Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Believe That We Will Win

Saturday was another fun exciting day of college football. Here in the U.S. College students are very passionate about their teams in every season but especially football and basketball. The rivalry games are always exciting and fun to watch. Some of the games that I was watching closely include our hometown Aggies of Utah State University as they went up against Arkansas State (USU loses a close one in overtime), my alma mater Brigham Young University as they hosted Virginia (BYU 41 Virginia 33), The University of Utah as they take on Michigan (Utah 26 Michigan 10) and the Oregon Ducks as they defeated Washington State (Oregon 38 Washington State 31). If you are not a sports fan, stay with me I will be making my point soon.

Every team going into a sports contest believes that they can win. Some may be a long shot but they all have a hope of victory. Most teams have their chants and cheers that attempt to excite the fans and encourage their teams on to victory. My favorites include Maryland students doing their “Flash Mob and Harlem Shake”, the Clemson football team’s traditional entry into their football stadium, the Wisconsin Jump Around, and of course there is the famous Utah State University “I Believe That We Will Win” chant before every game.

Without the hope of wining teams would seldom agree to play another team. Even if it is a David vs Goliath contest (which the underdog won) teams that are the underdog relies on the memories of the ones that beat their goliath opponent and know they have a chance.

We are all in a similar situation everyday. We are either on the Lord’s team or are opposing the Lord. This is more than a sporting contest, it is a war and our eternal souls are the center of the battle. Elder Ezra Taft Benson in 1979 spoke about this when he spoke to the students at Brigham Young University:

“Each day the forces of evil and the forces of good pick up new recruits. Each day we personally make many decisions that show where our support will go. The final outcome is certain—the forces of righteousness will finally win. What remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this fight—and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last-days, foreordained mission?
“My beloved brothers and sisters, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man,” and so can you. You are a royal generation. The heavenly grandstands are cheering you on. We are fast coming to the close of this game. The opposition is real and is scoring. But we have scored, we are scoring, and we will score in the future. The Lord is our coach and manager. His team will win, and we can be a valiant part of it if we so desire. Rise up, O youth of Zion! You hardly realize the great divine potential that lies within you. May you all follow your leader, Jesus Christ, and increase mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially, I pray for all of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.” (“In His Steps”, Ezra Taft Benson, BYU Devotional, March 4, 1979)
One of the differences in this war that is different than any other contest is that we can switch sides depending on whom we are following. If we are obedient to the Lord and his commandments we are on his team. Everyone that has been born here in mortality lived in heaven with God and Christ before coming here. We were on the Lord’s team there and helped defeat Lucifer and his followers and earned the right to be born and receive a body. Here in this life if we are not keeping the commandments or following the prophet, we are on Satan’s team and oppose the Lord and this team. But because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent and change sides back to the Lord’s team again. Elder Holland spoke of this in a general conference address in 2011. He said:

“I especially ask the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood to sit up and take notice. For you, let me mix in an athletic analogy. This is a life-and-death contest we are in, young men, so I am going to get in your face a little, nose to nose, with just enough fire in my voice to singe your eyebrows a little—the way coaches do when the game is close and victory means everything. And with the game on the line, what this coach is telling you is that to play in this match, some of you have to be more morally clean than you now are. In this battle between good and evil, you cannot play for the adversary whenever temptation comes along and then expect to suit up for the Savior at temple and mission time as if nothing has happened. That, my young friends, you cannot do. God will not be mocked.
“So we have a dilemma tonight, you and I. It is that there are thousands of Aaronic Priesthood–age young men already on the records of this Church who constitute our pool of candidates for future missionary service. But the challenge is to have those deacons, teachers, and priests stay active enough and worthy enough to be ordained elders and serve as missionaries. So we need young men already on the team to stay on it and stop dribbling out of bounds just when we need you to get in the game and play your hearts out! In almost all athletic contests of which I know, there are lines drawn on the floor or the field within which every participant must stay in order to compete. Well, the Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things! You can’t do that. The Spirit will not be with you, and the words will choke in your throat as you speak them. You cannot travel down what Lehi called “forbidden paths”5 and expect to guide others to the “strait and narrow”6 one—it can’t be done.” (“We Are All Enlisted”, Jeffrey R. Holland, General Conference, October 2011)

Choosing to be on the Lord’s side is a decision we need to make everyday. Choosing to obey the Lord’s commandments keeps us on the Lord’s side and out of the reach of Satan. We cannot give in to those on Satan’s team that are trying to convince us to change our moral standards, to convince us it is ok to stray just a little or to question those who are leading the Lord’s team here. We need to be worthy to have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion to warn us when we are straying from the Lord’s side and changing the color of our jersey.

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about this war. He said it started in heaven and was described by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
“And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:7–9).

President Hinckley then said:

“That war, so bitter, so intense, has gone on, and it has never ceased. It is the war between truth and error, between agency and compulsion, between the followers of Christ and those who have denied Him. His enemies have used every stratagem in that conflict. They’ve indulged in lying and deceit. They’ve employed money and wealth. They’ve tricked the minds of men. They’ve murdered and destroyed and engaged in every other unholy and impure practice to thwart the work of Christ…

“The war goes on. It is waged across the world over the issues of agency and compulsion. It is waged by an army of missionaries over the issues of truth and error. It is waged in our own lives, day in and day out, in our homes, in our work, in our school associations; it is waged over questions of love and respect, of loyalty and fidelity, of obedience and integrity. We are all involved in it—men and boys, each of us. We are winning, and the future never looked brighter.” (“The War We Are Winning”, Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, October 1986)
There is a hymn that we often sing about this war between good and evil:

Who's on the Lord's side? Who?
Now is the time to show.
We ask it fearlessly:
Who's on the Lord's side? Who?
We wage no common war,
Cope with no common foe.
The enemy's awake;
Who's on the Lord's side? Who?

Who's on the Lord's side? Who?
Now is the time to show.
We ask it fearlessly:
Who's on the Lord's side? Who? (LDS Hymnbook, Hymn #260)
As the Apostle Paul counseled the Ephesians we need to put on the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11-18) if we are to stand against the devil. That armor includes the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit and other things that Paul describes. This armor will help protect us and remind us what we are fighting for. In the end we know who the winning team will be, it will be the Lord Jesus Christ and all those that are on his team. That future has been determined and will not change. The only thing we need to do is decide whose side we are on and fight each day to stay on the Lord’s side. There will be times when we lose our way and switch sides, but when that happens all is not lost. No matter what we have done while on Satan’s team we can always trade in our jerseys of sin and disobedience and be forgiven through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Our Savior stands waiting for us to return to him and he has designed the winning play that will end the game in victory for him and all those that where his jersey.

As long as I stay on the Lord's Team, not only do I believe that we will win. I know we will win.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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