From waterfalls to the mountains, from the coast to the deserts, our earth holds so many magnificent places to enjoy.
When I am outside hiking or exploring I get a sense of wonder and think about the wonders that God has provided for us to enjoy. It is so large and grand, but yet I can touch the trees, feel the wind, and enjoy the fragrance of the flowers. It is so majestic but also so personal.
In Job (in the bible) it says: “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee. Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
Let’s never take this beautiful world for granted and all work together to preserve it for the benefit of future generations. It truly is amazing!
The birth and life of Jesus Christ, would have little meaning, if not for his Resurrection.
His resurrection can bring hope to us all.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ—his prayerful pleadings and suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his sacrifice and pain for us on the Cross, and his glorious resurrection can give us meaning to life.
Because of Him, we can feel peace during difficult times, release from sin, and greater perspective and hope in an eternal life.
He has beckoned us to “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11:28)
Rest in Jesus Christ, does not mean we will be free from problems, but that we have greater strength to get through them with him as our partner.
At this Easter time of year let’s be thankful we have a true master to follow and that understands us. For he has said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 6:33)
Because He is risen each one of us can rise up from our pain and sorrows and difficulties in this life and feel happiness and peace now and full rest and glorious joy in the world to come.
Today in church we discussed being yoked together with Jesus Christ. This comes from the scripture in Matthew:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
So what does this mean? What is a yoke?
A yoke was used in olden times as a means of combining the strengths of two animals…many times oxen. It was a wooden brace that kept both animals in line and going in the same direction. As well it helped the animals to share the burden, and in fact by being yoked together they were able to pull a more heavy load than the sum of them could do individually.
As we yoke ourselves to Christ we are able to share our burdens with him–in fact he invites us to do so, and to carry a heavier load than we could by ourselves, while walking beside him in the same direction.
But a yoke doesn’t take away all of the work. We still have to do as much as we can, but we are never required to do more than we are able. Christ doesn’t take all of the work away from us as that would rob us of the ability to grow stronger.
If an ox just laid down and did nothing, it would be very difficult for the other ox, no matter how strong, to pull the load. So with us, if we think that we can just sit back and do nothing, it’s going to be hard for the Savior to pull us along. Not that he can’t–but it would deprive us of the experiences that we need if life.
Many times a younger ox would be paired with an older ox in order to maintain his focus and direction and to learn from him. It is the same with us – Christ asks us to learn from him and then we will find rest from our burdens.
Rest means we will find peace, strength, and solace as we turn to him and follow in his direction. Rest means he can make our burdens lighter than they would be on our own.
Let us lighten our load and find the rest that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings by yoking ourselves to him and relying on his strength and direction in our life.
The yoke of Christ is made to fit each one of us perfectly and it provides a balance between allowing Him to ease our burdens and providing us with the experiences we need to be more like Him.
Let us move together yoked with the Savior throughout our life and be strengthened by having Him as our companion and compass.
39 years ago while on a mission for my church in South Korea, my grandfather wrote me a letter and asked if I was someone who set goals at the beginning of the year to accomplish something or someone who was content in trying to do their best throughout the year.
I am more of the former–someone who tries to do their best in any given situation.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have or set goals for myself.
It seems at the beginning of the year is a time when many people think about what they want to accomplish that year.
The first step in setting a goal like this, or in evaluating where you are at during the year, is to have some time of inner reflection; or a self evaluation.
It’s hard to know where you want to go or what you want to do, if you don’t know first where you are.
In the Bible in 2nd Corinthians it challenges us to “Examine Yourselves”.
We all need to take time to look inside and discover who we are and ask ourselves are we the type of person we want to be. Is our external demeaner or person a reflection of what we are inside, or is it something else?
If we want to be more or do more, then we start where we are at now and figure out actions–or goals– to be where we want to be.
Take time to reflect, re-adjust or re-prioritize if needed, and then put a plan into action that can propel you forward. Our self examination or reflection should prompt actions. There is always something we can do better.
You never know what you can become until you start to know who you are and that knowledge starts with an inner reflection.
For me, that reflection helps to re-center my relationship with God and my family, and if needed, to re-align my actions to accomplish the goals I have for myself.
It never gets old to hear the story of Christmas…the story of Jesus Christ. But that story wasn’t the beginning and it isn’t the end. The story of Christ is our story too. We are all living it.
The story of Christ and the story of Christmas is in the invitation to Come to Him. Through the scriptures, Jesus himself beckoned us to “Incline your ear”, “Come unto me”, “Return to me”, and “Walk with me”. In return he has promised, “A new heart will I give you”, “I have redeemed thee; thou art mine,” “Fear not”, “Find rest”, and “I will ease your burdens.”
So where do you fit into the story of Christ?
We’ve all heard the story of the Wise Men bringing gifts to Jesus. I would invite all of us to also give a gift to Him. But what do you give to someone that has everything?
We give of ourselves.
What gift could you give to Jesus? Is it a gift of doing away with a bad habit, a gift of studying his life more, a gift of obedience or sacrifice?. Are we able to gift him forgiveness for someone that has wronged us, or give to him the gift of greater diligence in ministering to and serving others?
Just like our relationship with the Savior is personal, so will each of our gifts be personal and individual.
The glad tidings that the shepherds were told out in the fields is the same tidings we bear witness of today. That Christ, the Creator of the world, the great Jehovah of the old Testament, the Lamb of God, the first born Son of our Father, and the Savior of us all– lives!
He lives today!
