I love the painting "Witness for His Name" by Doc Christensen. It portrays two sister missionaries as they are getting ready for their day. The thing I love about it is that they are not scrolling through their social media accounts or watching something on TV (how many days do I begin the day that way? Too many to admit...) They are putting on their armor...the armor that will get them through any challenge that comes their way that day or any other day.
In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul gives us a beautiful description of this protective armor:
13- Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
I love this adorable graphic from the Church's magazine for children, The Friend. I think it offers the perfect summary of what Paul is describing in the scriptures, but I would like to share a few tips of my own to help you (and me) armor up, baby.
PUTTING ON YOUR ARMOR
Loins girt about with truth:
"A girdle is a belt that helps protect a soldier's body. Knowing what is true protects us..." Where do we go to discover truth? The scriptures, teachings of the prophets and apostles, talking to our parents, church leaders, and seminary teachers. These are all divine sources of truth, but the BEST source of truth is the Holy Ghost. As it says in Moroni 10:5, "...by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
Breastplate of Righteousness:
"The breastplate protects the heart. When we love God with all our heart, we try to keep His commandments." Why is it important to protect our heart? (Not our literal heart, of course we want to protect that or we would umm....die....) This is talking about our "a symbol of [our] mind and will and the figurative source of all emotions and feelings" (Guide to the Scriptures).
Feed Shod with Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
"Shoes protect our feet. We try to follow Jesus Christ's footsteps so we can live with Him someday." Following the Savior's footsteps can be tough. He has some big shoes to fill, doesn't He? But here's the best part...He hasn't asked us to fill His shoes. He has only asked us to "Come, Follow Me."
Shield of Faith
"Faith in Jesus Christ protects us like a shield. When we believe in Jesus and try to be like Him, we can make good choices, even when things are hard." I love that Paul tells us in Ephesians that "above all, taking the shield of faith...[will help us] quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16). Can you hear the sizzle of all those fiery darts being quenched by you?? You have the power to do that as you exercise faith in Christ!
The Helmet of Salvation
"A helmet protects the head. We keep our minds safe when we follow Jesus..." You know what doesn't keep our minds safe? Things we sometimes see on the Internet or social media. We have to be so careful when scrolling or searching. There are beautiful, inspiring things to be found, but don't let that be your excuse to scroll. Just like you don't want to physically put yourself in situations where the Holy Ghost cannot be with you, don't scroll to places He can't be either.
Sword of the Spirit
"A sword helps fight against wrong. The Spirit helps us when we face bad or hard things. Listening to the Spirit helps us stay safe." Who doesn't want to carry a sword around? How cool is that? Once again we are talking about taking the Holy Ghost with us wherever we go so He can help us know when a situation is unsafe.
LADIES...YOU KNOW WHAT I'M GOING TO SAY NEXT, DON'T YOU?
YOU ARE A beautiful daughter of Heavenly Parents who LOVE YOU SO MUCH!! They want you to know that YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS! Trust in your divinity as a child of a Heavenly King and Queen. Have faith in your selfless, amazing older brother who KNOWS WHO YOU ARE and knows how to help you overcome ANYTHING.
Now, let's go do this together, shall we? It's time to armor up, baby. Make today a day where Satan says, "Oh man! I hate it when she wakes up! She ruins all my best plans."
The list could go on, for sure, but I want to keep this post in positiveity land, not "am I really that powerless" land.
SELF-CONTROL: THE DEFINITION
"Self-control is the ability to govern ourselves in righteousness. When we are able to control ourselves, we increase our self-esteem and our ability to help build God’s kingdom on earth" (Self Control 1).
"The ability to control oneself, in particular one's emotions and desires or the expression of them in one's behavior, especially in difficult situations" (Google Dictionary).
This is one of those times where Google and God are in sync. The ability to control oneself...in difficult situations...allows us to increase our self-esteem and our ability to help build God's kingdom on earth...by being where He needs us to be when He needs us to be there.
I see a couple of connecting themes in all of these suggestions. First, meditate and delay. Don't allow yourself to express your first destructive reaction (such as reaching for brownie #2). Take a moment, pray, and fill your mind with other positive thoughts.
The second connection I saw is how important physical activity is to helping us develop self-control over a situation. I know that once I get to the gym and start working out, I feel better than I feel after sitting on the couch for 2 hours binge watching a show. Get up, get moving, and feel better!
