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Friday, February 25, 2011

We Can Live With God Again

We come to this life to grow and learn and be tested. That all sounds pretty taxing, but it’s not hard to see how much joy we can find here on earth as well. One great part of Heavenly Father’s plan is that all the happiness and satisfaction we get from learning new things and all the love we develop within our families will go with us to the next life.
Just like our family bonds, we can carry the knowledge we gain in this life with us after we die. Contrary to some representations of heaven, we will not be sitting on clouds, gazing at the face of God for eternity. We’ll have more opportunities to grow and challenge ourselves. All these wonderful blessings depend on our faithfulness, here and now, as we work to keep God’s commandments throughout our lives.

Our Spirits Are Eternal
It’s comforting to know that God has a plan for us. We lived with Him before we were born and we will continue to live with Him into eternity if we choose. Our life on earth is fundamental to His plan, as is death. It’s always sad when God calls our loved ones home, but we can be certain that their spirits live on.

Life after Death
When our bodies die, our spirits continue to live. The spirits of those who have received and lived God's plan will visit those who have not, teaching them and giving them the chance to follow God's plan.
Everyone’s spirit will then be reunited with his or her perfected physical body, which will never die again. We’ll be judged and rewarded according to our works. Those who follow God's plan will then join Him in heaven.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We Can Find Happiness

We often fall into the trap of thinking a new car, job promotion, beauty makeover, or fame will make us happy. And often they do—for a time. But it never lasts because wealth, power, beauty, and fame simply don’t bring lasting happiness, as much as we wish they would.

True Happiness
True happiness comes from following Christ’s example and developing Christlike attributes such as obedience, goodness, honesty, gratitude, humility, love, charity, and forgiveness. It comes from serving others and helping them to follow Jesus Christ. It comes from controlling the appetites of our human bodies and following the promptings of the Spirit. It comes from working hard and having a healthy lifestyle, friends, family, and personal achievements.
Regardless of what you do or don’t have in this life, your deepest, most lasting happiness will come from knowing God’s plan and following it. One ancient prophet put it this way:
“I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jesus Christ Is the Way

More than anything else, God wants to help us through this life and bless us with eternal life in the next. He sends His Spirit to offer us this help. But the scriptures say that His Spirit cannot be with us if we are sinful. As hard as we try to live good lives, we all commit sins that separate us from God.
Being separated from God by sin is called spiritual death. We feel a profound loneliness when we separate ourselves from God, our Heavenly Father.
How can we overcome spiritual death and always have God’s Spirit with us if we are imperfect?

God Provided a Savior
Heavenly Father chose His Son, Jesus Christ, in our pre-earth life and sent Him to earth to be our Savior. If we believe in Jesus Christ, follow His teachings, and repent when we commit sins, His Atonement, or sacrifice, can wash us clean of our sins and make us worthy to return to God’s presence. Christ’s sacrifice and Resurrection also allow us to overcome physical death. Every one of us will be resurrected just like Christ was and live forever in perfected bodies after we leave this life.

We Have to Do Our Part
Each of us will be resurrected and overcome physical death regardless of what we do in this life. But we have to do our part to overcome spiritual death.
To be forgiven of our sins, we need to repent and increase our faith in Jesus Christ throughout our lives. We will not be saved simply because we get baptized or say we believe in Jesus Christ. It takes work, but the work we do doesn’t only prepare us for heaven, it blesses us in this life too.
Our families will be happier, we’ll get along better with others, and we’ll feel more peace during hard times when we live according to Jesus Christ’s teachings.

He Is Our Friend
The gospel of Jesus Christ gives us hope. Through Him, and only through Him, we can have everything Heavenly Father wants to give us. He is our Savior and our friend. He is our teacher and our perfect example. The closer we stay to Jesus Christ, the better we’ll be able to face life’s challenges.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Earth Life is Part of God's Plan

Everyone you see around you is a son or daughter of God, our Heavenly Father. He is the Father of our spirits. Coming to earth is part of His plan of happiness for us, which allows us to receive a physical body in His image and continue to increase in wisdom and faith.

