blessings

“Don’t touch that!” “Be careful!” “Don’t climb up there.” “Don’t eat that plant!” “Stay where I can see you.” “Don’t bite her!”  “Be kind.”

Isn’t it interesting how parents universally have expectations for their children? Even before they can express themselves and begin to crawl rules and guidelines are set in place to ensure their safety. If those rules are obeyed life is much simpler—for everybody!

No good parent would leave his two year old to run on the road, or let him touch a hot stove. And we would not think much of a parent who didn’t love and care enough to protect and keep their children safe and happy.disciplining-children

I read the following on Facebook some days ago.

“Religion says you need to straighten up and serve their church and pay tithes to be saved. God says you need to accept his free gift of salvation and told his church to SERVE YOU until you accept. I’m sorry that the church isn’t fully obedient and for some reason they expect you to be, but just ignore them, don’t believe the lie you need to serve them and obey their rules to be saved. Just accept the free gift.”

I didn’t feel inclined to comment on my young friend’s post that day. Perhaps I was too tempted to pick it totally apart. However my thoughts keep returning to his sentiments. I do find it interesting that he included a phrase to ponder– “for some reason they expect you to be (obedient)”.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” Doctrines and Covenants 130:20-21

So many people’s hackles go up when confronted by rules. Especially the laws and commandments taught as part of religion. It truly is a testing ground for some. My way? Or God’s way?

Perhaps it’s our pride or rebellion. Perhaps it’s the belief that we are powerful and able to rule our own world. We want to change the rules to make them comfy and palatable-to match our desires. Maybe in the same way that children think they know better than their elders and fight to be independent, we fight being obedient to Heavenly Father’s plan.

“Today we find ourselves in …a war of thoughts, words and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children.” L. Tom Perry

Because I had never considered them closely in light of today’s practices, I was fascinated with a portion of a General Conference talk, “Obedience to Law is Liberty” given by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles regarding the Ten Commandments. He said:

“One way to measure ourselves and compare us to previous generations is by one of the oldest standards known to man—the Ten Commandments. For much of the civilized world, particularly the Judeo-Christian world, the Ten Commandments have been the most accepted and enduring delineation between good and evil.

In my judgement, four of the Ten Commandments are taken as seriously today as ever. As a culture we disdain and condemn murder, stealing, and lying, and we still believe in the responsibility of children to their parents.

But as a larger society we routinely dismiss the other six commandments:

–  If worldly priorities are any indication, we certainly have “other gods” we put before the true God.

–  We make idols of celebrities, of lifestyles, of wealth, and yes, sometimes of graven images or objects.

–  We use the name of God in all kinds of profane ways, including our exclamations and our swearing.

–  We use the Sabbath day for our biggest games, our most serious recreation, our heaviest shopping, and virtually everything else but worship.

–  We treat sexual relations outside marriage as recreation and entertainment.

–  And coveting has become a far too common way of life. (see Exodus 20:3-17)

…A useful way to think about the commandments is they 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.”

I am grateful to be a member of a church that teaches the importance of obeying all of Heavenly Father’s commandments. For many years I admired the writer of Psalms and marvelled at his expressions of deep praise, love and gratitude for the laws and commandments of God. Psalm 119 comes to mind.

We admire Abraham for his faith and obedience. “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:18) and other great ancients-Enoch, Noah, Joseph, Moses and many others- because they heard the voice of the Lord and obeyed.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ set us a perfect example of obedience. “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him. John 8:28-29

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:10-11

We parents plan to protect our children from all dangers. And we have desires and aspirations for them to be filled with happiness and well being. Would not a Heavenly Parent even more so  plan for the protection and happiness of His sons and daughters?

“In the universe, too, where God is in command,

there is law—universal, eternal …law—

with certain blessings and immutable penalties.”

It makes us sad to watch a child deliberately shatter a guideline and hurt himself. I wonder how it makes our Father in Heaven feel when we use our agency to completely disregard His guidelines. We miss out on the countless blessings He might have showered upon us.

“The Lord will not force himself upon people; and if they do not believe, they will receive no visitation. If they are content to depend upon their own limited calculations and interpretations, then, of course, the Lord will leave them to their chosen fate. . . . 

