Posted in Inspirational, Leadership

A knotty problem solved

Until 1986 there were three main ways to tie a tie.

The easiest, and probably the most common,  was the ‘four-in-hand’knot.

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The four-in-hand has an elongated shape, is less formal than some other knots and works well with thin or medium width ties. It does, however, have a lop-sided shape and is fairly small in size.

The ‘half windsor’ is larger and neater than the ‘four-in-hand’ but can also be a bit lop-sided.

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Because it doesn’t use up a lot of tie, it is suitable for tall men who want to have a good length of tie left. It is more formal than the ‘four-in-hand’ but less formal than the Windsor.

The Windsor knot works best with longer and wider ties. It gives a good symmetrical, triangular knot that is larger than the ‘half-windsor’. This was a great knot for the 1970s when BIG was all that counted in tie knots. It is more formal than the other two knots and because of its size should be used with spread or half spread collars.  It is not suitable for a button down collar.

There were other knots available but these were the top three. Each had their strengths but if you wanted a neat, symmetrical knot that wasn’t too big you were struggling.

Then in 1986, along came the first new tie knot for 50 years! It was called the Pratt-Shelby (or sometimes the Shelby or the Pratt).

Tie-a-Tie-Well-Pratt

It was ‘invented’ in America by 92 year old Jerry Pratt and popularised by TV presenter Don Shelby. What it offers is a knot that is neat, symmetrical and not too large. It can be worn with most shirts and for most occasions. It is the only tie knot that I have used since discovering it in 1986.

How was it that Jerry Pratt was able to create this ‘perfect’ tie knot when so many others had tried and failed for so many years? The clue is in the picture above. You can see that in the parts of the tie above the knot (that go underneath the shirt collar) that the  tie seams are visible. Mr Shelby had approached the problem of tying a tie from a completely different perspective. He looked at the problem in a way that no-one else had done before. He began with the tie back to front ie with the seams showing. By starting from a completely different starting point to everyone else he was able to come up with a solution that no-one else had come up with.

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Sometimes when we have an apparently insoluble problem it is because we have been looking at it from the wrong angle. If we can only turn our perspective around we may be able to find the answer. The challenges and problems that we face in life can be better dealt with if we look at them from the correct perspective. President  James E Faust said:  ‘ Look at everything through the lens of eternity. If you will do this, life will take on a different perspective.’

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Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 44 – “God Is Love”

  1. Manifestations of Heavenly Father’s love for us

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

‘Christ, our Prototype, has attained oneness with his Father. Paul’s associate apostle John takes the next step and applies the same principle to all who by faith become the sons of God. “Now are we the sons of God,” he wrote, meaning that here and now while in mortality we have been adopted into the family of Deity and have become joint-heirs with his natural Son. “And it doth not yet appear what we shall be,” he continues, meaning that no mortal man can conceive of the glory and dominion which shall be heaped upon those who reign on thrones in the exalted realms.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 134.)

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

‘God is love.—In the early part of the Epistle St. John had defined God as light, and the thoughts had been grouped round and in relation to that central idea. It would of course be impossible ever to exhaust all the definitions of God; but just as our nature may be roughly classified as intellectual and moral, mind and heart, thought and emotion, so, when we have thought of God as Light (embracing all such attributes as truth, knowledge, purity, health, power, and justice), we shall not have traversed in outline all that we can know of His nature, or all that concerns us to know, until we have also thought of Him as Love, the author and source of all true affection, kindness, pity, friendliness, rejoicing in the creation of infinite life for the sake of its infinite happiness, and offering eternal bliss to all His human family, that He may be for ever surrounded by inexhaustible illustrations of the joy and glory of perfection.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

I John 4: 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

‘The scriptures teach us that our God is a God of love.  It is the greatest thing God can give us and the greatest thing we can give him. The true measure of loving God is to love him without measure. His love toward us was manifested when he sent his Only Begotten Son into the world that we might live through him.

