Posted in Divine identity, Foreordination, LDS Doctrine, Melchizedek Priesthood Lessons 2018, Relief Society Lessons 2018, virtue

Study helps: Joy D. Jones, “Value beyond Measure”

From http://www.lds.org:
What blessings flow into our lives when we understand our divine identity?

To answer this question, members of your quorum or Relief Society could review together the stories of Mariama, Renu, and Taiana in Sister Jones’s message.

What counsel does Sister Jones give to help us “remember and embrace our divine identity”?

Invite members to find and discuss a scripture passage or a quotation in Sister Jones’s message that helps them understand their true worth to God. Invite them to share one of these scriptures or quotations with someone who needs a reminder of his or her divine worth.

Divine identity

Each person on earth is a spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents. As their children we have inherited the potential to become like them also.

Watch: Child of God

‘Let us briefly discuss a significant threat to achieving our divine potential. Today we receive many warnings about identity theft. Some of you may have experienced the trauma resulting from this fraud. In our cybernetic world of trust and rapid transmission of medical, financial, and other personal data, we are vulnerable to exploitation of our identifying details. Theft of our numerical mortal identity can be costly and cause us a great deal of misery. But the theft of our eternal identity has much longer effects and more dire consequences. I am not talking about addresses, credit cards, or any other identifying numbers. I am talking about something much more basic and more important than who the world thinks you are. I am talking about who you think you are.

We know we are sons and daughters of God, with the potential to become like Him as described in His plan of happiness. We know this potential is achieved through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and through obedience to the eternal laws and principles embedded in His gospel. We also know that Satan is totally dedicated to thwarting and derailing this marvelous plan-of-happiness knowledge and process. We know that one of his primary tools is to entice us to forget who we really are—to fail to realize or to forget our divine potential. This is the cruelest form of identity theft.’ (Elder Robert C Oaks, BYU Devotional, March 2006)

How does Satan try to rob us of our divine identity?

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‘The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. . . . The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.’ (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Worth and worthiness

Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. They are not the same. Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. “God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever.”

On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less! We continue to repent and strive to be like Jesus with our worth intact. As President Brigham Young taught: “The least, the most inferior spirit now upon the earth … is worth worlds.” No matter what, we always have worth in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

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What happens when we get worth and worthiness confused? How can we guard against this?

Virtue

Marion G Romney said ‘I can think of no blessings to be more fervently desired than those promised to the pure and virtuous. Jesus spoke of specific rewards for different virtues but reserved the greatest gift, so it seems to me, for the pure in heart, for they, said he, shall see their God. (Matt 5:48) And not  only shall they see the Lord but they shall feel at home in his presence.’

See: Christ-like attributes – virtue

How can we find the strength to be virtuous in thought and deed in this world of terrible temptations?

Scriptures:

Romans 8:16-17

Revelation 21:7

Revelation 3:21

Philippians 3:14

2 Peter 1:4

D&C 132:20

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Posted in atonement, General Conference, Jesus Christ, Melchizedek Priesthood Lessons 2018, Relief Society Lessons 2018

Study helps: Neill F. Marriott, “Abiding in God and Repairing the Breach”

From http://www.lds.org

This message can help members who may feel separated from Heavenly Father or from those around them. What would help those you teach understand what a breach is? Maybe you could bring pictures of different kinds of breaches.

  • How does Sister Marriott define breach?
  • What can cause breaches in our relationships with God and others?
  • Invite members to search Sister Marriott’s message for suggestions about what we can do to repair breaches in our lives. Give members time to write down what the Spirit prompts them to do to draw closer to God and others.

Abiding in God

Sister Marriott speaks of God’s everlasting love and quotes Jeremiah 31:3 and Moses 6:34. She asks: Do we trust Him enough to abide in Him and walk with Him?

Elder Christofferson explains that ‘everlasting love’ is a more accurate description than ‘unconditional’ love:

‘There are many ways to describe and speak of divine love. One of the terms we hear often today is that God’s love is “unconditional.” While in one sense that is true, the descriptor unconditional appears nowhere in scripture. Rather, His love is described in scripture as “great and wonderful love,”  (Doctrine and Covenants 138:3) “perfect love,”  (1 John 4:18  Moroni 8:16) “redeeming love,”  (Alma 5:26) and “everlasting love.”  (Jeremiah 31:3). These are better terms because the word unconditional can convey mistaken impressions about divine love, such as, God tolerates and excuses anything we do because His love is unconditional, or God makes no demands upon us because His love is unconditional, or all are saved in the heavenly kingdom of God because His love is unconditional. God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever, but what it means for each of us depends on how we respond to His love.’ (Elder D Todd Christofferson, General Conference October 2016).

Reading Abiding in God and Repairing the Breach - By Neill F. Marriott in Voice Dream http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/abiding...

Sister Marriott suggests some ways that we can abide in God’s love:

  • We are here on this earth to learn and grow, and the most important learning and growing will come from our covenant connection to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
  • We need to know that Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation is that we obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel and gain eternal life and thus become as God is.
  •  We can lose our trusting connection to God if trials drive us to distraction instead of sending us to our knees.
  • Some things matter; some things don’t. A few things last, but most things won’t.

  • It is now, with our mortal limitations, that the Father asks us to love when loving is most difficult, to serve when serving is inconvenient, to forgive when forgiving is soul stretching. 

See John 15:4, John 15:10, D&C 88:22

Image result for Study helps: Neill F. Marriott, “Abiding in God and Repairing the Breach”

Definition of ‘abide’

1a :to bear patiently :tolerate
b :to endure without yielding :withstand
2:to wait for :await
3:to accept without objection (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Watch: Abide in me – Jeffrey R Holland (1:56)
Repairing the breach
Sister Marriott says: Our sins and pride create a breach—or a gap—between us and the font of all love, our Heavenly Father.

 

How do we repair that breach?

  • Only the Savior’s Atonement can cleanse us of our sins and close that gap or breach. (See Jacob 4:11)
  • Sacrifice of our personal agendas is required to make room for the eternal plans of God. 
  • Drawing near unto the Father can mean learning of His truth through the scriptures, following prophetic counsel, and striving to do His will more completely. (See D&C 88:63)
  • When we give our heart to the Father and the Son, we change our world—even if circumstances around us do not change. We draw closer to Heavenly Father and feel His tender acceptance of our efforts to be true disciples of Christ. 
  • Mormon tells us to pray with all energy of heart for this love and it will be bestowed upon us from its source—Heavenly Father. (See Moroni 7:48)

‘When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do.’ (Elder Russell M Nelson, General Conference, April 2017)

See: The Infinite Atonement

Posted in General Conference, Melchizedek Priesthood Lessons 2018, Relief Society Lessons 2018

Study helps: Sharon Eubank, “Turn On Your Light”

From http://www.lds.org:

Ask members of your quorum or Relief Society to think about how their lives have been influenced for good by a righteous and faithful woman.

