A little different approach to an Easter post–looking at this holy day (holiday) in retrospect. Yes there are plenty of approaches to preparing for Easter and coincidentally it just didn’t work out to put together a post before Easter. This post gives me the chance to see things in terms of what I learned from the experience as a whole.
There are so many things to think about and even share. I did some new things. Met some new people. Had some sacred moments. Had some real highs. Had some prayers answered. Received some sanctification. And had some new experiences that I will never forget. But this post will not be a travelogue.
In light of this great holy day and a historic general conference weekend, I feel like the Lord has asked that I share something specific for those that have ears to hear and eyes to see. It is meant to be something that leads you to pondering and personal revelation.
The Greatest Commandment
My thoughts were turned to Matthew 22:34-40:
34 ¶ But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Then, I was redirected to the words of President Ezra Taft Benson:
“The world largely ignores the first and great commandment–to love God–but talks a lot about loving their brother. They worship at the altar of man. Would Nephi have slain Laban if he had put the love of neighbor above the love of God? Would Abraham have taken Isaac up for a sacrifice if he had put the second commandment first?”¹
Then, I was pointed to the experience of now President Russell M. Nelson where he studied more than 2,200 scriptures about the Savior in six weeks. He recalls:
“During the January 2017 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, I challenged those watching to increase their testimony of the Savior by taking time each week to:
- Study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the Old Testament.
- Study His laws as recorded in the New Testament.
- Study His doctrine as recorded in the Book of Mormon.
- Study His words as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.
I promised those listening that if they would proceed to learn all they can about Jesus Christ, their love for Him and for God’s laws would grow beyond what they could currently imagine.
As I mentioned at the devotional, in a coming day, you will present yourself before the Savior. You will be overwhelmed to the point of tears to be in His holy presence. You will struggle to find words to thank Him for paying for your sins, for forgiving you of any unkindness toward others, for healing you from the injuries and injustices of this life.
You will thank Him for strengthening you to do the impossible, for turning your weaknesses into strengths, and for making it possible for you to live with Him and your family forever. His identity, His Atonement, and His attributes will become personal and real to you.
But you don’t have to wait until then. Choose to be one of His true disciples now. Be one who truly loves Him, who truly wants to serve and lead as He did. I promise you that if you will study His words, your ability to be more like Him will increase. I know this is true.”²
I was humbled to realize the Lord’s hand in directing His leaders to continue to come unto Him and in turn directing all souls to Christ. When leaders point people to Christ the Lord can touch their souls in a way that no mortal man can.
Seek, Ask, Knock
It is easy to become complacent and cease to “seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually” (1 Chronicles 16:10-11). The scriptures speak of seeking, asking and knocking, but we will never proactively do these things if we are not converted unto the Lord, Jesus Christ and nothing else.
The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide was recently updated to version 2.6 and includes some new insightful content to study, ponder and receive. One of these sections I have copied here because I think it is relevant to this topic of personal conversion.
[Beginning of excerpt from The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide]
An Invitation to Come To Him
Seek, Ask, Knock
The principle of seeking, asking and knocking is an eternal principle. It is essential to your personal ascension and actually “receiving” the things that God desires to bless you with and bestow upon you. I cannot emphasize enough how important this principle of seeking, asking and knocking really is.
The Purpose of the Lord’s Restored Church
It is easy to become focused one’s LDS church membership or status-quo LDS lifestyle including considering yourself “active” in church, having a calling, having received temple ordinances or even having a current temple recommend. It is easy to believe that one’s church membership status is sufficient to “receive” as though one’s status may “earn it” or “deserve it.”
The reality is that, in order for you to move forward, your Savior has to be the object of our affection. You have to seek Him. You have to learn who He is. You must love Him. You must be dependent upon Him. He is the one that saves. A person will not “desire” if they do not “let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever” (Alma 37:36). It is the difference between being converted to the church versus being converted to the Lord.
Remember, like the Old law that pointed people to the Savior and even Moses that wanted to take people to the top of the mount to receive the Savior, the purpose of the restored church (LDS Church) is to “bring souls to Christ”:
(Handbook 2, 2.2 The Purpose of the Church) “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized by God to assist in His work to bring to pass the salvation and exaltation of His children. The Church invites all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32; see also D&C 20:59). The invitation to come unto Christ pertains to all who have lived, or will ever live, on the earth.”
And according to section 3.1 of LDS Handbook 2, the purpose of every church leader, from your auxiliary leader to your Bishop to the President of the church, is to “help other people become true followers of…Jesus Christ.” The Handbook even references Moroni 7:48:
- (Moroni 7:48) “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”
An Eye Single to His Glory
The account of Peter asking the Lord for permission to exit the boat, walk on water and seek to come unto the Lord is fitting (Matthew 14: 24-33) here.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
Peter was willing to leave the comfort and security of His boat. He asks permission to leave the boat and walk on water to the Lord.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Peter, in faith, exits the boat and begins to walk to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
When Peter began to doubt the reality of the miracle, he took his eye off his Lord and Savior leaving him to sink.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
In the Lord’s mercy, He extends His hand to Peter and lifts him to safety. Likewise, in our desire to move close the Lord, you may declare your desire or even ask for permission to come unto HIm. He will lead you every step of the way. However, in order to actually reach Him, we must keep our eye single to Him and His glory.
If the Lord has brought you to this point in your journey, through the LDS Church or the righteous influence of servant church leaders, count your many blessings and praise the Lord. Now it is up to you to decide what you will do going forward. A person receives everything on this path both according to the desires of their heart and the mercy of God. Seeking, asking and knocking is an eternal principle but also it is the expression of your desire.
- (D&C 88:63-64) “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you.”
- (JST Matthew 7:12-13) “Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”
- (3 Nephi 14:7-8) “Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”
To and Through Christ
Do you believe and live as though Jesus Christ is the only access to the Father?
I invite you to identify to what or to whom your conversion is. As you consider where your personal devotion, loyalty, trust and love lies, I invite you to consider the words to the hymn More Holiness Give Me and notice the focus on the person and the greatness of your Savior, Jesus Christ:
1. More holiness give me,
More strivings within,
More patience in suff’ring,
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior,
More sense of his care,
More joy in his service,
More purpose in prayer.
2. More gratitude give me,
More trust in the Lord,
More pride in his glory,
More hope in his word,
More tears for his sorrows,
More pain at his grief,
More meekness in trial,
More praise for relief.
3. 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.
I invite you to come unto Christ. Receive His invitation in written word and His voice:
- (2 Nephi 28:32; 26:33) “…I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me…and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, ebond and free, male and female”
- (Jacob 1:7) “…that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest”
- (Alma 5:33-34) “…Repent, and I will receive you. Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life”
- (3 Nephi 9:14, 20-22) “…if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me…whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit…whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God.”
- (3 Nephi 12:19-20, 23-24) “…repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit…come unto me and be ye saved…if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath faught against thee—Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.”
- (D&C 10:67-68; 93:1) “whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church…every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am”
And finally, from the Book of Ether:
“And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face… I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written” (Ether 12:39-41).
May the Lord bless you.
¹ Be Not Deceived, Elder Ezra Taft Benson Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1963, p. 15-19, http://scriptures.byu.edu/gettalk.php?ID=1286