Lastly, forgiveness of yourself and others. This is huge! How many times have I beaten myself up for those times when I lacked self-control? At least 9,689 (but who's counting, right?) Allow yourself to be human, to make mistakes. Then, get up, and start again. Along this same vein, allow others to be human, to slip up, and to make mistakes. Remember, we are all in this life together and we are all just doing the best we can do.
We have the best example of self-control in our Savior Jesus Christ. He was hungry after fasting for 40 days when Satan came to him and tempted him to turn a rock into bread. Did the Savior give in to the temptation? No. He said, "Get thee hence, Satan." He knew that His mission was greater than any satisfaction He would get from eating bread when He was starving.
Although we will never perfect the virtue of self-control in this life, we can have perfect moments in exercising self-control. We can celebrate those moments and allow them to mold us into better people. We can remember those moments when we are struggling with self-control, and above all else, we can remember our Savior and Redeemer who has promised us that if we "pray always" we "may come off conqueror" and "conquer Satan" (D7C 10:5).
Let's do this. Brownies, Netflix, and Bread...you better watch out.
Bradberry, T. (2014, October 21). The Six Secrets of Self-Control. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2012/09/17/the-six-secrets-of-self-control/#8f45a242d4e6.
Self-control. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/family-home-evening-resource-book/lesson-ideas/self-control?lang=eng.
Self-Control. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/self-control.
Those are Google dictionary's definitions of charity. Not bad. I agree with all of them and they all denote good and wonderful messages of helping others. However, now I want to offer the apostle Paul's definition of charity.
"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth..."
OUR WORLD NEEDS A SERIOUS DOSE OF CHARITY
In the New Testament Institute Student Manual we learn that "when we have charity, we patiently endure offense or hardship. We also act in patience and kindness to everyone, even those who offend us" (Chapter 39). Can you imagine what our world would be like if everyone lived by this suggestion? *Heavenly*
I feel that one of the biggest stumbling blocks we, as human being have is that we tend to be easily offended. And yes, I am speaking first and foremost about my own tendency to choose to take offense. I love some counsel that President Henry B Eyring has given us about charity and how it connects to being offended.
“We do not know the hearts of those who offend us. Nor do we know all the sources of our own anger and hurt. The Apostle Paul was telling us how to love in a world of imperfect people, including ourselves" (Eyring 68).
We just do not know. Not only do we not know the hearts of those who offend us, but I love that President Eyring pointed out that we don't even know the sources of our own anger and hurt. It makes me realize just how dependent I truly am on my Savior's Atonement and the knowledge that I need to gain from God through the Holy Ghost.
“True charity has been known only once. It is shown perfectly and purely in Christ’s unfailing, ultimate, and atoning love for us” (Holland 336-37)
We haven’t been asked to be perfect at it. We’ve only been asked to try, to improve, to progress on a path that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven. We do that one step at a time. One FB post that we don’t post a scathing response. One Instagram post that we don’t look at and pick apart and judge the people in the picture. One classmate, church friend, work associate, or even stranger, who says something that offends us and we choose to not hold on to the offense.
Do you know what happens when you put together all of those little instances of choosing charity? Our hearts begin to soften. Our souls begin to enlarge, and we begin to see the people in our lives as the Savior sees them, and He helps us to feel a little portion of the love He has for them and that, my friends, is a pretty amazing thing.
Chapter 39: 1 Corinthians 12–14. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/new-testament-student-manual/1-corinthians/chapter-39-1-corinthians-12-14?lang=eng.
Eyring, H.B., "That We May Be One," Ensign, May 1988, 68
Holland, J.R., Christ and the New Covenant , 336-37
Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did."
Who was Tabitha?
In Acts 9:36-41, we learn a little bit about "a certain disciple named Tabitha". She was a woman "full of good works and almsdeeds" (v 36). Part of these good works and almsdeeds included making clothing for the poor (v 39). She became sick and died and many people in Joppa came to the Apostle Peter, begging him to heal her. In a miracle like unto the Savior raising Lazarus from the dead, Peter "kneeled down, and prayed". He turned to the body of Tabitha and said, "Tabitha, arise" (v 40).
Tabitha received a miracle at the hands of an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. But this miracle did not come simply because Peter was an apostle and exercised his power and authority in the priesthood. This miracle in Tabitha's life came because of three things:
The Way She Lived
I am so proud and honored to be a member of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am grateful for the opportunities this organization has provided me to be an "angel of mercy" to those who are suffering, and I am equally, if not more grateful, for the times in which my sisters in the Relief Society have been "angels of mercy" for me.
