I'm gonna try to break it down! It starts a man named Zeniff who led a large group of people to try and settle in a different part of the land. Zeniff and his people left behind the rest of their civilization and their king, king Mosiah. After 80 years passed with no word as to their situation, king Mosiah decided to send a man named Ammon along with 15 other men to search for the people of Zeniff.
Eventually Ammon's team found the people of Zeniff who now had a new leader named Limhi. When Ammon came to the city, he was captured and thrown in jail. After 2 days of being in jail, he was bound and brought before king Limhi.

OK so after that long setup, here's the point.

King Limhi starts off talking to Ammon in verse 11 by saying:
"I desire to know the cause whereby ye were so bold as to come near the walls of the city....And now, for this cause have I suffered that ye should be preserved, that I might inquire of you, or else I should have caused that my guards should have put you to death. Ye are permitted to speak."
Pretty gruff. At this point Limhi doesn't realize that Ammon is an ally. Ammon's group and the people of Limhi are really from the same place originally. Remember that making contact with Limhi's people was the whole purpose of Ammon's journey.
So now Ammon gets up to bat. In verse 12:
"And now, when Ammon saw that he was permitted to speak, he went forth and bowed himself before the king; and rising again he said: O king, I am very thankful before God this day that I am yet alive, and am permitted to speak; and I will endeavor to speak with boldness;"
And then he says the line that stuck out to me. In verse 13:
"For I am assured that if ye had known me ye would not have suffered that I should have worn these bands..."
Ammon goes on to explain that he's really a friend and that they want to help. After hearing that, Limhi gets extremely excited, commands the guards to release Ammon and his friends, and throws a big party for them! Limhi explains that his people are being heavily taxed by another larger nation, and he is grateful to have made contact with their old civilization who might be able to help. Eventually king Limhi's people do escape and with Ammon's help return to their old lands.
Alright now here's the point of me explaining that whole story!
1) I just kinda like the story haha!
2) How often are we like king Limhi here? At Limhi's first encounter with Ammon's group he totally rejected anything they had to say (not to mention he threw them in jail...). Limhi was suspicious and didn't take the time to listen. It was lucky for Ammon that king Limhi had a bit of curiosity, but if he hadn't.... Well Ammon would have been dead, along with all hope of Limhi's escape from their oppressors. However, Limhi did give Ammon the chance to speak, and he heard the fantastic news of possible deliverance.

It is my humble opinion that all of us are at times very like king Limhi. Our Heavenly Father knows us all at an intensely personal level. He is totally aware of what we are experiencing and is constantly reaching out to try and aid us on our journey. Only problem is....often if we aren't open and observant we ignore or deny His loving guidance. King Limhi could have easily had Ammon killed, and by the way he spoke to Ammon it sounds like he had executed people for approaching him in the past. I feel like many times the Lord sends us messages through a friend, an experience, or even just a thought or feeling. These are all for our benefit and learning. However, when we ignore or reject God's counsel we are, in a sense, slaying Ammon.
Now I know that there have been times when I haven't exactly followed God's direction. I've had my fair share of being king Limhi. However, often on the mission I feel like Ammon. Missionaries all over the world go out and talk to people every day in the hopes that people will take the opportunity to listen to our message of love. Often we meet people much less curious than king Limhi, but all those who have taken the opportunity to listen and act on God's word have felt the powerful increase of love that comes through following His commandments.
It is my prayer that all of us will take care to pay special attention to our Father's direction. I promise that all those who listen to and act upon His guidance will, like the people of Limhi, be led to greater freedom from the bonds of sin and guilt, and that the Lord will bless them with the kind of peace that only comes through Him.