Sermoncitos, a family tradition
A friend recently asked me to clarify the role and nature of the Holy Ghost. I had to put the answer in the context of the Godhead. We have a father of our spirits through whom we inherit divine nature. Since we are born into mortality we have a carnal nature and need a savior, who is Jesus Christ. Our complete soul includes a mortal body joined with a spirit that came from the presence of God. The Holy Ghost is able to communicate to our spirit to give us testimony, guidance, comfort, and spiritual gifts. Since a testimony of Jesus Christ and his role as savior and redeemer is key to salvation, I pray that your heart may be open to the testimony of the Spirit today.
Before we were born on the earth, we lived in the presence of our Heavenly Father as one of His spirit children. In this premortal existence, we attended a council with Heavenly Father's other spirit children. At that council, Heavenly Father presented His great plan of happiness in which we would have the agency to choose. When the Father chose Jesus’s offer to sacrifice himself for us over Lucifer’s plan to save everyone, Lucifer mounted a rebellion. One third of the hosts of heaven followed him and were cast down to the earth without the chance to have bodies. They are still here, striving to tempt us to their same destruction. (see Abraham 3:22-26).
As the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh, Jesus Christ had the power to overcome death and initiate the resurrection of all who die. He was the Creator, He is our Savior, and He will be our Judge. Under the direction of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created the earth. Jesus Christ was foreordained to carry out the Atonement, becoming "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," (Revelation 13:8; see also 1 Peter 1:19-21). Through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross - that is, by performing the Atonement - Jesus Christ saves us from our sins as we follow Him.
To put us in tune with the Spirit so we can learn and gain a testimony and be sanctified, sacrifice has always been a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To sacrifice is to give up something valuable or precious, often with the intent of accomplishing a greater purpose or goal. It is a reminder of the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all who have lived or will live on earth. Before the ministry of Christ, animal sacrifices were offered for this purpose (Moses 5: 4-8). After the Atonement of Christ, followers of Jesus Christ - by His direction - began to offer instead a "broken heart and contrite spirit" (3 Nephi 9:20), a willingness to repent of sins and a desire to follow Jesus Christ and align one's life with His commandments.
To prepare our spirit to accept the sacrifice of Christ, we practice the law of sacrifice in our own lives in many ways. We accept assignments to serve by speaking in church, passing the sacrament, or bringing food to a church function. We fast and give voluntary donations to help others. We demonstrate faith by obeying he law of tithing. We accept callings to serve as teachers, visitors, or leaders in the church. We accept covenants of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel so we can qualify for a recommend, then sacrifice our time and resources to serve in the temple, a sacrifice that requires faith, as we are serving strangers and relatives long gone.
May we offer a broken heart and contrite spirit, live the law of sacrifice, and accept Christ so that we may find peace through the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and assurance that we are on a path to return to our Heavenly Father.
Jesus Christ, our Role Model
At Christmas time we celebrate the fulfilling of prophecy in the miraculous birth and life of Jesus (Acts 10:43). At Easter time we recognize what He has done for us that we can’t do for ourselves (Isaiah 53:3-7). All year long we can look to His life as a guide for our own (Matthew 22:36-39). There is no better role model than the life of Jesus.
Jesus was born as the King of the Jews (Matthew 1:1-17; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:38) during a time of military occupation by a foreign power, which put Him in great danger (Matthew 2: 16-18). Therefore he began life in political exile far from home. Joseph found this place of safety by responding to the inspiration he received in a dream (Matthew 2:13-15). We can rely upon inspiration to guide us in safe paths.
He was raised in a family that faithfully followed their religious practice (Luke 2:22, 23, 39). In His childhood He seriously studied the scriptures and discussed the meaning with the teachers and leaders (Luke 2:40-47). He respected and honored His parents (Matthew 15:4). Jesus learned His Father’s will, and worked to please Him (John 8:28-29). We can make the effort to teach our children those principles and practices that guide our own lives.
When the people laughed at Him, He ignored their scorn and thought of others’ needs (Mark 5:39-42). We can take charge of our own feelings and not be brought down by others.
A man of sorrows with great burdens (Isaiah 53:3-4), He found joy in living (John 16:20-22). We can choose to see the beautiful forest and not be focused on the trees that block our path.
He met challenges with fasting and prayer, (Matthew 4:1-2). He chose the words of life over worldy pleasures (4:3-4). He knew He was powerful, but chose a life of service (4:8-10). We can overcome temptation and choose a higher path.
He taught that we should serve others (Matthew 25:35-46) and often sacrificed His own comfort to take time for others (Luke 9:12-17). We can think of others more than ourselves.
He took time for the children when others would have kept them away (Mark 10:13-14). We can take time for our families in spite of the pressures of jobs and friends.
He suffered abandonment by his friends (Luke 22:54-62), people mocked and mistreated Him (22:63-65), and He was falsely accused (23:8-25); yet He rose above all that and forgave all (23:34). He lived as He spoke: “that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). We can choose to react to violence, disdain, and false witness with truth and love.
He accepted death with hope and a vision of the next step in life (Luke 23:46). We can find peace as we accept the trials of life.
He sacrificed time and energy on behalf of others, and to be obedient to a higher law (John 15:13-14). We can find joy as we live like Jesus, a worthy role model for our own lives.
Christ the Savior
Easter has been celebrated as a special time of year in my family for generations. In the mid 20th Century my parents not only took us to special church services and musical presentations, but made our home a place of praise, worship, and devotion. In the mid 19th Century my great great grandparents were living the difficult life of pioneers in a harsh land. About Easter time the wild sego and kamas lilies would begin to bloom, giving them a reminder of the cycle of life and the hope of renewal. Having accepted Christ as their Savior, their devotion to discipleship led them to take time for special worship services to celebrate the Atonement and Resurrection and to remember who is Christ.
Jesus Christ “was in the beginning with God”, the first born of the Father’s spirit children (John 1:1-2; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 1:5-6). Christ “was foreordained before the foundation of the world” for His role as Savior (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8). “All things were made by Him” (John 1:3; Isaiah 40:28; Colossians 1:16). In the Old Testament times He was known as Jehovah. “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58; Genesis 22:14; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14; 3:16). As disciples with a testimony of Christ, we do as He did. “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21). He also did something for us that we can’t do for ourselves, giving his life to atone for the sins of mankind.
He is our Savior. “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28; Isaiah 53:5-6; 1 John 2:1-2). “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Not only did He sacrifice that we might have a way to be free from sin and despair, but also that we might live again. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20; John 14:19; 1 Corinthians 15:54). Many appreciate His wisdom and respect His teachings, but He is much more: the Creator of heaven and earth, the Son of God, and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14; Luke 2:11). He came to Jerusalem as the long awaited Messiah. “The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:25-26; Luke 4:16-21).
All these qualify Jesus to be our advocate with the Father. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1). “Then spake Jesus unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12; Psalm 27:1; John 1:9). We have an advocate in Jesus for the challenges of daily life. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18; Isaiah 53:5). We don’t have to wait until the resurrection to be changed by Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 5:4).
Jesus is the central focus of our worship, the Son of the living God, the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten in the flesh. He brought about the Atonement and Resurrection. He is Jesus Christ, our Savior whom we remember at Easter time and worship and follow every day. I add my testimony to those of the Apostles, that I have received a witness of the Spirit; I know that Jesus lives, and we too, shall live again. This Easter season take time to worship and share your testimony of Christ with others so that peace might come into the hearts of your family and friends.