Monday, 16 March 2020

Sunday Sermon: Search the Scriptures

"Rely upon the things which are written, for in them are all the things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock"
(D&C 18:1)

One of the great blessings given in this dispensation is the privilege of possessing copies of the sacred scriptures for our own personal enlightenment. For centuries Christian people had to depend upon the teachings of scribes and priests for their scriptural knowledge. We should be grateful that today any member of The Restored Branch of Jesus Christ may study the word of God through the scriptures and through individual study in their own homes.

An additional blessing has come available to members of The Restored Branch of Jesus Christ through the publication of our own sacred scriptures. We are blessed that the Restored Branch of Jesus Christ is responsible for the bringing forth of the Chronicles of The Children of Araneck and the Doctrine and Covenants and we are proud of the fact the we have been able to procure The Inspired Version of the Bible along with The Restored Covenant Edition of the Book of Mormon. These sacred scriptures have made it possible for us to understand the scriptures in a new way and for us to be able to have access to the things that the Lord wishes for us to know. Those who prayerfully study the scriptures will develop a gospel scholarship beyond that which their forbears could have ever hoped to achieve. They will have the testimony that Jesus is the Christ and be competent to proclaim Him and defend Him.

Along with this great blessing comes the responsibility to search the scriptures prayerfully, to study and learn the laws of the gospel, to apply the laws to our lives by daily living the commandments, to teach and train our children by precept and example, and to guide and inspire others. An impressive example of training within the home is found in the scriptures. Speaking to Timothy, Paul said "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded that in thee also" (2 Timothy 1:5).

Paul further wrote, "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them, And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus"  (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

From the beginning, God has commanded his people to keep a written record of their history and His teachings, laws, and commandments. These records were considered of such vital consequence that the Lord has required that all his people do this, from the Children of Araneck to the people in The Book of Mormon all have kept records and all have gone to great lengths to keep them safe or to obtain them. For example The Prophet Jeraneck in the Book of Jeraneck which is contained in the Chronicles of The Children of Araneck kept the records close to him at all times even unto his death "Now I finish the record of the history of my people and I finish my testament and I have laid it out upon these twenty four plates and they are fashioned by my hand, and I have also compiled a record of the religious laws and practices of my people and the priests of Ridnon so that you may know more fully how to worship the Almighty and they are to be one record.  Now I make an end of this record and I say unto you I have lived a life that I am proud of and a life that I would live again.  I have lived a life in service unto my people indeed unto all people but also unto my God"
(Book of Jeraneck 18: 131-132).

For the Nephites records were also of vital importance so much so that the great Nephi was commanded to slay Laban in order to obtain scriptural and historical records engraved upon the plates of brass. Without these plates they would have been lost not knowing who they were and from whence they came.

The scriptures are replete with admonitions and direct commandments from our Father in Heaven and his prophets to study and learn His word. Today I give that same counsel. We need to make sure, that so far as is in our power, our homes are never without scriptures. I would like all of our members to read all of the works of scripture, to ponder in your hearts the eternal truths that are found within their pages, and to get on your knees and ask the Lord in sincerity and in faith for understanding and comprehension and guidance. I would like each of you to read the scriptures either by yourself or with your loved ones and families, not simply to read the words but to ponder and pray about the content so that there will come into your lives the desire for righteousness that grows out of the study of the pure, perfect word of God. I fear that we rush about from day to day taking for granted the scriptures. We scramble to honour appointments here and there, yet we think nothing of postponing daily scripture study. Ask yourselves how much better it would be for yourselves and your families if you planned and held a sacred fifteen minuets a day for reading the scriptures together. Such time with the Lord would help us recognise His voice and empower us to receive guidance in all our affairs.

