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Becoming closer to Jesus Christ by Elder Kingsnorth

Good morning, brothers and sisters. I'm very grateful for the opportunity that I have been given to speak today. As they said, I am Elder Kings North, I've been in this ward for a transfer or six weeks. I mean so far, I've enjoyed it. For those of you that haven't gotten to know me, I was born and raised on the South side of Chicago. My family currently lives in Houston. We moved there after my freshman year of high school. So clearly, as you clearly see, even being a missionary for nine months that I've been out speaking, it is not easy and hasn't gotten too much easier. So I might have breaks like these that I need as a mental break.

Id like to take this opportunity to talk to you about something that we missionaries do very often. We help people come closer to Jesus Christ. Something that I have found to be one of my most favorite things in the world during the short amount of time that these 9 months have been so far. I know that this is kind of a topic that we might see and think is so simple, something that we already know how to do, but if there's one thing that I've learned so far on the mission, it's been that there's always room for improvement. No matter where we think we are or how comfortable we seem. First topic I'd like to address is the question how to get closer to Jesus Christ. It's probably in my opinion, one of the best ones which is going to the temple. There is special kind of peace behind the doors of the temple and within its walls and even on the very grounds themselves. The ordinances that we perform there are special and sacred. And I felt a very special spirit, especially as I have done these ordinances, for my ancestors. David A. Bednar, quorum of the twelve Apostles, said in a recent ensign article, "temples are the most holy of all places of worship. Everything that is learned and all that is done in Latter Day temples emphasizes Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and his role as our Savior. The covenants received and the ordinances performed in temples are essential to the sanctifying of our hearts and for the ultimate exaltation of God's sons and daughters. We experience wonderful blessings as we go to the temple and we learn of Jesus Christ and we deepen our conversion to him, our relationship with him. This is bringing us continually closer to Jesus Christ. He also says in this article, two of the most important lessons received in the temple covenants and ordinances are increasing joy and power. The Redeemer is the ultimate and only source of enduring joy. True joy comes from exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, worthily receiving and faithfully honoring sacred ordinances and covenants, and become completely converted to the Savior and his purposes. So if we frequent the temple, make and honor our wonderful and sacred covenants, we grow even closer to our Savior. I had the privilege of going to the temple three times so far on my mission in my nine months and the grounds one other time. Every time I go, I gain something more, whether that's knowledge, a deeper conversion through the spirit, or just a greater testimony of the very temple itself. But I know that as I've attended the temple, I've always come closer to my savior Jesus Christ and in my relationship with him. The temple is the place to be. It's worth the drive, every minute, every mile. While as missionaries, mostly we are to focus on gathering Israel on this side of the veil, you can on the other side of the veil as well. I don't always get the opportunity to go as often as I may personally like. There's a special joy that comes from gathering on the other side of the veil because we know that Jesus Christ did ministry and work. Going into the temple, performing ordinances for ancestors, is a special kind of missionary work that members can do more frequently than we can. Many of our great prophets and apostles have encouraged us to attend the temple once a week, if possible. Because they know the special spirit and special things that the temple can do in our lives.

President Nelson, spoke of the greatness of the temple and our need to attend last conference. He said, " positive spiritual momentum increases as we worship in the temple and grow our understanding of the magnificent runneth in depth of blessings we receive there. I pray with you to counter worldly ways by focusing on the internal blessing of the temple. Your time there brings blessings for eternity. I love President Nelson's talk about spiritual momentum. I know that as we attend the temple that momentum thoroughly increases and deepens our relationship with our Savior so much. More than I had first comprehended but as I continue to go, it happens more and more. Unfortunately, of course some either don't have such luxuries of living close to the temple or if they can't go to it at all. Thankfully, of course, there are so many other ways of which we can come closer to Jesus Christ. There are certainly what we refer to as primary answers. The simple things that someone as young as six or seven years old can tell you; going to church and partaking of the sacrament, reading scriptures daily, and praying daily. Even though many may shun such simple answers, I'd like to explore them a little bit. Why are they such simple answers, I thought. Because they are taught early on to our young primary kids, early habits enstiled in them because of their utmost importance. Why wouldn't we teach these great habits to our young kids? In preach my gospel, a guide for us as missionaries it tells us, "we feast upon them (referring to scriptures) because they open the door to Revelation and show us what we need to do and become. We search the scriptures to learn about Jesus Christ and his gospel. Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from God and comes through studying, and living his word and his gospel. As we learn about Jesus Christ, we feel closer to him. I know, I personally feel closer to people the more I learn about them, the more I talk with them, learn about their lives and what they do, what they want in life, their goals, and their dreams. So on and so forth. We learn in this gospel the things that he taught such as believing in him or having faith. We can't really grow closer to somebody that we don't believe really exists. I think that would be kind of silly, but we learn to follow his example and become like him. I feel a deeper connection to people as I become like them and try to replicate the traits I enjoy about them and look up to. It's quite the same with the Savior. As we look to him as the perfect example, we can learn how to become the very best versions of ourselves ultimately coming closer and closer to Jesus Christ. Thomas S. Monson taught what a paramount importance we have been provided; a perfect example to follow. Even the example of Jesus Christ. We have been instructed to follow that example. Said the Savior himself, "Come follow me, the works which thee have seen me do, that ye shall also do. He posed the question? What manner of men ought ye be? And he answered, "verily I say unto you, even as I am." He marked the path and led the way. And he did. As we strive to live as he did, we feel a closeness to him. We feel a peace and begin to experience change in some of the most amazing ways.

