Sunday, August 14, 2016

Spiritual Sunday: The Blessings of Keeping the Commandments

I delivered this talk in Sacrament Meeting in my ward today. I spent a long time thinking and praying about this topic and was surprised and amazed at the experiences that I felt God wanted me to share. They aren't your typical examples, but they felt very real, as if God were witnessing to me that they were blessings He had bestowed on me. 

The Blessings of Keeping the Commandments

Blessings come from keeping God’s commandments. It’s a simple thought that is rooted in the scriptures and in the words of our modern day prophet and apostles. It is also a thought that brings me a lot of joy.

The first scripture my husband and I teach our children to memorize is from 2 Nephi 2:25, 
“Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” 

So the purpose of this mortal experience isn’t just to be tried, but is also for us to experience joy. I believe that one of the primary blessings of keeping God’s commandments is receiving joy. Our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson said the following at the Priesthood session of the October 2015 General Conference:
“God’s commandments are not given to frustrate us or to become obstacles to our happiness. Just the opposite is true. He who created us and who loves us perfectly knows just how we need to live our lives in order to obtain the greatest happiness possible. He has provided us with guidelines which, if we follow them, will see us safely through this often treacherous mortal journey”.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a devotional at BYU on September 10, 1974 as the University president where he said, 
“Commandments are a blessing, my brothers and sisters, because our Father in heaven has given them to us in order to help us grow and develop the qualities we must have if we are to obtain eternal life and dwell with him. By keeping his commandments, we qualify for his blessings.”
The Lord himself has said, on more than one occasion:

“There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20–21).
“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10).
Part of our progression in this life depends on the lessons we learn and the experiences we have. Heavenly Father is offering all his blessings and help, but those blessings are contingent upon our keeping his commandments. God tells us, “Look, if you keep my commandments, I HAVE to bless you. I cannot deny you the blessings that are yours when you do what I say. This is the law in Heaven—it is as unbreakable as a law of physics.

Now I want to talk about the blessings we receive when we keep the commandments. When we partook of the Sacrament today, we were promised that when we keep the commandments, we will always have His spirit to be with us. That’s an amazing gift.

My mother is a woman who has always kept the commandments. She is a quiet woman, secure in her faith and testimony of Jesus Christ. Because of her manner, she is very in-tune with the Spirit. On more than one occasion I have been guided and helped by her promptings and wisdom. When I was a teenager, my youngest sister started complaining about her foot hurting. She was known to exaggerate quite a lot and my sisters and I didn’t believe anything was wrong with her. My mother, however, felt differently. She had a prompting that something was very seriously wrong. She took my sister to the doctor and insisted that they run every test they could think of. It turns out her prompting was correct and my sister had a serious staph infection in her foot and had to be hospitalized for several days. I believe the Spirit prompted my mother, which saved my sister’s life.

My father joined the church in his mid-20s as a widower with three young daughters. He had to make big changes in his life but he made them without hesitation. Over the years, his decision to be baptized and his firm commitment to keep the commandments has been a source of great blessings for our family. I’m so blessed to have parents who kept the commandments. It has comforted me so much to know I can rely up on them.

On a more personal note, I would like to share a few experiences with two specific commandments.
 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him” (D&C 59:5).

When we truly love God, our entire lives are put into perspective. We firmly orient ourselves on the Lord’s side, aware of our eternal destiny as daughters and sons of Heavenly Parents. We can count on the God’s protection, comfort, and love, knowing that all things will work for our good.

In December of 2010, I was about 13 weeks pregnant and our family was so excited about the new baby. Unfortunately, almost as this new life was beginning, it ended. We were so sad, but the many tender mercies from God kept us aloft, sure in the knowledge that things were going to be okay. We could endure the loss because we could see the many miracles He orchestrated on our behalf during that time.

I love God because I know He loves me. And every time I open my heart to Him, He floods my life with reminders of how much He loves me.

Jesus Christ taught his beloved friend and disciple, Peter, that to love God, we must love one another and feed His sheep.

Several years ago, during my senior year at BYU, I taught seminary at a Special needs high school across from the BYU Law School. All of my students were profoundly disabled. One student in particular had many behaviors and mannerisms that were very repulsive to me. In order to teach the gospel to profoundly disabled people, you have to develop a pure and Christ-like love for them, otherwise the classroom becomes a disaster. I grappled with my feelings of revulsion for this student. I was unable to develop love for this student, until I reached out to Heavenly Father for help. It worked and has worked over and over again when I have struggled with forgiving someone or learning to like someone. When I ask Heavenly Father to help me develop love for someone, my heart just about explodes as he expands my capacity to love and serve.

I have personally witnessed and experienced the heartache that shatters lives and families when people break the commandments. I have also seen the blessings of God when we keep the commandments. The reality of Heavenly Father’s blessings cannot be denied.  I testify to you that God isn’t remotely removed from the details of our lives. He is there-watching over us. When we keep God’s commandments, our lives and opportunities are expanded exponentially. I hardly have the words to describe how blessed I feel in my life when I keep God’s commandments. This is the promise God makes with all of us when we keep His Commandments. I know this is true. This is my witness.


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