Hello, and good morning. When Joseph and I moved into this ward at the end of March, we thought that we’d quietly slip in unnoticed, well that didn’t happen, we’ve been welcomed into the ward, and have been the recipients of so much love and service for which I can’t thank you enough. Being relatively new to the ward, I don’t have the bishopric’s numbers in my phone, yet. So I was surprised when Bro. Cook called me, and even more surprised when he asked me to speak in Sacrament meeting today. It shouldn’t have surprised me seeing how Joseph spoke on Mother’s Day, so now it’s my turn.
Anyway, I was asked to speak for 12 minutes on Doctrine and Covenants section 4, specifically verse 2, missionary work & maybe a couple of characteristics found in verses 5-6. Initially, I thought, this will be easy, but that was not the case.
D&C 4:2 happens to be the 2015 mutual theme, a theme which doubles as a call to action to faithful young men and young women across the globe. It reads “O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart might mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” Sis. Bonnie L. Oscarson, General YW president, said “ the theme is reminder of covenants LDS youth made at baptism to serve the lord for the rest of their lives.”
Each of us who have been baptized have already made the covenant to serve the lord for our whole lives, not just serve but to serve with all our hearts might mind and strength. This is a way of saying that a person must be totally committed to the work and have no reservation. This commitment involves the emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical energy of the person.
Lets examine the four attributes of service “Heart shows that we love Him first and foremost and have an unwavering desire to serve Him; might is our willingness to boldly move forward in His cause without ever giving up; mind means to always continue in lifelong learning; … and strength is to constantly develop and refine ourselves physically, emotionally, socially, temporally, and spiritually.”
Serving God may seem overwhelming and even scary. So to borrow from Dr. Seuss:
It’s a troublesome world
All the people who are in it
Are troubled with troubles
Almost every minute
Just tell yourself, Duckie
You’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more…
Oh, ever so much more
Unlucky than you!
We all have troubles, and we know of those who are more unlucky, than us, specifially I am talking about those who live without the knowledge of the gospel, those without the knowledge of the plan of salvation, or of Christ and His Atonement.
How can we be prepared to serve and help those more unlucky than us?
Robert D Hales Advised “Therefore we must continually repent, partake of the sacrament, be worthy of a temple recommend, With the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, we feel a love for God and all His children. This love casts out fear, and fills us with the desire to open our mouths. There is no greater gift we can give others than to bear our testimony to them. There is no greater joy we can have than to bring even one soul unto Christ. I would like to add here or in bringing one soul back unto Christ.
And there is no greater way to strengthen our own testimony than to share our witness of Him with the world. As we do, our families will be strengthened. Our wards, stakes, and communities will be filled with peace and love, and, ultimately, the earth will be prepared for the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The call for our service also come with a promise, if we give our all to serving and coming unto Christ, it will be a protection for us.
I learned there are troubles
Of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead
And some come from behind.
But I’ve brought a big bat,
I’m ready, you see,
Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me!
Armed with gospel truths, and again borrowing from Dr. Seuss I like to think that having been raised in the gospel, and having made it an integral part of my life has helped me to over come my troubles or at least prepared me, in a way not unlike carrying a big bat, so I can confidently face any troubles that come my way.
Let’s delve a little deeper…
Doctrine & Covenants 4 is a revelation given for the prophet Joseph Smith’s father, but it is addressed to all people who would serve God. Joseph Fielding Smith pointed out that while only 7 verses long, “it contains sufficient counsel and instruction for a lifetime of study. No one has yet mastered it. While not intended as a personal revelation to Joseph Smith, but to be of benefit to all who desire to embark in the service of God. It is a revelation to each member of the church, especially to all who hold the priesthood. Perhaps there is no other revelation in all our scriptures that embodies greater instruction, pertaining to the qualification of members of the church for the service of God.
Even though it is only 7 verse long it is as broad, as high and as deep as eternity. No elder, or member is qualified to teach in the church, or carry the message of salvation to the world, until he has absorbed, in part at least, this heaven-sent instruction.
D&C 4:5-6. Lists the Attributes we need to develop for the Service of God, it reads: “And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.”
These attributes have also been described as godliness and divine nature.
