Sunday, February 14, 2016

Press Forward Saints

I love the hymns of the church.  When we sing the songs of the gospel it is important that we know the words and understand what we are singing.  When we sing with understanding there are lessons we learn and our testimonies are born. 

The theme for Urdaneta Stake Conference today was "Press Forward Saints".  In hymn 81 we sing press forward, Saints, with steadfast faith in Christ. Press forward, feasting on the word of Christ. Press on, enduring in the ways of Christ.

In 2 Nephi 31:20.  We are instructed “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”

Who is a saint? How do we become a saint? The word is a translation of a Greek word for someone that is holy, or the idea being that one is consecrated or set apart for a sacred purpose; and that what was set apart for God must be without fault.  It is to be pure, to be clean.  In the New Testament we learn that the saints are all those who by baptism have been made clean, pure, or without fault and entered into the Christian covenant.  We also become saints as we make covenants with the Lord when we enter into the waters of baptism.  We become clean, we become pure. 

We must be steadfast in our faith to remain clean and pure. To be steadfast is to be solid, unwavering, or unchanged.  We must stay solid in our faith, but we must also be willing to change. We need to change our ways and make them the Lord's ways. We need to change to become more of what the Lord wants us to be.  

Life brings many challenges for every member of the human family. Some challenges are the result of unwise choices that all of us make from time to time. Some challenges may have nothing to do with our choices at all. Many of our challenges are the results of other people’s actions.  But in every circumstance, with steadfast faith in Christ, hope and peace can be found.  It can be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in the infinite Atonement of Christ.  He understands our burdens.

Press forward Saints! In all things.  We cannot press forward in our temporal needs and let our spiritual needs wait.  Also we cannot press forward in seeking spiritual blessings and not provide for our temporal needs.  Our Heavenly Father has said "unto me all things are spiritual for never have I given you a law that was temporal."  D&C 29:34.

There are great needs among us. Many lack the ability to "provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for their self and their family. Our modern-day prophets have counseled us to become self-reliant.  They say “Self-reliance is a product of our work and is the support or the foundation for all other welfare practices. …

Pres. Thomas S. Monson quoted Marion G. Romney when he said ‘Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle’.
Relying on the Lord, having steadfast faith in Christ, helps us on our path to spiritual and temporal self-reliance. Press forward saints, with hope burning bright in heart and mind, and with the love of God.

Press forward, feasting on the word of Christ.  Do we really feast on his words?  Do we let the words enter into our hearts and minds and give us nourishment and strength.  When we feast on the word of Christ we are obedient to his words.  We do all that we can to follow his words and follow the path he has prepared for us. 

Jacob 2: 18-19 tells us "But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God."And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good--to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

We do this by setting self-reliant goals both temporal and spiritual.  We decide how we will become self-reliant.  When we develop spiritual habits we build a better foundation of the Gospel and then we develop habits that will strengthen all aspects of our lives.  When we act in greater obedience and faith in the Lord we receive His promised blessings both temporal and spiritual.  We become nourished both temporally and spiritually.  When we are well nourished, we grow closer to God.

Press on, enduring in the ways of Christ. To endure does not mean to continue or to exist in the same state or condition. It is to endure as Christ did. To live the way he lived, with love of God and love of all mankind.  There is no way "endure to the end" can be defined.  Because of Christ's atonement and resurrection there is no end. We must endure to eternity. Through our faith and trust and obedience changes will take place.  President Uchtdorf says we must be patient.  Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and continue doing all we can. Working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring, it is enduring well.

Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God”.  We become saints, as we press forward. We remain steadfast, and we endure patiently.

Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father says Neal A. Maxwell. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His. We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God's purposes and patterns to unfold in our lives, on His timetable.

One day I was stressed over a something that I was working on and President Deyro counseled me to slow down and wait.  Wait for God to do his miracles.  And then press forward to become the blessings in someone else’s life.

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