Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2018, Love, service

Study helps: Bonnie L Oscarson – The Needs Before Us

From http://www.lds.org

One way to start a discussion about Sister Oscarson’s message is to give everyone a piece of paper with “Who needs me today?” written at the top. Members of your Relief Society or quorum could take a few minutes pondering and listing answers to this question. Then they could search Sister Oscarson’s message for ideas about how they could serve the people on their list—or add names as inspired. A few could share what they have learned.

We live in a culture where more and more we are focused on the small, little screen in our hands than we are on the people around us. We have substituted texting and tweeting for actually looking someone in the eye and smiling or, even rarer, having a face-to-face conversation. We are often more concerned with how many followers and likes we have than with putting an arm around a friend and showing love, concern, and tangible interest. As amazing as modern technology can be for spreading the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and helping us stay connected to family and friends, if we are not vigilant in how we use our personal devices, we too can begin to turn inward and forget that the essence of living the gospel is service.

‘In today’s world of so much suffering because of different circumstances, sending a text message with a funny emoji or posting a nice picture with the words “I love you” is good and valuable. But what many of us need to do is leave our mobile devices behind and, with our hands and feet, help others in great need. Love without service is like faith without works; it’s dead indeed.’ (Jose L Alonso, General Conference, October 2017)

I love email and social media. They can be great ways of communicating and connecting with others. However our use of technology can also insulate us from others.  Do you see evidence that use of personal devices can turn our focus inward and make us forget the essence of the gospel? How can we guard against that?

 I believe that most members consider service to be at the heart of their covenants and discipleship. But I also think that sometimes it’s easy to miss some of the greatest opportunities to serve others because we are distracted or because we are looking for ambitious ways to change the world and we don’t see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are within our own families, among our friends, in our wards, and in our communities. We are touched when we see the suffering and great needs of those halfway around the world, but we may fail to see there is a person who needs our friendship sitting right next to us in class.

This reminded me of words from the hymn ‘Have I Done Any Good’:

There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.
There are opportunities to serve all around us – in our community, in our ward, in our family. We don’t need to go to the other side of the world to find people who need our help.
Watch or read: What Have I Done For Someone Today? – President Thomas S Monson
What good does it do to save the world if we neglect the needs of those closest to us and those whom we love the most? How much value is there in fixing the world if the people around us are falling apart and we don’t notice? Heavenly Father may have placed those who need us closest to us, knowing that we are best suited to meet their needs.
There are opportunities to serve all around us – in our community, in our ward, in our family.

“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” (Mother Teresa)

‘There are so many who have been injured and who need a good Samaritan to bind up their wounds and help them on their way. A small kindness can bring a great blessing to someone in distress and a sweet feeling to the one who befriends him.

There are so many out there whose burdens you can lift. There are the homeless, there are the hungry, there are the destitute all around us. There are the aged who are alone in rest homes. There are handicapped children, and youth on drugs, and the sick and the homebound who cry out for a kind word. If you do not do it, who will?’ (Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley, Chapter 14)

Pray for help in recognizing those in your ward families who need love and encouragement. Instead of attending church with the question of “What am I going to get out of this meeting?” ask, “Who needs me today? What do I have to contribute?”

Have a look around you. Who has God placed in your sphere of influence that needs your love and care?

A photograph of a woman sanding a ceiling, paired with a quote by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “Often, the answer to our prayer [comes] while we’re … serving.”

As you bless your own families and ward members, look for ways to bless those in your local communities. Whether you have time for extensive service or can give only a few hours a month, your efforts will bless lives and will also bless you in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

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Posted in Divine identity, Melchizedek Priesthood Lessons 2018, Relief Society Lessons 2018, service

Study helps: President Dieter F Uchtdorf – A Yearning for Home

From http://www.lds.org:

How can you help those you teach recognize how God is using them to bless others? You could invite them to review the section of President Uchtdorf’s message titled “God Will Use You,” looking for promises made to those who strive to serve in God’s kingdom despite their weaknesses. Reading this message may also remind members of experiences they could share in which God used them to bless others—or when He used others to bless them. Give members time to ponder what they feel inspired to do because of this discussion.