At this time of year as we celebrate his birth and life let’s remember that his glorious and marvelous story is not done and that we are all a part of it.
As the Shepherds and Wise men came to him let us all come to Him and follow Him, be strengthened, and find joy.
In Haggai (in the Old Testament) the Lord asks us to Consider Your ways.
As we approach a new year, it’s a great time to look at our life and consider if it is where we want it to be; not necessarily in terms of job, wealth, or status, but are we the type of person we want to be?
Are we putting our time and effort into the right areas of our life to become the person we were meant to be? If not, now is always a great time for a self evaluation.
We all occasionally get distracted from why we are here and divert our energies somewhere else. One of Satan’s most powerful weapons is to distract us with good and better causes which, in times of need, may blind and bind us away from the very best cause–the very work that called us into this world.
BONNIE H. cordon Oct 2021
Haggai goes on to say: “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.”
Do we find ourselves spinning our wheels sometimes, or engaged in activities that don’t really satisfy us deep down inside?
“Consider Your Ways,” the Lord repeats.
It’s always great to take some time pondering, thinking, and reflecting on our life. The end or beginning of the year seems to be a natural time for this. Maybe list out some new goals or attributes you want to develop. Do you need to be nicer, serve others, live the gospel of Jesus Christ more fully?
What good things are distracting you from focusing on the great things in life? Maybe a part of your reflection is to not just do something more or better but to eliminate something that isn’t as good to have time to focus on something new. Something that can bring you more fulfillment and direction in your life.
For me, as I consider my ways, one thing might be limiting social media in favor of reading more uplifting material.
How can you have more focus in your life? You are the only one that can determine that!
So, “Consider your ways” and start on a new journey of becoming more than you are now.
Emotional Resilience is the ability to adapt or to respond to a stressful or unexpected situation or crises.
This can include physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or social resilience.
But how do we develop it?
Like anything else it takes practice and some self-introspection.
Dr. Ginsburg, human development expert mentions five components that help us to be more resilient: “Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, and Contribution”.
Many of these have to do with us getting help from and though others. Let other trusted people into your life whether it’s a friend, therapist, church leader, or family member. Choose someone that you can share with and receive support from.
As we become more aware of triggers and stress and how we personally deal with those circumstances we can better put into place tools that can help us deal with a crisis.
One way I deal with this in my life is through my faith in God and Jesus Christ. By knowing there is a higher power than me, I can put my trust in them. Knowing that they have a plan for me helps me to look at things from a broader perspective—one that helps to minimize the current stressful situation.
An exercise that can be beneficial to us all is to write down stressful situations that might arise, and then next to it record possible responses to those situations, and then think about practices/actions that we could do to overcome those situations.
For me I find that hiking in nature, taking a walk, reading the scriptures, and spending time with family help me to overcome stress in my life. But with all these other tools I cannot do it without centering my thoughts, actions, and life around Jesus Christ.
in John 16:33 it says: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
It isn’t always easy to deal with a crisis in our life, but no one is ever alone. The fix may not come quickly but It can come. Focus on what you CAN control and not on what you can’t, talk to someone, practice positive responsive behaviors, and eventually you will build a character of an emotionally resilient person.
What have you found in your life to help you be more emotionally resilient?
Many times when some difficulty, trial, or tragedy strikes, somewhere we might hear the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
This past week as I studied the book of Job in the bible, many of his friends ask the same thing of him.
But what is bad?
is it bad to lose a job but to humble yourself and learn a new skill or trade or be open to moving somewhere else where new opportunities are?
Is it bad when we are hit with a disease or an accident that teaches us patience, helps us learn to love someone more as we care for them, or causes us to to turn to God for comfort?
Are any of our daily trials, struggles, or difficulties really bad, if in the end they make us a stronger, better, more forgiving, trusting, insightful, or loving person
Can something really be that bad if it causes us to be better in the end?
I think it may be better to talk about “hard or difficult things happening to good people” rather than “bad things”.
Life can be hard, but it is during those hard times that we learn who we are, develop eternal traits, and become more like Jesus Christ. In truth, we learn more during our difficult times than our good times.
Any trial we face can be very difficult and hard in the moment, but in the end if it makes us better, more like our Father in Heaven then it is not a bad thing. Our Father uses or allows trials/difficulties to make us into the type of person that will be able to live with him again.
Just like any athlete or musician will attest, it is the grueling hours of practice and discipline and hard work that help them to be better.
Job recognized this when he said, “But he knoweth the way that I take; When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as Gold.”
None of us will escape hard or difficult times in life, but instead of looking at them as “bad”, let’s see what we can learn from them, and how we can be better for them.
A few weeks ago at church we were studying in Numbers 14 in the Bible in which Moses sends out 12 spies to look at the land that the Lord wants them to inhabit.
Ten of the men come back and tell how wonderful the land is, but that the cities are too big, the walls are too tall, and the people are too strong. They even go so far to say that they should find another leader to take them back to Egypt.
However two men, Caleb and Joshua gave a good report and were ready to go in and inhabit the land.
So all 12 men saw the same thing; what made the difference?
The two men said “If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.” (Numbers 14:8)
So the difference is not in the situation itself, but how they looked at the situation. Caleb and Joshua looked at it with the Lord on their side. Specifically they had hope in his promises.
So with eyes toward God and his promises and hope in him we can find optimism in our own lives.
As we face situations, let’s look for the positives, the possibilities, and the good. In doing so we will find great joy and happiness in our life. We will find other people enjoy being around us, and that we have purpose in what we do.