Today I wish to add my voice to those whom we heard just a few days ago as we heard the Prophet as well as others call for higher dedication to our Lord's work. We live in a time where we must not be passive stand-byers. But rather, we must play an active part in the hastening of the work. So, how can we dedicate or consecrate ourselves more to the work? Must we promise something more to the Lord? As I learned over a year ago in the Villahermosa Temple, we must not make another covenant with the Lord, we just need to be true to what we have already promised.
It is what we have promised at baptism and what we reaffirm in the temple.
"...and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people,and are willing to...stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God,and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—" (Mosiah 18:8-9)
"Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day." (D&C 4:2)
Maybe it's because I'm a missionary and I recite this every week, or maybe because it is my newest study activity to look for and see the influence of every time these elements appear in the Book of Mormon and New Testament (heart, might, mind, and strength). Since before any of us were born, since before Joseph Smith, since the beginning of time, this work has always required our all. So how do we dedicate all? How can we give all of our heart, might, mind, and strength and consecrate ourselves unto the Lord? It takes a conscious and constant effort. I hope that each one of us can comtemplate [sic] our efforts in the Lord's work and see in what way to improve.
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21)
The heart is often used in scripture as a figurative place where resides our deepest desires; the things we most want.
My sister Allyson this week shared how our deepest desires are often distracted by other things and sometimes we lose track of what is most important to us. She shares: "The other day I went to the temple and I realized how easy it is to take the gospel for granted. Life can be so busy and weigh you down that you can slowly be desensitized. I realized that I slowly forgot what the gospel of Jesus Christ was all about and the blessing it is to me and my family. Life can be hard, but it doesn't have to be. As we strive to do our best we can find the peace and happiness that our hearts desire."
This might is not a might of just "maybe". It is a might of all that you have. It's not a maybe I'll do it, it's a yes, and I'll give it my all. The most well known example of this is Christ's observance of a widow paying her offerings at the temple.
The translation into Spanish uses "alma" or, in English, more commonly known as "soul". Therefore, this type of might refers to giving our entire soul to the Lord.
"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." (Jacob 3:1-2 Lisa's Favorite Scripture).
What should our thoughts be then? I have learned that we are not just shooting to be good. The telestial kingdom is good, but that's not where we want to be. We cannot focus on just not having bad thoughts, but having our thoughts also consecrated to God and His purposes.
So what then should you think? I'd advise you to take the counsel of two Book of Mormon prophets:
"Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world; wherefore, I, Jacob, take it upon me to fulfil the commandment of my brother Nephi." (Jacob 1:8)
"My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever." (Moroni 9:25)
"Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven." (D&C 121:45)
"Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions." (2 Nehpi [sic] 4:29)
We will always have forces against us, but that does not mean that we need not try harder. May we always pray to have the strngth [sic] of the Lord with us.
"But in this thing they were disappointed, for the Nephites did not fear them; but they did fear their God and did supplicate him for protection; therefore, when the armies of Giddianhi did rush upon them they were prepared to meet them; yea, in the strength of the Lord they did receive them." (3 Nephi 4:10)
So, if there are changes to be made, how then, can we make them?
"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength,then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." (Moroni 10:32)
I testify that the Atonement of Christ can change us, and that His grace is sufficient for those who permit His sacrifice to touch our heart, might, mind, and strength, and convert us into what He wants us to be. This is my prayer, and the desire of my heart for each one of you. God bless us in our efforts to give ourselves unto Him.
Funny Tag Along Story: President Morales came last week and video recorded our teaching. I was sharing the story of Daniel and the Word of Wisdom and it was the lead in story of describing everything and so the lesson just seemed SUPER boring. And then they jumped ahead and our investigator (a real one who has a date for the 26th) said "I testify that all you have told me is true. When I first met you I knew nothing but now I know everything." And so everyone made fun of us that our investigator taught better than us, but it was nice to see that the Spirit made the connection with her--the point being emphasized.