Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dec 24: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Chistmas+All that, Faith

All: So, it's the end of a year (almost). Wait...never mind. I'll still have one more write before the year ends. I'll be able to write a very little next week (you're warned), so don't get too excited for anything. 91,064 steps is about 71.03KM, by the way.

About pictures now:
026 - This was the baptism. These two girls are incredible. They are twins, yes, named Santa and Sanita. They were taught by the sister missionaries, and E. Weideman baptized one of them. They are incredible, and I very strongly felt the spirit during their baptism.

042 - This is what I helped make for the branch party. That's fruit on a kabab stick, stabbed in a head of lettuce. That party was amazing! We had investigators and members from our English class helping out in the kitchen! It was fantastic! And everybody talked openly with each other. There was no awkwardness or anything else from the party. I was very relieved. And Santa Claus (we now have a member named Santa, too) was Brother Vaselevskis. He was perfect, booming appropriately Santa-like things to the kids.

033 - This is us singing. We have had 3 singing times, and we still have 3 ahead of us. They like us a lot. And it's very nice talking to people if I'm not singing--it's very easy to be casual and get the conversation turned to the gospel. I like it!

Random extra: There is this smart young returned missionary LDS boy that has applied to BYU.. He just faces one challenge: Money. There have been others from Latvia who have gone to BYU because they found some sponsors, but he isn't quite sure where to start! I had no idea where he could go, so I thought I'd ask you all to see if by chance you knew of who he could ask, or where he could search? I will attest that this fellow is incredible and uses all opportunities to their fullest as they come. I have worked with him quite a bit. So, let me know if you have ideas, names, suggestions. Thanks!

No questions to answer. So...all the stuff for the week is up above...uh...yeah. The topic of faith.

Recap: Jesus Christ is our mediator. It is only through his mercy and grace that we can return to live with God again after this life. In this life, Christ offers us the way to be cleansed from sin - spiritually healed (3 Nephi 9: 13; 18: 32). This will bring us peace and joy in this life.

Because of Christ's atonement, we can all be brought before God to be judged. We will be judged according to our works and desires (2 Nephi 9: 10-16; D&C 137: 9; Helaman 14: 15-18; 3 Nephi 27: 14-18).

3 Nephi 27: 17: Justice: an unchanging law, bringing consequences for actions. This means blessings for obedience and penalties for disobedience. Since we are all unclean, we, according to justice, cannot return home to God (1 Nephi 10: 21). Christ satisfied justice's demands for all who keep his commandments (Alma 11: 40; 2 Nephi 2: 6-8; 2 Ne. 9: 21-22). He suffered the penalty for us through his atonement. Because of this, he is our advocate with God (D&C 45: 3-5). We receive mercy when our mistakes and sins are forgiven. Through Christ, God can withhold penalty from as, and welcome us into His presence (John 3: 16-17; Alma 34: 14-16).

To qualify for His grace and mercy, we must follow Christ's commandments (2 Nephi 9: 23-24; from Christ Himself: 3 Nephi 27: 19-21). There are five basic principals of Christ's gospel. Each of them requires work, sincerity, and a desire to change ourselves and become more as God is in thought, behavior, and attitude. I would like to explore each point fairly deeply, and share with you what I have learned and am learning. And if any of you learn more, or make more connections, send them my way, because I sure don't fully understand these doctrines and principles still.

We'll start with the beginning: faith. Specifically, if we are seeking the faith that brings salvation and blessings in this life, it will be faith in Jesus Christ. Faith includes a firm belief that Christ is the Son of God, and our Savior and Redeemer. Also necessary is a correct idea of his attributes (Hebrews 11: 6). We will acknowledge that only through Him can we be made clean. Faith is, then, a trust in Christ and a trust that He will keep His promises. It is upheld by hope (Alma 32: 21), and feeds off of hope (Hebrews 11: 1 noting here that substance is better translated as assurance, and evidence translated as proof). Faith is a trust upheld by evidences that have come from God. It isn't a blind trust. It is founded on real evidences of things not seen. Just as wind cannot be seen without the aid of instruments or dust, we can also detect faith by tangible things. We can also know with a surety that wind exists because we can feel it; it is the same with faith (Alma 32: 35).

But faith also requires action, or it is not faith. This truth is clearly set forth in the Bible (Ephesians 2: 8 CR James 2: 17 (JST James 2: 14-21), or even James 2: 14-22). Add to that clarity a second witness: Alma 34: 17 (note that true faith compells to action), 26-28. Faith, then, is applying the teachings of Christ through our actions. One of those actions is true repentance. True repentance is work, and will be discussed later. We seek to learn of Him (Romans 10: 14-17),. We show our love for and faith in Christ by striving to avoid sin. In so doing, we gain confidence in our trust, for we know we have done our part. God is required, by his own decree, to do His part when we do ours (D&C 82: 9-10). This confidence and knowledge that we are striving to do what God has asked and asks is an essential component of faith also (Hebrews 11: 5-6).

There is more. I have no time to share it. I will contine next time. Until then, think about this, and, if you'd like, think of ways that you can show your faith. Choose a specific way to show your faith, and then take that way to the Lord through prayer. Ask His help. He will help you to build your faith in Him.

I love you all!
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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