A degree of the love between the Eternal Father and his Only Begotten Son has existed between other fathers and sons. We should not feel that such love is beyond our ability to receive and to give. We may not be able to match the perfect love shown to us by the Savior, because Christ is the epitome of this God-given quality, but it is a goal toward which all of us should strive.’ (Delbert L Stapley, General Conference, October 1970)

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1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

This was the highest manifestation of God’s love for us.

 1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

‘In comparison of this wonderful love of his, in sending his Son to be a sacrifice for sins, our love to him is not worthy the name of love.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

 1 John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

“What is our indication that we are on course? How do we know we are in the gospel harness? ‘Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit’ (1 John 4:13). The presence of God’s Spirit is the attestation, the divine assurance that we are headed in the right direction. It is God’s seal, his anointing, his unction (1 John 2:20) to us that our lives are in order. ‘A seal is a mark of ownership . . . and God’s seal, by which he brands us as belonging forever to him, is the Holy Spirit himself. The Holy Spirit is the identity tag of the Christian’ (Stott, Authentic Christianity, 81).” (Robert L. Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 170.)

1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

‘”God is love.” What trials may we not bear, if we feel assured of that! What dark cloud that seems to hang over our way, and to involve all things in gloom, will not be bright, if from the depths of our souls we can always say, “God is love!” ‘(Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

One of the most effective secrets for happiness is contained in the fourth chapter of 1 John, verse 19. It is only eight words long-listen carefully: “We love him, because he first loved us.” This will cause a change to happen because it is right. Do you get the message? “He first loved us.” Your children will love you; your brothers and sisters will love you; your eternal companion will love you-because you first loved them. Now I don’t mean it will all happen in a day, a week, or a year. But it will happen if you do not give up. (H Burke Petersen, “The Daily Portion of Love,” Ensign, May 1977, 69)

I John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

‘It cannot be supposed that a mere intellectual acknowledgment of the proposition that Jesus is the Messiah is all that is meant, for that is not the proper meaning of the word believe in the Scriptures. That word, in its just sense, implies that the truth which is believed should make its fair and legitimate impression on the mind, or that we should feel and act as if it were true.‘ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

‘That God hath given to us eternal life – Has provided, through the Saviour, the means of obtaining eternal life.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

‘according to his will] This is the only limitation, and it is a very gracious limitation. His will is always for His children’s good, and therefore it is only when they ignorantly ask for what is not for their good that their prayers are denied.’ (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

 1 John 5:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

‘The point is not, that if God hears our prayers he grants them (as if we could ever pray to him without his being aware of it); but that if we know that he hears our prayers (i.e., trust him without reserve), we already have what we have asked in accordance with his will. It may be years before we perceive that our prayers have been answered: perhaps in this world we may never be able to see this; but we know that God has answered them. ‘ (Pulpit Commentary)

  1. Manifestations of the Savior’s love for us

 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

‘We have fellowship one with another – As we all partake of his feelings and views, we shall resemble each other. Loving the same God, embracing the same views of religion, and living for the same ends, we shall of course have much that is common to us all, and thus shall have fellowship with each other.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

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 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

‘One of the oft-told stories about the late President J. Golden Kimball concerns his witticism to the effect that “the Brethren cannot cut me off the Church I repent too often.” Here is a great lesson, if it is correctly interpreted. There is never a day in any man’s life when repentance is not essential to his well-being and eternal progress.

