Sunday, 31 January 2016

Sunday's Sermon: The Priesthood

Dear Brothers and sisters, it is an honour to be standing up here today for the first time as a conducting Elder and been given the chance to give this sermon. Today my talk will be about the priesthood.
 
The priesthood is the power and authority of God given to man, to act in the name of God within his church. The priesthood is the power of God on earth given to worthy males and females it includes the power Jesus gave his apostles to perform miracles such as the casting out of devils and the healing of sick (Luke 9:1). As Latter Day Mormons we believe that the Biblical miracles performed by prophets and apostles were performed by the power of priesthood, including the miracles of Jesus, who holds all of the keys of the priesthood. Priesthood is the authority by which a bearer may perform ecclesiastical acts of service in the name of God. Latter Day Mormons believe that acts performed by one with priesthood authority are recognised by God and are binding in heaven, on earth, and in the afterlife. In addition, Latter Day Mormons believe that leadership positions within the church are given with the aid of priesthood authority. For the most part of the history of the Mormon movement, only men have been ordained to specific offices in the priesthood. However we know that this is not what God wanted for his people. The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ in accordance with the will of God and the revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842 allow all women under revelation the privilege of holding the Aaronic Priesthood of God and holding all the offices with that priesthood office. We do this not because it is popular or because it is easy but because it is what the Lord wishes and is what has been revealed to us by the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Lord. What follows is an explanation on how the Priesthood blessings were conferred upon the women of the early church and in turn have now been conferred upon the women of The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ.
 
Two weeks after he organised the Relief Society of Nauvoo, Illinois, and gave them complete autonomy in running this organisation Joseph Smith announced his intention to confer the priesthood upon women. He told the gathered sisters at Relief Society on the 30 March 1842 that “the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood” and that he was “going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch's day and as in Paul's day.”  It must be remembered that the early Mormon sisters did not request the priesthood; however the Prophet Joseph Smith would soon confer it upon them as part of the restoration of the gospel. His private journal, called the Book of the Law of the Lord, specified the priesthood promise in his instructions to the women on 28 April 1842 it states, “gave a lecture on the priesthood showing how the Sisters would come in possession of the privileges & blessings & gifts of the priesthood & that the signs should follow them. Such as healing the sick casting out devils & that they might attain unto these blessings. By a virtuous life & conversation & diligence in keeping all the commandments.”  It is clear for all to see who wish to see that our dear and much beloved Prophet Joseph Smith clearly intended that Mormon women in 1842 were to be bestowed  the “gifts of the priesthood”  upon them not merely as simply ministrations of faith but as actual holders and partakers of the gifts of the priesthood. The conferral of the priesthood on individual women occurred on 4 May 1842, six days after his remarks to the Relief Society. Emma Smith the wife of the Prophet became the first women to receive the “fullness of the priesthood”. Thus Emma Smith began the fulfilment of the Prophet's promise to make the Relief Society “a kingdom of priests”. She was anointed to become a “queen and priestess” and was ordained to the fullness of those offices by the Prophet himself. Joseph Smiths first counsellor and friend Sidney Rigdon later commented on this event in his history of the church when he stated, “Emma was female to whom the priesthood was first given.”  Unfortunately over time many Mormon have relegated the role of women in their churches and have made every attempt to whitewash this from the history of Mormonism. However today The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ not only recognise the importance and independence of the Relief Society program but that the women of the church have the right given them by God to have bestowed upon them the Aaronic Priesthood of God.
 
I am so grateful that I have a chance to hold the priesthood of God and that I am now ordained an elder in his church. I have been blessed with the Melchizedeck priesthood to do a duty to God to help others to bless them and to fulfil my role within his kingdom. I pray that I may be able to live up to the standards that God has asked of me. Thank you for listening to me today, sorry if I was a little nervous but I have many years left to improve. God bless you all in his holy name Amen.
 
