Sunday, March 8, 2015

farewell talk

The Blessing of Faith

What is faith?
WE KNOW: Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel.
Faith means believing that even though we do not understand all things, that He does.
Faith means heeding the Lord’s plea to: “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:36).
Faith in God is more than a theoretical belief in Him. 
To have faith in God is to trust Him, 
to have confidence in Him, 
and to be willing to act on our belief in Him.
SO: Faith is a principle of action and power.
When we act on our faith we are striving to do what is right. 
Having faith is the basis for everything else we do in the church. If we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that leads us to repentance, to baptism, to the gift Holy Ghost and so on for our entire lives.

(It may seems like an obvious question but I love the simpleness of the gospel) 
Why is faith important?
President Hinckley repeatedly declared: “If there is any one thing you and I need in this world it is faith.” 
Faith leads to salvation and exaltation: 
To be saved—or to gain salvation—means to be saved from physical and spiritual death. 
To be exalted—or to gain exaltation—refers to the highest state of happiness and glory in the celestial realm.
In order for faith to lead to salvation and exaltation, it must be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without believing in Him we cannot reach the highest glory in the celestial kingdom. 
We can our exercise faith in Christ when we have an assurance that He exists, 
When we have a correct idea of His character, 
and a knowledge that we are striving to live according to His will.
It is easy to say I believe in God or even I love Him, and I love Jesus Christ. So then if we love him: He said Himself, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” If we love God we should have the faith to do as He would want us to.
Faith is the inner belief that if we act, and when we do act, we will recieve blessings from God.
Faith is important because having faith in our lives means that we can receive power from God 
We can overcome all with power from God
(So now we might ask….)
How can we access the power of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?
Well now we know that: We first have to have that initial faith. Faith is a principle of power that influences at least to some degree the Lord’s intervention in our lives. 
So, because Faith is a principle of power,  if we simply go forward with faith-believing in Christ, the Lord will use His matchless power to help us. 
Unshaken faith activates the power of God in our lives, “for he worketh by power according to the faith of the children of men” (Moroni 10:7)
God wants to bless us, but it is conditional upon our belief in Him. 
My little brothers are such good examples to me, as they have been diligently reading their scriptures and praying, and the other day Carson said the coolest thing. He told me that he really feels like now, every time he prays he gets an answer to his prayer. He was amazed that everything he asks is answered and that he is able to hear Heavenly Father so often. I know that he is getting answers because he is diligently putting priority on doing as he should. He is receiving great blessings and has the power of God in his life because of this, and he is more capable of receiving and noticing revelation when he is exercising his faith so completely. 

Faith is so important BUT we must remember:
Faith without works is dead. Believing is the first step, but we must then act on our faith. A wonderful example of acting on faith, is of the apostle Peter. Jesus said to Peter, “Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” (Matthew 14:29). He had so much faith that he got out of the boat and he walked on water. Now we know that when he saw the stormy water he started to hesitate and he fell. But Christ caught Him. The key part of this story to me, was that he had that first initial faith to just get out of the boat. 
Getting out of the boat can be so difficult. We don’t want people to judge us for being different,  and we are all human, and are somewhat afraid of failure. BUT WHY NOT just TRY. It doesn't matter how strong our faith is (we don’t have to be perfect), we just have to put our faith to the test. We can do amazing things with just a small amount of faith. Just get out of the boat. If we find that our faith still isn’t the strongest it can be, Christ will always be there to catch us, just like He did for Peter. 

If faith is an action, then, We must first choose to HAVE faith. 
In choosing faith we are choosing, “peace and protection.” In Elder Andersens talk on the “Trial of Your Faith” he talks about how faith can be that, peace and protection. Think of it this way he says, “When faced with a trial of faith- whatever you do, you don’t step away from the Church! Distancing yourself from the kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view.” 

Hanging on to your faith during hard times guarantees the powers of heaven to be with you. We should not try to go through anything alone. We need to let Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ be present in our life, always.

Elder Jörg Klebingat says, “The adversary knows that faith in Christ—the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles—goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right. For that reason he will seek access to your heart to tell you lies—lies that Heavenly Father is disappointed in you, that the Atonement is beyond your reach, that there is no point in even trying, that everyone else is better than you, that you are unworthy, and a thousand variations of that same evil theme.” He says, “As long as you allow these voices to chisel away at your soul, you can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence. Whatever you do, whatever you pray for, whatever hopes for a miracle you may have, there will always be just enough self-doubt chipping away at your faith—not only your faith in God but also your confidence in yourself. Living the gospel in this manner is no fun, nor is it very healthy. Above all, it is completely unnecessary! The decision is yours…”

There will always be trials that test our faith. But when it really comes down to it, do we cling to our faith with our lives? The Prophet Joseph Smith gave his life for his testimony. Do we feel like this about this gospel? If we don’t, if our faith is wobbly, we need to put Him (God) to the test. “Even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you” (Alma 32:27). He will bless you with the gift of faith if you genuinely desire it. 

The fact of the matter is, the reality of this gospel with continue to be challenged. People will doubt and people will ridicule. Richard G. Edgley says, “the continual bombardment of such messages may cause confusion, doubt, and pessimism, each attacking the fundamental truths we believe in, our faith in God, and our hope in the future.” However we can always choose how we react to these messages and trials of our faith. Elder D. Todd Christofferson explained what he learned from a personal trial saying: “Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem. The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God. I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father… to a degree that might not have  happened otherwise… I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day.” 