But when most of us think of repentance we tend to narrow our vision and view it as good only for our husbands, our wives, our parents, our children, our neighbors, our friends, the world anyone and everyone except ourselves. Similarly there is a prevalent, perhaps subconscious, feeling that the Lord designed repentance only for those who commit murder or adultery or theft or other heinous crimes. This is of course not so. If we are humble and desirous of living the gospel we will come to think of repentance as applying to everything we do in life, whether it be spiritual or temporal in nature. Repentance is for every soul who has not yet reached perfection.’ (Spencer W Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], Chapter 3)

1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

‘God’s promises are sure and certain. We can be forgiven of our sins and cleansed from all unrighteousness.  And if we continue to embrace and live true principles in our personal circumstances and in our families, we will ultimately arrive at a point where we “hunger no more, neither thirst any more. … For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed [us], and shall lead [us] unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes.” (Revelation 7:16-17)’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, April 2015)

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

‘When have an Advocate with the Father; one who has undertaken, and is fully able, to plead in behalf of every one who applies for pardon and salvation in his name, depending on his pleading for them. He is Jesus, the Saviour, and Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed. He alone is the Righteous One, who received his nature pure from sin, and as our Surety perfectly obeyed the law of God, and so fulfilled all righteousness. All men, in every land, and through successive generations, are invited to come to God through this all-sufficient atonement, and by this new and living way. The gospel, when rightly understood and received, sets the heart against all sin, and stops the allowed practice of it; at the same time it gives blessed relief to the wounded consciences of those who have sinned.’ (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

To propitiate means “to appease and render favorable… to conciliate.” (Webster’s New English Dictionary, Unabridged, 2nd ed.,[Springfield, Mass: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1945])

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

‘To catch souls in his snares and then drag them down to hell is the plan and program of the devil. (D. & C. 10:26; Alma 30:60.) One of his latter-day wiles is to persuade men that there is neither a devil nor a hell and that the fear of eternal torment is baseless. (2 Ne. 28:21-23.) But Christ, who holds “the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18), and can therefore control and abolish them, has power to save and redeem men from hell. (2 Ne. 33:6; Alma 19:29; 26:13-14.) This he does on conditions of repentance and obedience to his laws.’ (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 351.)

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

‘Is it a coincidence that missionaries give a portion of their lives in behalf of others, then come home and testify of their great love for the people they have served? Is it any wonder that bishops and other priesthood and auxiliary leaders who sacrifice for others are filled with love for those who are recipients of their labors? Is there a greater love among mortals than that of a mother, who offers all for her child? Many who desire to have charity like Jesus attain it as he did.’ (C Max Caldwell, General Conference, October 1992)

  1. Showing our love for Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and others

1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

‘If all people walked as Christ walked, guided by the Holy Ghost, which is the spirit of truth, they would accept and follow his teachings and do the things which he did. This would unite them in one fold under the leadership of the true Shepherd, Christ our Lord.’ (Delbert L Stapley, General Conference, April 1958)

 1 John 2:9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

‘is in darkness even until now; he is in a state of nature and unregeneracy, which is a state of darkness and ignorance; he is under the power of darkness, and in the kingdom of Satan; who is the ruler of the darkness of this world;’ (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

1 John 2:11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

‘When you have ill feelings toward anyone, you have an uneasiness in his presence. You will go out of your way to avoid him. You become to a degree, mentally ill. A contentious spirit prevails within you. John stated it this way:

“But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes”

Often we think of forgiveness as a form of charity. We forget that the benefits extend both ways. It is as beneficial to forgive as to be forgiven.’ (Eldred G Smith, General Conference, April 1961)

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

‘Materialism, which gives priority to material needs and objects, is obviously the opposite of spirituality.’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, October 1985)

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

‘Not merely in the beginning, but from the beginning; it was among the first announcements, and it had never ceased to be in force.’ (Pulpit Commentary)

1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

‘Some point the accusing finger at the sinner or the unfortunate and in derision say, “He has brought his condition upon himself.” Others exclaim, “Oh, he will never change. He has always been a bad one.” A few see beyond the outward appearance and recognize the true worth of a human soul. When they do, miracles occur… When we treat people merely as they are, they may remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they may become what they should be.’ (Thomas S Monson, “With Hand and Heart,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 4-5)

 1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

‘Love must be practical. It is easy to “lay down one’s life”: martyrdom is heroic and exhilarating; the difficulty lies in doing the little things, facing day by day the petty sacrifices and self-denials which no one notices and no one applauds. ‘ (Expositor’s Greek Testament)

