Obey and Be Happy!

Well, I have to admit, I haven’t been compltely focused lately. In about two weeks I’ll be flying back home, back to my family and friends, back to work, back to “normal” life. Naturally, this fact consumes much of my thought process. As a result, I haven’t been super diligent with my blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a missionary. It’s the best thing I’ve done with my life so far, and it will probably be forever the most unique thing I’ll do with my life. I’m sad to see it slipping away, but I’m excited to see my post-mission life fast approaching.

I wanted to make a post for today. It didn’t matter if it was profound and detailed… or not. I just want to say something about the gospel. So… this is what came to mind. I truly feel that it is inspired. The message is simple: happiness. It’s a fun word that holds a lot of meaning, and can be subjected to many different interpretations. Here’s a great verse from the Book of Mormon on happiness. It’s from a sermon given by a wise King Benjamin. Notice what this man says is the key to happiness.

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Mosiah 2:41)

I absolutely love this verse. It’s so straight forward. It’s just awesome. What does King Benjamin say is the key to happiness? Keeping the commandments of God. This is so simple, yet so often we forget it. From first-hand experience, and from the experiences of others, I know this to be a true principle. Through the phases of my own life, I can look back and see that the happiest times were when I was in closest communion with my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ, and when I could most strongly feel the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Now, this is easier said than done. I know that. Obedience, like happiness, is a big word that means a lot. This post isn’t meant to be about obedience though, so you can look back through my earlier posts, or study on your own, to find out what obedience means. What I’m simply trying to say is that… if you’re missing something in life… if you feel like happiness and joy are always just out of reach… look at yourself, examine yourself, and ask yourself if you’re living in a way that is truly in harmony with God. If not, find ways to change.

I promise that as you seek for obedience to God’s commandments, happiness will come. You will feel the love of your Father in Heaven, the love of your Savior, and the influence of the Spirit more strongly in your life. We are God’s children, and we instinctively feel after His love and His approval. It’s built within us. To disobey God is to go against what we were divinely designed to do. So seek God, and seek happiness. That’s it. It’s that simple.

 

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Happiness and the Fall

There is a lot of misconception about the Fall of Adam and Eve. Many are under the impression that it was a mistake. That it wasn’t supposed to happen. That life would be better if it never happened. Well, I’m here to tell you that such ideas aren’t correct. The Fall was in fact part of God’s plan, and because of it we can be happy. Allow me to explain. I’ll start off with some verses from the Book of Mormon. The prophet Nephi explained the necessity of the Fall as such,

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. (2 Nephi 2:22)

If Adam and Eve had not eaten the fruit they would’ve remained in the Garden of Eden. Nothing would have changed. Makes sense, right? Nephi continues…

And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. (2 Nephi 2:23-25)

Adam and Eve’s state in the Garden was that of pure innocence. They did not know what evil was. But because of this, they could not progress. If we don’t know bitter we cannot enjoy sweet. If we know no sin we cannot know goodness. There must be opposition in all things, and in order for mankind to progress, opposition had to be introduced, and therefore the Fall was needed.

With the Fall came sickness, death, and sin. But because of this we can enjoy health, life, and righteousness. Because of the misery we can know the joy. I know that the Fall was part of God’s plan for us. Adam and Eve fell that we might be happy and progress to everlasting life with God and our families.

The Search for Happiness

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi has a vision in which he sees the tree of life. I made a previous blog post about it that can be found here. The tree of life is a representation of the love of God and eternal life. Eating of the fruit is the privilege one can have if they journey along the straight and narrow path, holding fast to the word of God and enduring to the end by having faith in Jesus Christ and living the principles and ordinances of His gospel.

And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

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. (1 Nephi 8:10-12)

When Lehi eats the fruit, he realizes that it is the sweetest fruit, above all that he had ever before tasted. In other words, the love of God, eternal life, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is above and beyond anything else that we can experience, and it can make us happy.

