The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

June 29, 2017

Charity, Service

Comments Off on A Very Old New Commandment

When we come to understand how much our Savior has done for us through His Atonement, we develop an overwhelming desire to do something, no matter how inadequate, to take the tiniest step toward repaying Him for His infinite and eternal service to us.

The Lord instructs us as to what we should do when such feelings touch our souls in many different places in the scriptures.  Nowhere are his instructions clearer than in the Gospel of John.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 13:34

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May 16, 2017

Christmas, General Authorities, Hunter, Sacrifice, Service

Comments Off on It is Possible for Christ to be Born in Men’s Lives

It is possible for Christ to be born in men’s lives, and when such an experience actually happens, a man is “in Christ”—Christ is “formed” in him. This presupposes that we take Christ into our hearts and make Him the living contemporary of our lives. He is not just a general truth or a fact in history, but the Savior of men everywhere and at all times. When we strive to be Christlike, He is “formed” in us; if we open the door, He will enter; if we seek His counsel, He will counsel us. For Christ to be “formed” in us, we must have a belief in Him and in His Atonement. Such a belief in Christ and the keeping of His commandments are not restraints upon us. By these, men are set free. This Prince of Peace waits to give peace of mind, which may make each of us a channel of that peace.

The real Christmas comes to him who has taken Christ into his life as a moving, dynamic, vitalizing force. The real spirit of Christmas lies in the life and mission of the Master. I continue with what the writer defines as the real spirit of Christmas:

“It is a desire to sacrifice for others, to render service, and to possess a feeling of universal brotherhood. It consists of a willingness to forget what you have done for others, and to remember only what others have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and think only of … your duties in the middle distance, and your chance to do good and aid your fellow-men in the foreground—to see that your fellow-men are just as good as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts—to close your book of grievances against the universe, and look about you for a place to sow a few seeds of happiness and go your way unobserved” [Improvement Era, Dec. 1919, 155].

President Howard W. Hunter
The Real Christmas“, Ensign, Dec. 2005, 22–25

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February 17, 2017

Forgiveness, Grace, Humility, King Benjamin, Mercy, Service

Comments Off on After We Have Received His Grace, We Must Extend Grace to Others

King Benjamin teaches precisely how the redemptive process works and can be maintained. First he proclaims the essential and primary reality of the atonement, by which Christ extends unconditional love to us, even in our sins.

Consistent with Amulek and Alma, he teaches that we can be moved by Christ’s unconditional love to overcome the demands within ourselves, placed there by our God-given consciences, to punish ourselves and others. This breaking the bands of justice, he claims, enables us to accept Christ’s mercy and forgiveness and become new creatures.

Intensely moved by learning of Christ’s love, the group of Nephites being taught by King Benjamin actually go through that saving process and begin to rejoice that they are indeed changed, that they “have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).

King Benjamin also reveals the only way to maintain change, to retain “a remission of your sins from day to day” (Mosiah 4:26). The key is humility, the abdication of imitative desire through recognizing that we are “all beggars” (Mosiah 4:19).

Just as God does not reject us for our sins, does not refuse to love us or to extend his healing grace and continual blessings because we sin, so we must respond to those who beg help from us though they do not “deserve” it. We must never judge their desires or condition; we must never think that “the man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore . . . his punishments are just” (Mosiah 4:17). If we do so we have “great cause to repent,” and if we fail to repent we have “no interest in the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 4:18). Instead, we must constantly recognize our own weakness and our own position of dependence on God, judging no one else but engaging constantly in specific acts of sacrificial love: “feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants” (Mosiah 4:26).

The point the Book of Mormon makes much more clearly than I find made in the Bible is this: To continue experiencing the atonement of Christ after we have received his grace, we must extend grace to others.

Christ makes us into new creatures, into persons strong enough not to act contrary to what we know-that is, not to sin- if we will merely accept Christ’s merciful, undeserved love; he gives us power to repent, the “means” by which we can “have faith unto repentance” (Alma 34:15). But if we then continue judging others, we will unconsciously judge ourselves. We must constantly give mercy to be able to accept it. We must never exact revenge, even in the name of perfect justice. We must not take vengeance, even upon ourselves, the sinners whom we inwardly know most certainly deserve it.

Eugene England
A Second Witness for the Logos: the Book of Mormon and Contemporary Literary Criticism
included in By Study and Also by Faith v2, Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday
John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks, eds.
Deseret Book Company, (1990)
(paragraph breaks added to improve online readability)

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February 5, 2017

Monson, Service

Comments Off on Whosoever will save his life

The Savior taught His disciples, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” 

I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives.

Thomas S. Monson

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December 26, 2016

Charity, General Authorities, Kimball, Service

Comments Off on Service: It is easier to find ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!

Service to others deepens and sweetens this life while we are preparing to live in a better world. It is by serving that we learn how to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves! In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves! [See Matthew 10:39.]

Not only do we “find” ourselves in terms of acknowledging divine guidance in our lives, but the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find! …

… The abundant life noted in the scriptures [see John 10:10] is the spiritual sum that is arrived at by the multiplying of our service to others and by investing our talents in service to God and to man. Jesus said, you will recall, that on the first two commandments hang all the law and the prophets, and those two commandments involve developing our love of God, of self, of our neighbors, and of all men [see Matthew 22:36–40]. There can be no real abundance in life that is not connected with the keeping and the carrying out of those two great commandments.