1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

‘And this is his commandment – His commandment, by way of eminence; the leading, principal thing which he enjoins on us; the commandment which lies at the foundation of all true obedience.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

‘(1) Because he is so much exalted above us, and if he has loved those who were so inferior and so unworthy, we ought to love those who are on a level with us;

(2) because it is only in this way that we can show that we have his Spirit; and,

(3) because it is the nature of love to seek the happiness of all. There are much stronger reasons why we should love one another than there were why God should love us; and unless we do this, we can have no evidence that we are his children.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

We can best exemplify our love for our God by living our religion. It is vain to profess a love for God while speaking evil of or doing wrong to His children. The sacred covenants we have made with Him strictly impose upon us the duties we owe to one another; and the great office of religion is to teach us how to perform those duties so as to produce the greatest happiness for ourselves and for our fellow-beings. When the obligations of our religion are observed, no words are spoken or acts are committed that would injure a neighbor. If the Latter-day Saints lived as they should do, and as their religion teaches them to do, there would be no feeling in any breast but that of brotherly and sisterly affection and love. Backbiting and evil-speaking would have no existence among us,; but peace and love and good will would reign in all our hearts and habitations and settlements. We would be the happiest people on the face of the earth, and the blessing and peace of Heaven would rest upon us and upon all that belongs to us. (Wilford Woodruff, James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 3: 146.)

1 John 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

‘We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.’ (Thomas S Monson, General Conference, April 2014)

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

‘When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes a delight. When we love the Lord, we seek less for things that benefit us and turn our hearts toward things that will bless and uplift others.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, General Conference, October 2007)

2 John 1:4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

‘The Apostle has met with some of the elect lady’s children (or some members of the particular Church addressed), probably in one of his Apostolic visits to some Church in Asia Minor. Their Christian life delighted him and apparently prompted him to write this letter.’ (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

‘Cf. the story of R. Hillel: A mocking Gentile promised to become a proselyte if he would teach him the whole Law while he stood on one foot—a gibe at the multitudinous precepts, reckoned at 613. “What is hateful to thyself,” said the Rabbi, “do not to thy neighbour. This is the whole Law; the rest is commentary.” ‘ (Expositor’s Greek Testament)

3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

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‘While few human challenges are greater than that of being good parents, few opportunities offer greater potential for joy. Surely no more important work is to be done in this world than preparing our children to be God-fearing, happy, honorable, and productive adults. Parents will find no more fulfilling happiness than to have their children honor them and their teachings. That blessing is the glory of parenthood. John testified, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).

In my opinion, the teaching, rearing, and training of children requires more intelligence, intuitive understanding, humility, strength, wisdom, spirituality, perseverance, and hard work than any other challenge we might have in life. This is especially so when moral foundations of honor and decency are eroding around us. If we are to have successful homes, values must be taught. There must be rules, there must be standards, and there must be absolutes. Many societies give parents very little support in teaching and honoring moral values. A number of cultures are becoming essentially valueless, and many of the younger people in those societies are becoming moral cynics.

As societies as a whole have decayed and lost their moral identity and as so many homes are broken, the best hope is to turn greater attention and effort to the teaching of the next generation-our children. In order to do this, we must first reinforce the primary teachers of children. Chief among these are the parents and other family members, and the best environment for this teaching should be the home. Somehow, some way, we must try harder to make our homes stronger so that they will stand as sanctuaries against the unwholesome, pervasive moral dry rot around us. Harmony, happiness, peace, and love in the home can help give children the required inner strength to cope with life’s challenges.’ (James E Faust, Finding Light in a Dark World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 90.)

Posted in Inspirational

The parable of the orienteers

When I was a teenager I went on a school trip to the Yorkshire Dales.  A day packed with exciting and adventurous outdoor activities beckoned. The first activity was orienteering. Working in pairs, the task was to locate a series of plastic canisters which had letters written on their side, note down the letters as proof of location and get back to start point as quickly as possible. Pairs would start at timed intervals and the team with the lowest time would win.

