Friday, January 30, 2015

FFF#5 2015 Basic Behaviors

Along with our discussion of basic doctrines,  it is important to acknowledge that there are basic behaviors that when put in place, allow the Holy Ghost to more fully witness the truth of the basic doctrines to us.  Have you ever thought about that?

When we were making our list of the basic doctrines in our seminary class, we used the missionary pamphlets to help us make sure we were covering the right things.  As the youth listed them on the board, they came up with some basic behaviors the missionaries teach to new investigators.  Can you think of what some of those behaviors might be?

Prayer.  One of the very first things we teach people is their relationship to God, our Father.  Then we teach them to access that relationship through prayer.  Sermons and sermons can be given about prayer, when, where, and how to pray; what to pray for; non-repititious prayer; fasting and prayer; etc...  But the point of prayer is to recognize our relationship to our Father and then to access that relationship, and eventually to bring our will in line with His.

Scripture Study.  It has often been said 'When you want to talk to God, use prayer.  When you God to talk to you, read your scriptures'.  Reading and studying our scriptures can give us insight into how our Father in Heaven relates to us.  The scriptures are replete with men's experiences with God.  As we read about those experiences and try to put into practice those behaviors, we will see the hand of God in our own lives.

Obedience.  To access our understanding of the basic doctrines, God expects us to do what He says.  We have to try it out.  He has laws, rules.  If we want to understand and have a testimony of the basic doctrines, we have to show our willingness to receive that testimony by actually doing what He asks of us.  Our willingness to make sacrifices for obedience is what opens the way for the testimony of the Holy Ghost to penetrate our hearts and witness of the truth.

Repentance.  When our behavior is not inline with what God expects, He asks us to change it.  Our willingness to change it, to repent, to make those sacrifices again prepares our hearts to receive the witness of the Holy Ghost.

Going to Church. Yes.  This one is significant as well.  Every week.  I have just made it a personal rule that unless I am pretty much on my death bed or my children will spew noxious viruses around babies or elderly people, then we need to be at church.  Part of that responsibility is to partake of the sacrament.  I think I am just now beginning to realize the spiritual significance that weekly experience plays into my motivation and my ability to withstand temptation.  I read recently, though I cannot remember where, but I am looking for the reference, that one of the first things people do when they are falling away from the gospel is to quit taking the sacrament.  I pondered on that for a little while trying to figure out how they do that.  Then it hit me.  They quit coming to church where the sacrament is offered.  Even though most of the time, church attendance is easy, it is also easy to skip a week and think it doesn't make a big difference.  Remember the scripture 'by small and simple means are great things brought to pass'?  Taking the sacrament each week is a very small and simple thing, but it brings about great things in our lives.  When we choose not to attend, we choose to remove ourselves or our children from the spiritual benefits the ordinance of the sacrament offers us.
Chastity.  Super significant.  In our day of sexual promiscuity it is important to remember that sexual purity is very important to the Lord.  If you don't believe me, just look here, here, here, and here just for a few of His thoughts about the matter.  Keeping the law of chastity qualifies us for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and protect us from the spiritual and emotional damage of sexual sin (reference here).

Tithing The First Presidency gave the following definition of tithing: “The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this” (First Presidency letter, 19 Mar. 1970).  You can read here to learn more about the why's of tithing and the blessings attached thereto.  I have friends of many different churches.  Some of them pay tithing to their church.  I have seen the same blessings the Lord promises me for paying my tithing given to them for paying their tithing.  The Lord honors their sacrifice and blesses their offering.  It is a testament to me that our Father is no repsector of persons.  He delights to honor those who honor Him, especially if they are obedient to the laws they understand and they are applying them in the best way they know how.
Exercising faith, unto repentance through obedience remits our sins, softens our hearts, and allows the Holy Ghost to fill us with hope, and love, and testify of doctrinal truth and bring us revelation.  The entire cycle is kept in place by prayer.  Remember Moroni 8:25-26?

25 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;

 26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

If you are struggling to receive a testimony of the basic doctrines of the gospel, check your behavior and see if there might be something in the way you live stopping the Holy Ghost from the ability to bear that witness to your soul.  I guarantee you, that if you are searching and seeking with real intent and your behaviors are in line, the Holy Ghost will witness the truth of those doctrines to you.  And that's what we are learning in seminary too.

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