Image result for President Dieter F Uchtdorf - A Yearning for Home

God will use you

On your journey back to Heavenly Father you will soon realize that this journey isn’t just about focusing on your own life. No, this path inevitably leads you to become a blessing in the lives of God’s other children—your brothers and sisters. And the interesting thing about the journey is that as you serve God, and as you care for and help your fellowmen, you will see great progress in your own life, in ways you could never imagine.

Have you noticed examples of seeing great progress in your own life as you have served God and cared for your fellowmen?

“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our own happiness, you’ll find it quite intolerable. Think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” (C.S. Lewis)

Perhaps you don’t consider yourself all that useful; perhaps you don’t consider yourself a blessing in somebody’s life. Often, when we look at ourselves, we see only our limitations and deficiencies. We might think we have to be “more” of something for God to use us—more intelligent, more wealthy, more charismatic, more talented, more spiritual. Blessings will come not so much because of your abilities but because of your choices. And the God of the universe will work within and through you, magnifying your humble efforts for His purposes.

Think about the parable of the talents – it does not matter so much what talents, or how many talents we have. What matters is what we do with what we have.

Many of us feel inadequate – we are all too aware of our inadequacies. However, President Uchtdorf is telling us that our choices are more important than our abilities. If we make the right choices God can work with us.

Why and how do blessings come because of our choices rather than because of our abilities?

His work has always advanced on this important principle: “Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”11

‘Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. ‘ (David A Bednar, General Conference, October 2009)

When writing to the Saints in Corinth, the Apostle Paul observed that not many of them would be considered wise by worldly standards. But that didn’t matter, because “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”12

Image result for When writing to the Saints in Corinth, the Apostle Paul observed that not many of them would be considered wise by worldly standards.

What does the scripture mean by weak things?

The “weak” things of the world are people who are humble, not of worldly renown, unlearned as to the things of the world. Those who fit this definition of “weak” rely more upon God than on their own intelligence. Because of that reliance the Lord is able to use them to“confound the things which are mighty”.

The history of God’s work is filled with people who considered themselves inadequate. But they humbly served, relying on the grace of God and His promise: “Their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield … , and they shall fight manfully for me; and … I [will] preserve them.”13

Image result for The history of God’s work is filled with people who considered themselves inadequate.

Who can you think of from Church history or modern times who has been called to do the Lord’s work but may have been considered weak in the eyes of the world? How did the Lord fight manfully for them?

How encouraging it is to know, though we are imperfect, if our hearts are turned to God, He will be generous and kind and use us for His purposes.

What must you do so that the Lord can use you for his purposes?

Those who love and serve God and fellowmen and humbly and actively participate in His work will see wondrous things happen in their lives and in the lives of those they love.

Doors that seemed shut will open.

Angels will go before them and prepare the way.

Have you had any experiences like this?

No matter your position in your community or in the Church, God will use you, if you are willing. He will magnify your righteous desires and turn the compassionate actions you sow into a bountiful harvest of goodness.

More purity give me,
More strength to o’ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains,
More longing for home.
More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy—
More, Savior, like thee. Hymn, More Holiness Give Me)
Posted in Missionary work, service, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 21: The Latter-Day Miracle of Missionary Work

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

“How profoundly grateful I am for the experience of that mission. I touched the lives of a few who have, over the years, expressed appreciation. That has been important. But I have never been greatly concerned over the number of baptisms that I had or that other missionaries had. My satisfaction has come from the assurance that I did what the Lord wanted me to do and that I was an instrument in His hands for the accomplishment of His purposes. In the course of that experience, there became riveted into my very being a conviction and knowledge that this is in very deed the true and living work of God, restored through a prophet for the blessing of all who will accept it and live its principles.”

How has a mission changed your life or the life of someone close to you?

1. We are to reach out to the world in missionary service, teaching all who will listen.

Watch: Why Mormons send missionaries around the world Mormons send missionaries to help others and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2:55)

Watch: Unto all the world – Hastening the work in Europe

“After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 330).