My friend John and I were excited to be picked as the first pair to set off. We committed that we would go as fast as we could and not let any of the  following pairs catch us. Off we hared and each plastic canister was duly located with minimum fuss and in good time. However, in our excitement, we had not heard, or had failed to listen to, the final crucial instruction – ‘When you get to the final canister, which is behind a cairn, retrace your steps to the start point”.

We found the final canister, which was indeed hidden behind a cairn, but instead of turning back we continued to career across the tractless fells. I don’t know where we thought we were going but we were heading there as fast as we could. For a little while we kept on congratulating ourselves as we saw that there was no-one on our trail – weren’t we doing well! A little longer and doubts began to creep into my mind – how was it that there were no other teams in sight? Were we really going the right way. I’m sure John had the same misgivings but neither of us voiced them and we plunged further and further into the bleak countryside.

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After a couple of hours we stopped for a drink at a cool stream and ‘came to ourselves’ – we admitted that we had inexplicably gone astray. A little way off we spied a lone cottage – surely the householder would be able to point us towards a short cut back to our start point? The resident of the cottage, a gnarled old Yorkshire man, glumly informed us that the only way back was the way we had come – back across the fells and moors.  We retraced our steps and in our tired state found the going more arduous and less exciting than our original journey. After three hours we arrived back at our base, hot sweaty and exhausted and were ‘welcomed’ by concerned teachers. We were glad to be safely back in the company and fellowship of our friends and found that we had arrived just in time to board the bus back home. We were back in safety but we had paid a price, while we were wandering we had missed the abseiling, the rock climbing, the canoeing and the picnic.

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, LDS Doctrine, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 43 – “A Chosen Generation”

  1. Live in faith and holiness as a chosen generation.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

‘Unto a lively hope – The word lively we now use commonly in the sense of active, animated, quick; the word used here, however, means living, in contradistinction from that which is dead. The hope which they had, had living power. It was not cold, inoperative, dead. It was not a mere form – or a mere speculation – or a mere sentiment; it was that which was vital to their welfare, and which was active and powerful.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 Peter 1: 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

‘I keep struggling toward the Father’s perspective of mortality. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of things from his perspective. Such glimpses give me strength; they fill me with courage; they replenish my gratitude to overflowing. See yourself as the Father sees you-glorious, eternal, capable of infinite love, worthy of his infinite love.

The Apostle Peter, in his first epistle to the Saints in the northern part of Asia Minor, opens his letter with this same vision of courage, comfort, and strength: (quotes 1 Peter 1:3-7.)

Isn’t that a wonderful idea? The Father has given us an inheritance in heaven that will never perish, spoil, or fade. It’s there for us right now! We can rejoice in it right now! Yes, we have problems and trials. Yes, we may suffer grief. But these trials will prove that our faith is genuine. Notice that Peter doesn’t threaten the Saints (“you’d better pass this test!”) or sound anxious (“oh, dear, I hope you can pass this test!”). Instead he assures them that their faith will be proved genuine and will increase the “praise, glory, and honor” that will greet our Savior when Jesus returns a second time to the earth.’ (Chieko Okazaki, Lighten Up!)

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1 Peter 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

‘Think clean thoughts. Those who think clean thoughts do not do filthy deeds. You are responsible before God not only for your acts but also for controlling your thoughts. So live that you would not blush with shame if your thoughts and acts should be flashed on a screen in your chapel. The old adage is still true that you sow thoughts and you reap acts, you sow acts and you reap habits, you sow habits and you reap a character, and your character determines your eternal destiny. “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7)’. (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 445 – 446.)

 1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

‘Today’s “manner of conversation” seems to involve the Internet more and more. We encourage people, young and old, to use the Internet and the social media to reach out and share their religious beliefs.

