Originally written and given in branch November 14, 2004 & re-written for second talk in April 2008 in Ephraim 2nd Ward.
I’m pretty excited about speaking. In our branch I was given the opportunity to talk many, many times, especially since my husband was the B.P. If someone would call some time during the week to say they couldn’t come on Sunday for whatever reason & it was their turn to talk, I’d hear “hon-nee” & I’d know it was my turn again.
The Bishopric has asked us to speak on “Reverence in Sacrament”. I haven’t noticed a big problem with that or anything, but we can all improve on reverence. I have noticed the Church ramping things up, expecting more & more, and I believe this is all for our own good and for the good of the kingdom. My immediate thought about this topic is that to me reverence means awe. In order to generate awe for Christ and His gospel, I need to feel grateful. So one thing we could each do is to create a list of all the things for which we are most grateful. As we refer to that list often, perhaps on Sunday morning prior to our meeting, we would each generate deep feelings of awe for our Father in Heaven & for His son, Jesus Christ and for all that They have provided to us.
The second thought I had was that if we, Ephraim 2nd Ward, were to become more fully a people of Zion, then naturally reverence would follow.
What is Zion? D & C 97:21 defines it one-way as “The Pure in Heart”. Verse 18 of that section says, “And, now, behold, if Zion do these things she shall prosper, and spread herself”. So, what are these things? You have to begin w/ v. 8, “Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.” So, we are required to offer a broken & honest heart and a contrite spirit and are willing to observe our covenants by sacrifice (every commanded sacrifice) and then that will be accepted by the Lord.
If we read on in D & C 97, we learn we must build temples—and I suppose that effort is done by us through a full and honest tithe—and attend them often for offering thanks, receiving instruction, that we may be perfected in the understanding of our ministries, in theories, in principle, in doctrine, and in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth. As we do these simple and wonderful things, Zion will escape the Lord’s indignation at His coming. The Lord also tells us what will happen if we do not do these things. It is found in verse 26, not pleasant. If we do what is commanded, we read that we will be blessed w/ blessings and He will multiply a multiplicity of blessings, which sounds to me like many, mighty miracles.
Spencer W. Kimball, “Becoming the Pure in Heart,” Ensign, Mar. 1985, 3I should like to talk about the building of Zion through sacrifice and consecration. For many years we have been taught that one important end result of our labors, hopes, and aspirations is the building of a Latter-day Zion, a Zion characterized by love, harmony, and peace—a Zion in which the Lord’s children are as one.
The vision of what we are about and what should come of our labors must be kept uppermost in our minds as we learn and do our duty in all aspects of gospel living and Church activities. In the fifty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord shares with us a glimpse of this Latter-day Zion:
“Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
“For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand. …
“Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you—that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come;
“And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand; …
“And after that cometh the day of my power; then shall the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come.
“Behold, I, the Lord, have spoken it.” (D&C 58:3-12.)
This day will come; it is our destiny to help bring it about! Doesn’t it motivate you to lengthen your stride and quicken your pace as you do your part in the great sanctifying work of the kingdom? It does me. It causes me to rejoice over the many opportunities for service and sacrifice afforded my family and me as we seek to do our part in establishing Zion.
In the earliest years of this dispensation the people faltered in attempting to live the full plan of Zion. Because of their transgressions, the Lord chastened them in these words: “Behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; “And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; “And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” (D&C 105:3-5.)
The Lord further counsels that we must learn obedience and be developed in character before he can redeem Zion. (See D&C 105:9-10.)
If we ignore these commandments and just go about doing the bare minimum, and I suppose that includes not paying a full and honest tithe, not magnifying our callings, not attending the temple as often as possible, not sharing the gospel, not searching out our kindred dead, not helping those who need our help, not partaking of the sacrament, not honoring our baptismal and temple covenants, well D & C 97:26 tells us what will happen.
Creating Zion “commences in the heart of each person.” (Journal of Discourses, 9:283.) The prophets saw that it would take some time to learn our lessons. In 1863 Brigham Young stated:
“If the people neglect their duty, turn away from the holy commandments which God has given us, seek their own individual wealth, and neglect the interests of the kingdom of God, we may expect to be here quite a time—perhaps a period that will be far longer than we anticipate.” (Journal of Discourses, 11:102.)
Unfortunately we live in a world that largely rejects the values of Zion. Babylon has not and never will comprehend Zion. The Lord revealed our times to the prophet Mormon, who recorded this statement in a closing chapter of the Book of Mormon: “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But … Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. “For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Morm. 8:35, 37.)
This state of affairs stands in marked contrast to the Zion the Lord seeks to establish through his covenant people. Zion can be built up only among those who are the pure in heart—not a people torn by covetousness or greed, but a pure and selfless people, not a people who are pure in appearance, rather a people who are pure in heart. Zion is to be in the world and not of the world, not dulled by a sense of carnal security, nor paralyzed by materialism. No, Zion is not things of the lower, but of the higher order, things that exalt the mind and sanctify the heart.
