Sunday, June 30, 2013

{ MISSIONARY WORK } : Sacrifice, Obedience & Service

{this talk was given the Sunday before i left for my mission, also it is not exactly what i said as there were some things that just needed to be said differently, i lost my spot and also my testimony - although the same as below - needed to be spoken differently. you just can't read your own does not work.} enjoy!

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters!

A month ago after Bishop told me that I’d be speaking on missionary work {which I might add is a very VERY broad topic} I came up with three basic but what I saw as some pretty significant aspects of what I will be doing for the next 18 months. Those aspects were Sacrifice, Obedience and Service. Coincidentally in that order they create the acronym SOS which was a Morse Code Distress Call and has come to mean things such as “send out succor”, “save our ship” or the one that strikes me the most: “save our souls”. I found that very fitting.

Sacrifice has always been an interesting word to me. When I was a young teenager I began to correspond it with Love. Love for your friends, love for your family and love for your God. Love being an action word, we show it in many ways but most often people will show their love by giving something of themselves. Sacrifice is defined as giving up for the sake of obtaining something else.

The word Sacrifice actually comes from two Latin words {and forgive me if I don’t pronounce these correctly…} sacer which means “sacred” and facio which means “to make”; to make sacred. The sacred offerings that we make to God show that we are not only willing to obey His commandments, but also show our devotion to and love for Him.

Elder Monte J. Brough stated that “some of our greatest blessings come from our willingness to sacrifice as the Lord directs.” He continued to talk about Adam and Eve after they had been cast out of the garden and how they were commanded to give up offerings unto the Lord and when asked by an angel why they did so, Adam answered honestly “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”

Like unto Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his only son whom he loved dearly, neither of these great prophets knew the “why” they simply obeyed. And because of their faith they were blessed. In Moses 5:10 it says “And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.” Thus we find that Adam was blessed with “wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” {Doctrine & Covenants 89:19 – which is a part of the Lord’s promise to His saints if they obey his commandments concerning the Word of Wisdom} and in Genesis 22:17-18 the Lord blessed Abraham that He would “multiply [his] seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and [his] seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in [his] seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice.”

The center of the Lord’s gospel is Christ’s incredible sacrifice for us, His atonement for our sins and in turn we are to sacrifice to him as well. In the days before Christ’s death those were literal sacrifices symbolic of Christ’s but now as that sacrifice has already been fulfilled, we offer up to Him a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” Our willingness to obey this commandment does bring His blessings, as one beautiful scripture states: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” {Matt 16:24-25}

Obedience as you may be able to tell from Adam and Abraham is a big part of sacrifice. Without their obedience to the Lord’s commands they never would have received the blessings given to them.

A few things about obedience: to be obedient, you have to know the law or the rule to which you are being obedient. The action done in obedience also must be done in submission to authority, and obedience must be in consequence of knowing a command or order of restraint. Also to be obedient does not imply servility or obsequiousness, rather a dignity and voluntary compliance with the knowledge of guidelines set for us.

So how exactly does being obedient give us blessings? Well to answer that we look to the laws and commandments given to us. In Matthew 22:36-40 Christ is asked by a lawyer “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

In the Gospel Doctrine lesson manual in the lesson on obedience it asks: how do we show our love for God? And then it offers the answer from John 14:21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father.” In other words it’s a big circle! If we desire the Lord’s blessings then we will follow His commandments, His foremost commandment being to love Him above all else. Then if we keep those commandments, we show our love for him, and in turn He will show His love for us.

President Thomas S. Monson said that “There is no need for you or me in this enlightened age, when the fullness of the gospel has been restored, to sail uncharted seas or travel unmarked roads in search of a “fountain of truth.” For a living Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing map – obedience.” When we desire to be obedient, God will prepare a way for us.

Service is missionary work, and missionary work is service. Voluntary service is done by a servant and involuntary service by a slave. It is given to a superior for hire or can be given to anyone for no personal gain at all. All of these things define service, so which one is it that we need to follow. For the answer to that I looked to Christ. He served all of those around him, whether high in political or religious status or the lowest of the low such as the lepers. So should we serve, giving of everything we have for the progression of His work.

One of my sister’s favorite Hymns is A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. In this song the story is told of multiple encounters with a man who is suffering from trial after trial. Each and every time this stranger is come upon in dire need, the one telling the story gives of all that he has to save his life. Although I’d love to read all seven verses, I will simply read the fifth:

{5} Stript, wounded, beaten night to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment – he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.

In each verse the stranger suffers from a different trial, and each time when the teller gives of all he can, he is blessed twice over, but the blessings are not as tangible as you might suppose. Then finally in the last two verses the stranger asks the teller if he will give up his life for him, and although he barely understands it…the one telling the story does! Then it is all revealed that the stranger all along was the Savior, and just as he said in Matthew 25:40 “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

And so the Lord asks of His missionaries to get up and go, to obey the call of Doctrine & Covenants section 4: “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that he may stand blameless before God at the last day. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.”

Heber C. Kimball when called by Joseph Smith to serve a mission in England was at first reluctant, but after realizing the will of the Lord, went wholeheartedly, and through him hundreds were converted to the gospel. Later after he had returned and had served the Lord in bringing up Missouri, sick with Malaria he was called yet again to go serve in England. Putting everything down to answer the call, he sacrificed, leaving all the money that he had with his wife and children, knowing that the Lord would provide for him and his companion Brigham Young, who was also sick with Malaria couldn’t walk without aid. Putting all the trust and faith they had in Christ they got in that wagon and as they were almost gone Heber and Brigham decided to give up a cheer. Bearing one another up, they stood in the back of that wagon and cried out “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah for Israel!”

Their example is …incredible to me, and a full embodiment of Sacrifice, Obedience and Service. The Lord asks of us to sacrifice for Him in the cause of His work to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”, we are asked to be obedient in exactness so that we may reap such rich blessings of happiness that mankind was meant to have; “Adam fell that man might be and men are that they might have joy.” I’m so excited to serve in Brazil. More than anything I know that His plan for me is just that, tailored exactly to fit me.

I know that the gospel is as true now as it was in the days when Adam walked with God. I know that His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet for our time, called of God and through him we can find the truth in all things. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Eternal Father and Jesus Christ in the sacred grove, and through Joseph the true church was restored again. And more than anything…I know that He loves me. And it is because He loves me that He atoned for my sins, my personal sins, my shortcomings. He has loved me when I have fallen and felt like the light at the end of the tunnel had gone dark. In the words of Samuel Medley: “I know that my Redeemer lives, what joy this sweet sentence gives.”

I say these things in the holy name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

No comments: