Sunday, January 16, 2011

Purpose and Faith

"My dear friends, you are a royal generation. You were preserved to come to the earth in this time for a special purpose. Not just a few of you, but all of you. There are things for each of you to do that no one else can do as well as you. ... If you will let Him, I testify that our Father in Heaven will walk with you through the journey of life and inspire you to know your special purpose here" (Bishop H. Burke Peterson, "Your Life Has a Purpose," New Era).

I like to believe there's a part of every person on earth who ponders longingly on the idea that we all have a special thing we are called upon to do, that there is something God the Father needs of just him, or her, or even me. I like to think that each of us has that desires to be special, unique, and important in the giant scheme of things. Do you know what? I don't have to believe it. I know.

When Bishop Peterson speaks of this generation, he is not speaking of one specific in this current year. He is speaking about all of those who have been saved for this last dispensation when the gospel of Jesus Christ has been returned to the earth for the final time before His second coming. Do you comprehend what this means? It means our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, leaders, siblings, friends, children, nieces, nephews, students, grandchildren, and so on down the line were saved for this time.

"For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord. Every precious gospel dispensation has drifted into apostasy, but ours will not. ... God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.

"All through the ages the prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it - you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time as there is of us" (Ezra Taft Benson, "In His Steps," in Speeches of the Year, 1979).

The lesson in our Young Women (girls age 12-18 in our church) class today focused on recognizing our vast importance in God's plan of eternal salvation and ways to find out what our purposes in this life are to be. I wanted to discuss the points made in our class today, in particular because if we are to find true happiness and fulfillment in this life, we must place our goals in accordance with that of our Father.

1. Communicate with Him through prayer
2. Holy Ghost - follow his promptings
3. Ask for a priesthood blessing
4. Patriarchal Blessing - use it as a guide
5. Study
6. Think or meditate about what you have studied
7. Inquire of the Lord
8. Choose righteously
9. Kingdom of God - SEEK IT!!!

Prayer - the strongest link we possess between ourselves and our Father in Heaven. The ability to communicate one on one with a being who loves us more than we can possibly comprehend. It does not matter if He knows everything we've done that day. It is not important that He knows our every thought. His own desire for us to come to Him in daily prayer, many times a day, is intense. He invites us to come unto Him throughout the scriptures, to seek Him. Pray for counsel, pray for peace, pray for help, pray for answers. BE SPECIFIC in your prayers. Never be afraid to ask Him for things you really want. But remember, in all things it is not our will that must be obeyed, but the Father's. Most important, take a few seconds after your prayers to listen intently for a possible answer. Don't "doorbell ditch" your prayers. He has taken time to listen to you, it is just as important to take a minute or so to listen back.

For those of us who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church), we believe that the keys of God's priesthood were restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Every worthy priesthood leader can be asked to give a priesthood blessing. It is not just reserved for those who are sick. Priesthood blessings can be offered for guidance, for peace, for counsel as well. We are given patriarchal blessings when deemed ready and worthy by our bishops and stake presidents. These are personal scripture and should be referred to often.

Study. I'm not just talking about the scriptures, though those are most important. We also have a myriad of resources available in the form of study guides, Church magazines, and books written by those knowledgeable in the gospel. Not only should we read, but we need to ponder the things we read. We must ask the Father in prayer if the things we have read are good and true. We cannot rely on the testimony of everyone else around us and expect to stay strong and recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to do this for ourselves.

Make righteous choices. It's a simple enough thing to say, but not always the easiest thing to do. It is a challenge to go through life making good choices, even when we get older and supposedly wiser. Yet we must act on the things we study, ponder, and learn, for faith alone is not enough. The surest way to gain that testimony we need is to act and prove these things to be good. Elder John Groberg said:

"In the past I have tried to figure out whether I should go into business or into teaching or into the arts or whatever. As I have begun to proceed along one path, having more or less gathered what facts I could, I have found that if that decision was wrong or was taking me down the wrong path - not necessarily an evil one, but one that was not right for me - without fail, the Lord has always let me know just this emphatically: 'That is wrong; do not go that way. That is not for you!'

"On the other hand, there may have been two or three ways that I could have gone, any one of which would have been right and would have been in the general area providing the experience and means whereby I could fulfill the mission that the Lord had in mind for me. Because he knows we need the growth, he generally does not point and say, 'Open that door and go twelve yards in that direction; then turn right and go two miles.' But if it is wrong, he will let us know - we will feel it for sure. I am positive of that. So rather than saying, 'I will not move until I have this burning in my heart,' let us turn it around and say, 'I will move unless I feel it is wrong; and if it is wrong, then I will not do it.' By eliminating all of these wrong courses, very quickly you will find yourself going in the direction that you ought to be going, and then you can receive the assurance: 'Yes, I am going in the right direction. I am doing what my Father in Heaven wants me to do because I am not doing the things he does not want me to do.' And you can know that for sure. That is part of the growth process and part of accomplishing what our Father in Heaven has in mind for us" ("What Is Your Mission?" in Speeches of the Year, 1979).

Seek to further the Kingdom of God. We must align ourselves with Him, to mark our course in life as parallel with the gospel. This takes faith.

All of these things are tied together by the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit. It is through this marvelous individual that prayers are answered, that right choices can be confirmed, that blessings are given, and testimonies are received. This Spirit is a precious gift given to those who will receive it and act in accordance with the commandments so as not to drive this Spirit away.

In doing all these things we can find through the direction of our Father many of our missions here on earth during our short lives. We can walk as the Lord walked, strengthened by trials of our faith. There are things our Heavenly Father have planned for us to do in this life that we can do as no one else in the world past, present or future could even try to accomplish. There are people we are meant to influence as no one else in the world could do. But if we are not living in accordance to His Gospel, if we refuse to exercise faith in Him, in His Son, and in ourselves, we will never know how truly remarkable we are. We will never know just how important we were in God's plan.

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