Good Afternoon, Brothers and Sisters.
It is truly an honor and a privilege to speak to you today. I pray that the Spirit will be with me while I talk, for He is the one who instructs us all. I only present the message.
Here is a short introduction of our family. I was born in California. Misty was born in Salt Lake City. We met in the Laguna Niguel Second Singles Ward, and were married in the San Diego Temple, on September 11th, 1998. We have been married for 13 ½ years. We have been in this ward for a year and a half. I work for a software development company, where I provide technical phone support, test software releases, and write technical documentation. I have been with them for almost 12 years. Misty is a legal secretary for the Elder Law Center. She has been with that company for almost five years. Misty also is a professional photographer, and web designer. We appreciate how comfortable we have felt ever since we first came into the ward.
A few weeks ago, one of our servants of the Lord, Dane Englund, asked for me to prepare a talk. The source of my talk was to be, and is, Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s article in the January 2012 Ensign, entitled “Recognizing God’s Hand in Our Daily Blessings”. In the subheading for this article, it says “Asking for ‘our daily bread’ at God’s hand plays a vital part in learning to trust Him and in enduring life’s challenges.”
So, to kind of introduce what this article is all about, we are counseled to recognize God’s hand in our daily blessings; and as we ask for ‘our daily bread’ from God, we learn to trust Him. In this talk, I hope to define what our daily bread is, and what our daily blessings are. I will also talk a lot about how prayer helps us to appreciate our daily blessings, and to find answers to life’s challenges.
So, what is our daily bread? In the New Testament, in John 6:48-51, it says that Jesus is the bread of life. For according to those verses of scripture, Jesus said:
“I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world”.
In these verses Jesus prophesied about His resurrection. He explained what is now written in the Old Testament, in the book of Exodus. He talked about the manna which came down to the Israelites during Moses’ time. Those who ate the manna, or bread, later, they died, the same way as we all die. They weren’t poisoned. They just died, because they were mortal. Although, Jesus also explained that this bread, which came down from heaven was a foreshadowing of things to come. He explained that the manna, or bread, which came down from heaven was similar to Him coming down during His mortal ministry. When Jesus came down from Heaven during His mortal ministry, Jesus’ body was bread which came down from heaven. Jesus gave His body to be sacrificed on the cross, so He, and we, could be resurrected, and receive immortality. In other words, He gave His body, His bread, so we could all have immortality. So, unlike the manna during Moses’ time, while the manna did not give life, Jesus’ body did.
In the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:11, Jesus asked for God to “give us this day our daily bread.” It is also interesting to note that, according to Luke 11:3, Jesus prayed “Give us day by day our daily bread.” In Matthew, it says “to give us this day”, while Luke recalled that Jesus prayed “give us day by day”, which is a little different recollection from the first. In either case, Jesus asked God for his daily bread, for today and for the future. But what is our ‘daily’ bread?
According to Elder Christofferson, our daily bread is the help and sustenance we require. Although, this article is not only about receiving daily bread, it is also about recognizing God’s hand in our daily blessings.
So, what are our daily blessings? Well, if one is really truly thankful, our daily blessings are everything in life: the air we breathe; our health; our faith; and so on. In other words, our daily blessings include our daily bread, and everything else about life, in general. (It is also interesting to note here, that the first talk I was assigned, after several years of marriage, was also about thankfulness; so I guess that at least a couple of Bishoprics think of me when they need to have a talk given about this subject. I don’t know what this means, but it is a curiosity.) So, how do we recognize God’s hand in our daily blessings?
For me, it is by realizing that Jesus is our Creator, and that He is ultimately responsible for everything in my life. You see, Jesus is the Creator, because, while in the Spirit World, He created this earth. Isaiah 40:28-31 supports this notion. In that verse, it says:
“Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
So, the Lord is the Creator of all that we have had. He is the reason that we have that which we have, right now; and if we wait upon the Lord, He will give us all that we need in the future, both temporally and spiritually.
Now, getting back to Elder Christofferson’s article, he counsels us to daily ask for our bread, and how do we do that? It is through prayer, and what is prayer, you might ask? It is the act of communicating with deity, or in more simplistic terms, talking with God. It is an opportunity to be in touch with the Spirit.
Also, what Elder Christofferson is saying is that we shouldn’t just pray once for our daily bread, and then be done with it, or even pray occasionally. We need to pray daily for our daily bread, and furthermore, after studying the scriptures a little more, I have found that we should pray every moment of the day.
For example, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, it says:
“Pray without ceasing.”
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
In that last scriptural verse, there are two separate words: the words ‘every’ and ‘thing’. Those two words are not combined into one word, as in the word ‘everything’. This distinction seems to be important, and I think that it requires emphasis. We should give thanks for every single thing that we have, both temporarily and spiritually.
For me, putting those two verses together is the essence of continuous prayer, and I will quote them again:
“Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
To me, these verses tell us to pray for all things always, through constant prayer, to be in touch with the Spirit at all times, even now.
For me, praying means being in touch with the Spirit, each moment of the day. Every moment of the day is a time to learn from the Holy Spirit, an opportunity to be in touch with the Spirit, to listen to that still small voice, and/or to feel divine impressions on my soul.
Today, right here, right now, at this very moment, I thank God for all this life is giving me, right here, right now, at this very moment. For me, praying is one continuous eternal round of being in the moment, and being thankful for everything in this immediate moment.
