Monday, January 2, 2017

Talk from January 1, 2017

Sacrament Meeting Talk
January 1, 2016
  • Happy New Year!
  • For those of you who don't know me, I am Sister Wright
  • I am from Chandler, AZ
  • Today marks 18 months since I entered the missionary training center
  • As a forewarning, I don't like public speaking and have avoided it for about a year on my mission so we will see how this goes
  • I was asked to speak on a conference talk from the October 2016 general conference and relate it to the Savior
  • The talk I chose to use is “A Choice Seer Will I Raise Up” by Elder Craig C. Christensen which focuses a lot on the role of Joseph Smith in the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • I feel like that inspiration I had to use this talk came partially because of my excitement to be so geographically close to the birthplace of Joseph Smith, especially around the time of his birth.
But who is Joseph Smith?
  • We know Joseph Smith was born December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. The other day I reflected on why It would be important for Joseph to be born in the winter, so near to the winter solstice. Because dates are important to Heavenly Father, I think it's because much like the winter solstice marks the end of the growing nights and the beginning of increased daylight hours, Joseph's birth marked the end of the Great Apostasy, the time in which no priesthood authority would be held on the earth and ushered in the beginning of the dispensation of the fullness of times, or the Restoration of Christ's church on the earth. 
  • Joseph and the Smith family faced a lot of hardship on his path to Palmyra until his martyrdom in Carthage. Most of the social persecution and rejection came after Joseph's miraculous First Vision in the Sacred Grove.
  • 18 months ago while I was at a devotional at the missionary training center a member of the mission presidency taught us that if anyone questioned whether God the Father and Jesus Christ really appeared to Joseph Smith, they could ask him, for "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." I know that to be true myself. My favorite thing about being a missionary is the fact that I invite people not to just take my word for it, but to find out for themselves by reading the Book of Mormon and asking God if it is true.
  • Much of what Joseph translated and restored by the power and authority of God strengthened him through his trials and blesses us in our lives today.
  • Elder Christiansen explains by proposing: "...imagine Joseph’s feelings as he translated passages [from the Book of Mormon] about baptism for the remission of sins. Joseph, who had been told not to join any of the existing churches, naturally had questions about this saving ordinance. His questions led him, once again, to pray, and that prayer led to a visit from John the Baptist, who restored the Aaronic Priesthood and the authority to baptize."
  • " ...imagine how Joseph must have felt [at a time when preachers commonly taught that children who died without baptism would be condemned forever] he translated the words from the prophet Mormon: “Little children need no repentance, neither baptism. … [For] little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world.”"
  • And imagine "how Joseph might have felt when he learned for the first time that Jesus Christ visited the people of the Western Hemisphere--that He taught them, prayed for them, healed their sick, blessed their children, conferred priesthood authority, and administered the sacrament unto them. Joseph may not have realized it at the time, but what he learned about the ordinances and organization of Christ’s ancient Church prepared him to later assist the Lord in restoring that same Church to the earth."
Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith:
  • So how are we to learn about Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith?
  • Doctrine and Covenants 135:3 states: "Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it"
  • Elder Christiansen stated: "Because of the truths restored through Joseph Smith, we know much more about our Heavenly Father and the Savior Jesus Christ"
  • When Joseph Smith established the church through the Restored priesthood authority he didn't call it the church of Joseph Smith, instead following the counsel Christ gave in 3 Nephi 27: "Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
  • Through modern revelation we know Jesus wasn't born in the winter, but we celebrate his birth this time of the year to remember the Light He is in our lives, brighter than any light Jospeh or any of us can bring.
  • My favorite revelation found within the doctrine and covenants is found in section 76, where Joseph declares: "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father--
That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God."
  • "Because Joseph was a prophet, we have witness upon witness, testimony upon testimony, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world. We have an unbroken chain of special witnesses of Jesus Christ, including our prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson; the counselors in the First Presidency; and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles."
  • I, with Elder Christiansen, "invite you to consider the fruits--the many blessings that have come to us through the miraculous mission of Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration."
  • It may be the fact that "revelations and prophets are no longer a thing of the past. The “day of miracles”--of visions, healings, and ministering of angels--has not ceased."
  • For another it could be that "each of us has access to the power and blessings of the holy priesthood, including baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the sacrament."
  • Or for you it could be that "we know that marriage and family are an essential part of God’s plan for our happiness. We know that through temple ordinances and covenants, our cherished family relationships can endure eternally.

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