“The Almighty is with this people. We shall have all the revelations that we shall need if we will do our duty and keep the commandments of God. If men could just realize that there may be sound even though few ears hear it. There are revelations even though most minds be materialistic and most hearts impenetrable” The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 454

Over the years, I’ve often wondered why the predicated blessings are not listed with each commandment to answer my ‘whys’. Several times I’ve been enlightened with the reasons for a particular commandment after I have determined to keep it.

It may take years to recognize the promises and blessings attached to Heavenly Father’s commandments but when they are received, they are sweet indeed.

How have you been greatly blessed for keeping one of God’s commandments?

Do you live with daily unrelenting pain? Emptiness and ache in your bosom? Have you received heart wrenching news on the eve of Christmas? Are you feeling lonely? Are you ill? Do you know what panic attacks feel like? Are you depressed? Are your feelings hurt? Grieving deeply?

Are you suffering?

“Is any one of you in trouble? …Is any one of you sick? …pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well…the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” James 5:13-16

It’s the time of year when just about everyone has their mind on gift exchange and celebrating the season with those we love.

Several years ago, I was last minute shopping on Christmas Eve. My heart was breaking and my whole being weighed down, feeling betrayed and heavy with disappointment. I could not stop crying. In dire need of relief and not able to approach anyone but the Lord, my prayers felt stifled, stiff and totally inadequate for my predicament.

Certain that Christmas was in ruins, irreparable forever, I struggled with the idea of calling someone for extra help. I knew I looked horrid with a red face, swollen eyes and smeared mascara. I sure wasn’t in any mood to speak with anybody. I didn’t want to bother anyone on this, of all days.

Shutting my mind to the voices of pride and objections, I called a faithful brother and his wife from the mall to see if they were available, gratefully driving to their home when invited. I asked this priesthood holder for, and received a priesthood blessing.

Soon, completely transformed and totally filled with the deepest, incredible, calming influence, I continued my preparations to enjoy Christmas thoroughly with my family. No more tears. I was filled with assurance and a profound peace that I previously would not ever have thought possible in the circumstances. I felt strong, like nothing could ever shake me again.

I hope that this Christmas and every day of the year we will consider, in particular, the many gifts we have been given by our loving Heavenly Father. I hope we will receive these gifts with the wonder, thankfulness and excitement of a child.” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Our Heavenly Father has given us many gifts. First, as we know, is the perfect gift of His Only Begotten Son, the gift of the Holy Ghost, personal revelation and guidance, our salvation, eternal life and more-too numerous to count.

One of Heavenly Father’s gifts that I have learned to honor and appreciate is the power of the Holy Priesthood upon the earth today. I do not have a priesthood holder in my home and at first I did not understand their responsibility to serve with the authority of God.

Here is a marvelous excerpt with some explanation by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

“We know and understand that the priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God. We can easily recite this definition from memory. However, do we truly comprehend the significance of what we’re saying? Let me repeat: the priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God.

Think of it. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power, He redeems and exalts His children, bringing “to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Our all-powerful Father in Heaven has entrusted priesthood authority to us—mortal beings who, by definition, are flawed and imperfect. He grants to us the authority to act in His name for the salvation of His children.

By this great power we are authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, help build the kingdom of God on the earth, and bless and serve our families and our fellowmen.

This is the sacred priesthood we bear.

The priesthood, or any responsibility within it, cannot be purchased or commanded. The use of priesthood power cannot be influenced, swayed, or compelled by position, by wealth, or by influence.

It is a spiritual power that operates on heavenly law. It originates in the great Heavenly Father of us all. Its power can be controlled and directed only through principles of righteousness, not self-righteousness.

Christ is the source of all true priesthood authority and power on earth. It is His work, in which we are privileged to assist.

“And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.”

I no longer hesitate to seek a faithful brother when I need relief from the frailties and weaknesses of this life. Why remain in inordinate pain, either physical or emotional when a few moments’ blessing may transform my well being?