I have had some trials in my life where I have had to exercise my faith. Sometimes that faith was all that I had that could get me through those hard times. Those moments where I have had to rely solely on God have really strengthened me. I know now that I can go through difficult things, because I always have God with me. The relationship you gain with your Heavenly Father and Savior when you are struggling and look to him is absolutely precious. There is nothing else like it. It isn’t until you can see Him standing with you through all things that you truly realize how many blessings He gives to us, especially when we are hurting. I know my Savior loves me.

When we do experience these trials we must choose. We can choose doubt, or faith. We can choose fear, or faith. We can choose the unknown or we can choose faith. It is a blessing to have faith throughout our trials. It makes them easier. When we are sick we go to the doctor and then take medicine. When we are struggling we should take our spiritual medicine, practice our faith or communicate with God and He will help heal the pain. It is wonderful to feel and know that God loves us individually, and to believe in all that He is, and all that He can do. Everything that is, it is all for us from a loving Heavenly Father and a wonderful Savior.
I hope that we will always choose faith, that we will come to Him, knock, and ask with a sincere heart, because God will always be there with outstretched arms.

Faith is the basis of testimony. It is the very first thing we need to be able to come to know God. Faith is the key. President Hinckley said, “It is a marevelous and wonderful thing that thousands are touched by the miracle of the Holy Spirit, that they believe and accept and become members… miracles occur. A seed of faith comes into their hearts. It enlarges as they learn. It is faith that is the converter. It is faith that is the teacher. Thus it has been from the beginning.” Faith is a gift from God.

I’d like to share how I came to my decision to serve a mission. 
I must confess the beginning does not make for a very pretty story. ;)
When the age was changed in October 2012 to 18 for boys and 19 for girls I had the worst reaction on the planet. Step in to my mind for a minute. I was a 16 year old girl who was not planning on going on a mission, who suddenly felt tremendous pressure. However, not even that can condone my reaction to this message. I remember my mom was ecstatic, my brothers all shocked and amazed and I was in pure rage. Now that sounds bad, ya, it was. During the break between sessions that Saturday I drove Carson to his soccer game (mainly cuz my mom wanted my sour mood out of the house) and sweet little Carson tried to calm me down saying over and over, “Ky this isn't a bad thing. It is a good thing. And you still don't have to go.” I didn’t listen. After I dropped him off still fuming I really felt the need to pull over to the side of the road. What happened next is something I will never forget. I was chastised, very clearly. Very plainly I was told, “You are being selfish.” I was immediately taken aback. How could I not feel just awful? I was being such a little brat to my Father in Heaven. How could I be angry at the hastening of the work? I felt deeply sorry, and a little thought entered my head. “Ask him if you should go on a mission.” I almost had the sense of humor to be like woah, I am not that sorry! But after how rude I had been I knew that I could do nothing but ask, because I knew that he knew my thoughts and I could not hide from Him. So I asked Him if I should serve a mission. The answer I received was immediate. A simple, “yes.” I can not fully describe how quickly my heart was changed. I went home to my mom and told her what happened and I can honestly say she was both surprised and thrilled. That moment changed my entire life. Something that had never been an option before was now my reality. And the amazing thing is now I can imagine nothing else for my life. I started preparing. And now I am standing here today, leaving this beautiful place in 2 days time, because I have never wanted to do anything more in my entire life. I am going on a mission. It is such a privilege to get to serve during this time of the hastening of the work. I can not wait to dedicate a year and a half of my life and to dedicate me to the Lord. I am just learning to trust in Him. I am ready to pour my whole soul into this, because there are so many people in this world who just don’t know. If the tables were turned, and I didn’t know about this gospel, or my purpose, I would want someone to come and find me. As missionaries we help other people to return to God. My cute friend Ardugal said something I love, “Missions are a gift from God.” I can not wait! 

I am so grateful for all that you have taught me in this ward. I have been so very blessed to grow up in this area and to know all of you. You guys are my very favorite people, because you are amazing. To my friends, I am so grateful for the examples that you are to me, for your testimonies you were and are never afraid to share with me. I really love you guys, thank you for always being there for me no matter what. And to my beautiful family. You have always sacrificed for me, taught me that we can do hard things, you have always stood up for what you believe in. You are my examples and my very best friends. You are the best people I know. I am really gonna miss you guys. I love you.

I have a testimony. I know that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church on the earth today. I know that Jesus Christ my Savior atoned for me, died for me. I have felt the very real and powerful blessing of his atonement bring peace to my life. I know that He lives. I have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these latter days. Joseph Smith is a true prophet who translated the word of God. I know he suffered immense persecution for the good of the church as well as its members and I am so grateful for his sacrifice. Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet today. He guides only from God. I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father and am so grateful for the many blessings they continually give me. I know that families can be together forever. I am eternally grateful that I will be with my family forever, because I love them so much. I love this gospel with my whole being. I know it is true. One of my main goals is to do all that I can, to live up to my potential as a daughter of God and to live up to who I used to be. I want to get to know Christ so well that someday when I see him again I can be like, I know you! I know this mission will be the hardest thing, I just can’t wait! but also the most beautiful thing. I know that with God anything is possible. I am so excited to see how the pure love of our Savior Jesus Christ brings so many people hope throughout the world. I know it is true I can’t wait to tell other people about it! I have never been more sure about doing something in my life. I am going on a mission.

I want everyone to know and to feel the happiness that I know, because of this gospel! I am scared! I am excited. I must simply go forward with faith.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

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