Saturday, May 9, 2009

Talk Given on Sunday, April 26th

I am finally posting my talk that I gave 2 Sundays ago. I would have posted it earlier but our computer monitor died and we were using our laptop so I wasn't able to access the file. Anywho, I hope you enjoy.

Blessings of Attending the Temple

The definition of Temple, found in the Bible Dictionary, states:

A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead. A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.

Whenever the Lord has had a people on the earth who will obey his word, they have been commanded to build temples in which the ordinances of the gospel and other spiritual manifestations that pertain to exaltation and eternal life may be administered.

From Adam to the time of Jesus, ordinances were performed in temples for the living only. After Jesus opened the way for the gospel to be preached in the world of spirits, ceremonial work for the dead, as well as for the living, has been done in temples on the earth by faithful members of the Church. Building and properly using a temple is one of the marks of the true Church in any dispensation, and is especially so in the present day.

Scriptures describe the temple as “a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119 & 109: 8)

As we strive to draw closer to the Lord and receive answers to our prayers, we can seek His guidance through temple worship. As we go to the temple, worthy members of the Church may receive and help others receive sacred ordinances, such as baptism for the dead, the endowment, eternal marriage, and sealings. These temple ordinances lead to great blessings which are available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we provide this service to others, we are often blessed personally. President Gordon B. Hinckley has written: “The temple is … a place of personal inspiration and revelation. [Many] are those who in times of stress, when difficult decisions must be made and perplexing problems must be handled, have come to the temple in a spirit of fasting and prayer to seek divine direction. Many have testified that while voices of revelation were not heard, impressions concerning a course to follow were experienced at that time or later which became answers to their prayers” (Ensign, Mar. 1993, p. 6).

I have found that when I am troubled or have an important decision to make the peace that I have felt within the walls of the Temple will calm my thoughts and I am better able to understand things that I wasn’t able to understand before. I have gone to the temple with very specific questions wanting to be answered and knowing that if I prepare myself spiritually I will receive the spiritual guidance I am in need of.

-->Talk about going to the temple and praying in the celestial room and finding answers from the Book of Mormon while there.

Russell M. Nelson, “Prepare for Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, Mar 2002, 17

Service in the temple brings blessings to us in this life as well as in eternity. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that

“temple work is not an escape from the world but a reinforcing of our need to better the world while preparing ourselves for another and far better world. Thus, being in the Lord’s house can help us to be different from the world in order to make more difference in the world.”

What a profound statement. We as a people desire our world to be a better place…not only for our children but our grandchildren. What better way to do that than by attending the temple? We learn to be better people, to live our lives in such a way that is pleasing to our Father in Heaven. We learn to live in the world and not of the world. As we prepare ourselves for another, far better world, we learn how we can make more of a difference in this world.

If we are true and faithful in this life, we may obtain eternal life. Immortality is to live forever. Eternal life means more than simply being immortal. Eternal life is to gain exaltation in the highest heaven and live in the family unit. God declared that His grand mission statement—“my work and my glory”—is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” His gift of immortality is unconditional—a free gift of salvation to all humankind. The possibility of eternal life—even exaltation—is available to us through our obedience to covenants made and ordinances received in the holy temples of God.

The blessings of the temple become most meaningful when our loved ones are taken in death from our family circles. To know that our period of separation is but temporary provides peace that passes ordinary understanding. President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) wrote, “Through the power of this priesthood which Elijah bestowed, husband and wife may be sealed, or married for eternity; children may be sealed to their parents for eternity; thus the family is made eternal, and death does not separate the members.” Blessed with eternal sealings, we can face death as a necessary component of God’s great plan of happiness.

-->In August 2005, my Grandfather passed away. He was the closest thing to a father figure I had while growing up. He was always there for me and I knew that I could always count on him being there when times got tough. When he passes away it was a bittersweet blessing. I knew that he was free from pain and free from a body that he could no longer control. I knew that he was happy. Yet, it was painful to see him pass on from this life. Thankfully, I have the knowledge that I will see him again. Not in this life, but in the life to come. This knowledge is from attending the temple and knowing that being sealed as a family for eternity is real. What a blessing that is to me. To know that no matter what happens I have that eternal family. As long as I live my life according to the teachings of the gospel I will be with them forever.

Visiting Teaching Message: Blessings of Temple Worship

“Blessings of Temple Worship,” Ensign, Dec 2001, 64

Story Answers to prayer

As the sun rose one June morning, a couple started their day with a prayer of thanksgiving. This day they were witnessing the answer to 13 years of earnest prayer. Their 27-year-old son and his wife had worked with loving bishops to put their lives in order so they might be worthy to enter the temple. That morning they would be sealed for all eternity.

This grateful mother reflects: “The joy we felt was unspeakable. As we sat in the temple with our son and his sweet companion, my mind was taken back to the time when this boy was 14 and began making choices that drew him away from the guidance of the Spirit. The time came when we needed extra help from a loving Heavenly Father.