Consider inviting a few members to share how this woman illustrates one or more of the characteristics of righteous women outlined in Sister Eubank’s message.

What do we learn from Sister Eubank about how we can become “a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days”?

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Righteous and faithful women:

Sister Eubank refers to 5 attributes identified by President Kimball:

  1. Be righteous (See Matthew 6:33-34)
  2. Be articulate (See Proverbs 21:36)
  3. Be different (See Galatians 1:10)
  4. Be distinct (See Psalm 84:10)
  5. Do the above in happy ways (See Colossians 3:23)

Proverbs 31:25-31

25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

“When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?” [Neal A Maxwell, “The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, 10–11.]

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A significant force:

Sister Eubank quotes President Kimball:

“Finally, my dear sisters, may I suggest to you something that has not been said before or at least in quite this way. Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.

“Among the real heroines in the world who will come into the Church are women who are more concerned with being righteous than with being selfish. These real heroines have true humility, which places a higher value on integrity than on visibility. …

“… It will be … female exemplars of the Church [who] will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days.”

Consider the story of Mary and Martha from the New Testament. Daughters in My Kingdom (pages 2-3) explains:

 “Luke 10 contains an account of Martha opening her home to Jesus. She served the Lord by taking care of His temporal needs, and Mary sat at the Master’s feet and absorbed His teachings.

“In an age when women were generally expected to provide only temporal service, the Savior taught Martha and Mary that women could also participate spiritually in His work. He invited them to become His disciples and partake of salvation, ‘that good part’ that would never be taken from them.”

 “The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.” (Margaret D Nadauld, Ensign, November 2000)

See:

Psalm 27:3-5

Proverbs 31:17

A Long Line of Faithful Righteous Women

Noble Women, Righteous Lives

Posted in atonement, Family, Gospel Doctrine 2018, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, Old Testament

Old Testament Lesson 4: “Because of My Transgression My Eyes Are Opened”

1. The Fall of Adam and Eve and its effects on them and us

‘They were highly intelligent people, not at all like either the hominids or the cavemen some claim the first humans to have been. They were well educated, having been taught by the Lord himself. What an education! What an instructor!’ (Mark E Petersen)

Moses 2:28 Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth

‘All my life I have heard the argument that the earth is overpopulated. Much controversy surrounded a 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt. No doubt the conference accomplished much that was worthwhile. But at the very center of the debate was the socially acceptable phrase “sustainable growth.” This concept is becoming increasingly popular. How cleverly Satan masked his evil designs with that phrase.

Few voices in the developed nations cry out in the wilderness against this coined phrase, “sustainable growth.” In Forbes magazine a thoughtful editorial asserts that people are an asset, not a liability. It forthrightly declares as preposterous the broadly accepted premise that curbing population growth is essential for economic development. This editorial then states convincingly, “Free people don’t ‘exhaust’ resources. They create them.”

An article in U.S. News & World Report entitled “10 Billion for Dinner, Please” states that the earth is capable of producing food for a population of at least eighty billion, eight times the ten billion expected to inhabit the earth by the year 2050. One study estimates that with improved scientific methods the earth could feed as many as one thousand billion people. Those who argue for sustainable growth lack vision and faith. The Lord said, “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare.” 17 That settles the issue for me. It should settle the issue for all of us. The Lord has spoken.’ (James E Faust, “Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 4-5)

Moses 3:17 Nevertheless thou mayest choose for thyself

…it is the only place in all the history where we read that the Lord forbade something and yet said, ‘Nevertheless thou mayest choose for thyself.’ He never said that of any sin. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of the Gospel institute Manual, p. 20)

Moses 5:10-11 Were it not for our transgression

‘With the Fall, Adam and Eve became mortal. Death, sin, sorrow, and pain became a part of life. But so too did the opportunity to progress, to grow in knowledge and develop our talents and gifts, to experience the joys of parenthood, and, if we are faithful to the commandments and to Jesus Christ, to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence. The scriptures state that Adam proclaimed, “Because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient. And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God” (Moses 5:10-12).

The experiences of life, with their contrasts and opposites-health and sickness, success and failure, joy and sorrow-help us to know how to value the good.  They help us to make the choices necessary to obtain eternal happiness and exaltation. They are our great teachers, if we will but listen and learn from them. However, people can react differently to almost identical experiences. After losing a loved one, for example, some people draw closer to the Lord, but others alienate themselves from Him. T. S. Eliot’s comment that many people have “had the experience but missed the meaning” (“The Dry Salvages,” in Four Quartets [1943], 39) suggests that we must understand the true meaning of life’s experiences if we are to learn from them.

To learn fully from the experiences of life, we must interpret them within the framework of the restored gospel. For example, those who understand and believe the Church’s teachings about the eternal nature of humankind and the family will feel and react much differently to the loss of a loved one than will others who fail to understand or believe these glorious doctrines. In this, as in all else, we are free to choose. “And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free” (Hel. 14:30).’ (Alexander B. Morrison, “Life-The Gift Each Is Given,” Ensign, Dec. 1998, 17-18)

Moses 6:49 Carnal, sensual and devilish

Carnal adj.  1. pertaining to or characterized by the passions and appetites of the flesh or body; sensual.    2. not spiritual; temporal; worldly. Refers to the physical rather than the rational or spiritual nature of human beings. CARNAL, although it may refer to any bodily need or urge, most often refers to sexuality. (adapted from Random House Webster’s College Dictionary 1996)

Sensual adj.  1. arousing or preoccupied with gratification of the senses or appetites; carnal.    2. lacking in moral restraints.  3. worldly; materialistic; irreligious.  SENSUAL refers to the enjoyments derived from the senses, esp. to the gratification or indulgence of physical appetites: sensual pleasures. SENSUAL most often describes the arousal or gratification of erotic urges. See also carnal. (adapted from Random House Webster’s College Dictionary 1996)

Devilish adj. 1. Partaking of the qualities of the devil; diabolical; very evil and mischievous; malicious; 2. Having communication with the devil; pertaining to the devil. 3. Excessive; enormous; in a vulgar and ludicrous sense; as a devilish cheat. (adapted from  American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828)

Moses 4:23-25 Cursed be the ground

‘Note that the curse was not placed upon Adam, but upon the ground for Adam’s sake. Rather than a curse upon Adam, it was a blessing to him. It launched him and his posterity upon the only course by which they can eventually reach that perfection enjoined by the Master. The fact that when the Lord cursed the ground to bring forth “thorns” and “thistles,” thereby requiring men to labor in order to derive a living from it, it was for their “sake”—meaning “good,” “advantage,” or “well-being?” This cannot be overemphasized.’  (Marion G Romney)

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Abraham 3:24-26 We will prove them herewith

‘In fact, adequacy in the first estate may merely have ensured a stern, second estate with more duties and no immunities! Additional tutoring and suffering appears to be the pattern for the Lord’s most apt pupils. (See Mosiah 3:19; 1 Pet. 4:19.) Our existence, therefore, is a continuum matched by God’s stretching curriculum.’ (Neal a Maxwell, “Premortality, a Glorious Reality,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 17)

Moses 4:6 He sought to destroy the world

In his desire to overthrow the plan of God, Satan did not realize that he was bringing about the very condition which would enable the plan to work, the mortality of man. God had structured the plan to bring about the desired result without violating the principle of agency.

