Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven

For my farewell talk I was given the topic of "Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven". While I was at BYU-Idaho, I helped out on the council for the Spring Get Connected-the new student orientation. We planned for the orientation all Winter Semester. Part of our planning was to create a topic for the volunteers that helped us that week. We decided on "Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven" which is the first line in the fourth verse of the Hymn "Praise to the Man" (Hymn 27). That semester and week of Get Connected, my council and I saw so many blessings from the sacrifices we and the volunteers and the students made to be there at the school and to serve during Get Connected. We sacrificed sleep, spring break, our time; some new students sacrificed their families for coming to a church school. Because of these sacrifices the volunteers and the new students were blessed! 

Sacrifice means to give up something we value for the sake of something of greater worth. Sacrifices help us to develop the faith necessary for eternal salvation. Joseph Smith taught that "a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation." How amazing it is that there is a church today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that has this. 

There are many example in the scriptures of people making sacrifices because the Lord asked them to or because they know that if they do then something greater will come. Some of my favorite heroes in the scriptures have mad sacrifices. 

Esther, in the bible, was willing to sacrifice her life in order to save the Jews. She went to the King to talk to him about not harming the Jews. To go unto the King without being invited was punishable by death. Esther was not only blessed with safety that her life was spared, but so were the lives of the Jews. 

In the Book of Mormon we read that Nephi and his family sacrificed a lot to go into the wilderness and do as the Lord had commanded them. They left their wealth, home, comfort, friends but were blessed with many blessing both spiritual and temporal. 

One of the strongest blessing from sacrifices can be seen from the 2,000 Stripling Warriors. Their fathers made a covenant to give up their weapons of war. Later there became a need for protection in their land and they kept their covanent and sacrificed their fatherly roles of protector and their sons went to fight for the freedom and saftey of their families. Becasue of these sacrifices not one of the 2,000 Stripling Warriors were killed.

The early Latter-day Saints sacrificed so much to travel to America and then travel west to build the Church. They also sacrificed so much to build the Salt Lake Temple and the Nauvoo Temple. They sacrificed their best china, time, and talents to build temples. They received so many blessings and miracles during this time. They were blessed with temples and those blessings that come with temple and we are blessed today by their sacrifices. 

Joseph Smith Jr. was persecuted, beat, and eventually sacrificed his life for the church. He was a blessing to us today that we have the restored gospel which he helped in restoring the true church to the earth today. We are still blessed today to have a true and living prophet to lead and direct us in these days. 

As we can see from the examples in the scriptures, everyone's sacrifices are different. Some sacrifices we may have is paying tithing, attending church, repenting, being baptized, reading our scriptures daily, holding FHE, fasting, doing Family History Work, TIME, the list can go on. 

Robert K. Dellenback of the First Quorum of the Seventy said this about tithing. "The faithful contribution of tithes is an outward expression of an inner commitment to sacrifice." As we pay tithing, the windows of heaven will be opened unto us. 

Doing temple work can be a big sacrifice for members of the church. We have a temple so close to us! We don't need to take a plane, train, car, boat, canoe, and foot to just get to the temple. Depending on where you live we can walk or drive a relatively short distance. I have lived in a variety of places and the farthest I have been to a temple was a 5 hour drive. As we go to the temple we will receive so many blessings for the service we do for others. I saw these blessing as I served as a temple worker at the Palmyra Temple. 

I loved in this past General Conference when President Dieter F. Uctdorf told us this story in his talk "Come Join With Us". 
Once there was a man who dreamed that he was in a great hall where all the religions of the world were gathered. He realized that each religion had much that seemed desirable and worthy.
He met a nice couple who represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked, “What do you require of your members?”
We do not require anything,” they replied. “But the Lord asks that we consecrate all.”The couple went on to explain about Church callings, home and visiting teaching, full-time missions, weekly family home evenings, temple work, welfare and humanitarian service, and assignments to teach.
“Do you pay your people for all the work they do?” the man asked.“Oh, no,” the couple explained. “They offer their time freely.”“Also,” the couple continued, “every six months our Church members spend a weekend attending or watching 10 hours of general conference.”“Ten hours of people giving talks?” the man wondered.“What about your weekly church services? How long are they?”“Three hours, every Sunday!”“Oh, my,” the man said. “Do members of your church actually do what you have said?”“That and more. We haven’t even mentioned family history, youth camps, devotionals, scripture study, leadership training, youth activities, early-morning seminary, maintaining Church buildings, and of course there is the Lord’s law of health, the monthly fast to help the poor, and tithing.”
The man said, “Now I’m confused. Why would anyone want to join such a church?”The couple smiled and said, “We thought you would never ask.”
I can just imagine this great hall with tables set up with all the different religions and at one there is a cute elderly senior missionary couple at a table with pass along cards and Books of Mormon set out to tell people about our religion. It makes me so excited because I am going to serve a mission for the church and teach people about this true church. 

I really like Pinterest and while preparing to go on my mission I made a board specifically towards my mission. As I was looking around one day I found this picture of a plaque you might hang in your home. 

This is what I am doing. I am sacrificing my time and leaving my family so that I can bring the people in California unto the truthfulness of the gospel and that they can be with their families forever and all eternity! Missionaries sacrifice their time, school, and leave their friends and family for 18 months or 2 years to go and serve the Lord. It will be very hard for me to leave my family because I love them so much but I know that 18 months is nothing when you look at the eternities that we have to live. I know that as I go serve a mission I will be blessed and grow spiritually and that my family will be blessed for their sacrifices to support me. I also know that as I am on my mission I will bless the lives of many by my example and as I bring others to know of the truthfulness of this church and the gospel and they will receive so many blessings. 

The greatest and ultimate sacrifice of all is the Atonement. The Savior gave His life for us that we might have the opportunity to return to live with Him and Heavenly Father again and that we might be able to repent of our sins and our mistakes and be clean again. This is truly an amazing blessing we have that no matter what things may happen in life, we have the opportunity to repent for our sins and be made clean again. He sacrificed His life that we may live, live in His gospel and His truthfulness. I will forever be grateful and thankful that Christ sacrificed himself that I might be able to be made clean again and that after this life I can go and live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again if I am faithful to the commandments and my covenants. 

In Matthew 16:24-25 Christ is talking to his disciples when he says 
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
I know that as we deny our own desires and follow Christ and be lost in His work, we will be blessed and we will find our life in Him.

I am so thankful for the gift of the Atonement and I know that through it we can become clean again no matter how much we have sinned. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church on the earth today and that it is lead by a true and living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson who receives revelation from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for us in our day. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and that he did translate the Book of Mormon through the blessings of the Holy Ghost and the power of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and it is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know that our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us, His children.

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