What are the most common verses of scripture? What I mean is, what verses have you heard or read more than any other? First Nephi 1:1? Maybe John 3:16? I am willing to bet that the most common verses to you are the sacrament prayers. I’m sure you have heard them hundreds and hundreds of times more than any other verses. Perhaps you have been hearing them every week, for as many years as you have been alive; that is a lot. So what do the prayers say? Could you quote them? Ok, maybe not, but could you say the promises you make that are stated in the sacrament prayers? The promises you are supposedly recommitting yourself to each week since you were baptized?
This brings us to the second part of the last blog post about how we can find greater power in our lives through the gospel ordinances. If you remember, we talked about those silly Israelites who finally learned to perform the outward aspects of the ordinances, but had forgotten the inward things that are to happen. Are we any better with the way we participate in the ordinances? What I mean is, what was going through your mind during the sacrament on Sunday? I know it can be difficult to concentrate. I’m sure my family has been responsible for distracting more than a few through the years. But what were you thinking about? When the sacrament prayer was prayed, was your mind engaged or on an autopilot stupor?
Again, what are the three promises we make? Take upon us His name, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. On Sunday when you took the sacrament, did you think about those things or just go through the outward motions of worship? Were there motions without emotions?
How do you think our Heavenly Father feels about the sacrament if we are just going through the outward actions of worship, without our hearts being engaged? On the other hand, how would He feel about the following thoughts while the sacrament was being passed, “Lord, I know I was far from everything I should have been this last week, but help me to do better. Please help me to act more like the Savior this week. Help me to keep my thoughts more on Him more. And help me to overcome my struggles with…” How would God feel about such a prayer? With such a prayer, do you think the sacrament would bring more power into the life of such a believer? Instead of just one, what difference would it make in our wards and stakes if every one of us, every week, was consciously pleading for the Lord’s help to be better that week with the three promises of the sacrament? Would it not transform with power, our lives and our wards and stakes?
This power isn’t just with the sacrament. When you see a baptism or do baptisms for the dead, are you also trying to put to death your old natural man, and coming forth in a newness of life (Romans 6:4; D&C 20:37)? When you see the Gift of the Holy Ghost given, do you also recommit yourself to “receive the Holy Ghost” in your own life? When you go to the temple, do you inwardly reconfirm those beautiful promises with yourself? If you do, then there is power there.
In carefully doing these inward aspects is where the Power is to live the lives we should; when both the inward and outward of the ordinances are happening properly. This is when lives are transformed with God’s power. So when will you be participating in the next ordinance? How will you be worshipping?
Official Holidays & Observances This Week
May 30th - June 5th
Monday Memorial Day
Tuesday What You Think Upon Grows Day
Wednesday Say Something Nice Day
Thursday National Running Day
Friday Donut Day
Saturday Drawing Day or Pencil Day
I’ve been taught that blogs should be short and to the point. Yet some worthwhile thoughts combine with others and take a bit more to share. So I’ll break this thought into a few posts. The ideas comes from an EFY talk I have used for years.
Do you ever struggle to be the follower of Christ you want to be? Usually the problem is not knowing what we should do, but rather, having the strength to be what we know we should be. Where do we get the power to live the lives we know we should? Doctrine & Covenants 84:20 has part of the secret of where we can have the power to live the way we should. It says:
“Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest”
But you might be wondering, “I took the sacrament Sunday. I’ve had every necessary ordinance but don’t always have the power I need. How does the power come from the ordinances?” Isaiah 1:11-15 gives a hint to this. Speaking to the Israelites, the Lord says about their temple sacrifices:
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
Strange enough, it was actually the Lord Himself who asked them to perform these sacrifices, and here He is condemning them for doing what He asked them to. But the next verses tell why He is upset.
13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
The ordinances had become “vain oblations” to the Israelites. It has to do with what an ordinance is. One definition of an ordinances is “and outward sign of inward change”. So every ordinance has an outward part, and an inward part. The Israelites have become very good at performing the outward elements of the ordinances of the Law of Moses. The performed every outward detail of burn sacrifice with great precision. But what about the inward part? What is the inward part that should be going on with burnt offerings? It was to point their hearts to the Son of God. The animal on the alter was also to represent the death of their own natural man and his sinful ways. Neal A. Maxwell taught:
“So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” -‘Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,’ Ensign, May 1995, 68.
Yet the Israelites had gotten to the point that they could vainly perform the whole ordinance outwardly, without ever thinking of the inward covenants with God. Silly Israelites!
But are we any better? For instance, how are we doing in our wards with the ordinances such as the sacrament? If your ward is like ours, I bet the Aaronic Priesthood does a great job with all outward elements: proper authority, prayers verbatim, etc. But how about the inward aspect of the ordinance? What should be going on inwardly in the heart of church members as we take the sacrament? What promises should we consciously be making?
Part 2 next week: “Sabbath Motions Without Emotions”
Official Holidays & Observances This Week
May 23rd - 29th
Monday National Taffy Day
Tuesday Hug Your Cat Day
Wednesday World Multiple Sclerosis Day
Thursday Scripps National Spelling Bee
Friday National Wig Out Day
Saturday International Jazz Day
Sunday Indianapolis 500
The most thought provoking, life changing book I’ve ever read (next to the scriptures). That is the designation I give “In His Steps” by Charles M. Sheldon. Although it is a pretty quick read, the book captured my total interest and I was often forced to stop and consider how I felt about what I was reading.
I am not the only one who has loved this book. It was first published in 1897 and for decades held the title for the most copies sold, next to the Bible. The book has sold more than 30,000,000 copies, been translated into 21 languages, and ranks as the 39th best-selling book of all time. But that is only since the population has increased dramatically and a few blockbuster books since then.
The story is about how after a tragedy in a town, the members of a particular congregation are forced to truly consider if they qualify as followers of Jesus Christ. Is it enough to sing the right songs and go to church each Sunday? The pastor, in the midst of these questions of faith, challenges the members of his congregation to take a year long pledge that before every decision, they will ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” and then do accordingly no matter the consequences. Then the book follows this pastor and a small group of members as they live this challenge and face its consequences in difficult circumstances. Everyone’s life changes by this small question, “What would Jesus do? I am sure I haven’t done an adequate job expressing it, but it is well worth your time and money.
Ezra Taft Benson thought highly of this book and referred to it quite often in various talks such as in the April 1984 Ensign (pages 9-13). Have you ever seen “WWJD?” written on jewelry or in various places? That all comes from this book.
So I would strongly encourage everyone to read this life changing book. (I don’t believe there are many of those in this world). You can download it on Kindle for 99 cents and it is a free Google e-book too. Copies are also easy to find on Amazon. When you are done with it, I would love to know your thoughts.
PS. Also feel free to order Impractical Grace. A book I also feel can be life changing. :-)
Official Holidays & Observances This Week
March 28th - April 3rd
Monday Weed Appreciation Day
Tuesday National Mom & Pop Business Owner's Day
Wednesday Doctor's Day
Thursday National "She's Funny That Way" Day
Friday April Fools and Atheist Day
Saturday International Pillow Fight Day
Sunday Tweed Day