Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wade's Sacrament Meeting Talk, 1/13/2008

A story is told of two sister missionaries who were delivering supplies to the local hospitals. They hadn't been watching their gas gauge and, as you can guess, they ran out of gas. They were only a block away from a gas station, however, so they walked to the station and told the attendant of the problem.

The attendant asked if they had anything that would hold liquid. The sisters replied that the only container they had in the car was a bed-pan. The attendant answered that it should hold enough gas to get them back to the station and that he would fill their tank so they could be on their way.

The sisters walked back to the car, got the bed-pan and returned to the gas station where the attendant put gas in it. They then very carefully returned to the car. Just as they were pouring from the bed-pan into the gas tank, two elders rode by on bicycles. One said to the other:

"Now you see, elder, that's faith!"

It takes faith like this to share the gospel.

Two Keys of Sharing the Gospel

1. Open your Mouth

Faith is demonstrated by your actions, and what action is easier than opening your mouth? I suppose the concept is based on the assumption that words will come out. The question is, who's words?

It goes without saying that to share the gospel, we must first receive it for ourselves. We must learn the basic, simple doctrines, or as Joseph Smith put it, "the first principles and ordinances of the gospel". These, of course, are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion by the proper authority, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. One of the first things missionaries discuss with investigators of the church is the Restoration of the gospel. We would do well to be familiar with Joseph Smith's experience and why and how the church was established anew in these latter days. Many people of the world that already have testimonies of the first principles and ordinances; teach them of the Restoration and see how the Spirit touches their hearts.

The phrase "open your mouth" and many similar phrases occur frequently throughout the scriptures. Notice the implications of this simple phrase and what role it played in these well-known scriptural accounts:

  • Alma 12:1: "Now Alma... opened his mouth and began to speak unto [Zeezrom], and to establish the words of Amulek, and to explain things beyond, or to unfold the scriptures beyond that which Amulek had done."
  • Alma 18:18: "King Lamoni did open his mouth, and said unto [Ammon]: Who art thou? Art thou that Great Spirit, who knows all things?"
  • Hel. 7:13: "And it came to pass that [Nephi] opened his mouth and said unto [the multitude that had gathered near his garden]: Behold, why have ye gathered yourselves together? That I may tell you of your iniquities?"
  • 3 Ne. 26:16: [At Jesus' appearance to the Nephites,] "even babes did open their mouths and utter marvelous things".
  • D&C 24:12 [To Oliver Cowdery:] "And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men."
  • D&C 28:16 [To Joseph Smith:] "And thou must open thy mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing."
  • D&C 60:2: But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.
  • D&C 71:1: Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants..., that the time has verily come that it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in proclaiming my gospel, the things of the kingdom, expounding the mysteries thereof out of the scriptures, according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you, even as I will.
  • Moses 6:32: And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good.

When we open our mouths, we are essentially saying to our Father, "Thy will be done, not mine." We give ourselves to be his mouthpiece, his messenger, his shepherd to some lamb that is lost.

Do you find yourself hesitant in this? What have you got to lose by opening your mouth and declaring the gospel? You will not offend others if you are sincere, respectful and led by the Spirit. The worst that can happen is that a hard-hearted person (who would not accept your invitation anyway) may mock you or reject what you have to say. The best that can happen is that you become a means of proclaiming salvation to one of our Father's children who accepted the Savior as Redeemer and Savior long before the world was created and had been kept from the truth until you showed it to them.

When the Lord gives us a commandment, he prepares a way for us to accomplish his command. He is constantly at work behind the scenes, so to speak, assisting us, guiding us, clearing our path so that we may do his work. Some paths are clearer than others, but the Lord is always by our side; in fact, he has promised to be on both sides:

  • D&C 84:88: "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

Have you noticed how much heavier a child is when she's asleep than when she's awake? It takes greater effort to move "dead weight". Although I don't doubt the strength of the Lord's angels and their ability to bear us up (even when we put forth little effort), I believe that neither they nor the Holy Spirit will spend much time carrying around "dead weight". In fact, we need to be spiritually awake before they will even get near us! We must exercise that particle of faith that's required to get us off our duffs and into action. I believe that if we exercised our faith unto the opening of our mouths, we would witness firsthand many mighty miracles and be the means of bringing sheep into the fold of the Lamb of God.

2. Planting and Harvesting

We often hear of someone "planting a seed". Maybe a friend of yours received a Book of Mormon from another friend long ago, and it's been sitting on a shelf for years. Maybe your neighbor sees you leaving for church with the entire family every week. Maybe, one of your coworkers passes by the temple or a meeting house on his way to and from work. Seeds are everywhere. That's why the Lord said that the field is white and ready to harvest. Some seeds were planted by you and me. Have you ever considered who else is planting seeds, even as we speak? Alma the Younger testified:

  • Alma 13:22, 24: "The voice of the Lord, by the mouth of angels, doth declare [salvation] unto all nations... that they may have glad tidings of great joy; yea, and he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people, yea, even to them that are scattered abroad upon the face of the earth; wherefore they have come unto us.... For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word."
    • What are they being prepared for? to receive his word; that is, to accept the gospel and receive it's ordinances.

Picture yourself as a farmer with a bag of seeds. What farmer would obtain seeds but never plant them? What farmer would plant seeds but never nurture them?
What farmer would nurture the crop but never harvest? What farmer would harvest but never gather those sheaves into the garner?

At which point did you or I give up on the crop? Those who have been baptized and confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have obtained their seeds. Have you planted yours yet? Are you nurturing those plants? Have you harvested any? Are you protecting your harvest?

  • Alma 26: 5: [Ammon recounted to his fellow missionaries:] "Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted."
  • D&C 18: 15-16: [The Lord spoke to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer and said:] "If it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul..., how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"

This great joy is also offered to us. In fact, it is the design of our existence. The Book of Mormon teaches that "men are that they might have joy" (Alma 2 Nephi 2:25). Equating these truths indicates that one of the purposes of our existence is to bring souls to Christ and receive that joy.

What do you feel right now? Do you have a desire to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ? "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work" (D&C 4:3). May we each answer this call and discover the joy of bringing souls to Christ.

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