Sunday, June 18, 2017

Our Father Above

It is Father's Day and all day I've seen posts on Facebook about great fathers and of course we had talks about fathers at church today. It is heartwarming.  I thought our talks at church were excellent and one talk in particular got me thinking about our Heavenly Father.  How very thankful I am for the knowledge I have about my Father in Heaven!!

For Family Home Evening, the girls and I each read a different General Conference talk and took notes about what it taught us about our Heavenly Father. Then we each shared what we learned...and talked about a few of the things we learned. I think it went really well.  Each of the girls found wonderful things to share and it was wonderful to contemplate how much our Heavenly Father loves us.  This Family Home Evening was partly inspired by the talk in sacrament meeting but also inspired by my study of the Conference talks.  As I listened to General Conference in April, I felt like many of the talks discussed the nature of the Godhead.  So I determined that as I studied them, I would record what I learned about each member of the Godhead.  I did that and it was a wonderful experience.

I'd like to share what I've learned about Heavenly Father as I studied.  I'm also including links to the actual talk.  Much/most of it I knew before but it was still so comforting to study my Father and read of His love and mercy.  And much of our knowledge and understanding of God and the godhead differs from other Christian religions.  So I am grateful for the knowledge I have of God.

The 4 we studied tonight were from Elder Oaks, Elder Brough (of the Seventy), President Uchtdorf and Elder Renlund.

Elder Renlund taught:
*We get a glimpse of God's character as we recognize His immense compassion for sinners and appreciate the distinction He makes between sin and those who sin.
*An understanding of His character, perfections and attributes is foundational to exercising faith in Him and in Christ.
*He uses disease as a metaphor for sin throughout the scriptures.
*He is empathetic but "God is clear about what is right and acceptable to Him and what is wrong and sinful. This is not because He desires to have mindless, obedient followers. No, our Heavenly Father desires that His children knowingly and willingly choose to become like Him21and qualify for the kind of life He enjoys.22 In doing so, His children fulfill their divine destiny and become heirs to all that He has.

Elder Oaks gave a wonderful talk about the Godhead.  He explained the following about the Godhead.
*God the Father and Jesus Christ are two distinct personages. They were seen by Joseph Smith in the First Vision.  
*The nature of God and our relationship to Him is knowable and the key to everything else in our doctrine.
*"And this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent." (John 17:3)
*The effort to know God began before mortality and will not be concluded here.
*God has a body of flesh and bones.
*God presides over all things.  
*We are God's spirit children.
*some names for God:  Father, Almighty Elohim, Supreme Being, Ruler of the Universe
*President David O. McKay said, "above and over all there is God the Father, Lord of heaven and earth."
*He is the Father of our Spirits.  He loves us and all He does is for our benefit.  He is the author of the plan of salvation.  By His power the plan achieves its purposes.

Elder M. Joseph Brough taught the following:
* He referred to the song I Am a Child of God and said that we plead daily for our Father to lead, guide and walk beside us.
*He quotes President Uchtdorf: “Our Father in Heaven knows His children’s needs better than anyone else. It is His work and glory to help us at every turn, giving us marvelous temporal and spiritual resources to help us on our path to return to Him.”
*Heavenly Father has created a personal care package for each of us...including His Son and the Atonement, the Holy Ghost, commandments, scriptures, apostles, prophets, prayer, parents, grandparents, and many others.  These are all designed to help us return to Him.  
*God cares and answers prayers.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught:
*God inspires and leads His children.  He isn't angry, vengeful or retaliatory.
*"His very purpose—His work and His glory—is to mentor us, exalt us, and lead us to His fulness."
*God described himself to Moses as "merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth."
*His love for us surpasses, by far, our ability to comprehend it.
*He wants to change more than just our behaviors. He wants to change our very natures. He wants to change our hearts.
He wants us to reach out and take firm hold of the iron rod, confront our fears, and bravely step forward and upward along the strait and narrow path. He wants this for us because He loves us and because this is the way to happiness."
*How does God motivate us?  He sent His Son!  He motivates through persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness and love.  He is on our side.  When we stumble, He wants us to rise up, try again and become stronger.
*"He is our mentor. He is our great and cherished hope. He desires to stimulate us with faith. He trusts us to learn from our missteps and make correct choices."
Those 4 are the talks we studied together as a family.  Here are some other insights I gained from other talks.  I'm not going to share everything I read/learned, but some of the highlights.  It was such a wonderful experience to study the Godhead in this way.
President Henry B. Eyring:
  • Our Father is anxious to gather and bless all of His children.
  • Our ancestors are  "beloved sons and daughters of God. He will send whatever inspiration is needed to give them the opportunity to return to Him."
  • He wants all of His children home again, in families and in glory.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton:
  • God will always bless us for obedience and loyalty.
  • God asks us to bear with Him, to trust Him and to follow Him.
  • Trust in the perfect love and perfect timing of God. 
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught that God intended for there to be a richness of tone and timbre in the choir because He created a world of diversity.  God is determined to make of us more than we though we could be.

Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke about goal setting and planning in his talk, Return and Receive.  He said that God gave us the perfect example of goal setting and planning.  His goal is the immortality and eternal life of man.  His means to achieve it was the plan of salvation.

Weatherford T. Clayton reminded us that we lived with God, the Father of our Spirits, before birth.  God wants us to have the greatest gift He can give us:  eternal life.  However, we have to receive it by choosing Him and His ways.  God gave us moral agency which is the ability and privilege of choosing and acting for ourselves.  To help us choose well, He gave us commandments.  As we keep His commandments, we show Him that we love Him.

I love this quote from  Elder Valeri V. Cordon:  "As children of God, we are imperfect people trying to learn a perfect language.17 Just as a mother is compassionate with her little children, our Heavenly Father is patient with our imperfections and mistakes. He treasures and understands our feeblest utterances, mumbled in sincerity, as if they were fine poetry. He rejoices at the sound of our first gospel words. He teaches us with perfect love."

I am so grateful for the knowledge of my Heavenly Father.  As I said, most of this I already knew but it is not knowledge shared by everyone in the world.  It is a blessing and a tremendous comfort to know that God is truly a loving Father and that He knows me and He has a plan for my life.  I look forward to the day when I am able to return to Him and be encircled in His arms, in His loving embrace.  I am striving to live daily so that I CAN return to Him.