When my challenges seem greater than my lone prayers can handle, I am grateful beyond words for the service of my righteous and faithful brothers. The Savior’s peace and comfort that follows is a priceless warm wrapping.

Are you suffering? You too may have access to this precious gift. Seek this blessing at any time of the year. Ask humbly and with faith of one who bears that Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.

 

 

Have you ever been in a situation when you knew–really knew–exactly which direction the Lord desired for you to take? What were your choices? What did you choose? Any regrets?

Do you trust God? How do you know?

Many of the ideas in this post originate from a wonderful article that helped me ponder ‘trust in the Lord’.  “How much do I trust God? What does 100% trust look like? What does it take to trust God?  What stops people from trusting God? Why trust Him at all?” I’ve listed my accumulated thoughts. Is there more you can share?

Why trust in God?

* Your needs are great and varied

* You are His unique child

* He knows you individually

* He loves you

* He wants you to be happy

* He has your best interest in mind

* A lack of trust in Him brings sadness into your life

* He will send you messages of encouragement, correction and direction-fitted to you and to your needs

* He will counsel you personally with His wisdom-He can tell you exactly what you need to do-for your needs

Heartaches.  Grief. Anger. Hopelessness. Contention. Depression. Lack of direction in life. Divorce. Loneliness. Burdens of life. Unfulfillment. Frustration. The list of pain and anguish is endless. Countless long for relief but don’t know where to turn. The joy and happiness longed for can be very elusive.

Every individual on this earth has reason to turn to God. Each longs for a life overflowing with joy and happiness.

“I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.” Alma 29:2

What stops you from trusting God?

* Pride

* Fear

* No idea of how much He loves you

* Don’t know or believe that He truly is mindful of you

* You trust in men’s wisdom

* Lack of belief in His power to make or bring change

* Lack of belief in His power to fill your heart with joy, peace, happiness

* Lack of belief in His power to heal the pain, distress and grief of your heart

* Denial

* Lack of integrity

* Lack of a good heart

* Lack of honesty

* Unwillingness to obey His counsel

* A refusal to repent-that is, to turn and go in the direction he indicates.

Do you agree or disagree? Any more you can add to this list?

 “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy” Jonah 2:8

What is the result of not trusting God?

Recall Jonah’s experience?  The Lord sent him to Nineveh to call the people to repentance.  Jonah boarded a ship going Tarshish-the opposite direction. His plan was to hide from the presence of the Lord. A mighty tempest entered his life while he was sleeping.

Waters compassed him…weeds wrapped around his head. (Denial, engulfed in misery, depression, lack of belief in God’s power, definitely didn’t trust the Lord). He did recognize that he was on this worldly level forever-no progression happening here.

What happens when we leave the presence of the Lord?

* Pain

* No joy

* No peace

* No happiness

* No blessings

* No progression

We reject His plan for our life. This lack of trust in God brings sorrow and misery to Heavenly Father’s children.

Then Jonah says he remembered the Lord- and he prayed.

What does it take to trust God?

* Courage

* Humility

* Honesty

* Remaining in God’s presence

* Desire to develop trust

* Two way communication ( Jonah prayed then he says of God, “ He heard me”, “Thou heardest my voice”)

* Commitment

* Knowing God

* Recognize our salvation is in Jesus Christ

* Willingness to obey His commandments no matter how hard they appear

* Repentance-turn in opposite direction

* Thanksgiving

* Keeping our covenants, promises, vows

And then the Lord ‘spake’ unto the fish. God acted –and saved Jonah. A second time He sent Jonah to Nineveh. Jonah did go and his mission was successful.

“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” 1 Nephi 3:7

When we trust in God, what do we receive?

* Peace

* Security

* Healing

* Strength

* Greater light

* More faith

* More talent

* Harmony

* Confidence

* Prosperity

* Greater joy

* Greater happiness

“…in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Luke 8:15 (KJV)

Trusting God will bless:

*  Our life

*  Lives of our families

Our communities

Nations

“And if you then go and do what He would have you do, your power to trust Him will grow, and in time you will be overwhelmed with gratitude to find that He has come to trust you.”  Henry B Eyring

Do you trust in God? How do you know?

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