2. The Atonement of Jesus Christ saves us from physical and spiritual death.

‘The Book of Mormon Saints knew that the plan of redemption must start with the account of the fall of Adam. In the words of Moroni, “By Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, . . . and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man” (Mormon 9:12).

Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon.

Brethren and sisters, we all need to take a careful inventory of our performance and also the performance of those over whom we preside to be sure that we are teaching the “great plan of the Eternal God” to the Saints.

Are we accepting and teaching what the revelations tell us about the Creation, Adam and the fall of man, and redemption from that fall through the atonement of Christ? Do we frequently review the crucial questions which Alma asks the members of the Church in the fifth chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon?

Do we understand and are we effective in teaching and preaching the Atonement? What personal meaning does the Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane and on Calvary have for each of us?

What does redemption from the Fall mean to us? In the words of Alma, do we “sing the song of redeeming love”? (Alma 5:26).’ (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1987, 85)

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Moses 6:50-52 He called upon our father Adam by his own voice

‘The first man was instructed by the best teacher man ever had, for he was taught of God, and spoke the language of the Most High, in which angels conversed. This language he taught to his children. It is true that he was left to work out, through the use of his faculties, many of nature’s great secrets; but the Lord did not leave him helpless, but instructed him, and he was inspired by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Lord gave him commandments after he was driven out of the Garden of Eden, revealed to him the plan of salvation, and he taught his children, and he set up a government. It was a perfect government, for Adam listened to the counsels of the Almighty, his Father, and our Father. He taught his children principles of divine truth and endeavored to establish them in the knowledge and understanding of the things of the kingdom of God.

Some people have the idea that the Ten Commandments were first given by Moses when he directed the children of Israel and formulated their code of laws. This is not the case. These great commandments are from the beginning and were understood in righteous communities in the days of Adam. They are, in fact, fundamental parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the gospel in its fulness was first given to Adam.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:94-96)

3. Adam and Eve begin life as mortals, bear children, teach them the gospel, and worship and obey God.

Moses chapter 5 tells us about the beginning of family life on earth. We learn how God revealed the gospel to Adam and Eve and their posterity and how their posterity responded to the enticings of Satan.

Moses 5:12 made all things known unto their sons and daughters

‘If we do not take the pains to train our children, to teach and instruct them concerning these revealed truths, the condemnation will be upon us, as parents, or at least in a measure.

Teach your children from their youth, never to set their hearts immoderately upon an object of this world.

Bring up your children in the love and fear of the Lord.’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 207)

Image result for Adam and Eve begin life as mortals, bear children, teach them the gospel, and worship and obey God.

Moses 5:5-6 The law of sacrifice

‘Adam and Eve were given the law of sacrifice and commanded to practice it by giving offerings. These included two emblems: the firstlings of the flock and the first fruits of the field. They obeyed without questioning (see Moses 5:5–6). President David O. McKay explained, “The effect of this [law] was that the best the earth produced, the best specimen in the flock or herd should not be used for self, but for God” (“The Atonement,” Instructor, Mar. 1959, 66). At a time in history when just making sure your family had food, those who sought to worship the Lord were asked to sacrifice the best part of their source of life. It was a real test of Adam and Eve’s faith, and they obeyed.

Likewise, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the holy prophets from Adam to Moses offered the Lord sacrifices in a similar way.’ (M Russell Ballard, CES Symposium on the New Testament, 13 August 1996, Brigham Young University)

Moses 5:5-8 Animal sacrifice

“From Adam to Moses, and from Moses to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh, either as part of the gospel or of the Mosaic law, as the cases might be, all of the saints offered sacrifices in similitude of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. … For a pastoral people whose lives depended on their flocks and herds, there could have been no better similitude than this” (Bruce R McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 114–15).

Posted in Creation, Gospel Doctrine 2018, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Old Testament Lesson 3: The Creation

“The Lord expects us to believe and understand the true doctrine of the Creation–the creation of this earth, of man, and of all forms of life” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Christ and the Creation,” Ensign, June 1982, p. 9).

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1. Moses sees a vision of God’s creations.

‘In addition to his calling to free the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, Moses was given the assignment to write about the events that occurred from the Creation of the earth until the final days of his own mission. The first five books of the Bible contain the writings of Moses. However, some of the truths Moses recorded in those five books were removed from the Bible by wicked men who altered the biblical text (see 1 Nephi 13:24–28Moses 1:23). By revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith restored many truths that were lost (see 2 Nephi 3:6–15Moses 1:41).” (Pearl of Great Price Institute Student Manual)

Moses 1:27 Moses…beheld the earth

‘What did [Moses] behold? He looked upon that which mankind never can look upon in this natural state, without the aid of the same principle; he beheld every particle of the earth, or, as the new revelation says, and there was not a particle of it that he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God. What an excellent telescope! Did the Spirit of God impress it by the rays of light upon the retina of the eye only? No: the vision was exhibited to the mind, independent of the natural eye. Instead of acting upon the mere eye, every part of the human spirit could behold and discern, through the medium of that all-powerful substance-the Spirit of God, every particle of this earth. How long would it have taken Moses to have gazed at each particle separately, with the natural eye? While he was gazing with the eye at one, he could not be looking directly at another. It would have taken him a great many millions of years to have gazed directly and distinctly upon every particle of the earth, as we naturally see things in succession. But, instead of this, we find him, in a short space of time, perhaps the interval was only a few minutes or hours, gazing upon every particle of it. Here was something new, and independent of the natural vision, showing him things beneath the surface of the earth. Men look at things above the surface by the natural eye; but here is a man who, by the power of heaven, is enabled to penetrate that which the natural eye could never behold.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886], 2: 245)

2. Moses learns that God created all things.

Moses 1:39 my work and my glory

‘What a wonderful, warm, and reassuring thing it is to know that the primary objective of the very God of heaven is “the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39), or, in other words, our eternal happiness and joy. Sometimes I wonder if we really appreciate what that means and how it should affect our lives. We must give adequate attention to the doctrines of happiness-real happiness, infinite and eternal. They should be the objective of everything we teach in the Church and of everything we do.’ (M Russell Ballard, “Answers to Life’s Questions,” Ensign, May 1995, 23)

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Abraham 3:24-45 we will prove them herewith

‘So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.

We are the spirit children of a Heavenly Father. He loved us and He taught us before we were born into this world. He told us that He wished to give us all that He had. To qualify for that gift we had to receive mortal bodies and be tested. Because of those mortal bodies, we would face pain, sickness, and death.