The Faith of Those Who Loved Her
Because of the way Tabitha lived her life, she had many friends who loved her and who were saddened by her recent passing. "The fact that Tabitha was already dead did not preclude Tabitha's friends from seeking help from Peter" (Olson 147).
These faithful friends took Peter to the upper chamber "shewing the coats and garments" Tabitha had made (Acts 9:39). They stood there weeping, pleading with Peter to save their friend and angel of mercy. This show of "emotional gratitude...and the display of Tabitha's gifts of clothing prompted Peter, moved by compassion, to turn to God for help" (Olson 148). He sent her friends away so that he could be alone with Tabitha in the upper chamber where her body lay (Acts 9:40).
To Help Others Come Unto Christ
The next certain disciple I want to highlight is Lydia. She "holds the distinction of being the first known Christian convert in what is today called Europe" (Olson 279).
What Can We Learn From Lydia?
Once again, Camille Fronk Olson provides some wonderful insight on what we learn from Lydia's story in the New Testament:
"Lydia shines in scripture as a golden convert. She understood the gospel. She listened. She led all of her household into baptism after her. She shared her resources with the missionaries...she was eager to learn as soon as she met the missionaries. She had nothing to gain professionally through her conversion to Christianity and plenty to lose" (Olson 285).
And what are those things that have been seared into my heart so deeply that they can never leave?
I am grateful for the examples of faithful women and men all throughout the Bible and Book of Mormon that inspire me and help me to progress on the covenant path toward eternal life and exaltation.
Olson, Camille Fronk, et al. Women of the New Testament. Deseret Book, 2014.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. Salt Lake City, UT, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2005.
Before you go any further with this post, you will need to watch this talk. It's about 20 minutes long, but totally worth every single second.
Then...Why are You Here?
I love how Elder Holland made this experience between Peter and the Lord come alive for me. I have read this experience in the book of John multiple times, but it has never hit me with such force until I heard Elder Holland give this talk. I put myself in Peter's shoes. What would I have done if I were Peter? Let's just recap the last few days of his life...
He was there as the Savior was betrayed into the hands of evil men who wanted to kill Him. Peter watched as these men bound the Savior and took Him away (Luke 22:47-53).
It had been a rough and exhausting few days, for the Savior (obviously), and for those who loved Him. As the Senior Apostle, Peter was the one the others looked to. Elder Holland offers a portrayal of the exchange between Peter and the other Apostles:
"Peter said to his associates: 'Brethren, it has been a glorious three years. None of us could have imagined such a few short months ago the miracles we have seen and the divinity we have enjoyed. We have talked with, prayed with, and labored with the very Son of God Himself. We have walked with Him and wept with Him, and on the night of that horrible ending, no one wept more bitterly than I. But that is over. He has finished His work, and He has risen from the tomb. He has worked out His salvation and ours. So you ask, 'What do we do now?' I don't know more to tell you than to return to your former life, rejoicing. I intend to 'go a fishing' (John 21:1-3).
I cannot blame Peter for making the choice to go back to what he was familiar with. He was only a human being after all. Even though he had experienced many great miracles and blessings with the Savior, he didn't yet understand or comprehend his responsibilities as an Apostle of the Lord, nor did he understand the magnitude of the Savior's divine mission and his own role in that mission. And so, the Savior needed to come and instruct him more time.
The Savior asks Peter three times...Peter, "lovest thou me more than these?" (John 21:15-17). Peter is almost beside himself by the third time. He's thinking, "Lord, what can I do more to tell you that I love you more than these fish?" I turn back to Elder Holland's portrayal of the exchange between Peter and the Lord.
Elder Holland continues:
"So, Peter, for the second and presumably last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me."
What Will You Take Away?
I hope that as you listened to the words of Elder Holland who, like Peter, is an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, you were able to feel the love of the Savior. I hope you were able to feel in your heart and mind the things that you need to change in your own life in order to be a forever disciple. As Elder Holland testified, the Lord needs disciples who will "feed His sheep and save His lambs" and He needs them forever.
What will you do to show the Savior that you are His disciple forever? What will you give up to focus on feeding the Lord's sheep?
How would you be feeling at this point in the scenario? Scared? Tired? Wanting to run away from your divine destiny?
Let's continue with our scenario...
*After asking three of your closest friends to sit, watch, and wait while you pray, you tell them that you are feeling "sorrowful and very heavy" (Matthew 26:36), in other words, distressed and deeply grieved. You ask them to "watch with [you]"...AKA, stay awake while I perform a difficult task (Matthew 26:38).
