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This blog page is not an official site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What is posted here is based on lesson materials with my own notes and opinions.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Israel, Israel, God Is Calling

I've been asked to give a talk tomorrow in Sacrament Meeting as part of my new calling.

I don't remember if I mentioned it here, but I was released as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher in January 2016.  I'm now called as a Ward Missionary.

The purpose of the talk is to emphasize how inviting others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ not only brings others closer to Christ, but also ourselves - the invitees.

There are portions of a Devotional Talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that I will be using.  The Devotional Talk will be given linked at the bottom of this post.


Israel, Israel, God is calling,
Calling thee from lands of woe.
Babylon the great is falling;
God shall all her tow'rs o'erthrow.

Israel, Israel, God is speaking.
Hear your great Deliv'rer's voice!
Now a glorious morn is breaking
For the people of his choice.

Come to Zion, come to Zion,
And within her walls rejoice.
Come to Zion, come to Zion,
And within her walls rejoice.

From:  Israel, Israel, God Is Calling, Hymn #7, Text: Richard Smyth, 1838-1914

"In effect, this has been Israel’s history down through the ages. When things got too sinful, or there was too much secularization in society, or life with the Gentiles was destroying the moral code and commandments God had given, the children of the covenant would be sent fleeing into the wilderness to reestablish Zion and start all over again.

"One of the many unique characteristics of our dispensation, this the dispensation of the fulness of times—the last and greatest of all dispensations—is the changing nature of how we establish the kingdom of God on earth. You see, one of the truly exciting things about this dispensation is that it is a time of mighty, accelerated change. And one thing that has changed is that the Church of God will never again flee.

"In these last days, in this our dispensation, we would become mature enough to stop running. We would become mature enough to plant our feet and our families and our foundations in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people permanently.Zion would be everywhere—wherever the Church is. And with that change—one of the mighty changes of the last days—we no longer think of Zion as where we are going to live; we think of it as how we are going to live.

Because of this change in the latter days, this also means we no longer flee from those who live in Babylon, but we are called to administer and preach to those in every nation, kindred, tongue and people.  We are called to gather the wheat among the tares (Matthew 13:18-43).

How do we do that?  How do we invite those not of our faith to "come to Zion"?

The Savior, Jesus Christ gave us not only the teachings, but also the example of how to do this.

Most people in the Church talk about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others as just simply handing out copies of the Book of Mormon.  That is a part of it, but it's not all of it.

What did Jesus say are the two great commandments?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
 38 This is the first and great commandment.
 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:37-39)
Why is the second commandment so great?  Because the second one is a means of showing reverence and obedience to the first and great commandment.
So, how do we love our neighbors as ourselves?
While Jesus stated that: 
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
Jesus did not say that man should not live without bread at all.  our basic needs must be met.
For some, that means training on how to most appropriately handle our finances.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers classes in basic finance - for free within Wards or Branches. (The textbook for these classes can be found here, and the transaction registers can be purchased through the Church's Distribution Center here.  The One For The Money Guide can be downloaded for free here.)
I've given a few of the registers out to people who are not of our faith, explaining how it works, and that it can be used not only for spending purposes, but also for allotting different areas of savings as well.
For others, it could be giving a tissue for those who are upset over turmoil in their life or who have suffered a loss.  One of my personal traditions is to give handkerchiefs to the widowed at the viewing or funeral of their spouse.  It was done for me when my husband passed, and I've tried to carry it forward to others since.  It's a wonderful gesture to show that grieving at a time like that is important and has it's place.
Another need to meet that is more commonly practiced in the Church is delivering meals to the sick or those who are otherwise in need.
While these are not replacements for copies of the Book of Mormon, the reason for meeting these needs is it requires people to actually spend the time to get to know this person well enough to see a need that needs to be met and finding a way to meet it, in conjunction with something (such as a copy of the Book of Mormon) to provide for the spiritual needs as well.
Do you think this wasn't important for the Savior?
Remember, he taught about finances with the Parable of the Talents.  (Matthew 25:14-30)

When Jesus went to find Lazarus was dead, He could have just gone to the tomb to call Lazarus back, but Jesus didn't do this.  Instead He stopped to mourn with his sisters, Martha and Mary.  Grieving is important to Christ as well.  (John 11:31-38)

Did Jesus also not see a need to feed those who followed after Him, not just spiritually, but temporally as well?  Yes, He did, and produced a miracle with bread and fishes as well.  (John 6:9-14)

This did Jesus do, and He did so while teaching from the Scriptures, setting the example for the rest of us.

How do we know who and how to lift and invite others?  After all, Israel, Israel, God is calling.

We pray for guidance, then listen and respond to promptings from the Holy Ghost when they are given us.

It isn't going to be easy.

It isn't going to come at a convenient time.

Some of those we are prompted to share with will reject the message.  What then?  Is your service in vain?  No.  Jesus loved them enough to atone for their sins as well.  We want to see as many of our brothers and sisters in a Celestial glory, however some will not want a Celestial lifestyle.  Jesus hasn't turned them away completely, for in our Father's House are "many mansions"  (see John 14:2, and this article).

It is my testimony that as we seek the will of the Lord and are led according to His Spirit, we will receive the personal revelations not only directing us towards others, but also directing us back to Him.

When the Heavens open up,
When the thin veil between God and man is pushed aside,
When Spirit touches spirit,
Then sacred truths they confide.

This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I testify of this in His Holy Name, Amen.

Link:  Israel, Israel, God Is Calling Devotional Talk By Elder Holland