Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hope in Jesus: An High Priest of Good things to Come

Today I taught the fifth Sunday lesson in our ward. I hope the members got something out of it. As usual, there is just never enough time. I know people wanted to make additional comments, but there just wasn't enough time. It is hard sometimes, finding the balance between what the Spirit is telling me and what the Spirit is telling members of the ward. I think it worked out okay in the end.

Below are some of the statements, scriptures, and ideas I shared in my lesson:

On those days when things seem to hard, the road seems too long, there are too many dishes, not enough friends, no special to share the day with, and a host of other struggles, please remember that Paul described our Savior as “an High Priest of good things to come.” (Hebrews 8:6; 9:11.)

Of this Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once taught:

“My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the ‘light that is endless, that can never be darkened.’ (See John 8:12; Rev. 22:16; Mosiah 16:9.) It is the very Son of God Himself. In loving praise far beyond Romeo’s reach, we say, ‘What light through yonder window breaks?’ It is the return of hope, and Jesus is the Sun. (See William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, act 2, scene 2, lines 2­3.) To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His ‘more excellent ministry’ with a future of ‘better promises.’ He is your ‘high priest of good things to come.’ (“An High Priest of Good Things to Come, General Conference, October 1999, emphasis in original.)

Now, we do not know when these promised blessings come. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.

There are two kinds of hope

1. “I hope we get to Church in time to hear the Bishop’s remarks.”

2. Hope in Jesus Christ

What does it mean to be hopeless?

What causes hopelessness?

· Sin

· Depression (sin and depression are not the same thing)

· Trapped in a dead end job

· Finals

· Trying to be perfect

· Not getting answers to your prayers

Most hopelessness is self-inflicted. Why do we do that to ourselves?

· We judge others

· We judge ourselves

· The Sacrament and 3 Nephi 18

I testify that no matter how dark your situation is now, was, or will be at some future point, there is hope. As the hymn we love to sing at Conference-time testifies, “There is hope smiling brightly before us, and we know that deliverance is near.” (We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet)

Mormon teaches us where hope comes from and in whom it is centered: Moroni 7:40-41

How do we obtain that hope in Christ?

· Jacob 4

I want you to understand that the Father and the Son have hope in you! A plan has been established that will enable us to have hope, a message that can bring up happiness, the “Good News.”

Let’s review the Plan of Salvation.

· Where were we: pre-earth life

· Whose plan was it? The Father

· Who volunteered to be our Savior? Christ

· How many were lost? A third part along with Lucifer

· What was Lucifer’s great punishment? Not to receive a body. Joseph Smith teaches us:

“[Lucifer] sought for things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down, and it is said he drew many away with him; and the greatness of his punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. So the devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God, by going up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may destroy—any person that he can find that will yield to him, he will bind him, and take possession of the body and reign there, glorying in it mightily, not caring that he had got merely a stolen body; and by and by some one having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its rightful owner. The devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own: but if he steals one, he is always liable to be turned out of doors.” Teachings, p. 297-8.)

· What is he trying to do? 2 Nephi 2:27. What might be some other words for miserable?

o Hopeless!

You do not need to be perfect to be saved. Elder McConkie taught this:

“We don’t need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved. You don’t. There’s only been one perfect person, and that’s the Lord Jesus, but in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God and in order to pass the test of mortality, what you have to do is get on the straight and narrow path—thus charting a course leading to eternal life—and then, being on that path, pass out of this life in full fellowship. I’m not saying that you don’t have to keep the commandments. I’m saying you don’t have to be perfect to be saved. If you did, no one would be saved. The way it operates is this: you get on the path that’s named the “straight and narrow.” You do it by entering the gate of repentance and baptism. The straight and narrow path leads from the gate of repentance and baptism, a very great distance, to a reward that’s called eternal life. If you’re on that path and pressing forward, and you die, you’ll never get off the path. There is no such thing as falling off the straight and narrow path in the life to come, and the reason is that this life is the time that is given to men to prepare for eternity. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you’re working zealously in this life—though you haven’t fully overcome the world and you haven’t done all you hoped you might do—you’re still going to be saved. You don’t have to do what Jacob said, “Go beyond the mark.” You don’t have to live a life that’s truer than true. You don’t have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing. What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church—keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you’re on that path when death comes—because this is the time and the day appointed, this the probationary estate—you’ll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure. Now, that isn’t the definition of that term, but the end result will be the same.

“There’s great hope for Latter-day Saints. There’s great hope for anyone who will repent, believe, obey, strive, struggle and seek to work out his salvation. There isn’t hope for anyone who will not. Our revelation says, “Surely every man must repent or suffer; for I, God, am Endless.” Well, either we suffer for our sins, according to the law of justice, or we repent, and through the atoning sacrifice, the Lord Jesus bears our sins and we become inheritors of mercy. Now we can go forward. We can have every reward that the scriptures speak of. We’re not an austere people. We don’t remove ourselves from the world. We’re deliberately in the world so that we’ll have opportunity to overcome the world. We can have in the Church every association and felicity and good feeling that anyone can have. Anything that’s wholesome and good is available to us. We’re denied nothing, and that’s good. In addition to that, we can have the hope of glorious immortality—meaning eternal life—in the realms and the worlds that are ahead.” (Elder McConkie, The Probationary Test of Mortality)

The Lord is merciful. He has been part of a plan that is going to maximize returns, so to speak. There are commandments that we have to keep, standards that we need to live, but they are livable! If you are struggling, come talk to me.

We cannot do this alone. It is when we rely on ourselves and our own strength and wisdom that we stumble. The Son was chosen by the Father in the pre-earth life. I imagine we sustained him there. The Son was chosen by the Father in mortality. We need to choose Him here as well. He is the only way. There is no other way.

The whole point is to reach the point taught to us in Moroni 7:48.

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