*Then, you go "a little further...fall on [your] face, and [pray] saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). You know that something incredibly painful and difficult needs to happen and even though you know the task needs to be performed, you ask your Father, your "Abba" (Mark 14:36), if there is any possible way for you to not perform the impending task, even though you know there is not.
For the next portion of our scenario, I turn to the book of Luke, chapter 22, and to the New Testament Institute Student Manual to help pain a picture of what happened next.
"Luke was the only Gospel writer to record the important detail that the Savior's suffering included 'great drops of blood' (Luke 22:44). The Savior's unparalleled suffering--the extreme pressure caused by taking upon Himself the infinite sin, sorrow, and guilt of all mankind--caused a physical condition in his body known as hematidrosis.
Maybe you are thinking, "Why didn't God help the Savior?" If this was truly His Only Begotten, why did He leave Him to suffer like this? We find the answer to that question in Luke 22:43. "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him." President Dallin H. Oaks, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, offers some insights to this experience with the angel.
"...The Father's answer was to deny the plea of His Only Begotten Son. The Atonement had to be worked out by that lamb without blemish. But though the Son's request was denied, his prayer was answered. ...Strengthened [by an angel] from heaven to do the will of the Father, the Savior fulfilled His mission" ("Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," Ensign, May 1994, 99-100).
Turning back to the New Testament Institute Manual: "But eventually even the angel left the Savior, for He was required to complete the great atoning sacrifice by Himself. In these latter days, the Savior has declared that when He comes to earth in glory, His voice will be heard saying, 'I have trodden the wine-press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me' (D&C 133:50)".
Returning to our scenario:
*After this ordeal, the Savior returned to his friends, his disciples, and found them, once again, fast asleep. "Why sleep ye?", he says. "Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." (Luke 22:46)
*It is at this point in the scenario that the Savior is betrayed into the hands of those who wished to destroy Him. His "friend", Judas Iscariot, betrays Him with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48) and the Savior is bound and taken to Caiaphas, the high priest.
*You would have been in "terrible physical condition as [you] stood trial before Jewish leaders." You had just experienced the agony of Gethsemane. You had been "back and forth across the Kidron Valley. [You] would have also been experiencing the effects of blood loss and likely the effects of chills from the night air upon [your] weakened body. [You have] also likely not slept in many hours. It [is] in this weakened condition that [you face] additional abuse at the hands of [your] accusers" (New Testament Institute Manual Chapter 9).
*You are spit upon and buffeted (repeatedly and violently hit). You are blindfolded and mocked. All the while knowing that you have just suffered for all of the sins of those who are inflicting this pain upon you.
From author and emeritus Seventy, Gerald N. Lund:
"Imagine the Being whose power, whose light, whose glory holds the universe in order, the Being who speaks and solar systems, galaxies, and stars come into existence--standing before wicked men and being judged by them as being of no worth or value!"
"When those difficult times come to us, we can remember that Jesus had to descend below all things before He could ascend above them, and that He suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that He might be filled with mercy and know how to succor His people in their infirmities.
In my New Testament class, one of the assignments was to choose a Christlike attribute to develop/work on over the seven weeks of the class. As I pondered the many attributes that Christ has that I am severely lacking, the one I felt like I need to work on at this stage of my life is PATIENCE. The dreaded "p" word. Now, how many times have I specifically focused on being more patient? WAY too many to count. But I'm not giving up. No way, no how. I'm going to be patient in the process of learning how to be more patient. :)
As I have studied the life of Christ, specifically looking for how he exemplified the attribute of being patient, I feel that I am seeing familiar stories in a whole new way. I have been able to see how patient the Lord was with those around Him.
How many times did His disciples see Him perform a miracle only to marvel the next time something amazing happened? For example, after Christ fed the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:15-21), the disciples just could not believe it when they saw Him walking on the water not even a day later. This happened time after time, miracle after miracle. If I were the Savior, I feel like I would be fed up by this time. "When are you guys going to get it?" type of frustration here. The "throwing up your hands and wanting to throw in the towel and leave" kind of frustration here.
But the Savior, in the way that only the Savior can(and maybe Elder Holland because that guy is amazing), patiently loves His disciples, gently rebukes them when they need a course correction while trying to "get it", and explains things in different ways until they do "get it". What is it, exactly, that He needed them to get? The same thing He needs us to get...that He is the very Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer, and the only One who can stand as our Advocate before God. He wants us to get that it is because of Him that we are able to repent of our sins and be with our families forever. He wants us to get that He asks us to obey certain commandments and do certain things because those are the things that will keep us close to Him and far from Satan.
