Sunday, July 20, 2014

Becoming the Pure in Heart.

Here is my sacrament meeting talk for today.  As most of you will not be in my ward to hear it, I feel safe putting it out here on the blog.  But if you choose to reference it, please be kind and give credit where credit is due.  (I have tried to do likewise by posting the links to my information.)

Jacob 3:1-2:  But behold, I Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart.  Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.

           O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.

Specific assignment:  The pure in heart receive the pleasing word of God, how it brings us to the Savior; what are the blessings of purity?

Firmness of mind

Alma 57: 26 & 27:  Helaman is speaking of the 2060 stripling warriors…And we do justly acribe it (that they were all saved) to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.

           Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.

Verse 20 & 21:  ….Behold those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted.

           Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.

Characteristics of firmness of mind:
  • Put their trust in God continually
  • Obey
  • Observe to perform every word of command with exactness

How do we become the pure in heart??

The Book of Enos exemplifies the process:

1st:  Desire.  We have to want to become the pure in heart or want to be obedient.  If we do not want to, we can pray for that desire—pray to want to.  The point:  To learn to want what the Lord wants for you.

2nd. Repent.  Put things right before the Lord.  If you have major things, do those first and then as those things are put right in your life, the smaller areas that need work will be brought to your attention.
Continue doing all that you can before the Lord –doing all He asks of us.  Strive to be like the 2060 stripling warriors---endeavor to perform every command with exactness---make obedience our ‘watch cry’.

Enos, outlines the process in Moroni 8: 25 & 26, where Mormon lays out the cycle:

And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

The process:  exercising our faith unto repentance through obedience

The promise:  The Atonement will apply to you.  Obedience brings remission of sins.

As we obey through repentance and faith, our sins are remitted.

Back to Mormon: 26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart (humility); and because of meekness and lowliness of heart, cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost,

What does the Holy Ghost bring?  2nd Nephi 32:5--the Holy Ghost will show you all things which ye should do…..  What is that?  Revelation, knowledge…When we are humble and exercising our faith unto repentance through obedience, that is when we receive revelation.  And why are we humble?  Because we have an understanding of what it was necessary for us to do so the atonement could apply to us.

Back to Mormon, who says, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love.  Who doesn’t want to be full of hope?  And what is that perfect love?  Charity.  So what do we have now?  Faith, hope, and charity….see how those principles are interrelated?

Now here is the kicker...Mormon says, “which love endureth by diligence (obedience over time) which love endureth by diligence unto prayer…”  Then entire cycle is kept in place by prayer!!  Diligent prayer….obedience over time prayer.

Is it any wonder that the evil spirit teacheth a man not to pray?  Why would he do that?  Because he knows that prayer is one of the basic principles to keep this cycle into place.  A man or woman who desires to know who God is and is willing to do what God asks and seeks him will repent and start this cycle.  A praying man will keep this cycle in place until the perfect day when he has repented of all of his sins and has no more desire for them.

Is it any wonder that the Lord asks us to pray continually?  It is consistent, diligent, heartfelt prayer which process bends our will to God’s will that will purify our hearts.  When we have significantly invested in this process, the blessings are:
  • we will be consoled in our afflictions
  • the Savior will plead our cause
  • our sins will be remitted
  • humility
  • the continued presence of the Holy Ghost
  • revelation and knowledge
  • increased faith
  • increased hope
  • greater charity

Moroni Chapter 9:6, Mormon is speaking to Moroni and he says, “Notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness and rest our souls in the kingdom of God….

We, each of us, have that same labor to perform, regardless of what someone else is doing.  What is it?  It is the work to purify our own hearts and receive the pleasing word of God.

Trials---we all have them, are not because God wants us to suffer or because He delights in our pain.  Trials are for our growth and experience.  They are also an opportunity to purify our hearts and learn to submit our will to His or to be angry and turn from God.  You probably already know, as the stripling warrior did, that to navigate our trials successfully, we must learn to put our trust in God continually.

It is the same process that we have been discussing.  We should learn to desire what He desires.  When our trials come upon us, instead of asking “why me, why now, why this” we would do better to ask, “What would the Lord like me to learn from this experience?  What is my role in this process?  What can I do to grow here?”  

Sometimes the answer will be nothing, ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ or ‘Wait for my arm to be revealed.”  But more often, the answer will be to knock off a rough edge of our dearly loved personality by submitting our will to His.

At these points, we should pray for the desire to be obedient to the still small answers we have received to our humble and heart-felt prayer.  Let those thoughts and feelings find a place in our hearts, and pray to be able and willing to exercise our faith unto repentance and obedience.

    “Essential to our personal faith and development is the unmistakable knowledge that our Father and our Savior want us to succeed.  They want us to return to Their presence.  Because of Their love for us, They have given us resources to obtain comfort, direction, and strength for our journey home.  I speak of prayer, the wonderful and sublime ability to communicate and share our concerns with the Father; the Holy Spirit, which will enlighten and comfort us; and the words of the prophets, both ancient and modern.  These resources give us understanding and direction in dealing with our challenges.

    “It is important to understand that blessings often accompany challenges.  For example, those who suffer pain and afflictions are often better able to understand and have compassion and sympathy for others who similarly suffer.”

“Christ on the cross gave out the cry “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” That cry on the cross is an indication that the very best of our Father's children found the trials so real, the tests so exquisite and so severe, that he cried out—not in doubt of his Father's reality, but wondering “why” at that moment of agony—for Jesus felt so alone. James Talmage advises us that in ways you and I cannot understand, God somehow withdrew his immediate presence from the Son so that Jesus Christ's triumph might be truly complete.

