Gratitude is Seeing the Miracle in Every Moment.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Being a Harvest for the Lord- The Sermon on the Mount: The Path to Decispleship

I'd like to pose a basic and logical equation, as I approach the valuable lessons taught by the Savior in His all-famous ancient sermon in the mountains surrounding Galilee. That equation being:

Water + Salt + Light + Seed= Harvest 

I begin with this concept because it seems to be the foundation upon all the teachings and principles addressed in Christ's sermon. The fact alone that it can be likened to a process all mankind is familiar with; cultivating land for a harvest is in my opinion an even greater genius approach. The world's inhabitants cannot survive mortality without such a process of their food and nourishment being obtained. Its a law of nature, both physically.... and spiritually; and we know that God has always created all things first spiritually, then temporally. My mind is blown and I haven't even really gotten started!

Jesus begins his discourse, recorded in the book of Matthew, chapter 5, by addressing attributes of discipleship and the blessings associated with such behaviors and characteristics of an individual. I want to give credit to a friend who enlightened me with this information before I even began my in-depth study of these teachings today. Jeremiah Harmon has become a "cup that runneth over" to me in my life. He always has a deeper insight to consider; he is one whom I try to mirror in hungering and thirsting after righteousness and all knowledge. Jeremiah is always looking for ways to not only improve himself, but also those in his life. He never thinks to keep the wonderful things that bless his him from pouring out to everyone else's cups. 

Jeremiah recently likened this teaching of Christ to me in this way, by considering these specific characteristics and their associated blessing:

Poor in Spirit= The Kingdom of Heaven is Theirs

They that Mourn= Comfort

Meek= Inherit the Earth

Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness= Filled

Pure in Heart= See God

Peacemakers= Called God's Children

Persecuted for Righteousness= Kingdom of Heaven is Theirs

These characteristics ignite the passion required to fulfill our purpose. Everything in the universe and beyond, has been created by God for it's own specific purpose.
For a wonderful example, Jesus teaches that we, "are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13). Consider the purposes and uses for salt both today and anciently. Not only has salt been used as the main spice in cooking and preparing the food of man, but in the ancient world, salt was also used for currency. It was also used in the Mosaic law as a token of the covenant and part of sacrificial ritual (see Leviticus 2:13 and Numbers 18:19). Other purposes for salt included: being used as a preservative; a fertilizer; a purifier.... even to increase lamp light by adding it to the wicks.

I don't know about you, but I can see the spiritual symbolism here... considering salt as a preservative, might we be the preserving power that aims to keep the purity of the world? Or perhaps we are a fertilizer, helping the world to grow and prosper; to bring new life to the world.

Based on my previously proposed formula, I would like us to consider us being the salt and likening that concept to fertilizing the growth of mankind.

Christ then asks if salt without savour has any purpose, or if it is good for nothing. I of course wondered if salt could literally lose its savour. Naturally, sodium chloride is actually very stable and cannot lose its flavor... but can you IMAGINE if it did?!! How awful! The flavors of this life would be dull without the salt. In likening this to us, since He is saying WE are the salt, what if we lose OUR purpose?? We would be henceforth "good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Well that's pretty deep and all, but just what exactly IS our purpose? Whether we are missionaries, business owners, mothers, grandfathers, rich or poor... we ALL possess a purpose. The important thing we must learn is WHAT it is!

It is also interesting to note that the term, "lost it's savour" in both Greek and Aramaic translation actually reads: Became foolish. Ponder on that insight for a minute... We are the salt of the earth (sanctifying agent of this earth): but if we the salt have become foolish, wherewith shall the earth be sanctified?

Now, the Savior went on to teach that not only are we the salt of the earth but low and behold, we are also, "the light of the world"! Well my goodness! God must have a fine harvest in mind in deed! Let's break down that formula from earlier...

Jesus Christ (the fountain of living water), is teaching us how to bring in a great harvest. We know that He is the embodiment of the love of God. The ancient prophet, Nephi witnessed a vision where
this was explained (1 Nephi 11:25). This concept is further visualized when Jesus himself is speaking
with the woman of Samaria by the well (John 4:10).

