Have you found yourself wondering what you believe in anymore? Have you been embarrassed to admit to your coworkers of friends that you go to church on Sunday? Are you wanting a more purposeful life? We can encounter periods in our life where we get discouraged. There are many reasons for a person to stop and evaluate and question what they believe and why the believe. Questioning is a natural part of human living, but so is finding answers and believing. Should your mounting pile of questions overrule your answers and feelings you have already about God?
“When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your “unbelief.”…I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle…In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith…Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.” – Elder Holland, April 2013 General Conference
Do not delay any longer. Put yourself on a more sure foundation and find you faith for the first time, or strengthen what you have already. It really boils down to a simple plan to follow. Study like crazy, pray as hard and as sincerely as you can, and combine this with living as cleanly as you can. You will not be able to receive any inspiration or gift of faith if you are not living a God fearing righteous life.
“Study diligently, Pray fervently, Live righteously.” – Thomas S. Monson
Our most important undertaking in life is to understand and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. This means our belief in Him, following Him and preaching Him. Christ is our Lord and Saviour.
So what exactly are we being saved from?
Mankind is born into a fallen world. This was brought about by the transgression of Adam and Eve. The result was the removal of man and woman from the presence of God and our becoming subject to physical death. We are both spiritually dead and physically dead.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:1-5 NIV
As mortals we become sinful and fallen people that are out of God’s presence. In such a state we become subject to Satan. This is where the gospel message comes to save us and place us in the state of being made “alive with Christ”. God had a marvelous plan from the beginning to provide for us a Saviour. Jesus saves us from death in two ways. First, we are able to be resurrected and have our earthly body raised to incorruption and united with our spirit in eternity. This is our overcoming of the mortal death. Secondly, we also need to overcome spiritual death. Saving us from the spiritual death of Hell (captivity of the Devil) was also accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ. Those that accept Christ in this life and submit to following him and keeping his commandments will not be subject to Satan after they die, but will immediately enjoy a rest in “paradise”.
The second coming of Jesus Christ is an event that Christians have been anticipating ever since Jesus ascended up into heaven following his post-resurrection 40-day ministry. As people stood there that day gazing up into the sky at the ascending Christ, an angel spoke these words –
“why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (See Acts 1:6-9)
From those earliest days continuing up to our day, believers have thought that they would be the generation living on the earth that would see Jesus return as promised. Should we have reason to think that we might finally be that generation during which Christ returns in power and glory? Yes we certainly should! There are definite signs that the second coming is imminent!
No person knows the exact date, but the second coming however does not approach without any warning. The scriptures give us the signs and events to watch for, so we need not be caught by surprise. The book of Revelation outlines a series of events that will happen in succession and that lead up to the rapture in which the saints are lifted up to meet Christ as he comes. These events, like a chain reaction of dominos, fall quickly into place and will bring us to the great and dreadful day of the return of Christ. It is both great and dreadful; depending on if you are the righteous or the wicked.
The plan of God is to gather the elect that hear His voice and then to destroy the wicked at the time of judgments that are poured out at the second coming of Christ.
Your life has four important relationships. These are – with God, with self, with others and with things. Each can be in varying degrees of health or toxicity. Healthy relationship are positive, supportive, fruitful, harmonious, nurturing, encouraging, happy, truthful and dozens of other like words used to describe it. Think of each of these words in relation to each of your four relationship types and ponder how you are doing.
The four relationship types are now presented in the order in which you must accomplish them. You cannot have the later ones working properly until you have the ones that precede them functioning in harmony.
1. Relationship with God:
“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.” – Matthew 22:37
Our relationship with God is based on faith and obedience out of love. We are His children and as our perfect parent, He lovingly guides us and waits for us to return home. He first loved us and we are His to keep and are destined for greatness. The most perfect devotion and worship that we can manage in this life is what we strive for with everything we have.
2. Relationship with self:
Your self-image is the mental and emotional picture you hold of yourself – your capabilities, and what you represent.
People limit themselves when they say or think things like – “I am not good enough, too fat, not capable, not wanted…” Ignorance, fear, doubt and uncertainty are all tools of Satan to get us to feel poorly. Every negative or positive image you have about yourself will affect what happens to you throughout the day. Every outward action is first an inward thought. If you have internal positive emotions of love, courage, respect, faith and confidence it will bolster you and propel you to greatness. Believe it or not, a great deal of your health, wealth and happiness are reflections of your inward thoughts.
Your self-image is partly a product of your environment. How you were raised, and what others told you about yourself gets deeply engrained in your brain. However, no matter what it is, it can be rearranged in your mind to be constructive. The destructive thought can be replaced with positive self-image thoughts.
Christ did not walk around in his ministry in a prideful and dominating way, but did so as a humble servant. He even grew from grace to grace in truth and power until he received a fullness of the Father (D&C 93:12). The scriptures say that through small and simple means are great things brought to pass. Mighty men such as Enoch, Abraham and our modern apostles and prophets are not arrogant and prideful. They are in their calling because of their humble service and bearing of difficult trials.
“Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers. For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly.” – (D&C 136:32,33)
If you ask someone what the essential elements of good communication are, you might be surprised how many would not even think to mention the importance of being a good listener. Yet, in a two-way conversation, it is so vital to be able to control yourself and not interrupt the other person when they are speaking. More importantly, you must be able to focus outside yourself and understand the other person.
We are all too often only interested in making our own ideas and opinions known. Instead of listening, we are only thinking about what we want to say next. Developing good listening skills takes practice and is something that few people take the time to really master. No skill can show your sincerity as much as that of being a real intense listener.