Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Instrument

Today I was looking for a large envelope for Lexi to put a job application in.  Well, I never found a nice large envelope for Lexi, but I stumbled across an old talk I gave many years ago when I was serving in Primary.  As I read through it tonight I came to realize that this talk applies to my life today and the things I do on a daily basis for my family.  I needed to hear some of these things again.  I only hope that these words inspire you in some way as well.  Enjoy.Related image

In Matthew 22:42 is recorded an important question.  Especially to people like you and I who profess to be disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  The question raised by Jesus, himself, "WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?"

I'm sure we have had the opportunity to think about this topic or maybe we have been asked this very question before.

No doubt we have come up with many responses, and all have been reflective of the deep love and esteem we have for Him.

Each time we bear testimony of Him I find it very reassuring to know that what we testify is make sure by the Spirit.  In 1 Corinthians 12:3 we read, "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."
Now I want to ask another question that hopefully you will consider to be a 'follow-up" to the first.  It is not a question found in the scriptures, but hopefully it may be worthy of your thoughtful consideration, and perhaps also prove appropriate in assessing and measuring ourselves.

The question is, "What doest ye for Christ?"

The question, "What doest ye for Christ?" is of great importance because it poses a challenge that has eternal implications and consequences affecting our mortal life and our life beyond the veil.

This time we become the main character and occupy center stage instead of Christ.

The issue now is not what we think of Him, but rather what we have done, are doing, and will do for Him.  Clearly our discipleship could and would be measured by our responses to this question, and obviously we would be measured by our works more than our words.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus taught us, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of thy Father which is in heaven."

In this scripture Christ brings home the powerful message that to do His Father's will is the key to entering the kingdom of heaven.  To think and to testify of Christ is very important, but in addition, our words must be followed by our good works patterned after those of Christ.

I love this quote by Marion G. Romney.  

"Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the Celestial Kingdom.  Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the Celestial Kingdom is made."

The answer to the question, "What doest ye for Christ?" can be found only in the things we do for Him.  The burden of proving ourselves then rests squarely on our shoulders.

Truly by His works, Christ has already proven the man He is and what He has accomplished for us.  By what He did He has left an indelible description of Himself and has made it easy for us to form an opinion of Him.

Now let's shift the attention from Christ to ourselves.  It's our turn to leave a description of ourselves by what we do for Him.  The description we eventually would like to leave of ourselves as we labor diligently and by the works we do may be called CHARACTER....hopefully, even Christlike Character.

The meaning and heart of Christlike Character was described beautifully by Christ's simple but profound statement found in 3 Nephi 27:27, "What manner of men ought ye to be?.....Even as I am."

Christ's example is not an easy act to follow, is it?

I want you to know that I spent a lot of time on my knees preparing for tonight.  I wanted to share experiences and say those things that Heavenly Father wanted me to say.  As I was searching I spent a lot of time reflecting on my own works, or lack thereof.  I thought about the opportunities I've had to serve and my attitude about certain callings and those I served.  I thought of all the wards we have been in.  I even counted them all up.  My husband and I have been married now for 30 years and over the course of those years we have been in over 15 different wards.

Each ward brought different opportunities to serve and perform my own good or bad works, usually those opportunities were in Primary.  Out of the over 15 wards I was always called to Primary first.  I can only remember two times that I did not get called into Primary first.

I can honestly say, I used to dread when the bishopric would call to make an appointment to see us, because I knew my new calling would always be in Primary.  For some reason I thought I was better than Primary.  I knew, or thought I knew, that I could be put to better use somewhere else.  I even use to think that the reason I continued to be put in Primary was because I didn't know the right people or because I wasn't good enough for other callings.  I even use to say, how can the bishopric put someone that was new to that particular ward in Primary? OR why would they put someone that works full time in Primary where I would be forgotten and never have the opportunity to get to know the other sisters in the ward?  I can honestly say, I hated Primary!  It wasn't until we moved to El Paso, Texas that my attitude began to change....but not without a fight.

We had just moved to El Paso and we received a call from a member of the bishopric requesting to come visit us.  The counselor came over offered a calling to Kevin and then offered a calling to me to teach three year old in you guest it.....Primary.  As soon as the counselor left our house I began to cry.  I was so upset.  Well, my husband wasn't having it and he refused to let me wallow.  In fact, my husband got upset at me and said, "You know what Sondra, you are going to keep getting Primary callings until you learn to love Primary!"  Needless to say, after that comment I didn't talk to my husband for a couple of days.  I was upset and still had a bad attitude.  In fact, it wasn't until I called home and talked to my Mom that my attitude began to change.  My Mom listened to what I had to say, but she didn't let me wallow in it either.  Instead she reminded me that I could make that little Primary class the best little Primary class that ward had ever seen.  I just needed to get down to the kids level and bring those lessons to life for those kids.  My Mom asked me what my lesson on Sunday was going to be about.  It was all about water.  Then she talked about all the things you do in water.  She said I needed to get the kids involved and bring water to the class, and that is exactly what I did.  I got busy over the next couple of days coming up with all kinds of things the kids could do in class with water.  We washed our hands, we fished in a small pool.  We drank water.  We had our dolls swim in the water.  The kids LOVED it and went home and told their parents all about our little class.  That was the beginning of many other lessons that those little three year olds enjoyed and would rave about to their parents each week, and something amazing happened, my attitude about Primary changed on that first Sunday and never went back to the way it was before from that moment on.  
It isn't easy serving where the Lord wants us to serve when our attitude gets in the way.  Maybe if I would have asked myself, "What doest ye for Christ?" as I accepted each calling would my attitude be better from the beginning.  Eventually, I ended up with a couple of those callings I so desperately thought I deserved.  In fact, I ended up with four callings at the same time in that little ward in El Paso.  

