My talk from this morning!
Good morning brothers and sisters,
Bro. Hynynen asked me to speak about Matthew 6:33 and the Joseph Smith translation for that scriptures says:
"Wherefore seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all things shall be added unto you".
That scripture reminded me of a lesson we had in seminary. We had two lines of tape on the ground. At one end the two lines of tape were right next to each other and as it went further down the room they became further apart from each other. Then we had one of the students walk down it and both of his feet had to touch the tape. At first it was easy for him to walk but as he went further down the room, his legs grew apart and it got harder for him to walk until he couldn't move anymore. He was at the point of almost doing the splits and he couldn't get back up so he had to give up and fall down. In Matthew 6:24 it says "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon", which in the foot notes says idolatry, treasure, and worldliness. The object of that lesson was to show us that at the beginning it may be easy to juggle between Christ-like things and things of the world. But the point was that as you continue on with life without making a final decision on which path you want to follow it gets harder and harder until you find yourself stuck until you end up falling. We were taught that as early as we can we need to make the decision of whom we will serve. Will we serve God and build up his kingdom or will we follow the ways of the world?
This all depends on where our priorities lie. Are we focused more on impressing the world or are we more set in trying to do what we can in building the Lord's kingdom. I remember our theme for Priest/Laurel Conference in 2009 was to "Harbour Ourselves in Safe Waters". Some of the workshop speakers were members of the church who had to make the decision between taking a huge step in their career or doing the Lord's work. One of those speakers was Bro. Martinez. I don't remember exactly what he said but in my notes from his workshop I have written down that "beliefs are more important that glitzy Hollywood stuff". So basically his experience was choosing between (I think) serving a mission and making it big with other Hollywood stars. But he chose his mission because he knew what was right and his anchor lay in the waters of Christ.
There is a poem by Robert Frost called The Road Not Taken. The last bit of the poem says "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference." Going back to Bro. Martinez's example, he could have made the choice to work with Hollywood stars but instead chose to do the Lord's work. And now I know him as a really cool DJ and emcee and an amazing youth speaker who inspires many of the youth in our region and probably around the world. He has a webshow called MTC Life and he speaks of principles to youth all over the internet. It's amazing because even though he's not being looked up to as a Hollywood star, he's being looked up to by thousands of youth who are being trained to be leaders of the future. I've learned a lot from his videos and I'm sure many other youth have too. By making that one decision of taking another path in life he's effected who knows how many youth and that's a huge thing.
Some of the time it's hard to sort out our priorities. Sometimes we have them fixed but when we're faced with challenges the road tends to get a little foggy and then we sometimes become unsure of what we want. One principle I find that helps keep my priorities straight is keeping an eternal perspective and knowing where we're going. The visiting teaching topic for December was "An Extensive Sphere of Action" and Elder Russell M. Ballard says that "Every sister who stands for truth and righteousness diminishes the influence of evil. Every sister who strengthens and protects her family is doing the work of God. Every sister who lives as a woman of God becomes a beacon for others to follow and plants seeds of righteous influence that will be harvested for decades to come."
Between being busy with school and my callings and all the other things I’m trying to develop in—sometimes I still feel like I’m not doing enough. But like Elder Ballard says, all the little things we do effects others in one way or another. So we should always make those righteous decisions so that we may always be a righteous example. I wanna share a few lines from one of my favourite LDS Artists, Hilary Weeks, and this is from her song "Because I Believe":
It may seem simple all the little things you do, but the lives you touch matter so much and there's no one else like you. And the Father needs you to stand tall and faithful to be all you can be-- oh if you could see what He sees. Believe in what you're doing, believe in who you are, hold tight to the truth that you're a child of God, believe in who you are becoming, believe in who you are.
The Lord has given us everything through the power of the Atonement. We can feel comfort needed through trials, heartache, and loneliness. It's only right that we repay our God and our Saviour by building up their kingdom. We can do that not only by preaching the gospel but by also allowing others to recognize that there is a Lord and Saivour who does love them so that they may shine and share that with others too.
There's an LDS group called Afterglow and before each song they bear testimony of the subject they are about to sing. Before their song "My Everything", they say: "He lives. He has made it possible for us to live. And to Him we should pledge our talents, time, our lives in bringing to pass His eternal purposes for He has said 'whoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.' We can accomplish this in making Him our everything". So when we come to realize how big of a sacrifice the Saviour has made for us then we can prioritize to do what the Saviour wants most, then everything after that will fall into place.
I know this to be true because I can feel it when I choose to do things that will please the Lord over what will please myself. For example: choosing not to do homework on the Sabbath day, but instead waking up at 12am on Monday morning to finish my work. I surprisingly have enough energy throughout the day even though I don't get enough sleep and I always find my ideas flow freely with whatever I have to write. So the Lord provides for me when I keep his commandment. In contrast, I recently had a take home exam that was due on a Monday and I decided that I didn't have enough time to do it so I worked on it a bit on Sunday. I could really feel the difference the next morning when my mind was clouded and I couldn't concentrate on what I was supposed to be writing. And there are so many other examples in my life, like seminary, institute, tithing, scripture study...where I can feel the Lord's hand in my life when I put those things first and feel something missing when I don't.
I just want to share another few lines from another one of my favourite LDS artists, Jenny Phillips. These next few lines pretty much sums up how I feel about the Saviour and choosing to seek Him first:
I know that every breath inside me comes from God above, and everywhere around me I feel the witness of his love. I see the skies, I feel the grass beneath my feet. And I'm amazed at all he's given me. With all my heart I know that He lives and I wanna give all my praise to Him. So I will walk the road less traveled, I will rise when others fall, and I will be a witness of His truth. I will answer when he calls me, with a life that's pure and clean, and I'll prepare to stand before Him because I believe.
In the past couple of months I’ve been thinking a lot about decisions I need to make in my life and where my priorities lie. A lot of it is all pretty scary and over-whelming, but within the last couple of days of 2011, I have started to feel comfort that everything will just fall in to place. So, I’m grateful for this opportunity that I was able to ponder about this talk and subject in preparation for the New Year and just in time for making New Year’s resolutions because now I know what the important things are that need to be added to my list. And I encourage all of you if you haven’t made your New Year’s resolutions yet to really think about your priorities and what you can do better to build up the kingdom of God and be a better example to others.
I know this Gospel is true. I know that I have a Heavenly Father that loves me and that I am one of his precious daughters. I know that I will be guided always as long as I put my Saviour first. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.