God Promised That His Spirit Would Help Guide Us
When we were born, we forgot our pre-earth life, which means we have to live by faith rather than our memory of God. To help us through life, God promised that His Spirit would guide and strengthen us. Each time we feel the quiet comfort of His Spirit, we know that God loves us and cares about us.
During our time on earth we make choices and distinguish right from wrong. We gain happiness and become more like our Heavenly Father when we make good choices.
Because God loves us and wants us to receive the blessings that come from following His plan, He has provided ways for us to stay connected to Him. Prayer is an important way we stay connected with our Heavenly Father. When we speak sincerely to Him, He will answer us through His Spirit and help us through our problems, no matter how large or small.
Other ways we can stay in touch include reading the scriptures and listening to the prophets who have been chosen by God to teach His plan.

Following God’s Plan
Our life didn’t begin at birth and won’t end at death. Because God cares about us, we don’t need to wander through life, wondering where we came from, who we are, and what we should be working toward.
Our lives have direction because Heavenly Father created a plan we can follow to return to live with Him. It’s called the plan of salvation or the plan of happiness, and it’s like a map charting our course.
If we follow God’s direction, we’ll make it to our destination. Those who follow this plan are promised “immortality and eternal life,” or unending happiness with God and our families in heaven. This is what God wants for all of us.
God’s plan for us is simple to understand, but it takes a lifetime to follow. Following the plan of happiness is easier when we do the simple things, like reading the scriptures, going to church, praying, and serving others. Jesus Christ was the perfect example in following God's plan. It takes faith and works for us to be like Jesus, but it is worth it now and will be in eternity.

Friday, February 18, 2011

We Lived With God

Wouldn’t it be great if life came with a map, showing us where we’ve been and where to go?
Thankfully, life does have a map. Our Father in Heaven has a plan for us and wants us to know where we came from and where He wants us to go.
Before we were born, we lived with God in heaven. All of our spirit brothers and sisters were there, too—everyone who has lived or will live on earth. In this “pre-earth life,” each of us was an individual with the same ability we have now to learn, reason, and make decisions. We were only spirits then. God is the Father of all our spirits, so we call Him our Heavenly Father.

We Came to Earth to Progress
In our pre-earth life, God knew that in order for us to grow and gain knowledge, we would have to leave His presence for a while. So, as part of the plan He prepared for us, He sent us to earth to experience the joy—as well as the pain—of mortal life. When we were born, our spirits received mortal bodies, giving us the opportunity to have families and to develop mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. God taught through one of His prophets that this life is the time to prepare ourselves to live with God.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God is Our Father

There Is a God
We can look up at the sky at night and see a never-ending universe. There are millions of stars and planets, all in perfect order. They did not get there by chance. We can see the work of God in the heavens and on the earth. The beautiful plants, the variety of animals, the mountains, the rivers, the clouds that bring us rain and snow—all these testify to us that there is a God. An ancient prophet wrote, “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.”
A modern prophet said: “If there is a design in this world, there must be a Designer. Who can behold the many wonders of the universe without believing that there is a design for all mankind? Who can doubt that there is a Designer?”

God Is the Ruler of the Universe
God is the Almighty Ruler of the universe. He made the moon, the stars, and the sun. He organized this world and gave it form, motion, and life. He filled the air and the water with living things. He covered the hills and plains with all kinds of animal life. He gave us day and night, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest.
God is the Supreme and Absolute Being in whom we believe and whom we worship. He is all-powerful and all-knowing, and He is full of love, mercy, charity, and compassion.

God Is Our Heavenly Father
Even though God is the Creator of all things, we enjoy a relationship with Him that is unique from all of His other creations. We are all His spirit children, literally the sons and daughters of God, and He has created us in His image. God is perfect in His love, wisdom, care, and concern for us. He knows us individually and loves us more than we can comprehend, and He wants us to find happiness.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Eternal Life

Many of us spend our lives looking for something to hold on to, something that will last. We look for ways to avoid aging or to become famous or rich. But we eventually realize that mortal life is temporary. Friends and family members grow old and die, the famous are soon forgotten, and wealth is lost as quickly as it is won. Our hope and happiness lie in knowing who we are, where we came from, and where we can go. We are eternal beings, spirit children of an eternal God. Our lives can be compared to a three-act play: premortal life (before we came to earth), mortal life (our time here on earth), and postmortal life (where we go after we die). God has had a plan for our lives since the beginning of the first act—a plan that, if followed, provides comfort and guidance now, as well as salvation and eternal happiness in our postmortal life.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Become as a Little Child...

