“Before I formed thee…”

Jeremiah 1:5

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

When Jeremiah was called to be a prophet, he did not feel like he was up to the job. He felt inadequate, unqualified, perhaps even unworthy.

We are counted on to do a lot of things in life. Many of them are just… tough. Many of them are things we may not want to do. Oftentimes we just don’t feel like we’re strong enough, prepared enough, or good enough. The counsel of the Lord to Jeremiah can be applied to us.

Before this world began, we existed as spirits with our Father in Heaven. We conversed with Him just as we converse with our parents here on the earth. Jeremiah was called to be a prophet because the Lord knew him. He knew Jeremiah’s strengths and weaknesses. He knew his likes and dislikes. He knew Jeremiah better than Jeremiah knew himself.

Our Father in Heaven knows you. Just like Jeremiah, He knows you inside and out. He knows what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at. He knows what you like and what you despise. He knows what you love and fear. He knows exactly how to push you because He knows exactly what you’re capable of, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

1 Corinthians 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Whether it’s temptation or just something that is difficult to do, God will not allow an impassable obstacle to block our path. Whatever life throws at us, it’s there because Heavenly Father knows we can conquer it.

I know this to be true. I know God knows us all better than we know ourselves. And I know that by trusting in Him, and having faith in the Savior Jesus Christ, we can endure anything.

 

One Real Thing

Speak and my heart starts aching.
Reach and the numbness dims.
Beat, still my mind uncertain.
Breathe, it begins again.

You are the one real thing.
You are the one true thing that I love.
You are the one real thing.
No matter what the future brings,
You’re the one real thing.

Stay locked within Your presence.
Truth renewing my mind again.
Rest ’cause I know You’re faithful, and I
Trust ’cause I know Your name.

I get down on my knees,
And feel Your love wash over me.

One Real Thing” by Skillet

Life is full of uncertainty. Nowadays, especially, we’re surrounded by it. It takes many forms: questions, false security, feigned emotions, half-truths, outright lies, politics, wars, rumors of wars, poverty, inflation, deficit. I could seriously just go on and on. When so much of the world seems to be fake, we often wonder, “What’s real?” What or who can I trust? How can I know what path to follow? What statements can I believe? What causes should I have faith in?

The song above popped into my head as my companion and I were walking to the library. It’s one of my favorite songs by Skillet (By the way you should check them out. Sweet band). The lyrics hold great meaning to me, and it’s a song I listened to during many of my hard times.

And the message is true.

If you feel like you’re living in a world of lies and deceit, you can find peace, strength, and comfort in knowing that God is the one real thing.

John 16:33

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

God and Jesus Christ are real. I know this to be true, and I know that only through God and Jesus Christ can we find absolute security and absolute certainty.


Worthy to Suffer

Persecution is never fun, especially when it’s only from doing what we believe is right. At some point, to some degree, we’ve all had to deal with people yelling at us or mocking us for what we do or what we believe.

As a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and therefore a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, it happens frequently in my life and the lives of my fellow missionaries. At first it was a bit difficult to deal with, but as time went on I grew to a better understanding of these circumstances.

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave this counsel in Matthew 5:10-12,

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

If others try to bring you down because you believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior, so be it. You are blessed for it. This knowledge always comes to mind whenever I’m put in such a situation. It’s not always easy, and I often wonder why anyone would want to mock someone simply because they want to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

The apostles of the New Testament faced persecution all their days. They were often unjustly arrested, brought before councils of corrupt Pharisees, and wrongly imprisoned and tortured.

On one such occasion, Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin after just escaping out of prison with the help of an angel. The Pharisees had commanded them to discontinue preaching in the name of Jesus Christ and the two apostles boldly withstood their threats and told them they would obey God rather than the council.

One from the council, a man named Gamaliel, stood and told his fellow Pharisees to leave the apostles alone, saying that if their work was of men it would pass, and if it was from God then they shouldn’t fight against it.

Acts 5:40-42

And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Peter and John were released, but not after being beaten. When they were finally free from the council, they rejoiced for their suffering, or rather, that they were being allowed to suffer for Jesus Christ’s name. And on top of that, they continued to preach, showing that they feared God more than they feared man.

Now, I can’t say I’ve been unjustly arrested and imprisoned, and I have yet to be beaten up for my beliefs. But for the persecution that I have faced, I am grateful that I am counted worthy to suffer it. This can be the case for any of us that suffers persecution for our Christian beliefs.