Add to this living water, a fertilizer or the sanctifying agent of the earth, salt; a child of God who is continually seeking to better themselves and discover and act upon ways to be found pure at the last day. Sounds like someone walking the straight and narrow path, right?

But this is not all that is required. We also need light! Later in the sermon, it is mentioned that the light of the body is the eye. Have you ever looked into the eyes of someone who has been truly converted to the word? Those eyes are filled with sincerity and absent of guile. The eyes of a person are a key indicator of the life inside them. If that light is actually my life, it should shine before the world; filled with good works (grace, justice, righteousness, etc). THIS alone can be MY ultimate glorification of God.

Then we have the word which we will compare unto a seed (Alma 32:28), which we know if it is given place in us to be planted in our heart, and if we don't cast it out by our unbelief it will swell and grow within us; enlarging our souls and enlightening our understanding; it becomes delicious to us.

The Savior is teaching us the pathway we must walk to be TRUE disciples of Him. A true disciple does MORE than just the bare minimum. He or she is not content with simply scratching the surface of the field they are tilling. They intend for their roots to grow much deeper. Not only do they keep the law, the Ten Commandments, but they pinpoint specific ways to do more than just keep the law... because their ultimate goal, is to obtain godhood.

A true disciple keeps these commandments:

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Though shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep in holy.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10. Thou shalt not covet.

And adds these sanctifying specifics as commandments to abide by:

-Allow my life to be filled with righteousness only; not evil.
-Don't break these "lesser" commandments.
-Do these commandments and teach them.
-Do not carry anger to anyone without a cause; do not be contempt.
-Forgive first, then bring my broken heart to God.
-Quickly have kind thoughts for, or be well disposed toward my enemies.
-Do not view/look upon others in lust or sensuality.
-If my eyes cause me to stumble, remove the distraction/temptation so I am no longer stopped from progression.
-Know that divorce is not an option; it goes against God's very plan.
-Don't swear, at all.
-Turn the other cheek; don't get even.
-Give to those who ask.
-Love my enemies and opposition; be benevolent.
-Be perfect, like unto God the Father.
-Do not let my religious acts of devotion be as if it were a show to the world; Don't be prideful in my worship, in an effort to "show-up" others.
-Pray in a similar manner as Christ prayed.
-Be not worldly and obtain things outside my needs. Where my heart is, that is what I'm treasuring.
-Be loyal to God, not the world.
-Be a missionary.
-Do not be concerned with temporal things, God will provide--if I have faith, even just a little.
-Seek FIRST the kingdom of God, and I will receive what I seek and need.
-Judge not unrighteously; judge righteous judgement.
-Better myself, before trying to better another person.
-Give not what is holy to unholy people. i.e. Covenants, virtue, etc.
-Ask for blessings; seek them out; learn what I need to do to obtain them.
-Walk the path of Jesus: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, Temple Attendance
-Beware of false prophets. i.e. impure truths, partial truths, incorrect knowledge
-Do not live/work without this law.

Being this sanctified is sure to be followed with ridicule because it seems so outside the norm. Hence why we live in a Telestial realm and not a Terestial at this time. Being this sanctified, is an act of a Celestial being in all logical thinking. Of course its going to stick out and not fit in this world... but we were never MEANT to stay in this state, were we? Wise men, build their lives upon Christ and His Celestial precepts. Foolish men build their lives upon this temporal world and its Telestial concepts.

What does this all mean to me? To you? Lets try that formula again...

My Purpose= Love of God + Sanctification + Sincere Devotion + The Word

See, I am the harvest! WE are the harvest!

"Now behold, a marvelous work (God's work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man... me) is about to come forth among the children of men.
Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God (keeping ALL of these commandments and precepts taught in the sermon), see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day (Remember, only YOU can decide if you want a place in the Celestial kingdom).
Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work (the labor of keeping our light bright enough for those wandering in strange paths to find their way back to the iron rod);
For behold the field is white already to harvest; and low, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to HIS soul;
And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
Ask, and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you. Amen." (D&C 4)

May we bring in our harvest for the Lord...

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