Elder Levi M. Gill

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sunday's Sermon: The Sciptures Hold The Answers

Today we live in an age that has yielded some of the most spectacular scriptures known to man. We have the Book of Mormon, The Book of Jeraneck, soon to be added upon and we have the D&C. These books along with the Bible have allowed us to more fully understand the mind of God and what he wants of us. At the start of this year we are studying the Inspired Version if the Bible and it is to that book that I want to focus my sermon on today. Throughout the history of recorded scriptures we have been told that God is the same yesterday today and forever. He gives us commandments and a code of ethics to live by. In the restoration some of these things were forgotten or misunderstood, that is why we needed Joseph Smith and the book of Mormon to help us more fully understand what our place was and what God wanted for us. However even in this time of great enlightenment there came those who wished to do things their own way and as a result practices were introduced in to the church like polygamy for example. I know that you know that God forbids such things and that Joseph himself fought tirelessly all his life to stop the church from falling in to this sin. Josephs fight ended with his death.
 
Today I want us to look at what the Bible says about polygamy. I often thought whilst studying that Joseph must have had such a hard time trying to teach unreachable wilful people and he must have quoted these scriptures time and time gain along with the new revealed word of God to try and get the people to be righteous. So for our own sake as we study the Bible lets see what it says about polygamy and what we can do to strengthen our testimonies that this is not a policy given to us by God but by corrupt men.
 
1 Kings 11:3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober–minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, able to teach . 
 
As we look at the Bible, it is clear that polygamous relationships are presented in the Bible. But, does that mean that they are acceptable in God’s eyes? We also see instances of lying, murder, and rape in the Bible, but these are clearly not acceptable. Just because the events are described does not mean they are condoned. There is no passage in the Bible that condones polygamy. From the beginning in Genesis it is clear that God intended marriage to be between one woman and one man. Genesis 2 records the creation of one woman for Adam, and in verse 24 we see that because of this “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” If two makes one flesh, then three or more cannot also make one flesh. This is confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:3–9 as He is being questioned about divorce. Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24 as support for the idea of marriage being between one man and one woman “from the beginning.” God’s plan, from the beginning, was not for polygamous relationships. As the Israelites were in the desert after the Exodus, God announces a prophecy through Moses. The Israelites will eventually call for a king to be set over them (Deuteronomy 17:14). Following that, God pronounces standards for the kings to come. In Deuteronomy 17:17 we see the command that the king shall not “multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away.” God clearly commands that the king should not practice polygamy. So, why would He condone its practice for anyone else?
 
Many Jewish leaders and patriarchs, including kings, were recorded to have polygamous relationships. However, these relationships brought about judgment and hardship. David was punished for his relationship with Bathsheba; Abraham’s relationship with Hagar brought strife into the family; and other examples would also bear out this point. Some may argue that Jacob’s polygamous lifestyle was blessed by God, but just because God used a sinful relationship to fulfil His plan does not mean that that action was right. Likewise, Jesus’s lineage can be traced back to Bathsheba. Polygamy was popular in many cultures, and still is today but that does not mean that it was or is right in God’s eyes. Divorce was also allowed because of the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites (Matthew 19:8), but it was not part of God’s “very good” creation. Jesus called the Jews of the day an “adulterous generation” who chose to live outside of God’s rules and, instead, made their own. Just because the Jews (or any other peoples) tolerated polygamy does not mean that God condoned it. We must never lose sight of what is important. We must realise that God has given us scriptures to help us in our lives to help us walk the paths that the Lord wants us to walk. We must never allow ourselves to think that we know better than God or that social sins that have become acceptable are right in his sight. Even if the law of the land allowed the practice of polygamy God doesn't not and never will, and so it is up to us as his chosen people to always look to what he wants for us and then to the scriptures for in them is our salvation, in them lies Zion and if we are ever to be able to be ready to build Zion we must be one in thought an din spirit.
 
So study the word of God, only God has the answers and he is and was and will always be our God.
 
Matthew P Gill

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