In conclusion I would like to say that a study of the scriptures should be an integral part of the religious education of every member of The Restored Branch of Jesus Christ. I know that if we will do this great blessings will come to us as we prayerfully search for and ponder the words of the Lord. Place the sacred scriptures in convenient areas in our homes, so that they will easily be used and available. Search the scriptures brothers and sisters, and then strive to apply the teachings found within their pages in your life and the life of your families so that you may become more Christ like in your thoughts and actions. We must be an example to everyone around us including our children. We must show them that their is pleasure in searching the scriptures and answers to be find to the problems that beset our world today. We must all endeavour to help one another to interpret the meanings of the scriptures so that we can start to help ourselves, our families and our world. Without scriptural direction we are all lost and it is my hope that we find light, love and understanding from reading them in our lives.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Branch Statement: COVID-19 Response

As the Prophet and First Elder of The Restored Branch of Jesus Christ it is important that I make the following statement. With all the media attention on the COVID-19 outbreak I just want to assure you that The Restored Branch of Jesus Christ will continue to meet for our Sunday Services. I feel this is right and that we should keep meeting as long as we can. I want to ask everyone to pray for our country and the world at this time. We must remain positive and believe in the Lord to see us safely through.

However can I ask that if you have been in contact with anyone showing symptoms or who has COVID-19 to stay at home and follow the governments guidelines. If you are okay and haven’t been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 then please continue to come to sacrament meetings on Sunday. We must never see this unfortunate time in our world as an excuse to just not come out to church. If you are healthy and fine then you should be at church. We must continue in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord. See you all on Sunday. God bless.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Repentance: A Mighty Change

Changing for the better is an important part of repentance. It is a process of improvement offered by the Lord that can lead to perfection. We have the opportunity to repent because of Christ's atonement, and the Lord promises to forgive us when our repentance is complete. "I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Nevertheless he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven" (D&C 1)

One of the beautiful things about the restored gospel is that we  know that although we are born in to a sinful, fallen, carnal world we are all born with a clean slate. We are not born in to sin and we do not become accountable for our sins until we reach the age of accountability and receive baptism. It is after this event that sin in our lives starts to be recognised by the Lord and so we need to learn at an early age that we are responsible for our actions and that we may need to make changes in our lives to correct those mistakes. Recognising the need to change our lives and acting upon that need requires a daily effort. It is necessary, however, as an ongoing part of our sincere and complete repentance.

When King Benjamin admonished his people to repent, he told them that if they truly wanted to repent they would keep the commandments (Mosiah 2). When they responded, they acknowledged that the spirit of the Lord had indeed "wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have nor more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Mosiah 3). They further said "We are willing to enter in to a covenant with our God to do his will and to be obedient to his commandments in all things, all the remainder of our days" (Mosiah 3). They were willing to repent and be baptised and keep the commandments. This true repentance shows the pattern for overcoming weakness to become like Christ.

Often we hear people say that they would like to go back and live life over, knowing what they know now. Although such a wishful returning to our yesterdays is impossible, we can begin to make needed changes where we are today. There is virtually nothing that man cannot turn away from if he really wants to. There is virtually no habit that he cannot give up if he sincerely set his will to do so and will sincerely seek and accept help, the help of others and the help of his father in heaven.

We sometimes think that we are not capable of changing, that changing is just too hard, that our weaknesses are either to small or too great to change, or that we are to old or too young to begin. Such doubts keep us from seeing repentance honestly, deprive us of many blessings, and hinder our progress towards eternal life. We must remember that the Lord has made us accountable and responsible for our own acts. We each have the power to conquer faults and failings, to make changes, whether they are great or small, that will make our lives conform to gospel principles. We catalogue our weaknesses and move in against them to overcome them. Christ became perfect through overcoming. Only as we overcome shall we become perfect and move forward towards the throne of God. Through the gift of repentance we have the opportunity to change. We can overcome personal weaknesses and become Christ like. The important thing in creating a mighty change in our lives is to start now.

In concluding we all need to take a long hard look at our lives and see what needs changing through the power of repentance. We should all make a mental note and go to work as soon as we get back to our homes form this meeting. I pray that we can all find the strength to examine or lives and think upon Christ and seek his help in asking for repentance.

In The Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Prophet Matthew Gill

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