Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Talk for Sunday .... Building My Faith Through Sacrifice

              The meaning of sacrifice -- Giving to the Lord whatever He requires of our time, our earthly possessions, and our energies to further His work. Our willingness to sacrifice is an indication of our devotion to God. In Romans 12:1 the Apostle Paul wrote that we should become 'living' sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God.
               If we are to accomplish this great ask, we must be willing to give everything we have to God's church and His Gospel; to build up the kingdom of God on the earth and labor to bring forth Zion; to serve our Brothers and Sisters. Only through sacrifice can we become worthy to live with God. Only through sacrifice can we enjoy eternal life. We must be willing to sacrifice all we have if want to earn the rich rewards.

D&C 64:23 -- Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of all my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at His coming. 

Our greatest blessings in this life and in the hereafter will come through our willingness to sacrifice as the Lord directs. Only through sacrifice and the faith it generates, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, can we achieve happiness in the eternities: “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life”.
               M. Russell Ballard said “The law of sacrifice should be taught and practiced in every Latter-day Saint home. We do this by making repentance a part of our lives, by faithfully paying our tithes and offerings, by obeying the commandments, by doing family history work and attending the temple, by being an example to others, and by being “willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).

               Those who will inherit the celestial kingdom will be those who have been “faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they [have] lived in mortality; and who [have] offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and [have] suffered tribulation in their Redeemer’s name” . (D&C 138:12–13)

             Can we escape sacrifice? Not if we would be exalted. The Prophet Joseph Smith helped us understand this significant requirement when he said, “All the saints of whom we have account, in all the revelations of God which are extant, obtained the knowledge which they had of their acceptance in his sight through the sacrifice which they offered unto him” (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith).

              Sacrifice is integral to the celestial law, pointing us to the most glorious sacrifice of all: our Savior Jesus Christ. President Gordon B. Hinckley defined sacrifice so beautifully when he said: “Without sacrifice there is no true worship of God. … ‘The Father gave his Son, and the Son gave his life,’ and we do not worship unless we give—give of our substance, … our time, … strength, … talent, … faith, … [and] testimonies”.

                True joy comes from sacrificing for others. Sacrifice is an amazing principle. As we willingly give our time and talents and all that we possess, it becomes one of our truest forms of worship. It can develop within us a profound love for each other and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Through sacrifice our hearts can be changed; we live closer to the Spirit and have less of an appetite for things of the world.

                 President Hinckley taught a grand truth when he said: “It is not a sacrifice to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is never a sacrifice when you get back more than you give. It is an investment, … a greater investment than any. … Its dividends are eternal and everlasting”.

                 How comforting to know that we are not expected to make this investment alone. We have a divinity within us to receive inspiration through the powers of heaven.

                  Do not be afraid of sacrifice. Please enjoy the happiness and blessings from the sacrifice itself.  Occasionally there is a time gap between the sacrifice and the blessing. The sacrifice may come according to our time schedule, but the blessing may not come by our, but by the Lord’s, calendar. Because of this, the Lord comforts us by saying, “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work” (D&C 64:33).

                 The blessings surely come to us. Remember that the sacrifice itself might be a form of blessing. Let us make the sacrifice of small things.

                 When we read the Book of Mormon while rubbing our sleepy eyes, let us remember that we are following the counsel of our prophet and receive the joy that comes from that knowledge. We have many bills to pay, but when we pay tithing, let us feel joy for having the opportunity to donate something to the Lord. And then greater blessings will be poured out on us. It will be just like our surprise and joy when we receive an unexpected gift.

                 As Spencer W. Kimball said, "As we give, we find that 'sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven!' And in the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all."

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