Sunday, June 23, 2019

Hope in the Latter-days

I spoke today in the Billerica Ward. I had "what does it mean to be a saint in the last days" as my assigned topic. While there's no shortage of material about the last days, I definitely wanted to make sure I stayed applicable and useful for the congregation rather than speculative and sensational. I also didn't have time to binge-watch Good Omens. In the end, and at the suggestion of my wife, the material came together around hope: gaining hope, sharing hope, and nurturing hope.

Image result for desolation of daniel four horsemen apocalypse

I didn't write out everything about my talk due to preparation time constraints and that I tend to just read my words when I do that. I did collect various notes, quotes, and scriptures and share the outline below. Most of the main ideas came from Elder D. Todd Christofferson's talk titled Preparing for the Lord's Return.

  1. Introduction
    1. The name of the church
      1. The Correct Name of the Church - President Nelson
      2. “For thus shall amy bchurch be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day cSaints” - D&C 115:4
    2. Exciting imagery, CGI graphics, Tolkien fantasy
      1. Movies and TV shows utilizing the wonderful imagery of the Apocalypse
      2. Drawing connections and conclusions that may or may not be real
      3. Matthew 24, Joseph Smith Matthew, Doctrine and Covenants 38, 45, 101, 133 - “… These are some of the writings with which you should concern yourselves, rather than commentaries that may come from those whose information may not be the most reliable and whose motives may be subject to question” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1972, 128; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, 106). Harold B Lee
    3. Hope - faith, hope, charity, love
      1. Don't actually care: whatever happens, happens
      2. The limited info we have is present (and repeated: all four canonized books of scripture) for a reason
      3. Joseph Smith Matthew 22 - “Behold, I speak these things unto you for the aelect’s sake; and you also shall hear of bwars, and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled, for all I have told you must come to pass; but the end is not yet.”
        1. Because the disciples asked
        2. Be not troubled
        3. For the elect’s sake
      4. Therefore what? He wants us to have hope for the future! How?
        1. Increase capacity to receive revelation - gain hope
        2. Serve others - share hope
        3. Establish Zion - nurture hope
  2. Increase our capacity to receive revelation - gain hope
    1. In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.” - President Nelson, April 2018
    2. False prophets - decrease your spiritual capacity to receive revelation
      1. Lord, is it I? Who are the false prophets in our lives today?
      2. JST Matthew 1:22 The elect = members of the church
        For in those days there shall also arise false aChrists, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.”
      3. Tyranny of the majority
      4. priestcraft 2 Ne 26:29 - “He commandeth that there shall be no apriestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set bthemselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get cgain and dpraise of the world; but they seek not the ewelfare of Zion.”
      5. "proud self-vaunting ones, who read by the lamps of their own conceit; who interpret by rules of their own contriving; who have become a law unto themselves, and so pose as the sole judges of their own doings" - Joseph F Smith
      6. competing for attention, social media
    3. Parable of the Virgins
      1. Matthew 25:1–13 (The Ten Virgins)
      2. Elder Bednar “I now want to use one of many possible interpretations of the parable of the ten virgins to highlight the relationship between testimony and conversion. Ten virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish, took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Please think of the lamps used by the virgins as the lamps of testimony. The foolish virgins took their lamps of testimony but took no oil with them. Consider the oil to be the oil of conversion … “Were the five wise virgins selfish and unwilling to share, or were they indicating correctly that the oil of conversion cannot be borrowed? Can the spiritual strength that results from consistent obedience to the commandments be given to another person? Can the knowledge obtained through diligent study and pondering of the scriptures be conveyed to one who is in need? Can the peace the gospel brings to a faithful Latter-day Saint be transferred to an individual experiencing adversity or great challenge? The clear answer to each of these questions is no. “As the wise virgins emphasized properly, each of us must ‘buy for ourselves.’ These inspired women were not describing a business transaction; rather, they were emphasizing our individual responsibility to keep our lamp of testimony burning and to obtain an ample supply of the oil of conversion. This precious oil is acquired one drop at a time—‘line upon line [and] precept upon precept’ (2 Nephi 28:30), patiently and persistently. No shortcut is available; no last-minute flurry of preparation is possible. “‘Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom’ (D&C 33:17)” (“Converted unto the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 109).
    1. “The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light.” - Elder Heber C Kimball
    2. It's like a muscle
  1. Care for the poor and needy - share hope
    1. Sister Bullough: "Be a physician to other people." - The great physician
      1. Lifting the load, welfare, support others, healer, be there for others
    2. M25 - when saw we?
      37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
      38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
      39 Or when saw we thee asick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
      40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have adone it unto one of the bleast of these my cbrethren, ye have done it unto me.”
  2. Establish Zion - nurture hope
    1. President Eyring - April 2019 conference:
      Faith in Jesus Christ to prevent pride cycle
      Nephites 200 years after Chist’s first coming
      “‘They began to diminish in their faith in Jesus Christ.’
      There is the key to leading your family to rise to that spiritual place you want for them—and for you to be there with them. As you help them grow in faith that Jesus Christ is their loving Redeemer, they will feel a desire to repent. As they do, humility will begin to replace pride. As they begin to feel what the Lord has given them, they will want to share more generously. Rivalry for prominence or recognition will diminish. Hate will be driven out by love. And finally, like it did for the people converted by King Benjamin, the desire to do good will fortify them against temptation to sin. King Benjamin’s people testified that they had “no more disposition to do evil.”3
    2. “The Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18)
      1. D&C 97:21 Zion=pure in heart
        21 Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is aZion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.”
    3. Perfect the saints, Gathering of Israel, Redeem the dead
      1. “In fulfilling its purpose to help individuals and families qualify for exaltation, the Church focuses on divinely appointed responsibilities. These include helping members live the gospel of Jesus Christ, gathering Israel through missionary work, caring for the poor and needy, and enabling the salvation of the dead by building temples and performing vicarious ordinances.” - Handbook 2.2.2
      2. D&C 29:7 - “And ye are called to bring to pass the agathering of mine belect; for mine elect chear my voice and dharden not their ehearts;”
  3. Conclusion
    1. Contrary to what some might say, you have every reason in this world to be happy and to be optimistic and to be confident.” - President Howard W Hunter
    2. Remind: Hope for the future!
      1. Gain hope by increasing our capacity to receive revelation
      2. Share hope by serving others
      3. Nurture hope by establishing Zion