Just as He patiently waited on His disciples to "get it", He offers that same patient waiting to us. That doesn't mean that He doesn't need to give us a swift kick in the pants sometimes to get us going back in the right direction (AKA cleansing the temple, not once, but twice). But even as He is offering that swift kick, He is patiently waiting until we "get it", even if it takes years...and a million swift kicks in the pants.
Enduring to the End
Becoming Like He is...AKA "Goals"
Patience is a purifying process. I love thinking of it that way. I also love the idea that patience means active waiting and enduring. We live in a world of instant gratification, which is why I think patience is so hard to come by. We really don't have to wait long for anything, unless your internet has a hiccup and is a little slow (first world probs, am I right?). This is why it is so important for us to focus on developing patience because "in your patience possess ye your souls".
God has things that get lost as well, although because He is perfect, I'm sure He doesn't go through quite the range of emotions that we do. When I say that God has "things" that get lost, I'm really referring to His children. We get lost, and He feels sadness about that. But even though we are lost, in a sense, He still knows exactly where we are. He just has to wait for us to use our agency to find our way back to Him.
In my New Testament studies this week, I studied a lot of parables. Three of them deal with lost things and offer three different ways that we get lost from the path that leads back to God.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
"How did that sheep get lost? He was not rebellious. If you follow the comparison, the lamb was seeking its livelihood in a perfectly legitimate manner, but either stupidly, perhaps unconsciously, it followed the enticement of the field, the prospect of better grass until it got out beyond the fold and was lost.
The lamb took his "eyes off the prize", so to speak. He focused his gaze on things other than the Shepherd. Maybe he started by stealing a few glances of the grass on the other side of the fence, which turned into staring hungrily at the grass, which then led to sampling the grass, and before he knew it, he had lost sight of the Shepherd completely.
Elder Joseph B Wirthlin (1917-2008), an Apostle of Jesus Christ, shared another take on this parable and who the lost sheep could represent.
"Some [children of God] are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don't belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don't fit in. They conclude that they are not needed. ...
Who's been one of these little lambs at one point or another? I have definitely felt a little of both of these "lost lamb scenarios" in my life. But here's the good news. The Good Shepherd, AKA the Savior of the World, knows exactly where we are, at all times. We are never lost to Him and He is always there, waiting for us to call out, just like a little lost lamb cries out to its mother.
We can return to the arms of that Good Shepherd who loves us wholly and completely, no matter where our wanderings have taken us.
The Parable of the Lost Piece of Silver
Going back to President McKay's insights on these three parables, he describes what the lost coin may represent:
"In this case the thing lost was not in itself responsible. The one who had been trusted with that coin had, through carelessness or neglect, mislaid it or dropped it. ...Our charge is not only coins, but living souls of children, youth, and adults. They are our charges."
Here we see that the coin was lost through negligence on the owner's part. We also see that the woman in the parable represents any one of us who have responsibility to watch over and care for someone else--spiritually and physically. Whether you are a parent, or have stewardship over others through leadership roles, you are charged with being responsible for loving and teaching those whom you have stewardship over. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) shared how we should face this responsibility of loving and teaching others:
“There must be warmth in the work of the Lord. There must be friendship. There must be love unfeigned. There must be appreciation and thanks expressed. There must be constant nurturing with the good word of God. All of these are small things, so easy to do, and they make so great a difference." (“There Must Be Messengers,”Ensign, Oct. 1987, 5).
It's about love and friendship, respect and charity. It's about expressing gratitude. As President Hinckley said, these are all small things and easy to do, but they make a huge difference in the lives of those whom are feeling a little lost and unloved.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
"The parable of the prodigal son teaches us much about the nature and attributes of our Father in Heaven. Like the father in the parable, God will not control us, keep us from straying, or keep us from making selfish, foolish errors. Yet His love never diminishes. He is so anxious to have us return that He will run to us when we are still “a great way off” (Luke 15:20). He knows us so well that He can recognize our better selves when no one else can. Each of us, male or female, will be able to recognize something of ourselves in each of the sons in the parable.
We are Never Truly Lost to the Lord
The Shepherd knows His sheep.
He knows them, loves them, and welcomes them back when they stray.