Unless the way we live draws us closer to our Heavenly Father and to our fellowmen, there will be an enormous emptiness in our lives. It is frightening for me to see, for instance, how the life-style of so many today causes them to disengage from their families and their friends and their peers toward a heedless pursuit of pleasure or materialism. So often loyalty to family, to community, and to country is pushed aside in favor of other pursuits which are wrongly thought to be productive of happiness when, in fact, selfishness is so often the pursuit of questionable pleasure which passes so quickly. One of the differences between true joy and mere pleasure is that certain pleasures are realized only at the cost of someone else’s pain. Joy, on the other hand, springs out of selflessness and service, and it benefits rather than hurts others.

. . . .

As the contrasts between the ways of the world and the ways of God become sharpened by circumstance, the faith of the members of the Church will be tried even more severely. One of the most vital things we can do is to express our testimonies through service, which will, in turn, produce spiritual growth, greater commitment, and a greater capacity to keep the commandments. …

There is great security in spirituality, and we cannot have spirituality without service!

President Spencer W. Kimball
Chapter 8: Selfless Service,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: SpencerW. Kimball

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December 4, 2016

Charity, Service

Comments Off on I am a little pencil

I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

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August 4, 2016

Eyring, General Authorities, General Conference, Holy Ghost, Service

Comments Off on How does one magnify a calling? Simply by performing the service that pertains to it.

We need not worry about knowing the right thing to say or do when we get there. The love of God and the Holy Spirit may be enough. When I was a young man I feared that I would not know what to do or to say to people in great need.

Once I was at the hospital bedside of my father as he seemed near death. I heard a commotion among the nurses in the hallway. Suddenly, President Spencer W. Kimball walked into the room and sat in a chair on the opposite side of the bed from me. I thought to myself, “Now here is my chance to watch and listen to a master at going to those in pain and suffering.”

President Kimball said a few words of greeting, asked my father if he had received a priesthood blessing, and then, when Dad said that he had, the prophet sat back in his chair.

I waited for a demonstration of the comforting skills I felt I lacked and so much needed. After perhaps five minutes of watching the two of them simply smiling silently at each other, I saw President Kimball rise and say, “Henry, I think I’ll go before we tire you.”

I thought I had missed the lesson, but it came later. In a quiet moment with Dad after he recovered enough to go home, our conversation turned to the visit by President Kimball. Dad said quietly, “Of all the visits I had, that visit I had from him lifted my spirits the most.”

President Kimball didn’t speak many words of comfort, at least that I could hear, but he went with the Spirit of the Lord as his companion to give the comfort. I realize now that he was demonstrating the lesson President Monson taught: “How does one magnify a calling? Simply by performing the service that pertains to it.”

That is true whether we are called to teach the gospel by the Spirit or go with the Holy Ghost to those with feeble knees and hands that hang down. Our priesthood service will be strengthened, people will be blessed, and the light of heaven will be there.The light of heaven will be there for us as well as for those we serve. We may be tired. Our own and our family’s troubles may loom large. But there is a blessing of encouragement for those who serve under the influence of the Spirit.

President Henry B. Eyring
Serve with the Spirit

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April 3, 2016

Christmas, Service

Comments Off on Serving Dios Niño on Christmas Day

Watch the video all the way through and you’ll feel the Christmas spirit.
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November 2, 2015

Amulek, Charity, King Benjamin, Sanctification, Service, Video, Words of Christ

Comments Off on Pure Religion: Forgiveness is Followed by Charity

Charity, the love of others that motivates us to serve them, is closely connected with the Atonement.

In his great Atonement sermon, King Benjamin addressed the righteous Nephites, who had just received miraculous forgiveness from their sins, telling them what they must do next:

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
Mosiah 4:16-19

In Amulek’s great Atonement sermon, he makes an explicit connection between our cry for mercy and the imperative for us to help others:

17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
26 But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.
28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.
29 Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men.
Alma 34:17-29

The Savior himself made this connection in only a few words:

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
John 13:34

In other words, as I (Christ) have loved you (by sacrificing himself in Gethsemane and Calvary to redeem you), you should, within the limits of your mortal abilities, help and assist others.

When King Benjamin speaks of beggars, he is not referring only to those who lack material means to support themselves, the poor in money.  I believe that he is also referring to the poor in spirit.  This category includes some who have a great deal of money.

The message that we take to the poor in spirit is to come unto Christ.

3 Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
3 Nephi 12:3

Following is a wonderful example of pure love and how it ministers to the poor in spirit.  As some of the comments indicate, the ministry and service traveled in two directions:  to the girl who was ill by the cheerleaders and from the girl who was ill to the cheerleaders.

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November 2, 2015

Adversity, Hymns, Service, Vandagriff

Comments Off on I Know Thee, O My Savior

I know thee, O my Savior
And seek thy endless grace
For mercy and for comfort
Until I see thy face.
I honor thy Atonement,
I need thy help today
To be a better servant
To follow and obey.

.

As children of our Father,
We’ve left our heavenly home
To come to earth for testing
And often feel alone.
Each of us need thee, Savior,
For we can’t find the way
Through darkness and confusion
Back to eternal day.

.

Just as thou helped the beggars
Thou asketh me to bless
My brothers and my sisters,
To bless as I’ve been blessed.
How often thou hast helped me
When I cried out at night.
I go to help the weary, the poor
Bearing thy light.

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Thy hands were pierced and bleeding
As thou for me didst die.
My hands will serve and labor,
Thy teachings I’ll apply.
When I seek out the suffering,
Both sinning and sinless,
Thy hands shall strengthen my hands.
In blessing, I’ll be blessed.

.

David P. Vandagriff
Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved
Can be sung to the tune of “If You Could Hie to Kolob”, Hymns, 284

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