Saturday, September 7, 2013

In The Service Of God (Las Vegas Farewell)

I was nervous for this topic because I thought, 

“I haven't even served a mission yet; how am I supposed to give a talk on being in the service of God?!”

This week the Elders in our ward invited me to spend some time with the Sister Missionaries in our area. While we were meeting with one man, he commented on the unbelievable responsibility of Mormon missionaries. One of the sisters simply replied, “We just teach what we know.” I learned many things with the Sister Missionaries this week, but that humble phrase has given me great peace. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and I know that when we serve the Lord and his children we are always blessed. Today I will share with you what I know.

A long time ago, we all lived in Heaven. Our Heavenly Father presented a beautiful plan for us to come to Earth to learn and to grow. I imagine he said,

“I will send a Savior for each one of you.
 He will carry your burden, lighten the load,
 Take on your sins, His love will be shown.
 He will prove it by paying the greatest price,
 For you, he’ll willingly give his life.
 Tears stained faces and hearts were on flame,
 As a Son stood up, to the Father he came,
 He stared at the Father, on bended knee,
 And whispered, ‘Here am I send me.”

Our Savior gave Himself in unselfish service. He taught that each of us should follow Him by denying ourselves of selfish interests in order to serve others.

Matthew 16:24–25 reads,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” 

In his book "Mere Christianity", C.S. Lewis alludes, 

“Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the natural self, all the desires which you think innocent you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’”

We should focus our lives on becoming like Christ. When we chose to submit our will to his, he can give us a new self, a better self, a serving, humble, loving, patient, forgiving, and celestial self. 

Christ is the Son of God, and He is our brother. This truth sheds light on our own divinity and shows us that as children of God we are endowed with the capacity to become like he is. It is easy to forget or undermine this divine birthright because Satan lures the natural man, hoping we'll forget who we are by distracting us with the tempting and temporal things of this world. King Benjamin teaches in Mosiah 3:19-20 how we can conquer Satan and prophecies of the expansion of the gospel.

"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people."

King Benjamin teaches us that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. 

I believe that time is upon us. 

One of my favorite poets, Dr. Seuss, said in his book "The Lorax,"

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” 

Of all people, we must surely realize that there can be no true worship of Him who is the Christ without giving of ourselves. Have you seen the missionaries and wondered, “Why are missionaries happy?” Have you seen Sister Richards and wondered, "Why is she so happy?" It is because they lose themselves in the service of others.

President Kimball showed us that service to others deepens and sweetens this life. It is by serving that we learn how to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellow men  not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves!

In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the previously mentioned promise of Jesus that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves! Not only do we “find” ourselves in terms of acknowledging divine guidance in our lives, but the more we serve our fellow men in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our own souls. We become more significant individuals and give substance to our character as we serve others. It is probably easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!

True worship of Christ is to be a true disciple of Christ. True discipleship comes through selfless service. Making the promise to be a disciple of Christ is the beginning of a lifelong process, and the path is not always easy. As we repent of our sins and strive to do what Christ would have us do and serve our brothers and sisters in this life as He would serve them, we will inevitably become more like Him. We can become constant symbols of service and love in all things. Becoming like Christ is the ultimate goal and objective, the very definition of true discipleship.

President Thomas S. Monson encourages us with his words,

"Occasionally discouragement may darken our pathway; frustration may be a constant companion. In our ears there may sound the sophistry of Satan as he whispers, “You cannot save the world; your small efforts are meaningless. You haven’t time to be concerned for others.” Trusting in the Lord, let us turn our heads from such falsehoods and make certain our feet are firmly planted in the path of service and our hearts and souls dedicated to follow the example of the Lord. In moments when the light of resolution dims and when the heart grows faint, we can take comfort from His promise:

“Be not weary in well-doing. … Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” (D&C 64:33)

Throughout His mortal life, Jesus Christ showed His love for others by ministering to them. He said, 

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35) 

He set the example and He calls us to be His disciples, to work with Him in His ministry, giving us the opportunity to serve others and become more like Him.

"The Savior gave himself for his followers. He was ever conscious of doing what was right and of meeting the real and true needs of those he served. He put himself and his own needs second and ministered to others beyond the call of duty, tirelessly, lovingly, and effectively. So many of the problems in the world today spring from selfishness and self-centeredness in which too many make harsh demands of life and others in order to meet their demands." -President Kimball
The more we understand what really happened in the life of Jesus of Nazareth in Gethsemane and on Calvary, the better able we will be to understand the importance of sacrifice and selflessness in our lives. If we come to know the atonement and if we follow in the Savior’s footsteps, we can live by faith rather than by fear. If we can share his perspective about people, we can love them, serve them, and reach out to them.

We all have been given the opportunity to serve the Lord by serving others. President Eyring said,

"The Lord made it clear at the very start of this last dispensation that we were to take the gospel to all the world. What He said to the few priesthood holders in 1831 He says to the many now. Whatever our age, capacity, Church calling, or location, we are as one called to the work to help Him in His harvest of souls until He comes again."

You don't have to be set apart for 18 months or 2 years to be a full time servant of God. We all have the opportunity to be full time missionaries, full time disciples of Christ, and full time ambassadors of the Lord. We can be uplifted if our thoughts and actions are directed toward serving those around us with no hope for reward. We are called as one, as children of God, to rise up and share what we know. 

“The time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.” 

If we strive everyday to forget ourselves and go to work, forget ourselves and serve another, forget ourselves and share what we know, the world will know the happiness that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“An attitude of love characterized the mission of the Master,” President Monson said. “He gave sight to the blind, legs to the lame, and life to the dead. Perhaps when we face our Maker, we will not be asked, ‘How many positions did you hold?’ but rather, ‘How many people did you help?’ In reality, you can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people.” 

A familiar example of losing ourselves in the service of others—not unique to Latter-day Saints—is the sacrifice parents make for their children. 

Mothers suffer pain, loss of personal priorities, and comforts to bear and rear each child. Fathers adjust their lives and concerns to support a family.

I rejoice that my parents are among the unselfish who were willing to surrender their personal priorities and serve the Lord by bearing and rearing the children our Heavenly Father sent to their care. None of their service asks, what’s in it for me? All of it requires setting aside personal convenience for unselfish service. All of it stands in contrast to the fame, fortune, and other immediate gratification that are the worldly ways of so many in our day. Like Nephi, I have been born of goodly parents. I am grateful for their sacrifices to teach me how to live in selfless service and to "go and do the things which the Lord commanded."

When our Heavenly Father tells us,

"One of my children needs to feel loved.
 One of my children doesn't know who they are.
 Will someone serve my child, no matter how hard?
 You have been given a lot in this life,
 You have been shown the way to the light.
 Will you carry their burden, lighten their load?
 Will you serve my children, and in so doing, serve the Lord?
 Let us come forward on bended knee.
 Here I am Father, send me."

"Let us now in our time, each one, reach out more generously to love those around us in the spirit of the Christ. May the real meaning of the gospel distill into our hearts that we may realize that our lives, given us by God our Father, are to be used in the service of others. If we will give such service, our days will be filled with joy and gladness. More important, they will be consecrated to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to the blessing of all whose lives we touch." -President Gordon B. Hinckley 

In closing, I'd like to share this message with you and I hope that we can all meet this charge:

“I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed.
The die has been cast.
I have stepped over the line.
The decision has been made.
I am a Disciple of Jesus Christ.
I won’t look back, slow down, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.
I’m finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly thinking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.
I don’t have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.
I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven.
My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander at the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ.
I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till I know, and work till He stops me.

And when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear.” 


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