Sunday, April 26, 2015

Theron and I wanted to post the talks that we gave in Sacrament meeting today.  I hope you find something that touches your heart in them.  - Cathy 

The Bishop has asked that I speak today on exercising faith and following the Lord  

If we are following the Lord then we must have our hearts and minds in focus with the Lord’s heart and mind.  We know that the Lord’s focus is upon our eternal rewards and helping all our Father in Heaven’s children gather again with him.  That is God’s plan.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the path that leads us to our Heavenly Father.   

Are we exercising faith and following the Lord?  Are we keeping our eyes on eternal rewards- or do we sometimes get distracted and focus on something else?   

Have you heard the story about the archaeologist who was trying to maintain his sense of direction down a winding river by watching the North Star?  He watched the skies constantly but sometimes the view of the star disappeared behind the silhouettes of the trees lining the riverbanks, but it always reappeared shortly. At one bend in the river the star was lost behind the treetops again.  As the boat turned he quickly relocated it and felt rather proud of his ability to stay oriented.  After a minute of watching it, he realized he was mistaken: he had not relocated the North Star. In fact it was not even a star at all.  He was watching a firefly. How could he mistake a miniscule firefly for a star of almost infinite brilliance? The light of the firefly rivaled the star because the fireflies were just a few feet away and the stars were so distant. There are so many fireflies in the skies and that is not a bad thing because God created the fireflies. UNLESS we let them become our compass, directing us to worldly wants and not eternal goals. 

Theron and I love our family dearly.  Our eternal goal is the same as our Father in Heaven.  We want an eternal family. We don’t let much get in the way of the time we spend with them now, so leaving them for a year and a half seemed unimaginable.  In fact many of you have commented that you didn’t see Theron and I as ones who would go on a mission because our family was so close.  Everyone thought we wouldn't be able to leave our children and grandchildren.  That however is what gives us the reason and strength to go.  I want you to hear the response of one of our grandchildren on the day when we received our call.  Megan turned 10 last month.  She gave us this card as soon as we opened our letter and read our mission assignment. 

I had Megan read the card that she had made for us. 

Dear Future Missionarys,
I am so glad you made the choice to go on a mission.  You are a great example to everyone.  You are the best grandparents a girl could ever have.  I’m proud of you for serving the Lord.  You are going to be the light in peoples world.  You are following Jesus’ example which makes me the happiest child on earth.  I will miss you a lot, I’m sure everyone will. 

Love from your favorite grandchild, Megan” 

Now you know HOW we can choose to leave them and serve the Lord in the Philippines. 

There is a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 31: 3, 5-6.  Theron and I have taken guidance from this scripture.  It reads:
3 Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation.
5 Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Wherefore, your family shall live.
6 Behold, verily I say unto you, go from them only for a little time, and declare my word, and I will prepare a place for them. 

We are told that it is the time for us to declare our faith in God’s eternal plan, to follow the path of our brother Jesus Christ and teach his gospel unto this generation.  We are told that if we accept this with all our heart, we will be provided for and our family will be blessed. We will be blessed with the promise of being an eternal family and that our Father in Heaven will prepare a place for us in heaven while we do his work here on earth.  It is our privilege to feel the love Heavenly Father has for us and for our brothers and sisters as we assist in the work in the Philippines, the work of helping them come to themselves and more important, to come to God. 

Following Jesus Christ’s example of obedience increases our faith, for how can we be obedient without faith- and how can we show faith without obedience.   We know that obedience is the first law of heaven. The scriptures teach
“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.” This is found in the Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21. 

We become converted as a result of our righteous efforts to follow the Savior. Exercising faith is required for us to receive our righteous desires. These efforts include following Jesus Christ.  We exercise faith when we are obedient to the lord’s teachings.  Along with the teachings we receive in church and from the leaders we also are taught by the Holy Spirit.  

