Many years ago, shortly after Matt and I were married, my in-laws flew in from Washington for a visit to see our newly purchased home. I had taken great care to ensure it was clean, neat and tidy upon their arrival, including planting fresh purple and hot pink petunias outside the front door in my small flower bed, knowing this was one of my Mother-in-Laws favorite flowers. I remember sitting on the small porch with her one afternoon when she got up, walked over to the flower bed and began plucking off the colorful buds from EVERY stem. I recall thinking, “What on earth is she doing to my perfect little petunias?!” The flowers had just begun to open, bearing buds in time for their welcome. As her fingers picked away, she explained the process of “Dead Heading” petunias. Dead Heading, she taught, is removing flower buds from a plant to ensure greater growth and blooming in the future. Knowing she had grown many flower-filled gardens before, I listened…
Months later I recall studying a specific chapter in the Bible – John 15. One of my favorite verses in that chapter reads, “Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:4) Abide means to comply, to continue or stay. Read John 15: 1-17, the parable of the vine and the branches in and ponder the following:
Gardner/Pruner is our Heavenly Father
The “True” Vine is Jesus Christ
Branches define us, His disciples
I am the true avine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every abranch in me that beareth not bfruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cpurgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the avine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without bme ye can do nothing. If a man aabide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye aabide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall bask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father aglorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.As the Father hath aloved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye akeep my commandments, ye shall abide in my blove; 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 ajoy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye alove one another, as I have bloved you. Greater alove hath no man than this, that a man lay down his blife for his cfriends. Ye are my afriends, if ye do whatsoever I bcommand you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you afriends; for all things that I have bheard of my Father I have made cknown unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have achosen you, and bordained you, that ye should go and bring forth cfruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my dname, he may give it you.These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Let’s return now to my parable of the petunias. My Mother-in-law was simply continuing in the care and dressing of my flower garden that afternoon. She saw something greater in the future of each of those flowers. Liken this to our loving Heavenly Father. When we have trials or hardships in life we must remember they are for our greater good. We are being groomed by the Master Gardener, the one who knows us better than anyone else and wants us to achieve our greatest potential in this life. I know as we remain strong and steadfast, despite the wind or rain that threatens us (just as harsh elements distress a growing garden), we will become closer to His Son, Jesus Christ. I am a witness of this in my own life. I have found I rely most on the Savior through times of trial. I pray you will find this peace also as you faithfully continue to “Abide in Him.” This is my message for you today. That you will not just come to the Lord, but that you will remain. Come with conviction and endurance. Come permanently, for your sake and the sake of all the generations who follow you. Without Jesus Christ, we can do nothing. John 15:11 reads, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said, “Christ is everything to us and we are to “abide” in Him permanently, unyieldingly, steadfastly, forever. For the fruit of the gospel to blossom and bless our lives, we must be firmly attached to Him, the Savior of us all, and to this His Church, which bears His holy name. He is the vine that is our true source of strength and the only source of eternal life. In Him we not only will endure but also will prevail and triumph in this holy cause that will never fail us.”
WHAT IS GRACE? Divine means of help or strength; the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Grace comes BEFORE – DURING – and AFTER all we can do. A life impacted by grace begins to look like the Savior’s life. Consider posting one or more of the following questions on the board: What is grace?, What do the scriptures teach of grace?, How have you seen grace in your life? and, Do you believe you are saved by grace?.
Grace, defined in the Bible Dictionary, is a word that occurs frequently in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by His atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the Fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). It is truly the grace of Jesus Christ that makes salvation possible. This principle is expressed in Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches (John 15:1–11). See also John 1:12–17; Eph. 2:8–9; Philip. 4:13; D&C 93:11–14.
Additional references on Grace:
Young Women – Come Follow Me, What is grace?
Aaronic Priesthood – Come Follow Me, What is grace?
Sunday School – Come Follow Me, How can relying on the Savior’s grace help me become a better teacher?
“The Enabling Power of the Atonement,” David A. Bednar
1 Nephi 7:8-17 (Nephi breaks the bands his brothers tie him with)
Mosiah 24:8-15 (Amulon persecutes Alma and his people)
Alma 14:28-29 (Alma and Amulek leave prison)
2 Nephi 25:23 (Laboring diligently)
Book of Mormon Index (Additional scriptures on grace)
Hymn #193 (I Stand All Amazed)