Sunday, April 20, 2014

Because of Him -- Easter

Hello Everybody! Happy Easter! I'm just going to get straight down to it. I hate to break it to you... but here it is... EASTER IS NOT ABOUT EASTER BUNNIES AND LITTLE CUTE DUCKIES AND FINDING EGGS AND GETTING CANDY AND ALL THAT! There it has been said. Now, lot's of you probably know that.. and some of you might be confused.. might be slightly annoyed that I even suggest the Easter Bunny is of no importance ,but, it is true. Thousands of years ago a child was born, this child was born to th virgin Mary who was told she would conceive a son who would be the Savior and that she was to call him Jesus. Not only in his life but before his life there was so much adversity! Can you imagine the horrible things people thought about his mother? His father? Can you imagine how she felt? There were undoubtedly rumors and lots of gossip and the constant ridicule that came with the misunderstanding and judgment. Besides the troubles they faced Mary and Joesph, Jesus's parents, suffered in Nazareth, they faced many on the long trail they had to take to Jerusalem, when all men and their families were to return to their birth towns to pay taxes. Some of you women out there just weez at the thought I am sure, being pregnant and having to ride an underfed donkey up and down mountains, through rivers and past soldiers for miles and even at times having to walk the rocky rode. Imagine the husband, the load he had to carry spiritually and physically, walking the whole way, strengthening the donkey, leading it through tough terrain, shoes most probably in bits, feet bleeding and blistery hands from the merciless heat. And then the struggle of having nowhere to stay with the Savior ready to come into the world, with no Epidural, no nurses or experienced doctors or any previous knowledge of what to do let alone a knowlege of how to care for a child, Jesus Christ was born in the most humble of places to the most humble of people and how much we must have rejoiced in heaven as well as lots of those on earth. The silent night that our Savior was born. But this silence did not last forever, Harod soon sent for soldiers to kill all young children and babies and the tribulations and adversity began again! Fleeing to Egypt in the night after a dream, Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus got away safely. All throughout his life Jesus taught and served others and all throughout his life he and his family were mocked and ridiculed, thought crazy and a nuisance. And then came much later his death. Alone in a garden he cried, now a man, the fully grown son of God, taking upon him the weight of the world, feeling every pain, affliction, sickness, and consequence from sin we could ever feel and go through, he was subject to temptation and hurt, of body and mind but he endured it because he new all of the souls that would be lost if he didn't, he loved us too much to give up, even when the pain was immense, excruciating, unfathomable, horrifying more than we could even imagine. After he bled from every pour, weakened and weathered to the bone, he returned to find his disciples peacefully sleeping and then a clan of Romans led by the man who betrayed him, chose money over him and now mocked him, the man that would later hang himself from guilt and shame. Even in the moment he was being taken off to prison he preformed a miracle for one of his captors, whose ear had been sliced by one of his disciples. How humble a man. From then on he was abused and mistreated even more than before, beaten and spit on, underfed and dirty. He was ridiculed, yelled and screamed at, made fun of and thought to be speaking blaspheme though he told the truth. Though he was the son of God, sent down to save these people, they treated him as nothing more than dirt, only good to be trodden upon and meant to remain silent. Can you imagine? Can you imagine his courage and faith, standing for what he believed in, standing for his people, standing for all of us, standing for God and being mocked and punished though he was innocent of all crime and wrong doing. And last of all, with a weakend body, spirit and mind, a bloodied face and torn skin, he carried his cross, he carried the sins of the world on his shoulders, he carried it down stairs and up them through the city and up a mountain then nailed into a wooden cross to die. Can. You. Imagine? Please, right now imagine yourself being there watching this all play out, imagine not being born yet, still in heaven but on the other side, painfully watching as he carried your sins in his mind and up the mountain, carried them with him still. You wished so badly you could have helped, could have reclaimed all the sins you would ever commit, you sat knowing that on earth there was a possibility of not even remembering him or his sacrifice, not even remembering you could be saved and hoping, praying that wouldn't happen, not wanting to put his great sacrifice to waste. This pain he endured so that we could come back to him, be with our families, repent, have joy and not be forever condemned to death. Three days later, Easter Sunday he was resurrected, he broke the chains of death and came forth, proof of the effects of the atonement, proof that he had gained the victory over Satan and over pain. And THAT is why we celebrate Easter. Really, we should remember him every day, we should be eternally gratefull to him but as a holiday, we commemorate a day to him, and we call it Easter.