We would be subject to temptations through the desires and weaknesses that came with our mortal bodies. Subtle and powerful forces of evil would tempt us to surrender to those temptations. Life would have storms in which we would have to make choices using faith in things we could not see with our natural eyes.

We were promised that we would have Jehovah, Jesus Christ, as our Savior and Redeemer. He would assure that we would all be resurrected. And He would make it possible for us to pass the test of life if we exercised faith in Him by being obedient. We shouted for joy at the good news.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, October 2005)

Abraham 3:24 We will take of these materials

‘It is said in this book (the Bible) that God made the earth in six days. This is a mere term, but it matters not whether it took six days, six months, six years, or six thousand years. The creation occupied certain periods of time. We are not authorized to say what the duration of these days was, whether Moses penned these words as we have them, or whether the translators of the Bible have given the words their intended meaning. However, God created the world. If I were a sectarian I would say, according to their philosophy, as I have heard many of them say hundreds of times, “God created all things out of nothing; in six days he created the world out of nothing.” You may be assured the Latter- day Saints do not believe any such thing. They believe God brought forth material out of which he formed this little terra firma upon which we roam. How long had this material been in existence? Forever and forever, in some shape, in some condition.’ (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 18:231-232, 1876)

Abraham 4:1 Organized and formed

“During the Nauvoo period, [Joseph Smith] continued to speak about the Creation in terms of organization. William Clayton, the Prophet’s private secretary, reported Joseph Smith as saying in 1841, ‘This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broke up and remodeled and made into the one on which we live.”  In the famed King Follett discourse, delivered at general conference in April 1844, Joseph Smith presented an extensive treatise on creation as organization. He told the Saints that the word create comes from the Hebrew word baurau [bara], which means to organize, and that ‘God had materials to organize the world out of chaos … [which] may be organized and reorganized but not destroyed.’
“Although these teachings were new for his time, Joseph Smith’s ideas received little attention from his non-LDS contemporaries. Members of other sects in the nineteenth century accepted the idea of ex nihilo creation without reservation. Consequently, Christians dismissed any alternative as irrelevant.  Most accepted the Westminster Confession of Faith, which stated that God made the world ‘of nothing.’  To the people of his day, steeped in such traditions, Joseph Smith’s ideas on creation must have seemed implausible.” (Donald Q. Cannon, Larry E. Dahl, and John W. Welch, “The Restoration of Major Doctrines through Joseph Smith: The Godhead, Mankind, and the Creation,” Ensign, Jan. 1989, 32–33)
Moses 6:63 All things bear record of me

‘Can any man who has walked beneath the stars at night, can anyone who has seen the touch of spring upon the land doubt the hand of divinity in creation? So observing the beauties of the earth, one is wont to speak as did the Psalmist: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” (Ps. 19:1-2)

All of beauty in the earth bears the fingerprint of the Master Creator.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, Conference Report, Apr. 1978, p. 90)

3. Moses learns that men and women are created in God’s image.

Moses 2:26-27 In mine own image

‘Man is made in the image of his maker, … he is His exact image, having eye for eye, forehead for forehead, eyebrows for eyebrows, nose for nose, cheekbones for cheekbones, mouth for mouth, chin for chin, ears for ears, precisely like our Father in heaven.’ (Brigham Young, In Ludlow, Latter-day Prophets Speak, p.278)

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Moses 7:30 yet thou art there

‘Enoch, to whom the Lord revealed so much, praised God amid His vast creations, exclaiming reassuringly, “Yet thou art there”  (Moses 7:30 see also  Jer. 10:12)

This same special assurance can see each of us through all the seasons and circumstances of our lives. A universal God is actually involved with our small, individual universes of experience! In the midst of His vast dominions, yet He numbers us, knows us, and loves us perfectly’ (see  Moses 1:35  John 10:14)’ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, October 1987)

Posted in atonement, Foreordination, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Old Testament Lesson 2: “Thou Wast Chosen Before Thou Wast Born”

1. Abraham learns that in the premortal life many spirits were foreordained to their mortal missions.

Abraham 3:23 These will I make my rulers

‘Remember, in the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to.’ (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 316)

‘Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council in heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365)

‘Just as certain men were foreordained from before the foundations of the world, so were certain women appointed to certain tasks. Divine design—not chance—brought Mary forward to be the mother of Jesus. The boy prophet, Joseph Smith, was blessed not only with a great father but also with a superb mother, Lucy Mack, who influenced a whole dispensation.’ (Neal A Maxwell, “The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, p.10)

“During the ages in which we dwelt in the pre-mortal state we not only developed our various characteristics and showed our worthiness and ability, or the lack of it, but we were also where such progress could be observed. It is reasonable to believe that there was a Church organization there. The heavenly beings were living in a perfectly arranged society. Every person knew his place. Priesthood, without any question, had been conferred and the leaders were chosen to officiate. Ordinances pertaining to that pre-existence were required and the love of God prevailed. Under such conditions it was natural for our Father to discern and choose those who were most worthy and evaluate the talents of each individual. He knew not only what each of us could do, but also what each of us would do when put to the test and when responsibility was given us. Then, when the time came for our habitation on mortal earth, all things were prepared and the servants of the Lord chosen and ordained to their respective missions” (Joseph Fielding Smith,  The Way to Perfection [1970], 50–51 ).

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2. Jesus Christ was chosen in the Council in Heaven to be our Savior; we chose to follow him. Lucifer (Satan) and the spirits who followed him were cast out of heaven.

The first step in salvation of man is the laws of eternal and self-existent principles.  Spirits are eternal.  At the first organization in heaven we were all present, and saw the Savior chosen and appointed and the plan of salvation made, and we sanctioned it. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.181)

Abraham 3:27 Here am I, send me

‘Jesus Christ, our great Exemplar, gave His life to His Father’s work. In the Grand Council before this world was organized, Jesus, chosen and anointed from the beginning, volunteered, “Here am I, send me.”  Abraham 3:27 In so doing, He literally became the servant of us all. Through Jesus Christ and the power we receive through His Atonement, we can also serve. He will help us.’ (Carl B Cook, General Conference, October 2016)

Image result for 1. Abraham learns that in the premortal life many spirits were foreordained to their mortal missions.

Moses 4:1-2 Satan

‘In the premortal existence, Satan was called “Lucifer,” which means “the Shining One” or “Lightbringer.” He was a “son of the morning” (see Isaiah 14:12D&C 76:25–27) and had potential to do much good. But Lucifer sought to obtain the throne, honor, power, and glory of Heavenly Father (see D&C 29:3676:28Moses 4:1). To do so, he proposed to “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1). However, his proposal was based on compulsion and would therefore eliminate the agency of Heavenly Father’s children and the need for a Savior to suffer and redeem them.’ (Institute Pearl of Great Price Student Manual)

Abraham 3:26 First estate

“Abraham was shown the eternal nature of the plan of salvation and was taught that the earth was purposely created as a schooling and testing ground in ‘all things’ (Abr. 3:25), and learned that rich and everlasting rewards (“glory added upon their heads for ever and ever”) are reserved for those who remain faithful to the plan of the Father (Abr. 3:26). It is on this point that Abraham’s record makes another singular contribution to our understanding of premortality, clarifying what otherwise would be an obscure phrase found elsewhere in one verse of the New Testament. Only Abraham and Jude speak of our premortal condition as the ‘first estate’ (Jude 1:6, Abr. 3:26).