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that He lives. I know that Jesus Christ restored His church to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the earth today. If I suffer mockery and other persecutions for my faith, so be it. I will be grateful to be counted worthy to suffer such shame for Christ’s name, and I know that I will be blessed.

Our Father’s Deepest Love

Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ took upon Himself every affliction the world has to offer. Whether it be the spiritual pain of sin, the physical pain of an injury, or the emotional pain of an aching heart, He has felt it all. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma explains the purpose of this in Alma 7:12,

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.

Succor simply means to support or to help. In this verse, Alma explains that Christ took (living before Christ’s mortal ministry, Alma speaks in future tense) upon Himself every pain and sickness so that He knows exactly how it feels, so that He knows exactly how to comfort us when we come upon those obstacles in our own lives.

Once Christ was lifted upon the Christ, He had endured everything, except one thing: complete loneliness. In order for the Atonement to be complete, Jesus Christ had to suffer the entire realm of afflictions. And so we read in Mark 15:34,

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Through all the hate and scourges, God had still been with Jesus. But now, hanging there on the cross, Christ felt His Father’s presence leave Him. Perhaps Jesus did not know that such a thing would happen, or perhaps He understood completely and still could not help but ask His Father, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”

There is no doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father was pained and grieved beyond comprehension at even the thought of having to leave His Only Begotten Son. It would not surprise me if our Father in Heaven hid himself in the deepest corner of the universe, so great was His anguish. But He knew that it had to be done. In order for the Atonement to be complete, Jesus had to experience the entire spectrum of sin and pain, which included knowing what it felt like to be completely alone, without even God at His side.

I know that this was done out of love. It was perhaps the hardest thing God has ever had to do, but He did it because He knew that it was the only way for His plan to succeed. I am grateful that my Heavenly Father let Jesus be, allowing Him to be able to succor you and me in our own afflictions no matter what they are.

 

Lehi’s Vision

The account in the Book of Mormon known as Lehi’s Vision or Lehi’s Dream is well-known among Latter-day Saints. In it, the prophet Lehi sees the tree of life and, with the help of an iron rod (which symbolizes the word of God) leading to the tree, approaches and eats of the fruit of the tree. When he looks around, he sees his family and beckons them to come and eat the fruit as well. All of them do except for his two oldest sons Laman and Lemuel.

If you are unfamiliar with this story, I encourage you to read the full account. Here’s a link for your convenience.

I’ll take a small section of the vision, which Lehi is giving to his children:

And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.

And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.

And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.

And it came to pass that they did come unto me and partake of the fruit also.

Lehi’s son, Nephi, was an exceptional young man that grew to become the second prophet in the Book of Mormon, after his father Lehi. He knew God, he knew Jesus Christ and the power of His atonement, and he knew and recognized the Holy Spirit. Something I’d like to note, however, is that in Lehi’s vision Nephi does not take the fruit himself. It was given to him by his father.

Just like our Heavenly Father is the source of all wisdom and truth, our earthly parents are a source of wisdom. We do not gain knowledge and experience in an instant. It must be taught to us. Parents have the sacred responsibility in raising their children in righteousness and truth, in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The very first verse in the Book of Mormon begins,

I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;

Nephi was taught all he knew by his father and mother, and he makes sure the reader understands that fact right off the bat. I had, and still have, the great blessing of being raised by parents that taught me about Jesus Christ and His gospel. I know that the knowledge and understanding I have could not have come without their guidance, wisdom, and experience. I know that the role of a father and mother in a child’s life is a sacred commission from God.


Erasers and Jesus Christ

If you’re an artist that’s into drawing, you know what a kneaded eraser is. They’re a lot of fun and can help make some really cool art if you know how to use them. Personally, I’m more into inking, so I honestly can’t say that I’ve mastered the use of these erasers, but they’re still fun. Kneaded erasers are unique in that they are self-cleaning. When it gets dirtied up with graphite, all you have to do to clean it is stretch it and pull it apart, then knead it back together. In my art classes I probably used them more for making fun little sculptures than actual erasers.