‘While the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well. In fact, “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”  Doctrine and Covenants 88:81 We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”  Luke 10:30 and so forth.’ (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2017)

From the manual:

Let us as Latter-day Saints reach out to others not of our faith. Let us never act in a spirit of arrogance or with a holier-than-thou attitude. Rather, may we show love and respect and helpfulness toward them. We are greatly misunderstood, and I fear that much of it is of our own making. We can be more tolerant, more neighborly, more friendly, more of an example than we have been in the past. Let us teach our children to treat others with friendship, respect, love, and admiration. That will yield a far better result than will an attitude of egotism.

How can we overcome misunderstandings about the Church and its members?

2. We are to help the full-time missionaries bring others to a knowledge of the truth.

‘If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart—painted, as Paul said, “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Corinthians 3:3). And returned missionaries, find your old missionary tag. Don’t wear it, but put it where you can see it. The Lord needs you now more than ever to be an instrument in His hands. All of us have a contribution to make to this miracle.’ (Neil L Andersen, General Conference, April 2013)

It is important that members and full-time missionaries work closely together. Successful member missionary work relies on a true partnership between members and missionaries. The Mission and the local unit can sometimes fall into the trap of working in isolation with little contact or mutual understanding. In the ‘balanced effort’ of missionary work, the ward mission leader acts as the yoke that brings together members and missionaries into a powerful team. Without this harnessing of joint efforts the harvest will be meagre.

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From the manual:

The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found.

Why do missionaries “succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found”? 

3. Full-time missionary work brings lasting happiness to those who serve.

‘On July 23, 1837, the Prophet Joseph met with Elder Thomas B. Marsh, President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Marsh was apparently frustrated that the Prophet had called two members of his quorum to go to England without consulting him. As Joseph met with Elder Marsh, any hurt feelings were put aside, and the Prophet received a remarkable revelation. It is now the 112th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. It gives incredible direction from heaven with respect to humility and missionary work. Verse 10 reads, “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.”

This revelation occurred the exact same day that Elders Kimball, Hyde, and John Goodson, full of humility, were declaring the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Vauxhall Chapel in Preston, England. This was the first time missionaries had proclaimed the restored gospel outside of North America in this dispensation. Their missionary effort resulted in almost immediate convert baptisms and led to numerous faithful members.

Subsequent parts of the revelation guide the missionary effort in our day. They read, in part, “Whosoever ye shall send in my name … shall have power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation … inasmuch as they shall humble themselves before me, and abide in my word, and hearken to the voice of my Spirit.”

The humility that undergirded this incredible missionary effort allowed the Lord to establish His Church in a remarkable way.

Gratefully, we continually see this in the Church today. Members, including the rising generation, give up their time and defer education and employment to serve missions. Many senior members leave employment and make other sacrifices in order to serve God in whatever capacity they are called. We do not allow personal issues to distract or divert us from accomplishing His purposes.’ (Quentin L Cook, General Conference, October 2017)

Image result for Full-time missionary work brings lasting happiness to those who serve.

From the manual:

Along with the need for young elders and sisters, there is a growing need for couples in the mission field. Older married couples are doing a wonderful work in the missions. Many more are needed. Particularly we need those with foreign language abilities. They can serve in many responsibilities under the direction of sensitive and considerate mission presidents.

With an increasing number of people retiring while they are still possessed of health and vitality, there are many who can fill a tremendous need in the work of the Lord.

We [have] retired men and women serving in a meaningful missionary capacity for this Church throughout the world. The number is growing. They go where they are called. They serve where they are needed. Friendships are established; skills are shared; opportunities are opened for those who will never forget the men and women who have come among them in a spirit of entire unselfishness to teach and do good. They receive no money. They go at their own expense. The measure of their devotion is unlimited. The fruits of their efforts are beyond calculation.

How can families help older couples prepare to serve?