“In that one verse, Jude speaks of certain angels not keeping their ‘first estate’ and thus leaving ‘their own habitation.’ But only from Abraham do we learn that these angels were in fact spirit children in the presence of God, that the habitation they left was God’s presence, that they departed because they chose to follow Satan rather than God and Jesus Christ, and that in this ‘first estate’ God’s children lived as independent identities, exercising moral agency in the Father’s presence. Were it not for the book of Abraham, much of our basic understanding of the structure, sociality, and history of our premortal existence would be missing. Only Abraham’s remarkable record speaks of mortality’s probationary period as the ‘second estate,’ given as an endowment to all those who kept their first estate (Abr. 3:26).” (“The Book of Abraham: A Most Remarkable Book,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 21)

Abraham 3:28 many followed after him

‘When the great council was held in heaven, in which all of us were involved, the Father presented his plan for peopling the earth, and for the salvation of man. Lucifer wanted to amend the plan. He proposed to destroy the agency of man and to save all mankind, that not one soul would be lost. This he would accomplish through outright force and coercion, denying all persons the right of choice.

Satan’s proposal of compulsion was rejected by the Father, and Lucifer “was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, … many followed after him.”  Abr. 3:28

We must have witnessed that tragic scene when Lucifer—brilliant, capable, yet lacking in intelligence to properly apply his knowledge (along with one-third of the hosts of heaven)—rose in hateful rebellion against God. And they were expelled from heaven, retaining the malignant powers to tempt and to persuade men to disobey God.’ (Elray L Christansen, General Conference, October 1974)

Image result for Jesus Christ was chosen in the Council in Heaven to be our Savior; we chose to follow him. Lucifer (Satan) and the spirits who followed him were cast out of heaven.

Moses 4:4 to deceive and to blind men

President Brigham Young said: “Every person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits that came here when Lucifur [sic] fell, and by the spirits of wicked persons who have been here in tabernacles and departed from them. … Those spirits are never idle; they are watching every person who wishes to do right, and are continually prompting them to do wrong” (in Journal of Discourses, 7:239).

 

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2018, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, Old Testament

Old Testament Lesson 1: “This Is My Work and My Glory”

Introduction

The Book of Moses records experiences from the life of Moses that are not found in the book of Genesis. This should be the first chapter of the Bible.

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The vision recorded in Moses 1 took place after Jehovah spoke to Moses at the burning bush but before Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea (see Moses 1:17, 25–26).)

Rodney Turner – We cannot read this chapter in the spirit with which it was written and not know that it is pure revelation from on high.

1. God teaches that Moses is a son of God.

How does God describe Moses? How do you think that made Moses feel? Because all men and women are spirit children of our Heavenly Father we are capable of becoming like him.

Moses 1:6 Moses, my son

‘Did you know that Heavenly Father knows you personally—by name? The scriptures teach us that this is true. When Enos went into the woods to pray, he recorded, “There came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.”  Enos 1:5 Moses not only prayed but also talked to God face-to-face, and God said to Moses, “I have a work for thee, Moses, my son.”  Moses 1:6. The Lord knew Jacob’s name and changed it to Israel to more accurately reflect his mission on the earth. [See Bible Dictionary, “Israel,” 708. Similarly, He changed the names of Paul and Abraham and Sarah. In Doctrine and Covenants, section 25, Emma Smith is given a blessing for her comfort and guidance in life. The Lord begins this blessing by saying, “Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter.”  D&C 25:1 

You may not have heard the Lord call you by name, but He knows each one of you and He knows your name. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “I testify to you that God has known you individually … for a long, long time (see  D&C 93:23) He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars (see  Ps. 147:4  Isa. 40:26) He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys!” [“Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 46.]'(Elaine S dalton, General Conference, April 2005)

“I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know ….

“There is not a person here to-day but what is a son or daughter of that Being. In the spirit world their spirits were first begotten and brought forth, and they lived there with their parents for ages before they came here. This, perhaps, is hard for many to believe, but it is the greatest nonsense in the world not to believe it. If you do not believe it, cease to call Him Father; and when you pray, pray to some other character.” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 4:216.)

Moses 1:10 man is nothing

Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote that Moses’ statement “surely was not a reflection on man, ‘God’s greatest miracle,’ but a placing of man in the vast perspective of God’s creations and a realizing, even so, that we are God’s exclusive work and his greatest glory” (Notwithstanding My Weakness [1981], 75).

2. Satan confronts Moses; Moses casts him out.

Read: Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence – Jeffrey R Holland, BYU Devotional March 1999

Moses 1:12-13 Moses, son of man, worship me

Satan came tempting – because of Moses’ weakened condition Satan chose this moment to reveal himself in an effort to turn Moses from the path that the Lord had set him on.

“Moses seemed bothered when Satan addressed him as a ‘son of man.’ He retorted, ‘I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten.’ (Moses 1:12-13.) Knowing that he was created in the image of God strengthened Moses to overcome Lucifer’s temptations. Sons of men are sons of the world, and they give heed to worldly things. Not realizing their divine heritage, they give up their birthright to worship the images of the world. Sons of God, however, know that they are heirs to a celestial future and can thus envision heavenly riches. This vision helps them to worship only God and to follow his path.” (Dennis Largey, “Refusing to Worship Today’s Graven Images,” Ensign, Feb. 1994, 13)

What did Satan call Moses?

What did God call him?

What difference does it make whether you think of yourself as a son or daughter of God rather than a son or daughter of men?

Moses 1 :16 Get thee hence, Satan

‘Knowing who we really are prepares us to use that knowledge to face temptations, to resist them, and then to act righteously. Moses, knowing he was a son of God, as revealed to him, told Satan, “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten” ( Moses 1:16) The result did not wait, as the Lord called him, saying, “Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God”  (Moses 1:25) The spiritual security becomes evident as the Lord added, “I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days” (Moses 1:26)’ (Charles Didier, General Conference, April 1987) 

“This arch enemy of God and man, called the devil, the ‘Son of the Morning,’ who dwells here on the earth, is a personage of great power; he has great influence and knowledge. He understands that if this kingdom, which he rebelled against in heaven, prevails on the earth, there will be no dominion here for him. He has great influence over the children of men; he labors continually to destroy them. He labored to destroy them in heaven; he labored to destroy the works of God in heaven, and he had to be cast out. He is here, mighty among the children of men. There is a vast number of fallen spirits, cast out with him, here on the earth. They do not die and disappear; they have not bodies only as they enter the tabernacles of men. They have not organized bodies, and are not to be seen with the sight of the eye. But there are many evil spirits amongst us, and they labor to overthrow the Church and kingdom of God. There never was a prophet in any age of the world but what the devil was continually at his elbow.” (Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 13:163.)

