Stake Conference April 19, 2009
I would like to begin by telling a story for all the children who are trying so hard to sit reverently AND for the youth and adults who may be getting a little fidgetty themselves! :-)
Years ago when my son was a Sunbeam, he had a primary teacher who had a mission. Her mission was to instill in the children the idea of having Jesus in their hearts. Our son would come home and talk about this, and his 2 year old sister really caught onto this principle. One day they were playing with friends a game where one person sat on one end of the room while the others sat on the opposite side of the room. The person alone would shout out, "Whoever's wearing purple" or "Whoever likes cookies", etc . . . Then, those with that charcteristic would come running to try to be the first to touch the speaker. Well, it came to my 2 year old daughter's turn to be the speaker and with all the energy of her soul she cried, “WHO HAS JESUS IN THEIR HEART?” And all the other kids went running to her. I am forever grateful for that special primary teacher. Likewise, I ask here . . . Who here has Jesus in their heart?
When I think of our Savior, I think of His unending compassion, His indefatiguable service (having 1 demand placed upon Him after another), His devotion to His Father and His disciples, and His lack of unrighteous judgement. In studying these past few weeks about Becoming Christlike, I’ve learned it’s really all about the heart!
One of the first things Christ taught in his earthly ministry as well as to the Nephites in the Americas was, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God!" (Matt. 5:8)
Joseph Smith: “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object”
One definition of Zion is "the pure in heart" and for all of you professional texters out there you know that all capital letters means emphasis! Very few phrases in the scriptures are written in capital letters, but in the Doctrine and Covenants is states that Zion is the PURE IN HEART (D&C 97:21)
Elder Wirthlin “ to be pure in heart [is] an essential virtue of those who would be counted among true followers of Christ.” So, how do we become Pure in Heart, or in other words, how do we build up Zion - -
We learn how to do this in two simple scriptures: 4 Nephi 1:2-3 " And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. " In this scripture we find three characteristics of the Pure in Heart.
UNITY “All Things Common”
4 Nephi 1:12-13, met together to pray & hear word of the Lord
Elder Christofferson - - Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizen. Remember, “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) . . . We will become of one heart and one mind as we individually place the Savior at the center of our lives.
Christ’s Example: Prayer to the Father during his visitation of the Nephites . . . 3 Ne. 19:23 " And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one.
UNSELFISHNESS “No Contentions. . . Did Deal Justly
Now, I am selfish with my Oreo cookies! I buy them for myself, my kids don't eat them, my kids know not to even ask for them! That is tangible selfishness , but that’s not the form of selfishness I would like to talk about here, though it's something we all could work on a little bit more. I am talking about the selfishness in which we esteem others, ourselves and God.
First, esteeming ourselves above others. We learn about this in the Parable of the Laborers (Matt. 20) where laborers are called by the master to go work in the vineyard and they will receive a penny at the end of the day. Later on in the day more laborers come seeking work, and the master sends them out to labor, also offering a penny for their work. But what happens at the end of the day? Those who had been there all day start to complain saying, "Hey, we worked harder than them. Why do we get the same pay." The master's response to this question is, "Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way..." (vv. 13-14)
In the Doctrine and Covenants we learn “let every man esteem his brother as himself” (D&C 38:24 ) “the Church has need of every member” (D&C 84:10 )
The second in selfishness is esteeming others, the world, or ourselves above God
Story of Ezra (Ezra 7-8)
- Ezra was a scribe, taught the law & set up a judgement system
- Had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord (7:10)
- Esteemed God above man (8:21-23)
Elder Oakes on Unselfish Service has said, "We do not serve our Savior well if we fear man more than God. . . . The plan of the gospel of Jesus Christ lifts us above our selfish desires and teaches us that this life is all about what we can become."
SACRIFICE “All Converted Unto the Lord”
What is the first step to being truly converted? In scriptures we learn that the Lord requireth the heart of His children (see D&C 64:34), and that we must first come to Him with a borken heart and contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:20)
Elder Oakes (this Conference) "Our Savior teaches us to follow Him by making the sacrifices necessary to lose ourselves in unselfish service to others.
There is comfort in this statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “We are not always called upon to live the whole law of consecration and give all of our time, talents, and means to the building up of the Lord’s earthly kingdom. . . . But . . . to gain celestial salvation we must be able to live these laws to the full if we are called upon to do so.”
Elder Oakes has said that we are "unique in cooperative efforts" "we are unique in unselfish service" "we are unique in our committment to sacrifice." But we still need to follow the counsel of President Hinckly and "Do a little better."
IV. Christlike Love - “The Love of God did Dwell in their Hearts” (4 Nephi 1:15)
Ultimately each of these characteristics of a Pure Heart (Unity, Unselfishness, and Sacrifice) lead back to one great whole: Christlike Love
Elder Marvin J. Ashton has said, “We come closest to becoming Christlike when we are charitable and understanding of others . . . .We will never approach godliness until we learn to love and [to] lift.”
I testify that the Lord wants us to purify our hearts, so that we can build up Zion here upon the earth.
Elder Christofferson has said that, “We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they happen.”
“Now let us rejoice in the Day of Salvation, no longer as strangers on earth need we roam . . . For Christ and His people will ever be one.” In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Here's one quote that I wish I had have used in the conclusion of the talk, one of my very favorites from our newly called apostle.
Elder Neil L. Andreson: “I know that I am not what I must become . . . Our knowledge of the divine mission of the Church should . . . take us to our knees, pleading for the Lord’s help that we might be what we should be.” Which is, as the Savior said, “Even as I am.”