“From Gethsemane and Calvary there are many lessons we need to apply to our own lives. We, too, at times may wonder if we have been forgotten and forsaken. Hopefully, we will do as the Master did and acknowledge that God is still there and never doubt that sublime reality–even though we may wonder and might desire to avoid some of life's experiences. We may at times, if we are not careful, try to pray away pain or what seems like an impending tragedy, but which is, in reality, an opportunity. We must do as Jesus did in that respect—also preface our prayers by saying, “If it be possible,” let the trial pass from us—by saying, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,” and bowing in a sense of serenity to our Father in heaven's wisdom, because at times God will not be able to let us pass by a trial or a challenge. If we were allowed to bypass certain trials, everything that had gone on up to that moment in our lives would be wiped out. It is because he loves us that at times he will not intercede as we may wish him to. That, too, we learn from Gethsemane and from Calvary.

“It is interesting to me, brothers and sisters, to note that among the qualities of a saint is the capacity to develop patience and to cope with the things that life inflicts upon us. That capacity brings together two prime attributes—patience and endurance. These are qualities, in the process of giving service to mankind that most people reject or undervalue. Most people would gladly serve mankind if somehow they could get it over with once, preferably with applause and recognition. But, for the sake of righteousness, to endure, to be patient in the midst of affliction, in the midst of being misunderstood, and in the midst of suffering—that is sainthood!....”

“....If God chooses to teach us the things we most need to learn because he loves us, and if he seeks to tame our souls and gentle us in the way we most need to be tamed and most need to be gentled, it follows that he will customize the challenges he gives us and individualize them so that we will be prepared for life in a better world by his refusal to take us out of this world, even though we are not of it. In the eternal ecology of things we must pray, therefore, not that things be taken from us, but that God's will be accomplished through us. What, therefore, may seem now to be mere unconnected pieces of tile will someday, when we look back, take form and pattern, and we will realize that God was making a mosaic. For there is in each of our lives this kind of divine design, this pattern, this purpose that is in the process of becoming, which is continually before the Lord but which for us, looking forward, is sometimes perplexing. “

The point is that trials and challenges have the ability to purify our hearts also, and consistent, diligent, heartfelt, obedient prayer is the glue that holds us in place and will facilitate more fully our growth and development, which is what we are here to accomplish.

    And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto his disciples, he turned again unto the multitude and said unto them:
    Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to sift you as wheat (which Elder Oaks [Unselfish Service, April 2009] defines, as to make us common, like everyone else around us).
    Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
    And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be give unto you…

So the Savior commands the Nephites to pray always.  In V 20: And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be give unto you.

Doesn’t that sound like the scripture in Alma about the 2060 stripling warriors??  Even according to their faith it was done unto them?

Back a few chapters to chapter 9--This is the voice of the Savior after the destruction of the destruction of the wicked Nephites before He shows himself, they hear his voice:
    v13 Oh all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me and repent of your sins and be converted, that I may heal you?
    v 14 Yea,---verily I say unto you---if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life.  Behold mine arm of mercy is extended towards you and whosoever will come, him will I receive---blessed are those who come unto me.

All are welcome, if we will but come.  He denies none.

For a few verses He explains that no more will the shedding of blood be an offering for sacrifice, but in 3rd Nephi 9: 20, this is what He does want:

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite (obedient) spirit.  And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

Chapter 19 of 3rd Nephi, this is the purity cycle for the disciples, start in v 6

And the twelve did teach the multitude; and behold they did cause that the multitude should kneel down upon the face of the earth, and should pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus.

Then the disciples teach the words which Jesus has spoken, nothing varying, then they kneel again and pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus

And they did pray for that which they desired most---the Holy Ghost.

Then Nephi goes into the water and is baptized (which is what? The first fruit of repentance, which comes by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments  because they exercised their faith unto repentance through obedience…..) and then the other disciples are baptized.

So because they have repented, and been baptized and are being obedient, their sin are remitted and their hearts are meek and lowly, so what happens next?

The Holy Ghost comes, v 13, And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did all upon them and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and fire….

And now, as Mormon says, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love and as Nephi says, will teach you all things which ye should do, so their hearts are sufficiently prepared for revelation and what happens???

The Savior comes.

The Savior then prays to the Father and thanks Him for sending the Holy Ghost and asks for the Holy Ghost to be given to all those who will believe in the disciples words.

Then the Savior returns to find the disciples continuing in prayer.  

v 24...And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold they did still continue, without ceasing to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray for, and they were filled with desire.

(Remember the cycle is held in place by diligence unto prayer)

v 28--the Savior prays unto the Father and testifies as to what has taken place---
Father, I thank thee, that thou hast purified those I have chosen, because of their faith and I pray for them and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith in their words, even as they are purified in me.

So the blessings of being pure in heart are:
  • we will be consoled in our afflictions
  • the Savior will plead our cause
  • our sins will be remitted
  • humility
  • the continued presence of the Holy Ghost
  • revelation, knowledge
  • increased faith
  • increased hope
  • increased charity
  • it will be given unto us what to pray for
  • our wills will be aligned with God’s
  • Because we are obedient, faithful, repentant, and praying for what is inline with God’s will, it will be done unto us according to our faith (we will have answers to our prayers)
  • we will be a light unto the world
  • We will be converted, healed, and have eternal life
  • And as it says in 3rd Nephi 12:8, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God….because we shall be like Him.
And that is how we become the pure in heart and come unto the Savior.

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