Peace through Christ




Below is the talk I gave in sacrament meeting today on finding peace through The Atonement. I hope that you find something in this talk that speaks to each of you and helps you find peace in your lives.


-----

Good afternoon everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Matt. I’m born and raised in Tallahassee and am planning on pursuing a degree in elementary education.

I had the opportunity to go to the temple last weekend and participate in an endowment session with my dad. It was a special experience to see the small changes that have been made to the session. As I was sitting in the Celestial Room afterwards, I took a few moments to silently pray to Heavenly Father. One specific thing I prayed for was that my life would be filled with peace, as my life has been more stressful than normal as of late. When I got home that night, I went and played basketball with the missionaries and heard my phone go off.  I checked to see who it was and saw it was Bishop Havlicak, asking if I could give a talk next week. I told him yes and asked what topic he would like me to focus on.

Guess what the topic was?

You got it… peace.

Heavenly Father answers prayers, sometimes with a sense of humor.

In the scriptures, peace is: the inner calm and comfort born of the Spirit that God gives to His faithful Saints.

It can also be described as a feeling you receive when you gain freedom from a conflict or trial.

Elder Paul Johnson, in the April 2013 Ensign, said the following:

“We live in a world where peace seems elusive. War, armed conflict, and terrorism constantly take their toll somewhere in the world, and crime, gang violence, and other illegal activities affect the peace in our cities and towns. Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters disrupt peaceful lives, and the quakes in the economies of the world have left many struggling.
Some threats to our peace are more individual. Physical or emotional problems, pain, personal debt, addictions, fear, worry for others, and sins—either our own or someone else’s—can obstruct a peaceful outlook in our individual lives.”

So, how can we bring peace into our lives?


In the April 2016 General conference, Bishop Christopher Waddell gave a talk titled: A pattern for peace. In it, he gives 3 steps that, if followed, bring peace into our lives. All of these steps focus on Jesus Christ.

The first step is to learn of Christ. If we wish for the sweet feeling of the Spirit, the peaceful feeling of the Spirit, we must learn of Christ and His atonement. We must learn of the example He gave us in his Earthly ministry.

To learn these things, we must study the scriptures diligently.
We must attend our church meetings, so that we might learn from others, whether it’s from a talk or a Sunday School lesson.
We must pray often, day and night; sincere prayer, speaking to our Heavenly Father about our lives; because that’s what prayer is, an opportunity for you to have a conversation with your Father in Heaven, to thank Him and to ask for His help and guidance.
And most importantly: We must attend the temple often. Bishop Waddell said the following:

“Each time we attend the temple—in all that we hear, do and say; in every ordinance in which we participate; and in every covenant that we make—we are pointed to Jesus Christ. We feel peace as we hear His words and learn from His example.”

He goes on to quote President Hinckley:

“Go to the house of the Lord and there feel of His Spirit and commune with Him, and you will know a peace that you will find nowhere else.”

I can testify of this feeling of peace. Even before I prayed in the celestial room, I felt the peace of the Spirit with me, while going through the temple. The purpose of my prayer in the celestial room was not to feel peace at that moment, but that when I left the House of the Lord and returned out into the world, that I would have that feeling of peace with me often, out here.

The second step is to listen to the words of Christ.

D&C 1:38 says: What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

We have an actual prophet and apostles of our Heavenly Father on the Earth today. They are here to guide and direct us, to reveal to us those things our Heavenly Father wants us to do. Just as when Jesus Christ was here on the earth and had apostles, so do we have apostles of Jesus Christ to guide us.

We have been given commandments and doctrine that are meant to protect us. They are in place for us to follow and support, even if we don’t necessarily understand why.

One specific example that comes to mind is the controversy surrounding The Family: A proclamation to the world. Due to the direction society is going, the church and it’s members are being mocked for following and supporting the doctrine given to us in the Proclamation. I have even seen members who question it. But even though we might not necessarily agree with or understand certain doctrine, we can find that feeling of peace by following and supporting it.

There is no picking and choosing which doctrine to follow.

President Monson spoke on this very issue in the October 2015 General Conference, in his talk titled “Keep the commandments”

He said, and I quote:

“We cannot allow ourselves the slightest bit of leeway in dealing with sin. We cannot allow ourselves to believe that we can participate “just a little” in disobeying the commandments of God, for the sin can grab us with an iron hand from which it is excruciatingly painful to free ourselves.”
My goal this year is to read as many books on the gospel as I can. I just finished Jesus the Christ; and one thing that stuck out to me was that Christ gave unto the people doctrine to abide by, and even his own apostles didn’t understand some of the things he gave, but they followed anyway. Just as they followed, so should we.