Has anyone ever wondered why gifts are given on Christmas and Easter? The reason is, On Christmas we celebrate Jesus Christ's birth. The gift that was given at that time was him, Jesus Christ was and is God's gift to the world. The miracles he preformed, the lessons he taught, the lives he blessed, they were all gifts, he was a gift and to so many. The second gift is the one we celebrate on Easter that was the gift of the atonement. The gift of his death and resurrection for our salvation, so that our sins could be washed away and so that death and the chains of sin didn't have to be permanent if we only used the great gift he gave us.

I want to explain the atonement or how I see it.. I get the notion that not everyone fully understands. See, in nature, everything has a consequence, just naturally that's how it is. You throw a huge rock at a window so it is going to break, you fall so you are going to get a bruise or scrape your skin, consequences. Well, it is the same thing with more spiritual and serious things. You commit murder, you go to jail, and because of that you might even be sentenced to death. What the atonement does is, it does not save us from the temporary consequences of life like for in this example jail and death, we are going to have to pay that price, but it does save us from the eternal consequence of say hell. (And by hell I do not mean that place of fire and brimstone, I believe Hell is more a state of mind and being subject to the devil in this way.) What the atonement does in this instance is if that person who commited murder has a change of heart and now feels completely guilty for what he's done without using the atonement and repentance he could feel that way for the rest of his life and into the rest of eternity. So he would be in the hell of guilt, shame, sadness, depression (anyone who has felt those feeling strongly knows it really does feel like hell, however this would not just be for a period of time this would be eternal unless this person has a change of heart and decides to use the atonement) but if he turned around and had a deep desire to change, it is possible, because of the atonement. How this happened is Jesus Christ, by taking all of our sins and feeling all the consequences of them, and by being subject to death for a time, he payed the price that justice would demand. So, all of the sins we ever commit are already paid for so unless we repent we are just wasting his sacrifice and paying it again even though we don'y have to!Let me try to say this as simple as I can..  God's law, and natures law is that there be justice in all things (you do something you pay for it just like in a store, money for food), so think of Jesus as the kind person behind us in line at the grocery store that offers to pay for our food and does and think of Justice as the cashier. How stupid would it be to pay the cashier AGAIN even though the kind man behind us already paid for it? That is what the atonement does, Christ has already paid the demands of Justice so that if we choose, and if we have a change of heart we can repent and be washed clean AND NOT HAVE TO PAY THE CASHIER AGAIN!

So you see, all that pain, all that suffering look how much it paid for, look at how many of us it could save if only we realized it! Think of how many people don't even know (remember) who they are, what Christ has done for them, WHO HE IS! Can. You. Imagine?

I would like to bear my testimony to you now that I KNOW God and Jesus Christ live, and that Jesus Christ paid the price for us to come back to him and be washed clean. I know that we are loved and that we are his, and that if we only remember, our lives can be so much better. I KNOW that this is real, that God is real, that Jesus is real, that he is our savior and that we are his brothers and sisters all going through this test of life. I KNOW that if we come to him we can be saved and that so much pain and heartache can be avoided and that he can help us trhrough the hard things we go through. He literally knows how we feel and what we are going through and he wants to help us get through this test. I know this church is true, I know that God lives, I know that Jesus Christ lives and that because of him, we can be saved, we can live with our families for eternity, we can be strengthened, there will always be second chances, we can always return, nothing is impossible and that we can someday return to live with him. I say these things humbly, as an unworthy, loving, thankful child of God, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Why then the egg in Easter? New beginnings. Life. Why the hunt? Finding. Put them together: Finding New Beginnings. Life. Happy Easter.

"Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement. Only repentance leads to the sunlit uplands of a better life. And, of course, only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance is a divine gift,… [pointing] us to freedom, confidence, and peace. [This marvelous blessing is a] cause for true celebration." –D. Todd Christofferson http://lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/the-divine-gift-of-repentance
This one speaks for itself. Robert D Hales is one of the 12 General Authorities of the LDS (MORMON) Church.
"Repentance means striving to change. It would mock the Savior's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross for us to expect that He should transform us into angelic beings with no real effort on our part. Rather, we seek His grace to complement and reward our most diligent efforts. Perhaps as much as praying for mercy, we should pray for time and opportunity to work and strive and overcome..." "The Divine Gift of Repentance," by D. Todd Christofferson, General Conference, Oct. 2011
French Press Mornings: Encouraging Easter Print ... Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, He Has Risen!  Luke 24:5-6
I'm grateful for my Testimony of the Restoration of Christ's gospel...it is so wonderful that it is back on the earth, including the priesthood authority.  mormon.org

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