Now, what does this have to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Good question, and the answer is easy. The fact is, we’re all a bunch of kneaded erasers. We come into this life brand new. As a baby, we’re pure, innocent, undefiled, just waiting to be molded into something. As we take our journey through life, we get dirtied up. Sins and other mistakes start to darken our once bright countenance.

We can never once again be perfect, at least in this life, but we can certainly clean ourselves up. Just like the eraser can clean itself, we have been given the power and agency to choose to repent of our sins. Jesus Christ and His Atonement are the hands that can knead us, cleansing us from our sin. It’s often not an easy process, and it’s not in an instant. We’ll need to stretch ourselves. Sometimes we may even become torn. Torn between choices, torn away from desires, friends, or family. Torn within ourselves. But Jesus Christ always puts us back together, and we come out clean once again.

Just like the eraser, we will inevitably become soiled and darkened again. But repentance through Christ’s Atonement is always available for us to become clean again as well. I know this to be true. I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ can clean us of all sin and heal us of all damage from them.

Surrender

purify this tainted soul

i’m tired of living life a fool

soften up this hardened clay

to be a servant, this i pray

a reflection of You, i long to be

so Your kingdom i will seek

Taken from the song “Surrender,” by Jeremy Camp.

I love that song. It’s one of my favorites from that artist. You should look it up and give it a listen. It’s a song about sacrifice, about letting go of yourself, and about allowing God to work His will into our lives. Maybe it’s just a reflection on my own part, but we as humans are… well… stubborn. We often seek our own desires first, shunning God from our lives. Deep down we often want to be more willing to sacrifice, but it’s hard to let go of what we want or already have.

Matthew 6: 33

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

If we desire to be a reflection of God, we must seek His kingdom. We must soften our hearts to allow God to mold us into who we can be. We have divine potential, but only if we let go of our own desires and seek Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in our lives, placing Them first, before all.

I know this to be true, and I know that fulfillment and happiness comes in placing God first, and seeking His kingdom first. It requires patience. It requires diligence. It’s not always easy. Actually, it’s often not easy. But… it’s worth it. It’s always worth it. I challenge all of us, myself included, to “seek ye first the kingdom of God”.

The Book of Mormon

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It holds the entire doctrine of the Church together. If the Book of Mormon is not true, then Joseph Smith was a fraud, our claim to priesthood authority is void, and the Church in its entirety is perhaps the greatest hoax ever conceived.

However, if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God. If the Book of Mormon is true, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s true church restored to the Earth, containing the fullness of Jesus Christ’s gospel. If the Book of Mormon is true, then the message it contains is the single most important thing that anyone could read or know in his or her life.

So how does one come about knowing if it’s true or not? Certainly God does not expect us to believe something just because someone has told us to. The only way to know if the Book of Mormon is true is to read it, ponder about what it contains, and pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ and ask Him if the book is true

Moroni, the last prophet in the Book of Mormon and last person to write in the ancient record itself, gives us a promise. It’s found in the last book of the Book of Mormon: Moroni, chapter 10, verses 4 and 5,

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

The Spirit is the only way to know if the Book of Mormon is true. He testifies of truth and will lead us to it. We simply need to ask God with 1) a sincere heart, meaning that we truly want to know if the book is true, 2) real intent, meaning that we are willing to act upon our answer, that we will do something when the Holy Ghost testifies of the Book of Mormon’s divinity, and 3) having faith in Christ, meaning that we do this with the desire of coming closer to Jesus Christ and wanting to know if it is truly His gospel.

I have done this myself. I have read, pondered, and prayed about the Book of Mormon to know if it is true, and I testify to you that I have received my answer from my Heavenly Father, by the power of the Holy Ghost. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and that it is the word of God.

I challenge you, if you have not done so, to read the Book of Mormon and pray to your Heavenly Father to know if it is true. You need not read the entire book itself. How many people believe in the Bible and yet have not read it completely? The Spirit can manifest all truth, no matter how great or small. The truth can be made known to you if you are sincere in seeking in, with the intent of coming closer to Jesus Christ.

Small and Simple Things

A Book of Mormon prophet named Alma once gave this counsel to his son Helaman in Alma 37: 6-7,

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.

God is a God of miracles, but more often than not they are subtle. More often than not they are small, personal miracles on individual levels, as opposed to large, eventful happenings. While we are seeking for amazing signs that catch the eye, we may miss the simpler things in life that testify of God and Jesus Christ.

