Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Farewell Talk- Come unto Christ

This is a version of my farewell talk. It was never typed up word for word before I spoke but I wanted to share the main points here to let everyone who reads my blog know that I have a testimony of Jesus Christ and of the reality of His life. I know that He lives and I know that His way truly is "the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come." I can't wait to share this message with the people in Mexico City! I know it is true and will bless their lives as it has mine.

My Talk:
The purpose of a missionary is to stand as a witness of Christ and invite others to come unto Him as He did Himself in the New Testament. In Matthew 11:28-30 He says;

           "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give ye rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

A yoke is a wooden crosspiece fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to a cart for them to pull. The animals work together as a team to share the load. Christ promises here that He will help carry our burdens and we can pull through life together as a team.

     So how can we do this?
     How can we take His yoke upon us?

First, we must have faith. We have to believe that there's something more and have a desire to find it. "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." (Alma 32:21)
Our faith should then lead to action. 
"May God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you." (Alma 34:17)

Second, our faith will give us a desire to repent. It seems like we often look at repentance as punishment. Recently I overheard a friend bear his testimony and express how grateful he was for the opportunity to learn obedience. I thought this was such a neat perspective to have on repentance and obedience. It is important for us to remember that repentance is not a punishment but a blessing given out of love from our Heavenly Father for us to change; for us to learn and grow and become something more. I am so grateful for repentance in my life. 

Once we have the desire to repent and have exercised our faith, we are then ready to show our faith and humility by covenanting with the Lord through the act of baptism. When we are baptized we take upon us the name of Christ and promise to follow Him. Jesus Christ Himself was baptized to set the perfect example for all.

His Father then sent His spirit in the form of a dove. We all need to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost given by the laying on of hand by someone holding proper authority in order to have the constant companionship of our Heavenly Father's spirit, giving comfort and direction through out our everyday lives as long as we are worthy of it.

We are then asked to "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men." (2 Nephi 31:20) or endure to the end. These are not only steps but a lifestyle choice that is continuously lived in order to receive the promise of having our burdens made light.

The full purpose of a missionary is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, REPENTANCE, BAPTISM, receiving the gift of the HOLY GHOST and ENDURING to the end." This is the message I will be sharing in Mexico with anyone who will listen.

In Christ's invitation, He then asks us to "..learn of Him.."
Who is Christ?
The summer before my sophomore year of High School I decided I wanted to learn for myself more about my Savior and who He was rather than relying on the testimony of my parents, grandparents and older sister. I spent hours studying "The Living Christ: the Testimony of the Apostles." Their testimony lays out the life and mission of Christ so perfectly and has made a such strong impact on my life. It reads,

        "As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.
        He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
        He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob and sentenced to die on Calvary's cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great, vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.
        We solemnly testify that His life,which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem, nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.
        He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).
         Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
       “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).
          Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
         “For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
        “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).
          We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).
          We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.
          We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."

I want to bear my testimony that I know that Jesus lives, that He overcame death and that He is our Savior, Redeemer and Friend.

Another way we can learn more of Christ is to study His attributes. My sister Miranda once made a goal to focus and study one attribute a week so that she could draw nearer to Christ and strive to become more like Him. So of course I copied her and spent many weeks through out this past year trying to focus on the Christlike attributes. She is an incredible example to me. Some of my favorites are:
        Faith, Hope Charity, Love, Virtue, Knowledge, Patience, Humility, Diligence & Obedience

Faith. He showed faith in the Father as He said "not my will but thine be done" (Luke 22:42) He trusted in Heavenly Father and His plan, demonstrating a perfect faith and hope.

Charity. Christ was the ultimate example of charity. In the Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:45- 47 it reads, "
        And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
       Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
         But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." 
I love this description of charity and know that it is tough to reach this point but this should be everyone's goal. The perfect recipe to help each of us come unto Christ.

Love. Christ's love for us is unconditional. He loves us with a perfect and everlasting love. Enough that He gave his life in our behalf so that we could have a way to return to live with our Heavenly Father again. 
Patience. It amazes me how patient Christ can be with me and each of us.
Humility. "Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness" Having already lived a perfect life, Christ showed His humility and submissiveness through baptism.
Obedience and Diligence go together as He was diligently obedient in every aspect of His life to fulfill His Father's will.

Christ then tells us that He is "...meek and lowly in heart..."
In a recent General Conference talk titled "Be Meek and Lowly of Heart" by Elder Ulisses Soares he explained,
               "Meekness is vital for us to become more Christlike. Without it we won't be able to develop other important virtues. Being meek does not mean weakness, but it does mean behaving with goodness and kindness, showing strength, serenity, healthy self-worth, and self-control."

I love how he teaches us that meekness is not weakness, but rather what gives us the ability to develop the other virtues that Christ displayed throughout His life. In Mosiah 3:19 we learn that the perfect example of meekness comes through children. It states,

              "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

It is wise for us to look to the children in our lives as examples and recognize how much they have to offer. I am grateful for the young friends I have and for the incredible example they are to me of how to live a Christlike life. They truly demonstrate the attributes found in this scripture so well.

The best ways to come unto Christ, to take His yoke upon us are; to live His gospel, learn of Him, and strive to be like Him through meekness.

I am so excited to teach the people in Mexico City and help them understand the joy that comes through living the gospel of Jesus Christ and allowing your burdens be made light through Him.

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