As you utilize the Internet, you may come across ongoing conversations about the Church. When directed by the Spirit, do not hesitate to add your voice to these conversations.

The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is unlike anything else you will share with others. In the information age, it is the most valuable information in all the world. There is no question about its worth. It is a pearl of great price.

In speaking about the Church, we do not try to make it sound better than it is. We do not need to put a spin on our message. We need to communicate the message honestly and directly. If we will open communication channels, the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will prove itself to those who are prepared to receive it.’ (L Tom Perry, General Conference, October 2011)

1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

“The nature of the sacrificial offerings required by the law of Moses suggests parallels to the gospel. For example, the unblemished condition of the sacrificial animals anticipated Christ’s fitness as a worthy sacrifice, for he redeemed us with his ‘precious blood … as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Pet. 1:18-19).” (Stephen D. Ricks, “The Law of Sacrifice,”Ensign, June 1998, 27)

 1 Peter 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

‘The Son of God was foreordained, to come as a Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, to die for man and atone for the original sin, and to bring to pass the resurrection from the dead, he being the firstfruits of them that slept. God designed that he should come here and be clothed upon with humanity. He designed we should struggle and contend here in this probation with a glimmering of knowledge, a little light. He gave unto us his word. He has commanded us to seek unto him, and he that seeks shall find, to him that knocks it shall be opened, and he that asks shall receive.’ (George Q Cannon, Journal of Discourses)

1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

‘No one is made pure without personal intention or effort – any more than one becomes accomplished or learned without personal exertion.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

‘The Lord has constituted us as a people for a special mission. As He told Enoch in ancient times, the day in which we live would be one of darkness, but it would also be a time when righteousness would come down from heaven, and truth would be sent forth out of the earth to bear, once more, testimony of Christ and His atoning mission. As with a flood, that message would sweep the world, and the Lord’s elect would be gathered out from the four quarters of the earth. Wherever we live in the world, we have been molded as a people to be the instruments of the Lord’s peace. In the words of Peter, we have been claimed by God for His own, to proclaim the triumph of Him “who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.” We cannot afford to be caught up in a world prone to give and to take offense. Rather, as the Lord revealed to both Paul and Mormon, we must neither envy nor be puffed up in pride. We are not easily provoked, nor do we behave unseemly. We rejoice not in iniquity but in the truth. Surely this is the pure love of Christ which we represent. (Robert S Wood, General Conference, April 2006)’

  1. Follow the Savior’s example in enduring trials and persecution.

1 Peter 2: 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

“Being buffeted when we are right and when we have done good-that’s often a test!” (Neal A Maxwell, Deposition of a Disciple 92 – 93.)

 1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

‘There is nothing in the Gospel that is nonessential. Every principle that has been revealed unto us is necessary for the salvation of man, for I tell you before we are fit to dwell in the presence of God and enjoy the fulness of his glory we must become like him. Latter-day Saints, the ordinances of the Gospel will not save you, they are only aids to salvation. What, then, will save us? A knowledge of truth and the practice thereof, nothing else. We must learn the ways of God. We must walk in his paths. We must be Saints in very deed, and walk in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,  (1 Peter 2:21) and then, by-and-by, where he is we will be also.’ (Charles W Penrose, Journal of Discourses)

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1 Peter 3:13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

‘Let us then seek to do right, and take a correct and proper course in all things; and, if all things do not work always according to our ideas and notions, never mind, leave these things in the hands of God, he will direct and overrule everything for the welfare of those who do right. “No man can harm you, if you be followers of that which is good.” (1 Peter 3:13) It is for us all to take a course that we may secure the favor and approbation of the Almighty, that we individually may be led by him, having his spirit always with us.’ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses)

 1 Peter 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

‘The meaning here is, not that they would find positive enjoyment in persecution on account of righteousness, but that they were to regard it as a blessed condition; that is, as a condition that might be favorable to salvation; and they were not therefore, on the whole, to regard it as an evil.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Many years ago I boarded a plane in San Francisco en route to Los Angeles. As I sat down, the seat next to mine was empty. Soon, however, there occupied that seat a most lovely young lady. As the plane became airborne, I noticed that she was reading a book. As one is wont to do, I glanced at the title: A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. I mustered up my courage and said to her, “Excuse me. You must be a Mormon.”