Something else we do and the very thing that we are doing today is we attend church each week and partake of the sacrament. An example is a symbol of the Savior's great sacrifice for us. As we take each week, we renew our covenants we made a baptism, in which we follow Christ's example, thus coming closer to him. Although we hear talks and lessons the second hour, the sacrament is the most important part of our church attendance. As we renew our covenants and as the Sacrament hymn turn our thoughts on him, we feel the love that the Savior has for us. We're able to feel of this love and closeness we have with our kind older brother.

In third Nephi, the Savior speaks to the Nephites. And in chapter 18, verse 11, through 13 concerning, the sacrament, he says quote, "And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my spirit to be with you. And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock. But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them; a commandment given by Christ himself to the Nephites. And with this, we know that we'll be able to have his spirit, as he promises in this verse.

I love the sacrament, especially on my mission. I love reviewing the hymn as we sit, that we will sing and thinking about the Lord and his wonderful atonement. Beginning on the lyrics, what they mean and how they make us feel, reviewing the amazing grace and power that comes from it, and with the atonement. Communication with our Heavenly Father is vital to feeling closeness with our Savior. We use this as a way to not only be grateful and experience feelings in our heart but to use the atonement in our lives to feel the love and forgiveness and grace, that comes from Jesus Christ. Using his atonement daily has brought me closer to my Savior and allowed me to feel peace and comfort. In Alma there is one of the most used versions I think in missionary work, especially when concerning the atonement and possibly one of my favorites. In Alma 7:11-12 it reads, and he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind, and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sickness of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Jesus Christ knows us the best. He knows everything we have gone through, everything we will go through and anything anyone will ever go through. So, we already have this wonderful relationship that's with him. And as we use and develop the gift of the atonement, it deepens even further. I'd like to close with one last thought I had, Something I love is that no matter where your relationship is, has been with things you have done, the Lord is always with us. In D & C 84 verse 88, And whoso receiveth you,there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. In many verses the Lord promises that he won't forsake us. He's always here for us and his spirit is in our hearts. There are angels round about us. He will always be ready and present to lift us up and welcome us back with open arms. The path may be straight and narrow, but that does not mean they're so few ways to come closer to our Savior Jesus Christ. When we teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ as missionaries, the last point, which we teach is called enduring to the end. Where all that simply means is coming closer to Jesus Christ. Striving every day to follow his example, to make and keep our covenants and to come closer to him daily through wonderful ways that he has prepared for us. I know that these covenants that we make give us wonderful blessings. That we feel closer to him. Part of our baptismal covenant is to always remember him. I challenge you this day brothers and sisters to think about how you were growing your relationship with Jesus Christ each day. To seek and wake up every morning thinking, how am I going to come closer to Jesus Christ today? I can testify that Jesus Christ, and his atonement and everything about him has blessed my life and my family's life. That as I have sought diligently to feel the love and be closer to my Savior, that I have experienced change that at some points in my life I thought were never possible. That I've been able to overcome obstacles and I have been able to feel of this Joy and the peace that comes from it. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that He truly did atone for all of our sins and knows what we go through. Each and every single one of us. That we have a loving Heavenly Father who loves and cares for us and has a plan for us. And that through the sealing power of the temple that we can be together with our families forever; because of Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God and that through it we can learn more about Savior about Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us. I know that we have a prophet who is led by Jesus Christ, who is his mouthpiece, and speaks His gospel, and speaks for him on this earth to lead and guide and direct us. I know that we can all strive to come closer to Jesus Christ, No matter how comfortable we feel. No matter where we are in our life. And if you feel the distance or or haven't felt the relationship or closeness with Jesus Christ, in a long time, I challenge you to to do these things. To pray, to read the scriptures, to learn them because Jesus Christ is always there for us. He will be there to welcome you back with open arms. And I know that the Atonement has worked in my life and has brought me so close to Jesus Christ and I leave these things with you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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