Moses 1:18-21 Depart hence Satan

‘Moses recognized the deception and saw the power of darkness and the “bitterness of hell”  (Moses 1:20) Here was a force not easily reckoned with nor evicted. Terrified, he called upon God, then commanded with new power: “I will not cease to call upon God . . . for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee” ( Moses 1:18)

“. . . In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan”  (Moses 1:21)

Not even Lucifer, the Star of the Morning (Isa. 14:12) the arch-enemy of mankind can withstand the power of the priesthood of God. Trembling, quaking, cursing, weeping, wailing, gnashing his teeth, he departed from the victorious Moses.’ (Spencer W Kimball, General Conference, April 1964)

Elder Neal L Anderson: The choice between good and evil is at the very heart of our experience on earth. In the final review of our lives, it will not really matter if we were rich or poor, if we were athletic or not, if we had friends or were often forgotten. We can work, study, laugh and have fun, dance, sing, and enjoy many different experiences. These are a wonderful part of life, but they are not central to why we are here. The opportunity to choose good over evil is precisely why we are here.

3. God appears again and teaches of his work and glory.

Moses 1:24 The Holy Ghost

President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The fact is all the prophets had the Holy Ghost. They were led and directed by him. And without this power they would not have been prophets. Peter said that prophecy itself ‘came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost’ [2 Peter 1:21]. The Book of Moses, which is the original and perfect record of a part of Genesis, speaks of the Holy Ghost; so do the Nephite prophets, including those who lived in the era before Christ” (Doctrines of Salvation,1:46–47).

Moses 1:35 There are many worlds

President Brigham Young said: “How many earths are there? I observed this morning that you may take the particles of matter composing this earth, and if they could be enumerated they would only be a beginning to the number of the creations of God; and they are continually coming into existence, and undergoing changes and passing through the same experience that we are passing through” (in Journal of Discourses, 14:71).

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Bruce R. McConkie: “When the prophets speak of an infinite atonement, they mean just that. Its effects cover all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon, and reach out into the endless expanses of eternity….Now our Lord’s jurisdiction and power extend far beyond the limits of this one small earth on which we de\well. He is under the Father, the creator of worlds without number (Moses 1:33). And through the power of his atonement the inhabitants of these worlds, the revelation says, ‘are begotten sons and daughters unto God’ (DC 76:24), which means that the atonement of Christ, being literally and truly infinite, applies to an infinite number of earths.” (Mormon Doctrine)

President Joseph Fielding Smith:  “Not only was this earth planned as an architect plans his building but its entire destiny and the destiny of its inhabitants was considered and known to the great Architect, before its foundation stones were laid. Our Eternal Father was not experimenting when this world came into existence. It did not come by chance. It is not the first of his creations. Millions upon millions of worlds such as this had rolled into existence before our earth was born. Every step taken was according to the divine plan, and that plan was an eternal one, which had been followed in the construction of other worlds without number unto man. In other worlds the plan of salvation had been given. Here we are enacting familiar scenes; scenes which are new to all mortal men, but which are well known to the Father and also to the Son.” (The Way to Perfection, pp35-36)

Moses 1:39 My work and my glory

‘We are all in this great endeavor together. We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence. All of us in the pursuit of our duty touch the lives of others. To each of us in our respective responsibilities the Lord has said: “Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “This Is the Work of the Master,” Ensign, May 1995, 71)

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Boyd K Packer: Every law and principle and power, every belief, every ordinance and ordination, every covenant, every sermon and every sacrament, every counsel and correction, the sealings, the calls, the releases, the service—all these have as their ultimate purpose the perfection of the individual and the family, for the Lord has said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Posted in Faith, Jesus Christ, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley: Chapter 25 – Move Forward with Faith

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

Watch: If Ye Be Willing and Obedient

In October 1971 General Conference Elder Gordon B Hinckley told the story related in the lesson manual.

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1. Faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can become the wellspring of purposeful living.

When we have faith in the Saviour  it means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. In today’s uncertain world, we may not know what tomorrow will bring, but faith in Jesus Christ can give us spiritual peace, even in the face of calamity and heartbreak.

‘As you study Christ’s life and teachings in a myriad of ways, your faith in Him will increase. You will come to know that He loves you individually and understands you perfectly. In His 33 years of mortality, He suffered rejection; persecution; bodily hunger, thirst, and fatigue; loneliness; verbal and physical abuse; and finally, an excruciating death at the hands of sinful men. In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary, He felt all of our pains, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, and infirmities.’ (Jean B Bingham, General Conference, October 2017)

From the manual:

When I discuss faith, I do not mean it in an abstract sense. I mean it as a living, vital force that comes with recognition of God as our Father and Jesus Christ as our Savior. …

… Faith in a Divine Being, in the Almighty, is the great moving power that can change our lives.

What experiences have helped you learn about the power of faith?

2. Faith is the basis of testimony and the strength of the Lord’s work on the earth.

“Faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. …

“… It was by faith that the worlds were framed. God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by reason of the faith there was in Him. So with man also; he spake by faith in the name of God, and the sun stood still, the moon obeyed, mountains removed, prisons fell, lions’ mouths were closed, the human heart lost its enmity, fire its violence, armies their power, the sword its terror, and death its dominion; and all this by reason of the faith which was in him” (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith).

“…faith makes us confident of what we hope for and convinced of what we do not see. The scientist does not see molecules, atoms, or electrons, yet he knows they exist. He does not see electricity, radiation, or magnetism, but he knows these are unseen realities. In like manner, those who earnestly seek for God do not see him, but they know of his reality by faith. It is more than hope. Faith makes it a conviction-an evidence of things not seen.” (Howard W Hunter, “To Know God,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 97)

From the manual:

Let us not be afraid. Jesus is our leader, our strength, and our king.

This is an age of pessimism. Ours is a mission of faith. To my brethren and sisters everywhere, I call upon you to reaffirm your faith, to move this work forward across the world.

How can we reaffirm our faith and move this work forward?

3. With faith, we can rise above fear and any obstacle or challenge in our lives.

When we go and do the things the Lord has commanded, even when we are weary, trusting that He will help us to do exactly as He asks, the Lord helps our unbelief, and our faith becomes powerful, vibrant, and unshakeable.