You know, some people find talking in front of crowd to be more stressful than the fear of death. Well, I can testify that being here right now is much less stressful than the fear of death. Also as a side note, I once heard someone say that Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles seems to always be praying. He always seems to be having this conversation with God about what he should do next. (Here’s another side note: did you know that computers do not actually multi-task? Actually, they queue up the computer impulses, and processors are so fast that they just seem to multi-task.) I have also found that I am able to perform faster when I am in moment, and I am not tied down by extraneous thoughts.
Now, we can only be in touch with the Spirit if we repent, and since we are all feeling the Spirit today, we must all be repenting pretty effectively.
Now, let’s just sit back and relax, and let the Spirit teach us all about our blessings which we have been given today.
You know, one of the reasons I love going to church, and attending the temple, is that I have the opportunity to learn the ways of the Lord. So, let’s do that right here and right now. Do you ever take notes during church? I sometimes do, not as often as I should. It’s not that I look back at them, but, I find, that taking notes during church helps me to be more connected with the message that is being presented. Also, if I get distracted, I can write a simple note and get focused back on the message which the Spirit is giving me while participating here in Sacrament Meeting. (I also started doing something similar at work this week. If an idea came into my head, rather than dismiss it for later, I started composing a “Notes To Self” email that I can email to myself later on. Then, I can get back to the task at hand.)
So, now, it’s time to learn from the Spirit. So, if you have them, you might want to get out your writing instruments, and write down what comes to mind. The Spirit will teach you what is important. The Spirit will teach you today and in the future. To me, that is one meaning of what is meant by waiting upon the Lord.
You can take notes on what the Spirit will teach you today. Let’s be right here, right now. If a distracting thought comes to mind, briefly write a note about it so you don’t have to think about it again, and so you can be right here right now. That which the Spirit teaches us are today’s blessings.
Also, I just wanted to let you know that Buddhists are really good at this. Did you know that in Taoism, they speak about ‘being in the moment’? And, if I remember correctly, in Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph F. Smith said that if Taoism has correct principles, then we are all for it.
Even when – especially when – we sleep, it is important to be one with the Spirit. During those 8 hours of the day, which is one-third of our lifespan, we need to give every thing to the Lord. We are counseled to lay down unto the Lord. For, in the Book of Alma, chapter 37, verses 36 and 37, it says:
“Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
At night, I often have to remind myself to ‘lay down unto the Lord’, and give Him all of the cares that I have. Then, and only then, do I get a good night’s sleep.
Planning ahead is also important. So, it is important to prioritize on when to plan for the future, but that probably is the subject for another talk.
Elder Christofferson also mentions in his article about how asking for and receiving daily bread at God’s hand plays a vital part in learning to endure life’s challenges. Oftentimes, I have found that challenges occur because I am overwhelmed by the task. It is important at these times to slow down, and cut these tasks into smaller pieces. Recently, President Uchtdorf gave an excellent talk on slowing down when things get rough. Although, sometimes, “mountains have been made out of molehills”, and after further analysis, priorities may determine that the desired outcome is more of a wish than a necessity.
You know, with all of this mind, I love Doctrine & Covenants 122: 7-8, because it keeps everything in perspective. After much tribulation, it says:
“all things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
The Son of Man hath descended below them all, Art thou greater than he?”
Finally, and ultimately, as we humble ourselves to God’s will, we will find that our prayers are answered; and with the confirmation that our prayers have been answered, we trust the Lord to answer our prayers even more.
In Luke 18:9-14, this is written about Jesus:
“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather that the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
In summary, I enjoyed reading Elder Christofferson’s article, in the January Ensign. Before I started writing this talk, I read his article three times, and then I read it over and over again, to glean more spiritual fruit from it. I would also encourage you to read his article over and over again as well. I enjoyed preparing this talk. I am putting in my library, because it helped me, as I found scriptures illustrating the need to recognize God’s hand in all of my blessings.
I have talked about what is our daily bread, and I compared it with our daily blessings. I talked about how to recognize God’s hand in all things. I explained how prayer allows us the opportunity to see all of our blessings; and that our prayers will be answered, which builds trust in God.
For those of you who desire that I share with you what I have learned, I will post my research on our blog. The URL is blog.MDRIdeas.com. MDRIdeas is all one word with no hyphens or spaces, and it means Misty and Dan Reisman’s Ideas. Misty and I post daily on our blog, and it is a wonderful opportunity to keep in touch with family, friends, and acquaintances, throughout the week. Anonymous readers access our blog from throughout the world. Since a year ago, last January, our blog has recorded more than 3,000 page views.
With all the humility that I possess, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to share with you this day what is within my heart. I know that the principles that I have shared do lead us to happiness, both in the present, and in the future. I am grateful to be a member of the Lord’s Church in this dispensation, when I can freely share divine principles without fear of prejudice or persecution.
Finally, I want to close with my testimony. I know that this church is true. I know that Jesus and Heavenly Father came to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove, as an answer to fervent prayer. I know that gospel truths have been restored as result of the Book of Mormon being translated through divine revelation. I know that the scriptures are true, as long as they are correctly interpreted. I know that I am lead by the Lord’s prophet today, and his name is Thomas S. Monson, and he is in my prayers that he will be continually inspired to lead us in righteousness. Finally, and most importantly, I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is my Redeemer, my Creator, my Brother, and my Friend. He atoned for my sins, so I can be forgiven as long as I repent of my sins; and by following His example, I can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, to lead me and guide me as I perform the Lord’s work. Of these things I testify to be true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.