A story comes to mind from a conference talk I was studying a few weeks ago, titled “Blessed and Happy are those who keep the commandments of God.” By Elder Von. Keetch.

He says:

Some time ago while visiting Australia, I traveled to a beautiful horseshoe bay renowned for its surfing. As I walked along the beach, I was enthralled by the magnificence of the large crashing waves breaking just outside the bay and the smaller waves rolling in closer to shore.
As I continued my stroll, I encountered a group of American surfers. They were obviously upset about something, talking loudly and gesturing toward the sea. When I asked them what was wrong, they pointed to just outside the bay where the big waves were breaking.
“Look out there,” one of them angrily told me. “Can you see the barrier?” Looking more closely now, I could indeed see a barrier stretching across the entire mouth of the bay, right where the large, enticing waves were breaking. The barrier appeared to be made of a heavy mesh and was supported by floats on top of the water. According to the surfers, it dropped all the way down to the ocean floor.
The American surfer continued, “We are here on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to surf these big waves. We can surf the smaller ones breaking within the bay itself, but the barrier makes it impossible for us to surf the big ones. We have no idea why the barrier is there. All we know is that it has totally spoiled our trip.”
As the American surfers became more animated, my attention was drawn to another nearby surfer—an older man and obviously a local. He seemed to be growing impatient as he listened to the ever-increasing complaints about the barrier.
Finally he rose and walked over to the group. Without saying anything, he pulled a pair of binoculars from his backpack and handed them to one of the surfers, pointing out toward the barrier. Each of the surfers looked through the binoculars. When my turn came, with the help of magnification, I could see something that I had not been able to see before: dorsal fins—large sharks feeding near the reef on the other side of the barrier.
The group quickly became subdued. The old surfer retrieved his binoculars and turned to walk away. As he did, he said words I will never forget: “Don’t be too critical of the barrier,” he said. “It’s the only thing that’s keeping you from being devoured.”
This story hit me: Just as that barrier was protecting the surfers from the sharks, so do the commandments protect us from the evil influences of Satan. The adversary will do everything in his power to pull us away from the gospel path, making everything that is contrary to the teachings of the gospel seem “enticing” and more fun. I can speak from personal experience, when you fall from the gospel path, because you think it will be more fun with less rules, that peace you have from the Spirit vanishes. But when you obey the commandments and are living worthily, that sense of peace is always there.

Growing up, I think we all sometimes don’t understand why certain commandments exist. We might incorrectly think that our mortal life is a once in a lifetime journey and that we should enjoy it. That we should “Eat, drink and be merry”. But as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we know that by being baptized, by receiving the Holy Ghost, and living worthily and enduring to the end, we will have eternal life. This is not a once in a life time journey, but merely a step to everlasting life.
The third step is to walk in the meekness of the Savior’s spirit. It does not matter how far we fall away from the path the Savior left for us. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is always there, the peace that comes with it is always there. To quote bishop waddell:

“It is an invitation to repent, to draw upon His cleansing power, and to grasp His loving, outstretched arms. It is an invitation to be at peace.”
He goes on to say:

“We have all felt, at some time in our lives, the pain and heartache associated with sin and transgression, for if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. However, though our sins be as scarlet, as we apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ and walk with Him through sincere repentance, they shall be as white as snow. Though we have been weighed down with guilt, we shall obtain peace.”
Throughout the scriptures we see examples of this, such as Alma the Younger. He rebelled against God and knew he had not kept his holy commandments. But he cried out within his heart:

 “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me. And never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.”

Just as Alma found peace in his soul, we also can have peace in our soul as we walk with Jesus Christ.

The gift of peace does not mean that all our trials and problems will immediately disappear. But by doing the above things, we can have peace through trials.

An example of this would be Joseph Smith when he was in the Liberty Jail. Even though he was in jail and going through a major struggle personally and with the saints as a whole, he prayed to his Heavenly Father and, per D&C 121:7, the Lord answered the following:

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.”

I would like to end with a quote that I look back at often, from Elder Quentin L. Cook:

“The Savior is the source of true peace. Even with the trials of life, because of the Savior’s Atonement and His grace, righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace.”

-----

I testify that if we each do the things listed in these steps; and pray to our Heavenly Father to help bring peace into our lives, that we WILL find that peace.

I testify that this church; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; is truly the one fully true church on the earth. That Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ restored this church on the earth, through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

I testify that Russell M. Nelson is a prophet of God in these latter days.

I testify that the Book of Mormon is true. And that any time we have trials, struggles or questions in our lives, if we diligently pray to our Heavenly Father and study the scriptures, we will receive the answers to the righteous questions that we have. 




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Destroyer of love

The Pathway Back

Persecution