It was a spring day in Helsinki, Finland. The sun was shining brightly, and the snow was melting fast. For hours I had been working with my boys, Juha, eight, and Hannu, six, to keep melting snow from flooding our cellar. The nearby drain that should have handled the pooling water was still frozen solid.
As my husband left for work that morning, he told us to make sure we kept the water out of the cellar. We worked hard until the afternoon, when it was time to leave for Primary. (At that time Primary was held on a weekday.) I told my boys, however, that they would have to miss Primary in order to help stop the water from getting into the cellar. Besides, my husband wasn’t a member of the Church, and he would not understand how important Primary was to our sons.
In unison, Juha and Hannu assured me that if we went to Primary, Heavenly Father would see to it that the water wouldn’t reach the cellar. I looked back and forth from the pooling water to the faith-filled faces of my sons. Part of me said, “You cannot go because no power can stop the water from flooding the cellar.” I appealed to Heavenly Father with a prayer in my heart. Then I made a difficult decision.
“We are going to Primary now!” I declared as I threw down the buckets. No matter what happened, I was not going to injure my children’s faith.
The boys had a wonderful time at Primary. But as we drove home afterward, the closer we got to our house, the more my fears grew. Reaching the yard, the boys ran quickly to the cellar door. Looking down, they cried out, “Mother, what did we tell you?” I hurried over. I will never forget the sight that greeted my eyes. The area was completely dry, as if it had been mopped. There were no signs of water anywhere. Even now, 40 years later, it is hard for me to believe what I saw.
The glow in my boys’ eyes reflected joy and trust in Heavenly Father. Joy—and gratitude—filled my heart too!
No power in the world can beat childlike faith. The scriptures say that if we believe and doubt not, we can move a mountain. That day the power of my children’s faith stopped a flood. (Faith to Stop a Flood, Ensign Oct 2008)

If only we could all have the faith of a little child. they are meek, submissive, humble, loving, kind, and slow to judge. They are the ones Christ tells us will inherit the kingdom of God... Let us all strive to be like little children.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"The Prince and the Pauper"

"An important lesson about condescension is found in Mark Twain’s classic novel The Prince and the Pauper. Twain tells of two boys: Tom Canty, a poor boy who lives in a hovel in London; and Prince Edward of Wales, heir to the throne of England.
"Tom has always dreamed what it would be like to be a prince. One day he decides to go to Westminster Palace in hopes of getting a glimpse of Prince Edward. Edward comes out of the gates of the palace and greets the waiting throngs. Tom is so excited that he presses up against the gates and tries to call the prince. The soldiers at the palace roughly push Tom away.
"Seeing this, Prince Edward becomes angry with his guard. He tells the soldiers to leave the boy alone and then invites Tom into the palace as his guest. Prince Edward gives Tom a tour of the palace, and then, on a whim, the boys decide to exchange clothing. As they look at each other in the mirror, they realize that they are practically twins. While dressed in each other’s clothing, they step outside. The soldiers grab the pauper (who is really the prince) and throw him outside the gates. Prince Edward yells that he is the prince, but all the gathered people only laugh at him. The soldiers then close the gates. Suddenly the poor boy is the prince in the palace, while the prince is the poor boy in the street. Neither one can convince anyone to believe in the mix-up.
"During the months that Prince Edward is outside the palace, he endures many trials. Tom Canty’s father finds him, thinks the prince is his son, takes him home, and beats him. Edward experiences hunger that he’s never known in his palace comfort. He travels throughout England, trying to determine how he can be restored to the throne. As he does so, he witnesses the poverty and oppression of his people, and he sees firsthand the grave injustices of the law. He suffers for months as a homeless pauper, and on one occasion he’s nearly killed.
"Through a remarkable series of events, the mix-up is finally resolved, and Prince Edward is restored to the palace. In the meantime he has inherited the throne and become the king of England. King Edward honors Tom Canty for his service as an accidental “prince,” and ever after Edward serves as a merciful, good, and compassionate king, having learned to love his people by his suffering." ~The Prince of Glory by Elder Bruce D. Porter (Dec 2009 Ensign)

This story parallels that of our saviour Jesus Christ. "We too have a prince who became a pauper. The Prince of Peace, the Prince of Glory, the Lord Jesus Christ came down to live among His people and share in their poverty and suffering so that He might be a more compassionate king" (The Prince of Glory by Elder Bruce D. Porter, Dec 2009 Ensign). He live with His father, sitting on his father's right hand in his own throne, and yet he came down here and suffered poverty, persecution, illness, and pain, all so He could understand how we feel.

