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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

How Can We Look Forward to the Second Coming Without Fear?

My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Joseph Smith-Mathew 1; Matthew 24-25; Mark 12-13, and Luke 21 in a lesson titled “The Son of Man Shall Come.” The lesson was preceded with this counsel: “As you read [this scripture block], you might ask, ‘What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?” The lesson was then introduced with the following information: 

Jesus’s disciples must have found His prophecy startling: the mighty temple of Jerusalem, the spiritual and cultural center of the Jewish people, would be destroyed so utterly that “there [would] not be left … one stone upon another.” Naturally the disciples wanted to know more. “When shall these things be?” they asked. “And what is the sign of thy coming?” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:2-4).

The Savior’s answers revealed that the great destruction coming to Jerusalem – a prophecy fulfilled in AD 70 – would be relatively small compared to the signs of His coming in the last days. Things that seem even more stable than the temple in Jerusalem will prove to be temporary – the sun, the moon, the stars, the nations, and the sea. Even “the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:33). If we are spiritually aware, this commotion can teach us to put our trust in something truly permanent. As Jesus promised, “Heaven and earth shall pass away; yet my words shall not pass away…. And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:35, 37).

It so happened that I was asked to speak on this topic in sacrament meeting, and I feel prompted to share with you the short version of my talk. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is a future event that can bring either great fear or great joy to us. We are told that we will go through some difficult times and that we will be praying for the quick return of Jesus Christ.

Mentally, I know that tough times will precede the Second Coming. I try to prepare for them, but I do not worry about them. The amount of fear or joy that we feel depends on our perception. When I was a child, I hoped that the Savior would not come until I was old enough to marry and have children. Now I have grandchildren who are old enough to serve missions, get married, and have children of their own. My original fear has turned to joy, but a continuing fear is that I will not be worthy to meet the Savior.

In my talk today, I will share four actions to help us look forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ without fear. They are: (1) check the condition of our hearts, (2) maintain positive spiritual momentum, (3) love, serve, and walk peaceably with one another, and (4) seek the presence of the Holy Ghost.

First Action: Check the condition of our hearts:

Two weeks ago in my research methods class, I had a lesson about the ways that scientists and researchers measure their data. Part of our assigned reading material was a talk by Elder Marvin J. Ashton given at the October 1988 General Conference. The talk is titled, “The Measure of Our Hearts,” and it speaks of several ways that the Lord measures our hearts. 

Elder Ashton reminded us of the scripture in 1 Samuel 16:7. As you most likely remember, Samuel was tasked with the assignment of choosing a king to replace King Saul. This is the criteria given by the Lord to His prophet Samuel: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; … for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” The Lord measures the heart because it is, in the words of Elder Ashton, “an indicator of the person’s capacity and potential to bless others… The measure of our hearts is the measure of our total performance.”

We know that we will be judged for our actions as well as the desires of our hearts. Elder Ashton gave four questions for us to use in measuring the conditions of our hearts: (1) How honest in heart am I? (2) Do I have a willing heart? (3) Do I have an understanding, loving heart? (4) “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, … can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26).

Second Action: Maintain Positive Spiritual Momentum

In the April 2023 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson taught us how to plant seeds of peace and become followers of the Prince of Peace. He told us that we cannot expect peace to exist in the world unless we are “individually seeking peace and harmony.” He asked us to seek spiritual momentum and suggested five specific actions to help us maintain positive spiritual momentum.” 

·         First: Get on the covenant path and stay there.

·         Second: Discover the joy of daily repentance.

·         Third: Learn about God and how He works.

·         Fourth: Seek and expect miracles.

·         Fifth: End conflict in your personal life.

Third Action: Love, Serve, and Walk Peaceably with One Another

In the April 2022 General Conference, President Nelson also spoke about peace. He reminded us of the commandment of the Savior to His Twelve Apostles to love one another as He had loved them. Then the Savior added, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

President Nelson then said, “The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire – no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers.” 

Fourth Action: Seek the Holy Ghost

All of the above are good actions to take, but my fear of not being worthy to be in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ remained until I heard the following quote in a General Conference talk: “We should seek after whatever invites the influence of the Spirit and reject whatever drives that influence away – for we know that if we can be worthy of the presence of the Holy Ghost, we can also be worthy to live in the presence of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.” 

The Holy Ghost bore testimony of the truthfulness of this statement, and I no longer fear not being worthy to return to the presence of God. I recognize that I must act to stay worthy, but I also know that I feel the presence of the Holy Ghost regularly and frequently. In fact, I have actually found myself praying for the Second Coming of the Savior. I look forward to His coming because He will usher in a time of peace and rest from the difficulties of this world. It will also be a time when our children, teenagers, and young adults will mature in a time of righteousness instead of the wickedness of this world. We live in a time when only the elect will survive. We absolutely need the guidance of the Holy Ghost to discern between good and evil.


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