“Attending the temple had always been important to us, and we felt prompted to pray for our son in this holy place. Each time we attended the temple, we placed our son’s name on the prayer roll.

“We wanted our prayers to be answered today—or tomorrow at the latest. But years passed, and our son remained less active. We were not left without hope, however. We often felt the comforting influence of the Holy Ghost. One evening while my husband and I were praying in the temple, the Spirit let us know unmistakably that our son was being watched over and that he would eventually repent and return to Church activity. We were also taught that we must never give up and never stop loving him. Our faith was strengthened, and a great peace settled into our hearts.

“And then came that sacred day when our prayers were answered.”

This couple’s experience was the joyous fulfillment of a prophetic statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “I make you a promise that if you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed, life will be better for you. … Avail yourselves of the great opportunity to go to the Lord’s house and thereby partake of all of the marvelous blessings that are yours to be received there” (“Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, July 1997, 73).

-->This story is very poignant for me. It reminds me of all the prayers I have said for my mother. For most of my life, my mom has been an inactive member of the church. After experiencing the blessings of attending the temple for myself, I wanted my mom to experience those same blessings. I prayed and prayed that her heart would be softened, that she would choose to change her habits, that she would have a desire to start attending church meetings, that she would repent and have the desire to go to the temple. As the years passed by, I would still pray, but I had resigned myself to the possibility that I would be the one taking her name through the temple and performing those ordinances for her after she had passed away. The Holy Ghost comforted me during these times of uncertainty for me. Thankfully, my prayers were answered. I had the opportunity to go with my mom to the temple for the first time this last November. What a blessing that was for me. I have witnessed a miraculous change in my mom. And I know it is due to her allowing the spirit back into her life. She chose to change her ways, to repent, and to turn to our Father in Heaven for strength and comfort.

One more story I would like to share is taken from an article I found in the Sep 1990 Ensign titled, “I Would Love a Blessing” by M. Russell Ballard.

Some time ago I was asked by the First Presidency to stop and visit a man on my way to a stake conference. This man had been excommunicated, had fully repented, and had been found worthy to be baptized. But baptism did not restore his priesthood and temple blessings. That was my assignment, acting on behalf of the Lord at the direction of the President of the Church.

I found the man lying in a hospital suffering from a disease that left him unable to move or speak. On seeing him, I realized that it would be impossible to conduct the customary interview. Instead, I felt impressed that I should interview his wife, who was there with him. We found a vacant room in the hospital, and I had a wonderful visit with this stalwart woman, the mother of eight. She had stood by her husband, remaining true and faithful through all his struggle and difficulty. Now she, like her husband, greatly desired that he have his blessings restored.

As we walked back into the husband’s room, I asked his wife to help me communicate with him. During the two years that his body had deteriorated from disease, he had developed a way to communicate with his eyes. I leaned over his bed and said, “I am Elder Ballard. I have been sent here by the President of the Church. I am authorized to restore your blessings. Would you like that?” I quickly saw I wouldn’t need the help of his wife. Tears filled his eyes and ran down his cheeks in affirmative response.

I placed my hands on his head and, using terminology associated with this ordinance, restored to him the Melchizedek Priesthood.

He sobbed—perhaps the first sounds he had made in some time. I restored his office in the priesthood. Then I restored to him, by the power of the priesthood, the holy endowment that he had received when he went through the temple for the first time. Last, I restored what was perhaps most valuable to him—his sealings to his wife and children.

As the blessing concluded we were all filled with emotion. I looked at his wife and had the impression that I was to bless her also. I said, “Sister, would you like us to give you a blessing?”

She said, “Oh, I would love a blessing, Brother Ballard. I have not had a blessing in a long time.”

I asked her to sit down; then the regional representative, the stake president, and I placed our hands on her head. But when I tried to bless her, the words would not come. We took our hands off her head and I said, “Brethren, let’s move her chair closer to the bed.” We pushed her chair over where I could lift her husband’s hand and place it on her head, since he was unable to lift it himself. As we proceeded again with the blessing, the words flowed. Blessings were given, conviction and comfort came.

I have since thought what a marvelous lesson that experience teaches us. This man had sinned, and a loving Heavenly Father had required that he repent so he could be worthy to be once again numbered among the Saints. He had subsequently done our Heavenly Father’s will; he had turned his life around; he had repented. Now, back in the Church and continuing to progress, he was worthy to have his greatest blessings restored. And he was able to use his restored priesthood immediately, participating in giving his wife a special priesthood blessing.

-->What a wonderful story. This just shows that no matter our circumstances we can change and we can be worthy to have the greatest blessings of all.

I know that as we attend the temple we will be blessed in all aspects of our lives. We will have a greater ability to love, to serve, to understand the scriptures, and to progress toward the promised blessing of living with our Heavenly Father again.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

I really enjoyed your talk, Kre, and it was good to be able to read it too. Have heard other positive comments at Church, so I know it wasn't just me.