Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sacrament Meeting Talk

All right, so for those of you who don't know me, I'm Liam Basham.  I've been called to serve in the Tennessee Nashville Mission, and I'm leaving on October 7th.  And I only have 15 minutes to talk, so that's all the introduction you guys get.

So, in Doctrine and Covenants section 51, verse 15, the Lord says to the Saints, "And thus I grant unto this people a privilege of organizing themselves according to my laws."  

Now, here he was talking about the laws that He set for them to organize their property and land and the services for the poor in their city of Kirtland.  But I was thinking more about that and how really all His commandments and laws are a privilege to us that He has given.   He doesn't follow behind us with a stick forcing us to obey the commandments, neither does he leave us lost, wandering around with what we have to do, not knowing. But, instead, He has given us commandments that will lead us back to Him and also lead us to the happiest way of life that He knows, and they're really a gift.        

So my topic, to paraphrase the scripture, "and thus I the Lord have given you the privilege of organizing yourselves into families according to my laws."  The laws that God has said about families are really a gift in our lives because the family is one of God's greatest gifts to us.  The words of a primary song:
God gave us families
To help us become who He wants us to be
This is how He shares His love
For the family is of God

And I know that that's true, and there are many wonderful blessings that come from families. The first lesson you receive when you come into this world, and also the very first words of The Book of Mormon are, "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents..."  Your parents are the first blessing you get, and I have wonderful parents who have been an amazing blessing in my life.

I have a father who has shown me the example of always spending time with his children. He's never too busy or too poor or anything to come to be with me and to show up to every band concert even though it's an hour drive.  He has really shown me an example of being able to base a family off of the principles of work, and service and wholesome recreation. That has been an amazing blessing in my life.

I also have a mother who is incredibly wonderful in teaching me the commandments of God. She's always there to remind me that there is a Heavenly Father who loves me and who is there for me.  She has been patient with me through all my trials and sufferings and has always gently led me back to the way.  Your parents are an amazing blessing in your life, and they are a gift from God to you.

The next blessing that comes from family is one of the very first blessings that Adam received at the creation of the world.  God saw him and said that it is not right for man to be alone, so he created a help meet for him, or a helper suited to him.  In the Family Proclamation, it says, " Gender is an essential characteristic of individual, premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."

The reason that we have male and female spirits, and they've been that way since before the world began and since afterwards,  is because the nature of male and female spirits is such that they complete each other.  They are help meets for each other.  Like a left hand and a right. They are complete opposites, yet the same.  And I could live my life with only my right hand but driving and typing would be incredibly difficult.  So, to have both of them gets us to a higher level of living than we would be able to have before. So the blessing of being able to marry and to find an eternal companion to help you grow and ascend is an amazing gift from Heavenly Father.

One of the most important gifts of families is the opportunity to have one of your own.  There is no more exalted title than that of Father or Mother.  God Himself wants us to call Him our Heavenly Father.  Think how important it must be to be able to fulfill that calling and office, and it gives you the ability to see as God would see as you raise your children in love and righteousness and protect them.

I really want to share this from Linda K Burton's talk,  We'll Ascend Together.  This is the story of her uncle, Don, after he bought his first house.  She says, 

"Because there were five small children to feed and clothe, there was not enough money to fence the yard. Taking seriously one of his divine roles as the protector of his family, Uncle Don drove a few small wooden stakes into the ground, took some string, and tied the string from stake to stake all around the yard. He then called his children to him. He showed them the stakes and string and explained to them that if they would stay on the inside of that makeshift fence, they would be safe.

"One day the visiting teachers watched in disbelief as they approached the house and saw five little children standing obediently at the edge of the string, looking longingly at a ball that had bounced beyond their boundaries and out into the street. One little child ran to get their daddy, who, in response, ran and retrieved the ball."

So, it reminds me a lot of what I was telling earlier about how God's commandments are a gift to us to keep us safe and happy, and as a father he was able to experience some of that himself to be able to protect and watch his children to give them rules that would make them happier and to be able to love and bless them as they did that.

Then also the title of mother is one of the most important callings in life. This is what our prophet Thomas S. Monson has said, "May each of us remember this truth; 'one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God.' Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and an earthly mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”

The call to be a mother and a father are the two most important callings in the Church in the Restored Gospel and in the Kingdom of God.  It is a blessing that God has given us the ability to do that.  One of the greatest blessings of families come from the temple, and that's that these wonderful gifts of our parents who are there to teach us, and our companions who are there to help us, and our kids who we are able to raise and teach and guide, that they can all be together for eternity because of the blessings of sealing in the temple, that through the restored priesthood power in the Church, we never have to say good-bye to those loved ones - those amazing gifts in our lives.  

There's a law, though, irrevocably decreed in Heaven before the world was, that all blessings are predicated upon obedience, and the blessing of being able to live forever with your family and with God is predicated upon obedience to those commandments and those covenants you have in the temple.  The problem is that we're not perfect, and we're going to mess up, and that we're going to break those covenants because we kind-of suck as human beings but that's where comes the greatest gift of all.  These are the words of President Boyd K Packer in his talk, The Plan of Happiness.  " Nowhere is the generosity and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance.  Our physical bodies, when harmed, are able to repair themselves, sometimes with the help of a physician. If the damage is extensive, however, often a scar will remain as a reminder of the injury.

"With our spiritual bodies it is another matter. Our spirits are damaged when we make mistakes and commit sins. But unlike the case of our mortal bodies, when the repentance process is complete, no scars remain because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The promise is: 'Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more' (D&C 58:42)."

So no matter where anyone is in the path of life in following their covenants or trying to strive to come towards God, it's never too late for them to always have the wonderful joy of the Atonement and be able to repent, and to be completely washed free of your sins and to live together with your family forever and that is one of the most amazing gifts that I could ever think of.  It's mind-blowing.  

I'd just like to take some time now to bear my testimony, as it has grown line-upon-line, precept-on-precept from the beginning.  I know that there's a God and I know that He loves me. And I know that when I disobey His commandments, I don't feel His presence and it's sad and lonely, but when I take the time to come to Him, when I repent and I pray and read the scriptures, I can feel His presence in my life, and it's wonderful, and I can know that He loves me.

I know that the scriptures are the word of God, that by clinging fast to them, they will lead you to the love of God, not only to feel of God's love but to develop your own love for God.  I have developed my own love for God, and it is an amazing blessing in my life.  And I know that The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that it was brought to us as gift in these latter-days to teach us the fullness of the Gospel as was lost, and that fullness of the Gospel was restored through Joseph Smith.  Through that Restored Gospel, we now have the power of the priesthood, that authority to perform sacred ordinances, and that sacred priesthood power to perform ordinances will help us to be together with our families forever. 

I know that this is all true, and that this is the true Church, that the priesthood authority of God to help us be sealed to our families forever is real  and it's an amazing blessing.

I say all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.