Let me first offer my sincere congratulations to Elder Hanks—we know of your great talent—and to Elders Sonnenberg, Kay, and Wilcox. How you’ll enjoy this new association!
The Savior taught us in the Gospel of Luke:
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:45–46.)
From the very beginning the Lord taught His children the importance of obedience. After Adam and Eve had been driven out of the Garden of Eden, they sought the Lord in prayer.
“And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
“And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.” (Moses 5:4–5.)
Then Adam was tested after many days by an angel, who asked him why he was offering sacrifices. Adam said he did not know, save the Lord had commanded him. And then the angel explained to him the sacrifice of the Only Begotten, and the opportunity there was for mankind to be redeemed from the dead, and, if obedient, to enjoy life eternal. (See Moses 5:6–9.)
“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
“And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” (Moses 5:10–11.)
Then Adam and Eve perpetuated this teaching by making all things known unto their sons and their daughters. Our prophets through the ages have instructed us as to the blessings that come by obedience to the will of the Lord.
President Joseph F. Smith has said:
“Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Light, who is no respecter of persons, and in whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning. To please him we must not only worship him with thanksgiving and praise but render willing obedience to his commandments. By so doing, he is bound to bestow his blessings; for it is upon this principle (obedience to law) that all blessings are predicated.” (Improvement Era, Dec. 1917, p. 104.)
The gospel is so very simple when we understand it properly. It is always right, it is always good, it is always uplifting. Obedience to gospel principles brings forth joy and happiness. Disobedience has a day of reckoning and will only bring forth heartache, misery, strife, and unhappiness.
The history of mankind bears such strong testimony regarding the blessings which are enjoyed by men and women if they subject themselves to the will of the Lord. And yet, we see in the world so much sorrow and suffering because we are unwilling to be obedient.
There is one of His basic commandments which we see so much violation of in the world today. I guess it’s evident to those who violate this principle when they attempt to arise from their beds on Monday morning. I see such widespread disobedience of this law as I travel throughout the world. The Lord instructed ancient Israel:
“Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
“Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
“But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Ex. 20:8–11.)
The Lord has not withheld instructions from His Saints in this day. In fact, He has given us some pretty specific instructions about what we should do on His holy day. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read:
“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
“For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
“Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
“But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
“And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.” (D&C 59:9–13.)
There appear to be three things that the Lord would require of us in keeping His day holy. The first: to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Second is to go to the house of prayer and partake of the sacrament. The third is to rest from our labors. When He instructed us to be unspotted from the world, I believe He not only expected us to stay away from worldly places on the Sabbath, but also to dress appropriately on His day. I often wonder what happened to the good old saying, “Sunday best.” If our dress deteriorates to everyday attire, our actions seem to follow the type of clothing we wear.
Of course, we would not expect our children to remain dressed in their church clothes all day, but neither would we expect them to dress in clothes that would not be appropriate for the Sabbath.
Attendance at church and partaking of the sacrament are basic for our observance of the Lord’s day. Before Jesus introduced the ordinance of the sacrament, He taught His disciples more about love. In order for them to understand the sacrament, they had to first understand the basic principle of love. His main concern was for His beloved friends at this critical moment.
The first sacrament can be compared to our own weekly experience as we partake of the sacred emblems of the bread and water. It is, indeed, a privilege to participate in this sacred ordinance each week and to think about the Savior’s words to His Apostles, “As oft as ye do this ye will remember this hour that I was with you” (JST, Mark 14:21.)
Each member of the Church covenants to always remember the Savior as he or she partakes of the sacrament. Weekly we should each seek a personal experience, a closeness to our Lord and Savior, which, when remembered each week, will help us to become more like Him. We have His example always before us.
But because of human weakness, we make mistakes even after baptism. The Lord has, therefore, provided a way for us to renew our baptismal covenants through partaking of the sacrament each week. When we partake of the sacred emblems reverently and worthily, we witness again that we will take the name of Christ upon us, that we do always remember Him, that we will keep His commandments. It is a time to remember Christ’s atonement, His love, Gethsemane, Calvary, and the empty tomb.
Elder Melvin J. Ballard suggested, “We want every Latter-day Saint to come to the sacrament table because it is the place for self-investigation, for self-inspection, where we may learn to rectify our course and to make right our own lives, bringing ourselves into harmony with the teachings of the Church and with our brethren and sisters.” (Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1949, p. 150.)
I’ve always been impressed with the renewed strength and dedication which come from weekly participating in the sacrament.
The Lord has instructed us to rest from our labors on this day. I am sure this means that a hay baler stands idle in the field on the Sabbath. The family business has a Closed sign facing a potential customer on Sunday. The cash register does not ring to record one of our purchases on His special day. It is truly a day to rest from our labors.
I met a great little family some time ago while attending a stake conference. They bore a sweet testimony to me of what the sacrament has come to mean to them. The father some years before had lost his job when a factory he had been working in had closed. Rather than move to another city to obtain new employment, he proposed that the family open a family fast- food business. The business was successful for several years; then a chain fast-food business opened up across the street and remained open seven days a week. In family council they determined that they must meet the competition. They would remain open on Sunday and take turns going to Church. After one year of seven-days-a-week operation, they discovered they were worn out, cross with each other, and complained about every little thing that would arise.
Another family council was called and the proposition presented that they close on Sunday to see if they could get back their family spirit. They soon discovered that the Lord’s system works. Even though sales were fewer, profits increased.
What should we do on the Sabbath day? The story is told about a poor woman who faithfully went to church every week. Her husband, however, was not so devoted. Week after week she urged him to go, but he would not. Finally, tiring of her pestering, he said, “Give me one good reason why I should go to church.”
Her reply was: “I can’t explain to you why I go. All I can tell you is that I go in empty and come out full.” (Rick Walton and Fern Oviatt, eds., Stories for Mormons, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1983, p. 112.)
With the proper planning, we should be able to use the Lord’s day in the way that He has intended for us.
From the scriptures, let us remember, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27.) And again He has instructed us in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Trifle not with sacred things.” (D&C 6:12.)
I give you my witness that the greatest joy you can experience here in mortality is being obedient to the will of the Lord. May we always strive to keep His commandments, and may we keep His sacred day holy is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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