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Watch: Reunited by Faith 

A young man exercises faith, and is instrumental in bringing his mother back into full Church activity. (3:25)

Watch: Seek the Higher Ground

Learn how to find safety from life’s temporal and spiritual storms by following the Savior’s example and seeking higher spiritual ground. (3:45)

“Mine has been the opportunity to meet many wonderful men and women in various parts of the world. A few of them have left an indelible impression upon me. One such was a naval officer from Asia, a brilliant young man who had been brought to the United States for advanced training. Some of his associates in the United States Navy, whose behavior had attracted him, shared with him at his request their religious beliefs. He was not a Christian, but he was interested. They told him of the Savior of the world, of Jesus born in Bethlehem, who gave his life for all mankind. They told him of the appearance of God, the Eternal Father, and the resurrected Lord to the boy Joseph Smith. They spoke of modern prophets. They taught him the gospel of the Master. The Spirit touched his heart, and he was baptized.

“He was introduced to me just before he was to return to his native land. We spoke of these things, and then I said, ‘Your people are not Christians. You come from a land where Christians have had a difficult time. What will happen when you return home a Christian and, more particularly, a Mormon Christian?’

“His face clouded, and he replied, ‘My family will be disappointed. I suppose they will cast me out. They will regard me as dead. As for my future and my career, I assume that all opportunity will be foreclosed against me.’

“I asked, ‘Are you willing to pay so great a price for the gospel?’

“His dark eyes, moistened by tears, shone from his handsome brown face as he answered, ‘It’s true, isn’t it?’

“Ashamed at having asked the question, I responded, ‘Yes, it’s true.’

“To which he replied, ‘Then what else matters?’ ”

(Gordon B Hinckley, In Conference Report, Apr. 1973, p. 72; or Ensign, July 1973, p. 48.)

From the manual:

Who among us can say that he or she has not felt fear? I know of no one who has been entirely spared. Some, of course, experience fear to a greater degree than do others. Some are able to rise above it quickly, but others are trapped and pulled down by it and even driven to defeat. We suffer from the fear of ridicule, the fear of failure, the fear of loneliness, the fear of ignorance. Some fear the present, some the future. Some carry the burden of sin and would give almost anything to unshackle themselves from those burdens but fear to change their lives. Let us recognize that fear comes not of God, but rather that this gnawing, destructive element comes from the adversary of truth and righteousness. Fear is the antithesis of faith. It is corrosive in its effects, even deadly.

When has faith helped you rise above fear?

Image result for With faith, we can rise above fear and any obstacle or challenge in our lives.

4. As we exercise our faith, the Lord will help it increase.

Faith comes from hearing the word of God and is a spiritual gift. It increases when we not only hear, but act on the word of God as well. Faith is like a muscle. If exercised, it grows strong. If it is not used, it becomes weak and flabby.

From the manual:

This is my prayer for all of us—“Lord, increase our faith” [see Luke 17:5]. Increase our faith to bridge the chasms of uncertainty and doubt. …

… Lord, increase our faith to rise above the feeble detractors of this Thy great and holy work. Strengthen our will. Help us to build and expand Thy kingdom according to Thy great mandate, that this gospel may be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations. …

… Grant us faith to look beyond the problems of the moment to the miracles of the future. Give us faith to pay our tithes and offerings and put our trust in Thee, the Almighty, to open the windows of heaven as Thou hast promised. Give us faith to do what is right and let the consequence follow.

Grant us faith when storms of adversity beat us down and drive us to the ground. In seasons of sickness may our confidence wax strong in the powers of the priesthood. May we follow the counsel of James:

“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” (James 5:14–15; italics added). …

Lord, when we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, give us faith to smile through our tears, knowing that it is all part of the eternal plan of a loving Father, that as we cross the threshold from this life we enter another more glorious, and that through the atonement of the Son of God all shall rise from the grave and the faithful shall go on to exaltation.

Give us faith to pursue the work of redemption of the dead that Thine eternal purposes may be fulfilled in behalf of Thy sons and daughters of all generations.

Father, grant us faith to follow counsel in the little things that can mean so very much. …

Lord, increase our faith in one another, and in ourselves, and in our capacity to do good and great things. …

Father, increase our faith. Of all our needs, I think the greatest is an increase in faith. And so, dear Father, increase our faith in Thee, and in Thy Beloved Son, in Thy great eternal work, in ourselves as Thy children, and in our capacity to go and do according to Thy will, and Thy precepts, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

What words in this prayer have special meaning for you? 

Posted in atonement, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, New Testament, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley: Lesson 24 – The Atonement of Jesus Christ: Vast in Its Reach, Intimate in Its Effect

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

Watch: Testimony of Gordon B Hinckley

President Gordon B. Hinckley testifies of Jesus Christ and his love for the Master. (2:39)

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1. Our Heavenly Father’s love is expressed in the gift of His Only Begotten Son.

‘I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity.’ (Bruce R McConkie’s final testimony).

‘Our Heavenly Father loves each one of us because we are actually his children, not merely one of his creations. Because of his love, he sent us to earth to grow and progress. But on earth he knew there would be many dangers. By sinning we would cut ourselves off from our heavenly home and by dying we would be separated from our physical bodies. Heavenly Father, in his great love, sent his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue us from sin and death and to make it possible for us to return to him (see Abraham 3:27).

Imagine how hard it must have been for Heavenly Father to see Jesus suffer so terribly. But he allowed it because of his love for us and his desire for us to progress.’ (Family Home Evening Resource Book, Lesson 9)

From the manual:

My heart is subdued when I think of the great love of my Heavenly Father. How grateful I am to know that God loves us. The incomprehensible depth of that love found expression in the gift of His Only Begotten Son to come into the world to bring hope into our hearts, to bring kindness and courtesy into our relationships, and above all to save us from our sins and guide us on the way that leads to eternal life.

What are your thoughts and feelings as you read President Hinckley’s summary of what the Savior has done for us?

2. Through the Savior’s redeeming sacrifice, all people will rise from the grave.

See: The Infinite Atonement

‘What He did could only be done by Deity. As the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh, Jesus inherited divine attributes. He was the only person ever born into mortality who could perform this most significant and supernal act. As the only sinless Man who ever lived on this earth, He was not subject to spiritual death. Because of His godhood, He also possessed power over physical death. Thus He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He broke the cold grasp of death. He also made it possible for us to have the supreme and serene comfort of the gift of the Holy Ghost.24 [See  John 15:26

The Atonement and the Resurrection accomplish many things. The Atonement cleanses us of sin on condition of our repentance. Repentance is the condition on which mercy is extended. [See  Alma 42:22–25 After all we can do to pay to the uttermost farthing and make right our wrongs, the Savior’s grace is activated in our lives through the Atonement, which purifies us and can perfect us. [See  2 Ne. 25:23  Alma 34:15–16  Alma 42:22–24  Moro. 10:32–33 Christ’s Resurrection overcame death and gave us the assurance of life after death. Said He: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”  John 11:25 The Resurrection is unconditional and applies to all who have ever lived and ever will live. [See  Acts 24:15 It is a free gift. President John Taylor described this well when he said: “The tombs will be opened and the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and they shall come forth, they who have done good to the resurrection of the just, and they who have done evil to the resurrection of the unjust.”‘ (James E Faust, General Conference, October 2001)

Image result for Through the Savior’s redeeming sacrifice, all people will rise from the grave.