Because He has suffered all he pleads before the father saying,  “Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son. … Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name” (D&C 45: 4-5)

“'Since not all human sorrow and pain is connected to sin, the full intensiveness of the Atonement involved [Christ’s] bearing our pains, infirmities, and sicknesses, as well as our sins' [Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004)].
"Serious illnesses, family tragedies, and emotional struggles do not happen necessarily because we have sinned. Adversity and heartbreak happen to good people; such is the fruit of a fallen world. But having experienced tragedy, sickness, and disappointment in His own life, the Savior knows how to strengthen us in such trials as well. He is there not only when we cry out from the burden of sin but also when we cry out for any other reason.
"The power of the Atonement also covers the consequences of sin in the lives of innocent people. We pay no eternal price for things over which we have no control, including harm done to us by others. The Atonement can heal us. The only thing for which we pay a spiritual price is misuse of our own agency, and for that the Savior has given us the Atonement" (The Prince of Glory by Elder Bruce D. Porter, Dec 2009 Ensign).
The Atonement is real! It has the Power to save us from our sins, as well as to rescue us from our afflictions. Look to Jesus Christ and allow his Atonement to lift us up.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Submitting our Will to God's

"The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. It is a hard doctrine, but it is true. The many other things we give to God, however nice that may be of us, are actually things He has already given us, and He has loaned them to us. But when we begin to submit ourselves by letting our wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him. And that hard doctrine lies at the center of discipleship. There is a part of us that is ultimately sovereign, the mind and heart, where we really do decide which way to go and what to do. And when we submit to His will, then we’ve really given Him the one final thing He asks of us. And the other things are not very, very important. It is the only possession we have that we can give, and there is no lessening of our agency as a result. Instead, what we see is a flowering of our talents and more and more surges of joy." ~Neal A. Maxwell (Ensign, Aug. 2000)

If we truly want to give it our all for God, then what we really need to do is put our will on the altar. It is the only way we can truly become like our Father in Heaven.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Answers to Prayers

"If I do not know the will of my Father, and what he requires of me in a certain transaction, if I ask him to give me wisdom concerning any requirement in life or in regard to my own course, or that of my friends, my family, my children, or those that I preside over, and get no answer from him, and then do the very best that my judgment will teach me, he is bound to own and honor that transaction, and he will do so to all intents and purposes." ~Brigham Young

So some times all we can do is try to figure out an answer then, it is left up to us to decide for ourself. God won't give us everything, but he has given us the ability to reason and to think logically and make our own decisions.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Learning to Walk

"Many years ago I attended a stake Relief Society conference in Colorado. A speaker used an analogy that really impressed me. She asked us to think about how children learn to walk. We as adults give encouragement and praise. We stretch out our arms and invite them to come to us. When just learning, children are often a bit fearful and hesitant, but with our continued encouragement, they continue to try. They may only get one step taken before they fall, but we don’t berate them or scold them or give up on them. We pick them up and help them because we know that they can successfully learn to walk. We do not love them less because of their stumbling.
"She likened that to our relationship with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. God sent us down here to learn His ways and to walk in His path. At times we may hesitate and fear, but our Heavenly Father and our Savior will always encourage us and help us because They know we can succeed. When we stumble or fall down, They do not berate us or scold us or give up on us. They continue to stretch out Their arms and beckon us to “come.” They know we can succeed, and They do not love us less because of our stumbling.
"Keeping in mind the image of our Heavenly Father with outstretched arms, as mortal parents do to their learning child, can help us through our trials. Accepting His encouragement and love can give us the faith we need to strive to do better."
~Jan Payne (Feb 2011 Ensign)