4. As we introduce others to the gospel, the Spirit of the Lord helps overcome differences between us.

‘Involve newcomers quickly in the Lord’s work. They have been called to his vineyard not just to admire but to perspire—not to “ooh” and “aah” but to “hoe and saw.” Let us make of them friends—not celebrities; colleagues—not competitors. Let us use their precious enthusiasm to beckon still others to come within.’ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, October 1980)

From the manual:

Because we have all come of the same parentage [as children of God], we respond to the same truth. The fact that one’s skin may be of a slightly different color, that one’s eyes may have a slightly different set, that one may wear a different type of clothing does not in any sense make of him or her a different kind of individual. Men and women the world over respond to the same stimuli in essentially the same way. They seek warmth when they are cold; they know the same kinds of pain; they experience sadness, and they know joy.

How have you seen the Spirit of the Lord help people overcome differences?

5. As we go forward in faith, the Lord will bless our efforts to introduce others to the gospel.

From the manual:

With our charge divinely given, with blessings divinely promised, let us go forward in faith. As we do so, the Lord will bless our efforts. Let us do our part in sharing the gospel with those around us, by example first and then by inspired precept.

How can you increase your desire and faith to share the gospel?

Posted in Love, service, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 20: Fellowship with Those Who Are Not of Our Faith

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

Watch: Mike Wallace and President Hinckley on 60 Minutes

1. When we remember that all people are children of God, we reach out more to lift and help those among us.

Image result for When we remember that all people are children of God, we reach out more to lift and help those among us.

‘When I was a young boy, during the aftermath of World War II, Germany was broken and in ruins. Many people were hungry, sick, and dying. I remember well the humanitarian shipments of food and clothing that came from the Church in Salt Lake City. To this day, I can still remember the smell of the clothing, and I can still taste the sweetness of the canned peaches.

There were some who joined the Church because of the goods they received at that time. Some members looked down on these new converts. They even called them an offensive name: Büchsen Mormonen, or “Canned-Food Mormons.” They resented these new members because they believed that once their temporal needs had been met, they would fall away.

While some did leave, many stayed—they came to church, tasted the sweetness of the gospel, and felt the tender embrace of caring brothers and sisters. They discovered “home.” And now, three and four generations later, many families trace their Church membership back to these converts.

I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home.

When we are tempted to judge, let us think of the Savior, who “loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. …

“[And] he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, … [for] allmen are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.”

As I read the scriptures, it appears that those who receive the Savior’s strongest reproach are often those who hold themselves in high esteem because of their wealth, influence, or perceived righteousness.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, April 2010)

From the manual:

We must never forget that we live in a world of great diversity. The people of the earth are all our Father’s children and are of many and varied religious persuasions. We must cultivate tolerance and appreciation and respect one another.

How can we cultivate greater appreciation and respect for others?

2. We should live with respect, appreciation, and friendship toward people who are not of our faith.

Watch: Different Beliefs President Gordon B. Hinckley urges respect for all those with diverse beliefs and teachings. (1:23)

“…we should respect our fellow human beings-not in spite of their beliefs, but because of them! A man or woman who carefully obeys all the laws and teachings of the Catholic or Buddhist or Shinto or Lutheran religion is obviously striving to do right. We should not condemn their beliefs, but rejoice in their righteous desires-for they will be just that much readier to have the Holy Ghost come to them to bear witness of even greater truths than they had previously known.” (Gerald E. Jones, “Respect for Other People’s Beliefs,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, 70)

Elder Marvin J. Ashton beautifully observed: “Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.”

From the manual:

How very important that is—that while we believe in worshipping God according to our doctrine, we do not become arrogant or self-righteous or prideful but that we extend to others the privilege of worshipping according to their desires. Much of the trouble in the world comes from conflict between religions. I am happy to be able to say that I can sit down with my Catholic friends and talk with them, that I can sit down with my Protestant friends and talk with them. I would stand in their defense, as this Church has done and will continue to do, in defending them in this world.

I plead with our people everywhere to live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies. We must not be partisans of any doctrine of ethnic superiority. We live in a world of diversity. We can and must be respectful toward those with whose teachings we may not agree. We must be willing to defend the rights of others who may become the victims of bigotry.

How can we show greater friendship and love toward those who have different beliefs?

3. Without compromising our doctrine, we can work with others in good causes.

Watch: Fear Not to Do Good – President Eyring, General Conference, October 2017

Watch: October 2017 World Report

From the manual:

Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. … We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us.

How can we become a greater influence for good in our community?