Many today say, “Where is God?” They see no giant miracle nor any enormous display of His power. This they use as their logic to be proof of a non-existent God that works no miracles. But they miss the point, and the point is that God wants us to pay attention. He wants us to live our lives in such a way that allows us to see the smaller things that witness of Him. He wants us to be meek, to be humble, to be willing to admit that we simply don’t understand how He runs things.

The small and simple things add up to great things. And we can see these great things if we only open our hearts and minds to God and humble ourselves before Him. God is indeed a God of miracles. I know this to be true, and I know Alma’s words to be true, that through small and simple things God brings to pass great and marvelous miracles.

The Fourth Watch

In my personal studies this morning, I came across the story of Jesus walking on the water. Most of us know how it goes. It’s one of my favorite accounts in the New Testament because there are so many things we can learn from it. It starts in Matthew 14, verse 24…

But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

The night was split into four watches, with the fourth being the last. The fourth watch was between 3 and 6 am. These are the hours just before the sun rises, and usually the darkest hours of the night. Often we find ourselves in these situations. There is a storm around us. The wind is howling in our ears and the waves are tossing us around. It’s dark and we can’t see a way out. Things seem like they can’t possibly getting any worse; this is when Christ comes. We must always have patience and endure through our trials. Continuing…

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

Christ will always make Himself known to us by the Holy Spirit, and His message is exactly what He said to the apostles: Be of good cheer. Be not afraid. We need not be afraid of the storm when Christ is with us.

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

Peter, with his usual impulsive nature, asked the Lord if he could come onto the water with Him. Obviously this was quite a show of faith, and something that Jesus clearly did not overlook. He allowed Peter to step out onto the sea. For some amount of time, short or lengthy, Peter’s faith held strong and he was able to walk across the waves just as he could see the Master doing. But then Peter made a grave mistake.

Rather than keeping his eye on the Savior, he allowed himself to become distracted by the storm around him. He saw the waves crashing and heard the wind howling. He let fear take hold of him. His faith wavered and he started to sink. As the waves began to overcome him, Peter most likely returned his gaze to Jesus and cried out to Him for help.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

The key word here is immediately. The Savior did not hesitate, but instantly grabbed hold of His disciple, saving him from the storm.

Just like Peter, we often allow adversity to distract us, keeping our minds away from the One who matters most in our lives, our Savior Jesus Christ. We begin to sink beneath the waves. Thankfully, it is at this point we may have the sense to call upon Him whom we’ve lost sight of. His hand reaches out and we are once again saved from the storm. If we don’t call upon the Savior, the water may rush into our lungs, choking us, exhausting our bodies and minds, and eventually may drown us.

Perhaps that sounds a bit pessimistic, but really this is a story of good news. Just as the Savior said, “Be of good cheer. It is I. Be not afraid.” Jesus Christ is there for us. So long as our eyes are on Him, we will be able to tread across the waves and endure the storm around us. We aren’t perfect though. There will be times when our trials get the best of us, when we lose sight of the Savior and we begin to sink. But so long as we remember Him and His atonement, and cry out to Him to save us, He will always reach out His hand to us and bring us out from under the waves.

Pieces

I’ve come undone
But You make sense of who I am
Like puzzle pieces in Your eye

Then I’ll see Your face
I know I’m finally Yours
I find everything I thought I lost before
You call my name
I come to You in pieces
So You can make me whole

This is a portion of the lyrics of a song called “Pieces” by one of my favorite bands, RED. The song is about how life often breaks us down and shatters us into pieces. We lose the sense of who we are. We become disorganized, lost, unsure of what to do and how to live our lives. Sometimes we try and put the pieces back together ourselves, but we can’t. We struggle, get frustrated, and sometimes make the problem worse. We need Christ in our lives. He is the One that can put back the pieces and restore us.

Jesus Christ’s atonement did more than just pay for our sins. When Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, He not only suffered for our mistakes but felt every type of pain, anguish, and sorrow we could ever possibly experience. He knows every heartache, every vent of frustration, every slump of depression, everything. He knows exactly how to comfort and heal us.

Matthew 11: 28-30

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

When we find ourselves with broken pieces, with no way of putting them back in place ourselves, the only thing we can do is turn to Christ and take His yoke upon us. Through Christ’s atonement we can not only be healed of our sins, but receive peace and comfort through the course of our struggles.