From the manual:

Whenever the cold hand of death strikes, there shines through the gloom and the darkness of that hour the triumphant figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, He, the Son of God, who by His matchless and eternal power overcame death. He is the Redeemer of the world. He gave His life for each of us. He took it up again and became the firstfruits of them that slept. He, as King of Kings, stands triumphant above all other kings. He, as the Omnipotent One, stands above all rulers. He is our comfort, our only true comfort, when the dark shroud of earthly night closes about us as the spirit departs the human form.

How have you found comfort at times of loss?

3. Through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, we are offered the opportunity of exaltation and eternal life.

Watch: The Priesthood and the Savior’s Atoning Power (Dale G Renlund, General Conference, October 2017)

‘We can never fully repay our Savior for his sacrifice made to help us achieve salvation and exaltation. It would behoove each of us to search our hearts and lives and consider how good and gracious our Lord has been. George Herbert said, “Thou that has given so much to us, give us one thing more … a grateful heart.”’ (Delbert L Stapley, General Conference, April 1974)

Image result for Through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, we are offered the opportunity of exaltation and eternal life.

From the manual:

When all is said and done, when all of history is examined, when the deepest depths of the human mind have been explored, nothing is so wonderful, so majestic, so tremendous as this act of grace when the Son of the Almighty, the Prince of His Father’s royal household, He who had once spoken as Jehovah, He who had condescended to come to earth as a babe born in Bethlehem, gave His life in ignominy and pain so that all of the sons and daughters of God of all generations of time, every one of whom must die, might walk again and live eternally. He did for us what none of us could do for ourselves.

What are your feelings as you ponder the Savior’s sacrifice for you? 

Posted in LDS Doctrine, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley, Temples

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley: Chapter 23 – The Blessings of the Holy Temple

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

Watch: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley: Temple Building

Image result for Temples are expressions of our testimony, and they represent the ultimate in our worship.

1. Temples are expressions of our testimony, and they represent the ultimate in our worship.

President Howard W Hunter: Let us truly be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. We should hasten to the temple as frequently, yet prudently, as our personal circumstances allow. We should go not only for our kindred dead but also for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety that are within those hallowed and consecrated walls. As we attend the temple, we learn more richly and deeply the purpose of life and the significance of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience.

‘Ordinances that are received worthily and remembered continually open the heavenly channels through which the power of godliness can flow into our lives. Covenants that are honored steadfastly and remembered always provide purpose and the assurance of blessings in both mortality and for eternity.’ David A bednar, General Conference, October 2017)

From the manual:

These unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology.

What are some blessings you have received through these ordinances?

2. Through temple ordinances, we receive the crowning blessings of the gospel.

In the ‘Church News’ on the 26th April 2008, President Monson announced that two temples were to be built in Arizona.  His remarks during that announcement were significant for us all.  He said:

“It is my personal priority to make sure members of the Church have access to the blessings of the temple.  It is here where members learn of their divine origin and destiny; where they are strengthened spiritually as individuals and as families.  Temples are sanctuaries from the storms of life.”

‘Until you have entered the house of the Lord and have received all the blessings which await you there, you have not obtained everything the Church has to offer. The all-important and crowning blessings of membership in the Church are those blessings which we receive in the temples of God.’ (Thomas S Monson, General Conference, April 2011)

From the manual:

Small wonder, my brethren and sisters, that with the opening of … temples I have seen the tears of strong men who have embraced their wives at the altars in these sacred houses. I have seen the tears of fathers and mothers as they have embraced their children at these same altars. Through the power here exercised they have come to know that neither time nor death can destroy the bonds which bind them together.

From your experience, why do temple ordinances stir such deep feelings?

3. The temple is a sanctuary of service where we receive saving ordinances in behalf of those who have died without receiving the gospel.

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From the manual:

Boys and girls in large numbers have … been reminded that these temples are not only for their parents but also for them. When 12 years of age, they may enter the house of the Lord and stand as proxies in baptisms for those beyond the veil of death. What a great and unselfish service this is. What a wonderful thing for our youth to be involved in this totally selfless act in behalf of others who are powerless to help themselves.

What can parents and youth do to work together in this service?

4. Great blessings await us as we keep ourselves worthy and go to the temple frequently.

We often think of the temple as a place where we carry our ordinances for the dead. This is true and is important but the temple is not just for the dead but also for the living. I am talking not only about the ordinances performed for the living which enable us to return to live with our Heavenly Father but also to the spiritually uplifting, strengthening influence in individual lives that results from regular temple attendance.

The temple truly is the House of the Lord and if we go there in the right spirit we can find him there. Temple work helps us to focus our thoughts on the Father and on His son. When we attend the temple regularly we find that we draw closer to Heavenly Father and to the Saviour.

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‘In the temple the Spirit is the teacher. It instructs us, most frequently, through the symbols that comprise the endowment. We must be alert and pay attention to all that we see and hear, thus allowing the Spirit to teach us and to bring us understanding. If we go to the temple and just sit, without making an effort to learn, we will miss some of the greatest blessings the temple has to offer.’ (S Michael Wilcox, House of Glory.)

‘Finally, let me share with you one more experience among the Saints of the Pacific that remains deeply and spiritually rooted in my soul. Some years ago I was a young counselor to a bishop in a new ward in American Samoa. We had 99 members, consisting of subsistence farmers, cannery workers, government employees, and their families. When the First Presidency announced in 1977 that a temple was going to be constructed in Samoa, there was joy and thanksgiving expressed by all of us. Going to the temple from American Samoa at that time required traveling either to Hawaii or New Zealand. This was a costly journey that was beyond the reach of many faithful Church members.

During this period of time members were encouraged to donate to a building fund to assist in the construction of temples. In this spirit, our bishopric asked the ward members to prayerfully consider what they could give. A date was set for families to gather to offer their donations. Later, as these donations were opened in private, our bishopric was humbled and touched by the faith and generosity of our wonderful ward members.

Knowing each family and their circumstances, I felt a deep and abiding sense of awe, respect, and humility. These were, in every way, modern-day widow’s mites given freely from their “want,” with a joy in the promised blessing of the construction of a holy temple of the Lord in Samoa. These families had consecrated all that they could to the Lord, with the faith that they would not be left wanting. Their gift manifested their widow’s hearts. All who gave did so willingly and joyfully because the widow’s heart within them could see with the eye of faith the great crowning blessings in store for their families and for all of the people of Samoa and American Samoa for generations to come. I know that their consecrated offerings, their widow’s mites, were known and accepted by the Lord.’ (O Vincent Haleck, General Conferemce, October 2017)

From the manual:

I urge our people everywhere, with all of the persuasiveness of which I am capable, to live worthy to hold a temple recommend, to secure one and regard it as a precious asset, and to make a greater effort to go to the house of the Lord and partake of the spirit and the blessings to be had therein.

What can we do to make time to serve and worship in the temple?