4. When we treat others with love, respect, and kindness, we show that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Image result for When we treat others with love, respect, and kindness, we show that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Watch: Bring Forth Fruit With Patience A recent convert tells of his conversion and his gratitude for the gospel and the priesthood. (4:08)

“Someone said, ‘We have committed the Golden Rule to memory. May we now commit it to life.’ The Savior’s teaching, ‘Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,’ should be the basis for all human relationships…The time is now to rededicate our lives to eternal ideals and values, to make those changes that we may need to make in our own lives and conduct to conform to the Savior’s teachings. From the beginning to the end of His ministry, Jesus asked His followers to adopt new, higher standards in contrast to their former ways. As believers, they were to live by a spiritual and moral code that would separate them not only from the rest of the world but also even from some of their traditions. He asks nothing less of those who follow Him today.” (David B Haight, Ensign, Nov. 1987)

From the manual:

Let us be true disciples of the Christ, observing the Golden Rule, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us strengthen our own faith and that of our children while being gracious to those who are not of our faith. Love and respect will overcome every element of animosity. Our kindness may be the most persuasive argument for that which we believe.

Why is our behavior toward others “the most persuasive argument for that which we believe”? 

Posted in service, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 14: Losing Ourselves in the Service of Others

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

Watch video: Preparation of Gordon B Hinckley: Forget Yourself and Go to Work A missionary letter from his father motivates Elder Gordon Hinckley to dedicate himself to the Lord’s work. (2:03)

1. Our lives are gifts from God and are to be used in the service of others.

“We know from these inspired words that even the most extreme acts of service fall short of the ultimate ‘profit’ unless they are motivated by the pure love of Christ. If our service is to be most efficacious, it must be unconcerned with self and heedless of personal advantage. It must be accomplished for the love of God and the love of his children.” (Dallin H Oaks, Pure in Heart [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 47.)

From the manual:

If we would claim to worship and follow the Master, must we not strive to emulate his life of service? None of us may rightly say that his life is his own. Our lives are gifts of God. We come into the world not of our own volition. We leave not according to our wish. Our days are numbered not by ourselves, but according to the will of God.

How can we make serving others a way of life?

2. Service is the best medicine for self-pity, selfishness, despair, and loneliness.

Watch or read: What Have I Done For Someone Today? – President Thomas S Monson

From the manual:

I believe that for most of us the best medicine for loneliness is work and service in behalf of others. I do not minimize your problems, but I do not hesitate to say that there are many others whose problems are more serious than yours. Reach out to serve them, to help them, to encourage them. There are so many boys and girls who fail in school for want of a little personal attention and encouragement. There are so many elderly people who live in misery and loneliness and fear for whom a simple conversation would bring a measure of hope and brightness. …

There are so many who have been injured and who need a good Samaritan to bind up their wounds and help them on their way. A small kindness can bring a great blessing to someone in distress and a sweet feeling to the one who befriends him.

There are so many out there whose burdens you can lift. There are the homeless, there are the hungry, there are the destitute all around us. There are the aged who are alone in rest homes. There are handicapped children, and youth on drugs, and the sick and the homebound who cry out for a kind word. If you do not do it, who will?

How has service brought you happiness? 

3. When we reach out to help others, we find our true selves.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Gandhi

Image result for When we reach out to help others, we find our true selves.

Watch video: Whoever Will Lose His Life for My Sake Shall Find It

From the manual:

I testify that as each of you reach out to help others, you will find your true selves and bless greatly the world in which you live.

Why does losing ourselves in the service of others help us “find [our] true selves”?

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4. The Church provides many opportunities for unselfish service.

Watch or read: The Greatest Among You – President Dieter F Uchtdorf

‘In the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one takes the place to which one is duly called, which place one neither seeks nor declines.’ (President J Reuben Clark)

From the manual:

Brothers and sisters, you will never be happy if you go through life thinking only of yourself. Get lost in the best cause in the world—the cause of the Lord. The work of the quorums, and of the auxiliary organizations, temple work, welfare service work, missionary work. You will bless your own life as you bless the lives of others.

What blessings has Church service brought into your life?