Lehi was filled with so much joy that the first thing he wanted to do was share it with the ones he loved most, his family. This the love and happiness that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only true source of happiness we can find in this life.

I know that the message of the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s church is the most important message anyone can receive. It is a message of peace and joy, comfort and security, and it is a message of truth. It is a fruit that is “desirable above all other fruit.”

The Chuch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s church. His gospel and His doctrine has been restored. There is hope to be found. There is true happiness to be felt, for eternity. If you are in the search for happiness, this is where your search ends, and of this I testify in the name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Existence and Repentance

The walls of a church don’t make it holy.
It’s what’s authentic that completes the sum of its parts.
Don’t excuse yourself from life today on the pretense of your past.

You’re hurt. You’re broken. That’s alright.
This might be what it takes to wake you up.

“Existence”, by August Burns Red

Making mistakes is inevitable. God does not expect us to be perfect. That is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to Atone for our sins, allowing us to repent. A negative connotation is often placed upon repentance. Sometimes it’s viewed as a punishment, but this is not so. The original Hebrew word that was later translated into what we now know as “repentance” included the root verb shuv, which means “to return”.

Repentance is not at all punishment, but is a process of turning one’s self around and coming back to God. Of course, it does include sorrow, but that sorrow should be godly sorrow. Paul, as usual, gives us some good insights…

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (1 Corinthians 7:9-10)

Paul says that godly sorrow worketh repentance, which leads to salvation. Being broken down, being hurt, being grieved, are actually good things, when we take them in the right light. Feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling sorry because you got caught, etc., are not ways in which we feel godly sorrow. Godly sorrow involves having a desire to change ourselves, to turn ourselves around, change our ways, change our mindset, and change our hearts.

Through these ways, repentance is not a punishment, but is a joyous opportunity to come closer to God and to our Savior.

In the Book of Mormon, there was a young man named Alma, who went about trying to destroy Christ’s church, spreading lies in order to get people to sin. He was struck down by an angel and for three days seemed to be dead. When he regained his strength, he proclaimed that he had been forgiven of his sins. It was a difficult process, because of the evils that he had done, but repentance brought him indescribable joy. I invite you to read his account that he gave to his son,

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. (Alma 36: 18-21)

I know that daily repentance is necessary if we desire to become close with God and Jesus Christ. But it is not punishment. It is not a chore. I am grateful that I can repent. I know that repentance is a blessing to us. If you’re hurt, if you’re broken, that’s alright. That’s often what it takes to wake us up.

Happiness

My mind feels a bit fuzzy at the moment. I must honestly admit that I cannot think of anything clever, or terribly thought-provoking. Perhaps this just means that something simple and plain is more in order. Thankfully, my thoughts were drawn to the words of a very well-spoken man known in the Book of Mormon as King Benjamin.

Mosiah chapter 2

41  And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

I have witnessed this truth countless times in my life. Those that keep the commandments of God are truly blessed. Oftentimes, however, this verse is misconstrued. Obeying the commandments does not result in a perfect, pain-free life. It does not mean that everything will work out just how we want. Life is full of sadness, pain, and trials. They are to be expected.

But obeying the commandments will always bring us happiness and true joy. When we are in line with God’s will, our souls can rest and know that He loves us and is watching over us. We will receive the strength we require for our obstacles. We will be granted comfort by the Spirit to deal with the problems that aren’t solved in the way we had hoped. In this way are we blessed both temporally and spiritually.

Doctrine and Covenants section 130

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21  And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

When we obey, God will bless us. I know that through obedience to God’s commandments we can experience true joy that cannot be trampled by the world. It is only when I know I am following God’s will that I receive a peace unlike any other, and it is when I am only thinking of myself and my own desires over God’s that I am buried with grief and remorse.

If you have taken of your time to read this, I testify to you that obedience to God’s commandments brings blessings. It brings strength. It brings peace and comfort. It brings happiness, happiness that can last for eternity.