Are we obedient to the teachings of the Spirit?  Do we follow the promptings when we receive them?  Do we even recognize when we receive these promptings?  Back in the middle of September Theron walked into the house, stopped in the kitchen and firmly announced  "I think we should be walking on the beaches of Fiji teaching the gospel".  Something in his voice made me turn and ask "are you serious?" His answer shocked me even more when he said "maybe I am".  The rest of the day went on with talk of a mission being the dominant subject of conversation.  The spirit was so strong in our home that day.  We left the next morning for a weekend drive to Colorado. All the way there and all the way back we read the information on senior missions.  We described to each other what we would like to do as missionaries. When we got to the part on the senior bulletin about the PEF Self reliance mission we knew that was what we were going to do. It was written out almost word for word as we had described our desires. After one phone call to the church office department presiding over missionaries we were on our way.  Theron told the gentleman on the phone why he was calling, including the phrase of teaching in Fiji.  The brother answered by saying we just sent a couple to Fiji to do that very thing. Again we felt the spirit confirm that this was what we were to do. 

Remember the scripture I said in D&C 31: 3 Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come.  We received the confirmation that we had been prompted by the Spirit and that the Holy Ghost had indeed testified that the time for us to serve a mission was NOW. 

We exercise our faith through prayer and through sharing our testimonies.   We share our testimonies not just through words but by our actions.  We become converted when we live the gospel and become “doers of the word” by exercising faith, being obedient, lovingly serving others, and following our Savior’s example. When we act with integrity and do what we know is right we receive the peace promised by the Savior as we show Him we are willing to obey and follow Him. 

Some may think we are foolish to walk away from our business years before we are ready to retire, but when we calculated earthly things on the Lord’s timetable it made perfect sense to go now and let him take care of us. 

President Monson said “The wisdom of God ofttimes appears as foolishness to men. But the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and His children obey, they will always be right.”

If we have been attentive and obedient to the Lord’s teachings and the admonishments of the Prophets to be debt free and self -reliant then it is easy to be obedient to the promptings of the spirit when he says “today is the day”.  

I remember Brother Kordsiemon’s answer  in response to being asked What is Faith?  He said “it is simply hearing and following the Spirit.  If the Spirit tells us to do something then we should do it because we are prepared to do it. Otherwise the Spirit would not have told us to do it.” 

Let me quote Elder D. Todd Christofferson “As we walk in obedience to the principles and commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we enjoy continual flow of blessings promised by God in his Covenant with us.  Those blessings provide the resources we need to act rather than simply be acted upon as we go through life. Obedience gives us greater control over our lives, greater capacity to come and go, to work and to create.”   Close quote.

President Spencer W. Kimball taught this concept when he said: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other. We each have a covenant responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of others and serve as the Savior did—to reach out, bless, and uplift those around us.”

If we are not willing or cannot recognize that we can be the answer to someone’s prayers, how will we be willing or able to recognize the answer to our prayers? President Deiter F Uchdorf says  “Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us. Selfless acts of service and consecration refine our spirits, remove the scales from our spiritual eyes, and open the windows of heaven. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answer to our own.” 

Elder Bednar asked “Can the spiritual strength that results from consistent obedience to the commandments be given to another person?  The clear answer is no!  But the example we set, and the testimonies we share can instill a desire to be obedient.  We have experienced first -hand that the closer we get to the Lord the more Satan tries to get us to give up before we get the blessing. The more obedient we are the more we can feel the love of our Heavenly Father.  When we choose to follow Him, he takes really good care of us.” 

At an early age I was taught that I have a Heavenly Father who knows me and loves me. I came to understand that my prayers are answered.  So when I was older and started learning the teachings about the restoration of God’s church it was easy for me to believe that God answered Joseph Smith’s prayer. In believing that Joseph’s prayer was answered it was easy to believe the Book of Mormon.  I was taught to have faith and that through obedience to the teachings I would gain knowledge.  I can now say I know that the Book of Mormon is true.  I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, called to restore the Gospel so that we might receive the blessings that had been promised in our Fathers presence.  I know that our Heavenly Father loves us and provides guidance for us today just as he did in the days of the Old Testament.  He sends prophets to speak to us just as he did with his children he loved in ancient times, and he will continue to bless us and guide us but he will never take away our agency to choose for ourselves.  Each day is an opportunity for us to show our Love to Our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ.  Through our obedience, our acts of service, our charity to others we are able to give thanks to them.  I know that God is my Father, he loves me and he wants me to be happy.  If I put my trust in him and keep my focus in line with his of being worthy to attend the temple and receive the sealing ordinances I will gain the greatest blessing from God which is eternal life.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

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