Posted by: 2thdocbob | 26 July 2015

Our Relationship with our Heavenly Father

I am a child of God. So are you. This makes us brothers and sisters.

Does this make a difference to you? Or to me?

I believe that it does.
i was asked to address this topic in our services today. The text of my sermon follows.
i-am-a-child-of-god-sign-bw

We live a very chaotic world. In 1970, Norman Whitfield and Barnett Strong described our world as a “Ball of Confusion.” It has only become worse since then. Of course this was no surprise to the prophets, or to those who follow the prophets.

Our children (and grandchildren) love to sing “Follow the Prophet.” In the last verse, they sing:
“Now we have a world where people are confused.
“If you don’t believe it, go and watch the news.”

Words no longer seem to have a specific meaning: they can be used to mean whatever a specific group or individual wants them to mean.

Truth is said to be relative: basic truths can be twisted to suit one’s purposes. Where ethical principles were once viewed as fundamental, situational ethics is now the order of the day for many.

Even accepted scientific truths are being denied: established facts such as gender are questioned by many.
In Utah, when our daughter got her marriage license last month, the form said “Spouse 1,” and “Spouse 2,” instead of “Husband,” and “Wife.”

Amidst all this confusion and uncertainty, what are we to do? How can we maintain a proper perspective, or keep our sanity?

Nephi advised his sons: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Hel. 5:12).

We must have a solid foundation on which to build our faith. Faith in Christ, in his Atonement, and in his resurrection is the basis of this foundation.

Another one of the rock foundational truths that we must remember is one that our Primary children understand well:
“I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

“I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.”

If we can remember this simple truth, we will have the conviction necessary to withstand the confusion and the evils that we face in the world. This will also provide us with the strength we need so that we don’t fear the future.

President Boyd K. Packer, in April 2004, reassured us: “We do not fear the future for ourselves or for our children. We live in dangerously troubled times. The values that steadied mankind in earlier times are being tossed away.

“We must not ignore Moroni’s words when he saw our day and said, ‘Ye [must] awake to a sense of your awful situation’ (Ether 8:24).

“We cannot take lightly this warning from the Book of Mormon:

“‘The Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him … doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.

“‘And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him’ (Hel. 12:1–3; emphasis added).”

He continued: “We are not blind to the conditions in the world.

“The Lord Himself encouraged, ‘Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come’ (D&C 68:6)” (Do Not Fear; CR Apr 2004). (This talk is worth reading or listening to again.)

The wisdom of the world seeks to pull us away from the vital truth that we are children of God. If we forget about Heavenly Father and our relationship to him, then we will be in a perilous situation.

Why is this bedrock truth so important? Do you know and understand it? Have you internalized this truth? If so, has it made a difference to you?

Let us examine the supporting truths.

First, we are spirit children of our Heavenly Father. The Psalmist testified: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalms 82:6). And Paul reminded the Romans: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).

This appears to have been a well-understood fact in Israel and among the early Christians. Somewhere along the line, the true meaning was lost, to mankind’s detriment.

Second, we are children of a loving Heavenly Father, and were created in His image. Moses testified: “I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten;” (Moses 1:13).

And we read later in Moses: “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so.
“And I, God, created man in mine own image” (Moses 2:26 – 27; see also Gen 1:26, 27).

Modern revelation provides additional light on this truth. In our day, Joseph Smith, in testifying of the Savior and his mission, added this witness: “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” (D & C 76:24).

Third, as sons and daughters of Heavenly Father, we have the potential to become like him. To return to Paul’s testimony: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16 – 17).

Heavenly Father’s mission plan was revealed to Moses in this familiar verse: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

The Savior taught Joseph Smith these wonderful truths: “For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
“And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
“And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him” (D & C 84:36 – 38).

Think for a moment about what Christ promised us in those short verses! Can you even begin to imagine what is offered to us through our obedience? Can you comprehend all that the Father has?

Fourth, Heavenly Father wants us to have eternal happiness, and he gave us a plan so that we can reach this goal.

“We will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
“And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever” (Abraham 3:24 – 26).

Heavenly Father wants us to return to him. But we have to make it through the qualifying rounds first.

As we consider these truths, the next important question would be “how do you picture your Heavenly Father?”

Be still and know

Joseph Smith taught us that: “three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

“First, the idea that he actually exists.

“Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.

“Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Lectures on Faith, 3:2-5).

If we don’t understand who God is, and what he is, then we cannot exercise sufficient faith unto salvation. And honestly, if we don’t really know what our Heavenly Father is like, why would we want to become like him?

Do we have a correct idea of who God is? Do we see him as a loving, kind Heavenly Father, who wants us to enjoy the same happiness that he enjoys?

If you were not blessed with a kind, righteous earthly father, it might be difficult to have an accurate perception of our Heavenly Father. In his loving way, he has provided us with a type and an example. We can look to the father of our ward as an example of Heavenly Father’s love. I don’t want to place additional pressure on him, but Bishop Lomenick is kind and loving. He is concerned for each one of us, and it is easy to communicate with him. He is a great example of a good earthly father, and he also fills that role for many in the ward. He becomes a model for you for our Heavenly Father’s love for us.

We know from Joseph Smith’s experiences that our Heavenly Father is a perfected person of flesh and bone, whose glory defies all description. We know that we were created in his image.

Prophets ancient and modern have testified that God has spoken to man, and continues to speak to us, generally through the Holy Ghost, but also through His chosen servants.

We know also that he may be approached in prayer. Adam and Eve “called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord” (Moses 5:4). They were counseled: “thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:8).

“Those that seek me early shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17).

“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6 – 7).

It is a marvelous thing that we can approach the supreme ruler of the universe any time we desire. We do not have to work through a secretary, or pass through security; we do not have to worry about roaming charges or dropped signals, or about using too many minutes. And if we don’t end the call too quickly, he will answer our prayers. We can approach him in prayer any time we desire. That is truly a loving Father in Heaven.

A passage that comes to mind is from Paul, who encouraged: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). This means that if we are doing our best to keep God’s commandments, and are striving to honor the covenants we have made, that we may approach our Heavenly Father in prayer with confidence.

I testify that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father. He lives! I know that he has established his plan for our eternal happiness. And I know that he is in charge. No matter how bad things may seem, if we hold fast to the rock of revelation, and keep our spiritual armor in good repair, we will be fine in the end.

How does knowing all this help us? Heavenly Father expects us to do our best to become like him and offers his assistance, and has promised to give us everything that he has if we do our best to follow his plan. Why would we want anything less?

Knowing that “I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will,
I’ll live with him once more.

“I am a child of God.
His promises are sure;
Celestial glory shall be mine
If I can but endure” should be a protection and motivation to us as we go through the challenges of this life.

It all comes down to remembering our identity: remembering that God is our loving, Eternal Father, and that we are, very literally, his children.

Identity theft is a common occurrence in our world. It has happened to me. But the originator of identity theft was Satan. He it was who sought to steal Heavenly Father’s identity, then rebelled against him when he couldn’t do it. And he is doing everything in his power to steal our identities as well. He wants us to forget who we are, and then to lose our identity to him.

Just as we should protect our temporal identities, it is critically important that we protect our true identities: that we remember that we are children of God, literally brothers and sisters to each other. If I safeguard my identity; if you safeguard your identity, then we will return at last to Heavenly Father’s presence and gain a full understanding of our identity. Then we will see him and recognize him as our Father and our God, and enjoy his embrace and be welcomed home.

That we may all enjoy this great privilege is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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