Friday, February 28, 2014

Parables and Accounts That Teach Eternal Truths

This week, I wanted to study about parables and accounts that teach eternal truths.  There were 5 that I looked into more deeply to try to discover what principle the Savior wanted me to learn from Him by way of His parables. 
In Luke Chapter 16 Verses 1-12, it talks about the parable of the unjust steward.  The principle that I obtained from these verses was the importance of preparing for my eternal future.  While it is wise to prepare temporally for the things that we need while we are here on this earth, temporal things are just that—temporary.  It is vital that we also take care to prepare spiritually for our eternal life after we leave this earth.
In Luke Chapter 16 Verses 19-31, it talks about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  The principle that I got out of this was the importance of temple and family history work.  The people who are loved ones of the past are waiting to hear the gospel message.  To paraphrase Elder Ballard’s October 2013 General Conference talk titled, “Trust In the Lord,” he said that it is up to us to invite but it is up to whoever we invite to choose whether or not they want to accept our invitation.  Therefore, doing our family history work and temple work is crucial in order to give deceased members of our family a chance to make that choice for themselves. 
In Luke Chapter 17 Verses 11-19, it talks about the parable of the ten lepers.  The thing that stuck out to me the most, and therefore became the most important principle to me from this parable, was the reminder that what the scripture says in Doctrine and Covenants Section 18 Verse 10 is correct”  “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;”    
In Luke Chapter 18 Verses 1-8, it talks about the parable of the unjust judge.  The principle that I got from this was the importance of consistent, honest prayer.  I need to learn how to pray to Heavenly Father as though I was talking to Him face to face, instead of just having my prayers be a set of random words strung together.

In Luke Chapter 18 Verses 9-14, it talks about the Pharisee and the publican. This parable reminded me that self-righteousness is no justification before God.  I want to strive to do all I can to stop justifying things, as well as stamp out any self-righteousness that is inside of me.   

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What do I need to do to become a disciple of Christ?

As I was doing my scripture study this week, I pondered over what a disciple of Christ is and what characteristics they hold.  Here is a list of a few things that I came up with:
1.    A disciple of Christ gives up all that they have to follow Him.
2.    A disciple of Christ puts their complete trust and faith in the Savior.
3.    A disciple of Christ lives their life in a way that emulates the Savior. 
4.    A disciple of Christ lays up treasures in Heaven instead of putting their love and heart into treasures on earth.
The characteristic that I want to apply more fully in my life is to be sure that I am laying up treasures in Heaven.  I am going to strive to make sure that I continue to be grateful for all that I have been blessed with, instead of being jealous of the things that I do not have (such as a backyard).  I know that the Lord has blessed me with all that I currently stand in need of, and for that, I am truly grateful.  I am also extremely grateful to Him for blessing me with things that I do not necessarily need, but that make my life easier and better.
What is ultimately required to become a disciple of Jesus Christ is to give our whole souls as an offering to Him and to be willing to sacrifice all that we have for Him.  It is also required of us to press forward and to endure to the end.  Sometimes, enduring feels like the hardest part!  However, I know that the Lord can strengthen us as we continually go to Him in prayer and ask Him for comfort, guidance, and strength with whatever we stand in need of. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"If thy right hand offendeth thee..."

As I was doing my scripture study this week, several things really stood out to me that I wanted to share.  I found it interesting that the Joseph Smith Translation for Matthew Chapter 18 Verse 9 explains that a man’s hand and foot symbolize his friends and a man’s eye symbolizes his own household.  That really emphasized to me the importance of having quality friends around me and the importance of choosing my husband wisely (which I did)! 
There is no way to completely avoid being around people who have the potential of being an unrighteous influence on you, however.  That being the case, I believe that the best way to be around them and to avoid falling into transgression or temptation at the same time would be to always keep the Spirit with you. 
Someone made a comment that she was breaking up with a television show because it did not add any value to her life.  I pondered over that comment and realized that there were a few things that I needed to “break up with” myself.  I prayed to the Lord and asked for forgiveness for participating in those time-sucking activities that were not bad, but that did not add value to my life and I have been striving to be more intentional in the way that I spend my time.  I listen to the General Conference talks periodically throughout the week and Elder Cook talked about this topic in his talk titled, “Lamentations of Jeremiah:  Beware of Bondage” really stuck out to me.  He said:
"...some addictions or predilections, while not inherently evil, can use up our precious allotment of time which could otherwise be used to accomplish virtuous objectives. These can include excessive use of social media, video and digital games, sports, recreation, and many others." - Elder Quentin L. Cook
In John Chapter 8 Verses 32-34, the Savior explains what the sources of freedom and bondage are.  Truth is the source of freedom and sin is the source of bondage.  That reminds me of an analogy I heard about a kite string.  It would make logical sense that the string of the kite is holding the kite down, and if you only cut the string off, then the kite could fly high and free.  However, we know that if the kite string gets cut, the kite falls down to the ground.  Commandments are the same way.  They do not hold us down, they help us be free and closer to the Savior.  An example of this is the commandment to stay morally clean.  There is so much bondage when you do not keep that commandment and miss out on so much happiness by participating in sin.  Since the Savior is the way, the truth, and the life (as it says in John Chapter 14 Verse 6), that goes to show that He truly is the source of freedom and happiness that we can obtain if we follow Him and keep the commandments.  I believe that knowing the Savior makes us free in so many ways.  For example, we are free from devastating loneliness and despair because we know that He is there to comfort us and bear us up when we are going through trials.   

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Have faith, not fear

As I was studying Matthew Chapter 14 Verses 22-33, I pondered over the story about Jesus walking on the sea.  It was completely understandable why the Apostles were frightened when they saw Him walking towards them on the water!  I love how Peter’s response to the Savior showed how much faith he had in Him.  However, even Peter’s faith wavered when he lost sight of the Savior and focused on his fear of drowning in the sea.  Despite that fact, I loved how Peter knew that He could call upon the Savior for help when he started to fall beneath the water.  Jesus did not make Peter wait; He immediately stretched forth His hand and helped him. 
In Doctrine and Covenants Chapter 88 Verse 67, it talks about how we need to have our eyes single to the Lord’s glory.  In other words, we need our whole bodies to be filled with His light so we do not have any darkness in us.  The principle in this verse about having faith in the Lord instead of having doubts or fears relates to Peter being able to walk on the water when he had faith that the Savior could make it be so.  Likening that to my own life, I need to remember that the Savior will help me get through the storms in my own life if I trust in Him.