Peter, in his injunction to the Saints to take upon them the “divine nature”, lists nearly the same characteristics found in Doctrine and Covenants 4:6. Peter encouraged them to give all diligence in developing these godlike characteristics. President David O. McKay applied Peter’s teachings to Latter-day Saints:
“[Peter] wrote on one occasion: ‘… that we might be partakers of the divine nature.’ He realized what it means to be in touch with the spiritual, to rise above the temporal, the sensual, and partake of the divine Spirit of God.… for the purpose of making us more capable of responding to the Spirit.
“That is why we like to have every young man and every young woman utilize his or her time intelligently, usefully, to bring the soul in harmony with the spirit, that we all might be partakers of God’s Spirit, partakers of his divine nature.”
This applies to all of us, in any capacity that we serve, are you a missionary now? Are you preparing to serve a mission? Are you a return missionary? Or a member missionary? I hadn’t thought of myself as a missionary until preparing this talk, but I am a preschool teacher and a piano teacher. During the school year I work daily with at least 30 children, children that watch my every move, and listen to my every word. It’s a little frightening thinking about the kind of influence that I can have on these children’s lives, but I love them and do my best to be a good example for each of them. While not allowed to discuss religion at work, I try to be an example of goodness, kindness and patience.
As members of the Lord’s Church, we must take missionary work more seriously. The Lord’s commission to “preach the gospel to every creature” will never change in our dispensation. And recently we have witnessed a great hastening of the work. There are more missionaries serving now than every before and in more ways than ever before.We have been greatly blessed with the material means, the technology, and an inspired message to bring the gospel to all men. More is expected of us than any previous generation. Where “much is given much is required.”
We are ordinary people with ordinary frailties. But therein lies the power of our example. We should rely and believe this promise from the Lord: “Because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong.” It says in Alma: “Ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.”
I think that we should always be striving for those ten traits that missionaries are expected to possess and practice: “Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.”
Those are attributes the Lord deserves from His disciples. Because each of us is to be “an example of the believers”
Lets talk quickly, about those ten traits, sorry I couldn’t pick just 1 or 2.
Faith: “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The primary song entitled faith states: Faith is knowing the sun will rise, lighting each new day. Faith is knowing the Lord will hear my prayers each time I pray. Faith is like a little seed: If planted, it will grow. Faith is a swelling within my heart. When I do right, I know. Faith is knowing I lived with God before my mortal birth. Faith is knowing I can return when my life ends on earth. Faith is trust in God above; In Christ, who showed the way. Faith is strengthened; I feel it grow Whenever I obey.
Virtue: President Brigham Young’s counsel: “Learn the will of God, keep His commandments and do His will, and you will be a virtuous person.” Virtue “is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.” It encompasses chastity and moral purity. Virtue begins in the heart and in the mind. It is nurtured in the home. It is the accumulation of thousands of small decisions and actions. Virtue is a word we don’t hear often in today’s society, but the Latin root word virtus means strength. Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength.
Knowledge: Knowledge is essential to competent service for any missionary. Seek knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge. Study the scriptures every day, and also study the words of the living prophets.
Temperance: “To knowledge,” the Apostle Peter wrote, add “temperance.” Temperance suggests sobriety and self-restraint in action. It reminds one of covenants made. Repeatedly, scriptures teach that we be “temperate in all things.” Temperance can protect each of us from the aftermath of excess.
Patience: Pres. Uchtdorf “Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for a time—is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter.
Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace.
Brotherly Kindness: Brotherly kindness overcomes the rudeness of selfish intent. Think of the second great commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. Each of us can develop brotherly kindness at home, at school, at work, or at play. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Charity: The Book of Mormon defines charity as the pure love of Christ. It further teaches that the “Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love.” When you are filled with charity, you obey God’s commandments and do all you can to serve others and help them receive the restored gospel.
Humility: To be humble is to be teachable. Humility permits you to be tutored by the Spirit and to be taught from sources inspired by the Lord, such as the scriptures. Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. It includes gratitude for His blessings and acknowledgment of your constant need for His divine help. Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of spiritual strength. When you humbly trust Him and acknowledge His power and mercy, you can have the assurance that His commandments are for your good.
Diligence: Diligence is steady, consistent, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord’s work. The Lord expects you to work diligently—persistently and with great effort and care.
Godliness: Godliness is an attribute that seems as difficult to define, as it is to attain Because it is so special, I have chosen to speak of it last. “The power of godliness is manifest” in the ordinances of the priesthood. Godliness is not a product of perfection; it comes of concentration and consecration.
Godliness characterizes each of you who truly love the Lord.