Zion is “every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.” (D&C 82:19.) As I understand these matters, Zion can be established only by those who are pure in heart, and who labor for Zion, for “the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.” (2 Ne. 26:31.)
As important as it is to have this vision in mind, defining and describing Zion will not bring it about. Every single member of the Church can only do that through consistent and concerted daily effort. No matter what the cost in toil or sacrifice, we must “do it.” That is one of my favorite phrases: “Do It.” May I suggest three fundamental things we must do if we are to “bring again Zion,” three things for which we who labor for Zion must commit ourselves.
First, we must eliminate the individual tendency to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the mind. President Marion G. Romney has referred to the tragic cycle of civilization, a cycle propelled by anyone who seeks for power and gain. Was it not this that led Cain to commit the first murder “for the sake of getting gain”? (Moses 5:50.) Is not this the spirit of the anti-Christ in which “every man prospered according to his genius, and … every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime”? (Alma 30:17.) Did not Nephi single this out as the spirit, which led his generation to destruction?
“Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world.” (3 Ne. 6:15.)
If we are to avoid their fate, we must guard against the very things that caused their downfall. The Lord himself declared to our grandparents: “And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine property.” (D&C 19:26.) He further counseled his young church by saying: “Behold, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with many who are in the church at Kirtland: “For they do not forsake their sins, and their wicked ways, the pride of their hearts, and their covetousness, and all their detestable things, and observe the words of wisdom and eternal life which I have given unto them.” (D&C 98:19-20.) It is incumbent upon us to put away selfishness in our families, our business and professional pursuits, and our Church affairs.
Second, we must cooperate completely and work in harmony one with the other. There must be unanimity in our decisions and unity in our actions. After pleading with the Saints to “let every man esteem his brother as himself” (D&C 38:24), the Lord concludes his instructions on cooperation to a conference of the membership in these powerful words: “Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27.)
If the Spirit of the Lord is to magnify our labors, then this spirit of oneness and cooperation must be the prevailing spirit in all that we do. Moreover, when we do so, we are told by the Prophet Joseph Smith “the greatest temporal and spiritual blessings which always come from faithfulness and concentrated effort, never attended individual exertion or enterprise.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 183.)
Third, we must sacrifice whatever the Lord requires. We begin by offering a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” We follow this by giving our best effort in our assigned fields of labor and in our callings. We learn our duty and execute it fully. Finally we consecrate our time, talents, and means as called upon by our leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of the Spirit. In the Church, we can give expression to every ability, every righteous desire, and every thoughtful impulse. Whether a volunteer, father, home teacher, bishop, or neighbor, whether a visiting teacher, mother, homemaker, or friend—there is ample opportunity to give our all. And as we give, we find that “sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!” (Hymns, no. 147.) And in the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all.
My brothers and sisters, if we can do this, then we will find ourselves clothed in the mantle of charity “which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moro. 7:46-47.)
I can see a real dividing happening between two very different sides. I heard a BYU professor recently say on one side are the Saints, and on the opposite side are the Aints, and all across the middle are the Complaints. I am afraid that many of the complaints are members of the church, of course some in name only, but others who just do the bare minimum. I’ve noticed two central themes in our most recent Stake Conference. They were temple work and missionary work. I realize how important those two things are to the building up the kingdom of God on the earth and to the establishment of Zion. I do know that when we do those two things, then we become perfected ourselves and the three-fold mission of the church is satisfied.
I will now go off topic just temporarily. This idea of becoming perfected in Christ, the third mission of the church to perfect the Saints, is a doable concept. But I feel it is important to remember we may not be talking about perfection, as we understand it currently. We are talking about completeness in Christ. I think of it as a child just learning to ride a bike. That child has his father or mother or brother or sister hanging on to the back of the bike. The child is apprehensive, maybe even afraid, but will try as long as the person doesn’t let go of the back of bike until he or she feels ready to ride on his or her own. Such is our relationship w/ Christ. We may feel apprehensive or afraid to do or live all the commandments, but when we have connected ourselves to Him, yoked our lives to His, then we can and will accomplish all things. We can become perfect or complete in and through Jesus Christ. He is reaching out to us waiting for us to hold onto to Him and then He will not let go.
Now, back, how do we become a city of Zion? We can always look to examples found in the scriptures. The city of holiness, city of Zion, city of Enoch we read about in Moses 7 teaches us that those people were of one heart and one mind and dwelt in righteousness and there were no poor among them. I am assuming that the no poor among them is referring to those who were also of one heart and one mind and who also dwelt in righteousness.
In Colossians 2:2, we are told that their hearts should be and probably were knit together in love. How do we show that love? We show that pure love through our actions, not just our prayers. Christ is our exemplar. His heart is knit together in love w/ the Father and with us.
Let us unite and pray with all the energy of heart, that this bond of charity may seal us; that we may build up this latter-day Zion, that the kingdom of God may go forth, so that the kingdom of heaven may come.
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