May we always strive to use our agency to make choices that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven, but...if we mess up, if we make choices that lead us away from Him instead, may we always remember how the Lord feels about things that are lost. He has a plan for their salvation and redemption, and for that, I am truly grateful.
He came to heal us from sin.
There are several instances in the Bible where the Savior is asked to help someone--to perform a miracle--and the Savior obliges, but along with the miracle He makes sure to let the people know that His ability to heal us spiritually is more important than His ability to heal us physically.
Matthew 9:13 "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
While we certainly should never discount the beautiful miracles that the Savior creates in our lives, we should always recognize that the opportunity to utilize the Savior's Atonement in our lives to create change within our souls is more important than any miracle of physical healing that the Savior blesses us with.
He came to save that which was lost.
We all have those "wandering sheep" moments in our lives where we stray from the Savior and the protection that comes from honoring covenants we have made with Him. Fortunately, we have a Good Shepherd who loves us, who knows where we are at all times, and who lovingly calls to us. It's up to us to study His life and His teachings because that study will help us to recognize the voice of that Good Shepherd who is calling to us and wanting to lead us back to His fold.
John 10:11, 14, 16, 27-28 "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep...I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine...And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd...My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish..."
But I promise you, if you will say to the Savior, "Okay, Lord, I don't understand why it has to be this way, but I am putting my faith and trust in you" and then GO and DO as the Savior instructs, you will be blessed with peace and you may even be blessed with an opportunity to see things through an eternal lens and perspective.
In my New Testament class this week, I studied about some of the Savior's miracles that He performed and also some of the parables He taught during His ministry on earth.
There is no way that I could possibly share everything I learned this week. That blog post would be WAY too long and boring...even for my 5 biggest fans who still read my ramblings on this blog. :)
I'm going to try and narrow this down to three main points...my three biggest takeaways from this week.
#1- It is important to have friends who help you come unto Christ.
In Matthew 9:2-8, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 5:18-26, we find the story of the paralytic man who was brought to the Savior to be healed of his infirmity. There was a huge crowd around the Savior, and the man's friends, who were carrying him on a stretcher of sorts, were having a difficult time getting him close to the Savior. Because of their faith, they knew that if they could get their friend to the Savior, He would be able to heal Him.
Did these friends tell the man, "I'm so sorry. I know we have brought you all this way, but we cannot get close to the Savior, this man who can heal you. We will have to try another time."
These friends exhausted all their resources, finally resorting to removing the roof of the house that the Savior was in so they could lower their friend down to the Savior. They did not give up on their friend and they did not give up on their faith.
I would give anything...even my life...for my family and friends to be able to come to know how much the Savior of the world loves them, how much He has done for them, and how He is the one to turn to in order to receive peace and joy in this life and beyond. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic and unbelievable, but it is 100% true. The Savior is everything, my friends. Everything.
#2- Part of the Savior's divine mission is to call the sinners to repentance.
"They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." -Mark 2:17
We are all sinners because we are all imperfect. Sin comes in many forms and even though it sounds like a harsh word, a sin is something as simple as losing your patience with someone. We are all in need of the power that comes through the Savior's Atonement and because He is the one that offered that great atoning sacrifice, He is the one that sets the terms for what we need to do, and how we should live in order to fully partake of all the blessings He has in store for us.
"Because of what He accomplished by His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power to prescribe the conditions we must fulfill to qualify for the blessings of His Atonement.
#3- The Savior's compassion and power to heal are extended to all people, everywhere.
In Mark 5:25-34 we find the story of the woman who had an "issue of blood" for twelve years. Because of this illness, she was considered an outcast from society and despite her best efforts of seeking medical help, she was not able to be cured from her ailment.
"When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes,
Immediately, Jesus sensed that "virtue had gone out of him", or in other words, He knew that His power had been used to heal someone. His disciples thought He was crazy. "There are so many people here", they said. "How can you say, 'Who touched me?'"
But the Savior knew because He knows all of us. He knows our hearts, our fears, our weaknesses, our strengths, our desires...everything. He knew that this woman had come to Him to be healed and through her faith in Him, this healing took place.
The Savior didn't care that this woman was an outcast in society or that she had something "wrong" with her. He saw beyond all that and extended His healing hand through her faithfulness.
And He does the same for us, for you and me, for all men and women everywhere. As we turn to Him, as we trust in Him, as we do the things He asks of us, as we exhibit faith in Him, He heals us.
I know this. With every ounce of everything that is in me, I know this to be true. So turn to the One who can truly save you and He will make you whole.
I am loving my second chance at life.
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