Now I can honestly say this,....I was a fool to ever believe that Primary is not where it's at.  After my little Primary calling I was called to be the weekly Bulletin Specialist, on the Activities Committee, and the Homemaking Leader.  In my opinion, I wasn't a very good Homemaking Leader.  I was a much better Primary teacher.  Now, many many years later, I can say that my various callings in Primary were like "on the job training" for future callings in Primary like the President.  The experiences I have had over the years in Primary, along with the callings I wanted first, have helped me make choices and decisions in my personal life now.  Now don't get me wrong, I am still learning....I'm certainly not the best at what I do by any means.  Imagine, if you will, how much better prepared I could have been, had my attitude been better right up front?  I thought a lot of myself and I needed to be humbled.  I now know that I still have a lot to learn, and each calling even if it is a repeat, can still provide opportunities for growth and learning on my part.  I have also learned that there are several others that could do the job or calling that I do.  No doubt, in a much better way.  I find myself wondering why me now when I get callings I know others could do much better than I could.

I wonder how many of feel this way sometimes?

I would like to share a portion of a conference talk by Henry B. Eyring that will better explain how the Lord will help you in your work, especially when you feel that you cannot do all that has been asked or required of you, but some answers will not come until the end of a calling.

"When you are released from your callings, you will learn what I learned then.  God magnifies those He calls, even in what may seem to you as small and inconspicuous service.  You will have the gift of seeing your service magnified.  Give thanks that while that gift is yours.  You will appreciate it's worth more than you can imagine when it is gone.

The Lord will not only magnify the power of your efforts.  He will work with you, Himself.  His voice to four missionaries, called through the Prophet, Joseph Smith to a difficult task, gives courage to everyone He calls in His kingdom.  "And I myself will go with them and be in their midst; and I am their advocate with the Father, and nothing shall prevail against them."

Because the Savior is a resurrected and glorified being, He is not physically with every one of His servants at every moment.  But He is perfectly aware of them and their circumstances and He is able to intervene with His power.  That is why He can promise you, "Whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will be before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

There is yet another way the Lord will magnify you in your call to His service.  You will feel at some time, perhaps at many times, that you cannot do all you feel you must.  The heavy weight of your responsibilities will seem to great.  You will worry that you can't spend more time with your family.  You will wonder how you can find the time and the energy to meet your responsibilities beyond your family and your calling.  You may feel discouragement and even guilt after you have done all you could to meet all your obligations.  I have had such days and such nights.  Let me tell you what I have learned.

It is this:  If I only think of my own performance, my sadness deepens.  But when I remember that the Lord promised that His power would go with me, I begin to look for evidence of what He has done in the lives of the people I am to serve.  I pray to see with spiritual eyes the effects of His power.

Then, eventually, the faces of people flood back into my memory.  I remember the shine in the eyes of my child whose heart was softened, the tears of happiness on the face of a girl on the back row of a Sunday School class I was teaching, or a problem that was resolved before I had time to get to it.  I know then that I have done enough for the promise made by Joseph Smith to be fulfilled once again:  "Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for His arm to be revealed."

You can have the utmost assurance that your power will be multiplied many times by the Lord.  All He asks is that your give your best effort and your whole heart.  Do it cheerfully and with the prayer of faith.  The Father and His beloved Son will send the Holy Ghost as your companion to guide you.  And when you look back on what may now seem trying times of service and sacrifice, the sacrifice will  have become a blessing, and you will know that you have seen the arm of God lifting those you served for Him, and lifting you."

In closing I would like to leave you with one more scripture, my favorite scripture.  It is found in Doctrine & Covenants 64:33.  "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.  And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."

"As teachers you stand upon the highest peak in education, for what teaching can compare in priceless value and in far reaching effect with that which deals with man as he was in the eternity of yesterday, as he is in the mortality of today, and as He will be in the forever of tomorrow.  Not only time but eternity is your field."  (President J Reuben Clark Jr.)

It is my sincere desire to impress upon each of you tonight of your importance in Primary and the sacred nature of the work that you do.  You are the ones that can behold our children in their eternal perspective and see that they all know of the Savior and learn the significant truths of His gospel.  You can help them witness marvelous spiritual events.  You are their ministering angels on earth if you follow the Lord's example.  I know that the work you do now is the work that the Savior himself would be doing if He could be here.  I am so grateful to all of you that have accepted the call to serve these choice, precious spirits we call the children of our ward.  I know that your hard work and efforts are applauded by those spirits beyond the veil that have placed great trust in us to teach the gospel to their young family members.  We as a presidency love each of you and stand in awe of you and all that you do.  May the Lord bless you for your efforts is my fervent prayer.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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