Whatever the trial, I testify that Jesus Christ knows exactly what each and every one of us goes through. When we understand this, we can come to Him and He will make our burdens light.

To all who may read this: I invite you to take Christ’s yoke upon you and allow Him to bear your burdens. If we use His atonement, He will give us strength, He will give us peace and comfort, and He will make our burdens light.

 

Agents Unto Ourselves

My mind is kind of drawing a blank here. I can’t really think of anything, but this scripture just popped into my head as I was trying to come up with something. It’s one of my favorites.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 58 verses 26 through 29

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

The commandments of God are necessary, but we should always be striving to do good whether we are commanded to or not. God has given us our free agency and the ability to discern between good and evil. We should not have to be commanded to do good. Instead, we should seek to do good by our own choices and by the abilities that our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us. Let us all choose to bring righteousness into the world.

Line Upon Line

As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, studying the scriptures is a big part of my everyday life. In fact, I study every morning. And before I study, I pray to God that I might learn something new and grow in my understanding of Jesus Christ’s gospel. Not every morning though, do I feel like that was accomplished. Was that because I truly learned nothing from my studies? I should think not.

I’ll admit I don’t always give my studies the full attention they deserve. I sometimes space out, think about what happened the previous day, what might happen during that day, or I might be thinking about something completely unrelated to missionary work. It happens. I’m far from perfect, and I’m also an artist who is prone to frequent daydreaming. So when I finish my studies and close up whatever book I was reading, I often feel like I didn’t learn anything at all. No sudden realization, no epiphany, no vast amount of knowledge that has suddenly found place within my mind. You’ve probably had a lot of similar experiences with your own studies, of any kind.

That’s because we rarely ever learn things through sudden occurrences. We read in 2 Nephi 28:30,

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

The Lord understands our weaknesses. We often forget. We often take for granted. We often don’t care. The Lord knows that we learn better through baby steps. I know that every morning I take something from my studies. Often, I do not entirely understand or recognize what it was, but I know that piece of knowledge is there, and that in time it will build to a greater understanding. I’ve learned a great deal over the years, but is only a fraction, if that, of the things I could learn. It is simply a matter of time, and I must put trust in the Lord that He is guiding me to the things that I need to know.

I testify that the Lord can give us great knowledge and understanding, but it is through patience, diligence, and faith that we receive it, a little at a time.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches.”

In His teachings with the Apostles, Christ likens himself unto a vine in John 15.

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Obviously, with the analogy of Christ being the vine, disciples of Christ can be likened to the branches. The fruit of the branches is the good works that come from being a faithful follower of Christ. They can be seen, felt, and tasted of. When we do not bear fruit, we are taken away, no longer abiding with Christ. When we do bear fruit, we are purged so that we can bring forth more. Continuing with the metaphor, purgeth means purifying, testing, or proving. When we are righteous, we are given more trials and opportunities to test us, to strengthen us, to purify us so that we may bring forth more fruit and become better disciples of Jesus Christ.

Christ continues,

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

The vine is the branch’s source of nourishment, of life. Without Christ we are and can do nothing. If we want to do good in the world and show forth our faith, we must abide in Christ. I know this to be true. Jesus Christ is the vine that gives us life and energy. He is the source of the branches’ good fruits: every good thing in life.

God is Love

Why did God create us? Why did He create this earth? Why did Christ give His life for us? The purpose of this life is to return to live with God as eternal families, but again, why? The answer is profound, yet simple. Love.

Christ gave us a commandment to love one another,

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Showing love to others is how others can know that we are disciples of Christ, and that He has wrought a change in our hearts through His atoning sacrifice. So how do we show forth this love?

1 John 3:16-18 reads,

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Showing love in word, or in tongue, is not a bad thing, but we all know that actions speak louder than words. In addition to showing our love through kind words, we show it best through our actions. In the next chapter, we read in verses 7 and 8,

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Everything that God and Jesus Christ have done for us is out of love. We have this earth because They love us. We have family and friends because They love us. We have the Atonement because They love us. We have the opportunity to live with Them again eternally and with our families because They love us. If we desire to understand our Heavenly Father, we must first understand love.

I testify that our Father in Heaven is a God of love. I know that He loves us. I know that our Savior Jesus Christ loves us too. I know that to grow closer to God and Christ is to grow closer to each other.