Serving February 2013-2015

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cursed Is The Ground For Thy Sake...

A couple of weeks ago, along with the sister missionaries, we were invited to  help some members in the Catoctin Ward cut wood, stack wood, and collect wood. It was a fun, tiring, fulfilling morning.

While out there, collecting the wood, I became agitated with the obnoxious thorns and briars that infested the forest ground. Verses from Genesis continued to come to my mind; cursed is the ground for thy sake, thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.

Being in my missionary minded self, I began to notice gospel relevance to the following... 

Branches (sin) can be cut off from us and we can begin a new growth, a new self.
We can try to cover our sins from others, but sooner or later...
Others (sent by God) will step into our lives and begin to help rake up those infirmities to help us begin new growth
God has blessed us with the gift of Agency. We can ultimately decide what we do with our lives here on earth, but consequences will always follow. 
Once we grasp something that seems appealing or interesting, we will soon find out that that grasp was more painful then it was enjoyable.

There is safety in this world, and also danger. We must carefully analyze every step that is taken. 

It seems that no matter how carefully we walk through life's trials, we pick up some thorns, briars, and slivers. As we develop and ripen and keep close to Him who was crowned with thorns, our souls seem to get stronger in withstanding the challenges, our determination hardens, and wills become firmer, and our self-mastery increases to protect us from the evils of the world.

These evils are so universal, however, that we must always walk in the paths which are the most free of the thistles of earthly temptation.

There is a way to discern between good and evil. It is conscience. It is our spirit's natural response to the pain of sin, just like pain in our flesh is our body's natural response to a wound. Conscience strengthens through use. A sensitive conscience is a sign of a healthy spirit.

 You may ask how the thorns and slivers of life removed. The power to remove thorns in our lives and in others begins with us. Moroni writes that when we deny ourselves of ungodliness, then the grace of Christ is sufficient for us.

Moroni 10:32

We often seek bandages to cover the guilt rather than to remove the thorn causing the pain. How much we resist the pain of removing a sliver even though it will relieve the longer lasting pain of a sore. We all know that if thorns and slivers and not removed, they will cause sores that will not heal.

 As a carpenter, Jesus would have known about thorny woods and slivers. He would have learned that one would almost never get a sliver if working with the direction of the grain in the wood.  

 Our Savior Jesus Christ knows every aspect of our suffering. There is no weakness He is not familiar with. In His suffering He became acquainted with all of the thorns, thistles, slivers that might affect us:

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”

“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

Alma 7:11-12

All pains of the flesh and the soul should be removed before they irritate. However, though they torment us, they can still be removed and the healing course will take place. When the infection is healed, the soreness will leave. That process is repentance. Repentance and forgiveness are among the greatest fruits of the Atonement. It is not comfortable to remove the briars of desire, the thistles of selfishness, the thorns of vanity, and the slivers of ego.

The call of Jesus Christ to us is,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24

This is the time to begin denying ourselves, as the Savior counseled, who submits and govern ourselves rather than treat ourselves in a “does my own thing” greedy world.  

The question is not so much what we can do, but what God can do within us.

Paul said, “If man therefore purge himself…, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

2 Timothy 2:21
I close with the words of Ezekiel,

“And thou, son of man … though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid.”

Ezekiel 2:6

In our continually changing world, may we constantly grip to those things that do not change: saving ordinances, love of families, faith, and prayer. By removing the slivers of sin and the thorns of worldly enticement in our lives, and by denying ourselves and taking up our individual cross and follow Jesus Christ, we can change a down trodden individual to a Son/Daughter of divine destiny.

I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that we are engaged in His holy work, that if we are faithful, we can be crowned with honor, glory, and eternal life.

I love you all,

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Falslev

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