- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 1, 2004

The following are excerpts of a sermon given recently by Bishop Dennis Windley at the Laurel Meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Laurel.

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

Loving the Lord should be our most important desire. If our actions and thoughts are based on the love we have for our Heavenly Father, then we will always be compelled to follow His example and do the right things. Conversely, and just as important, when we do something not in harmony with His teachings, we will feel the remorse that is necessary for forgiveness.

We must remember that God does not expect perfection from us. And it is a good thing that we are not expected to achieve perfection, because all of us would fall short. What He does require is that we believe in Him and have a desire to live His commandments. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: Continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:9-14)

Not only will we find joy as we strive to live the commandments, but we will find our burdens are light. The Lord has told us: “Come unto me, all ye that labor 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)

We know that as we strive to live the commandments, we fall short. Yet no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of heaven. So how do we overcome this problem? We cannot overcome it. But the Lord can and He has. He has paid the price for all our sins.

It is by His grace that we may be saved. As we are willing to repent and endure to the end, we can join with Him (who is a perfect being) and become perfected in Him. But it is important that we endure. This means that we recognize when we have fallen and we sincerely repent and let the atonement work in our lives. It is through faith that we will be saved. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

As you read the Scriptures and look for guidance, you will find that what the Lord requires is that you believe in Him and love Him. Then you will have a desire to keep his commandments, and you will endure to the end.

The Savior referred to “other sheep not of this fold” in His New Testament teachings. Between His death and resurrection, He visited those other sheep and organized His church on their continent. We read in the Book of Mormon that He gave the same charge to these people when He said, “Whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.” (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27:16-17)

In the book of Matthew, we read, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” Whether we hunger and thirst after righteousness is completely within our control. No person or circumstance can stop us from having the love for the Lord and the hunger to serve him and keep his commandments. All we need is that seed planted in our hearts and it will grow within us and cause us to do good. It is my prayer that we may all find that love and desire and feel the peace that comes from living the commandments.

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