Actual assignment: 

The topic is: (The Last Days - What is a Saint? and what does it mean to be a the last days?; Being prepared for/in the Last Days)
Some potential resources to use are:
Another speaker will be focusing more on: The Latter Days vs The Last days; Being prepared for/in the Last Days

Extra/unused quotes/notes:

“First, the work of ministering to temporal needs is vital and must continue. The second was unexpected, yet powerful and clear. It was this: beyond selfless service, it is supremely important to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” - Elder Christofferson, April 2019

“There are among us many loose writings predicting the calamities which are about to overtake us. Some of these have been publicized as though they were necessary to wake up the world to the horrors about to overtake us. Many of these are from sources upon which there cannot be unquestioned reliance.

“Are you … aware of the fact that we need no such publications to be forewarned, if we were only conversant with what the scriptures have already spoken to us in plainness? …

“Read the 24th chapter of Matthew—particularly that inspired version as contained in the Pearl of Great Price [Joseph Smith—Matthew].

“Then read the 45th section of the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord, not man, has documented the signs of the times.

“Now turn to section 101 and section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants and hear the step-by-step recounting of events leading up to the coming of the Savior.

“Finally, turn to the promises the Lord makes to those who keep the commandments when these judgments descend upon the wicked, as set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 38.

“… These are some of the writings with which you should concern yourselves, rather than commentaries that may come from those whose information may not be the most reliable and whose motives may be subject to question” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1972, 128; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, 106). Harold B Lee

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Teenagers also sometimes think, ‘What’s the use? The world will soon be blown all apart and come to an end.’ That feeling comes from fear, not from faith … Everything that I have learned from the revelations and from life convinces me that there is time and to spare for you to carefully prepare for a long life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 72; or Ensign, May 1989, 59)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“What are false prophets? They are teachers and preachers who profess to speak for the Lord when, in fact, they have received no such appointment …

“False prophets are false teachers; they teach false doctrine; they neither know nor teach the doctrines of salvation. Rather, they have followed cunningly devised fables that they suppose make up the gospel of Christ, and they preach them as such. They are the ministers who proclaim a false way of salvation, the expounders of doctrines that are not of God, and the proclaimers of every man-made system of religion on earth. They are the political leaders … who lead men to accept freedom-destroying systems. They are the philosophers and sages who seek to explain God, existence, right and wrong, agency, immortality, and other religious concepts without reference to revelation. They are all of the political and religious leaders who proclaim philosophies and doctrines that lead men away from God and the salvation he offers to men” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [1982], 70–71).

"Note how listening to and following the Lord’s living prophets becomes a matter of life and death—physically as well as spiritually." - Come Follow Me Manual

Signs of the times:
-v.5-6, 9, 22 False prophets, trying to deceive you
-v.8 Many offended, betray one another, hate one another
-v.10, 30 Because of iniquity, love of many shall wax cold
-v.23 Wars and rumors of wars
-v 27 Elect gathered
-v. 29 Famines, pestilence, earthquakes
-v.31 Gospel preached to all the earth
-D&C 88:91-“all things in commotion” “Men’s hearts shall fail them.”

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