She replied, “Oh, no. Why do you ask?”

I said, “Well, you’re reading a book written by LeGrand Richards, a very prominent leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

She responded, “Is that right? A friend gave this book to me, but I don’t know much about it. However, it has aroused my curiosity.”

I wondered silently, Should I be forward and say more about the Church? The words of the Apostle Peter crossed my mind: “Be ready always to give an answer to every [one] that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” I decided that now was the time for me to share my testimony with her. I told her that it had been my privilege years before to assist Elder Richards in printing that book. I mentioned the great missionary spirit of this man and told her of the many thousands of people who had embraced the truth after reading that which he had prepared. Then it was my privilege, during the remainder of the flight, to answer her questions relative to the Church-intelligent questions which came from the heart, which I perceived was a heart seeking truth. I asked if I might have an opportunity to have the missionaries call upon her. I asked if she would like to attend one of our wards in San Francisco, where she lived. Her answers were affirmative. She gave me her name-Yvonne Ramirez-and indicated that she was a flight attendant on her way to an assignment.

Upon returning home I wrote to the mission president and the stake president, advising them of my conversation and that I had written to her and sent along some suggested reading. Incidentally, young men, I recommended that rather than sending two elders to this pretty off-duty flight attendant and her pretty roommate, two lady missionaries be assigned to call.

Several months passed by. Then I received a telephone call from the stake president, who asked, “Brother Monson, do you remember sitting next to a flight attendant on a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles earlier this fall?” I answered affirmatively. He continued, “I thought you would like to know that Yvonne Ramirez has just become the most recently baptized and confirmed member of the Church. She would like to speak with you.”

A sweet voice came on the line: “Brother Monson, thank you for sharing with me your testimony. I am the happiest person in all the world.”

As tears filled my eyes and gratitude to God enlarged my soul, I thanked her and commended her on her search for truth and, having found it, her decision to enter those waters which cleanse and purity and provide entrance to eternal life.

I sat silently for a few minutes after replacing the telephone receiver. The words of our Savior coursed through my mind: “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” (D&C 84:88)

Such is the promise to all of us when we pursue our missionary opportunities and follow the counsel and obey the commandments of Jesus of Nazareth, our Savior and our King. (Thomas S Monson, “That All May Hear,” Ensign, May 1995, 50)

 1 Peter 3:16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

As we endure a tiny fraction of what He endured, we come to know the “fellowship of his sufferings.” (Philippians 3:10.) It is the most exclusive fraternity, and the dues are high. (Neal A Maxwell, We Will Prove Them Herewith, 117-118.)

  1. Partake of the divine nature and strive to make your calling and election sure.

2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

‘Somebody once asked President Romney how one could know when he is converted. President Romney answered: “He may be assured of it when by the power of the Holy Spirit his soul is healed. When this occurs, he will recognize it by the way he feels, for he will feel as the people of Benjamin felt when they received remission of sins. The record says, ‘… the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience. …’ (Mosiah 4:3).

Peter describes what happens in a full conversion: We become “partakers of the divine nature”

It is through this total conversion experience that we truly come to personally know and feel the character and greatness of God. It is the means whereby we become not only servants of the Lord but His friends as well.’ (Dale E Miller, General Conference, October 2004)

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2 Peter 1: 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

‘It is not meant in this verse and the following that we are to endeavor particularly to add these things one to another “in the order” in which they are specified, or that we are to seek first to have faith, and then to add to that virtue, and then to add knowledge to virtue rather than to faith, etc. The order in which this is to be done, the relation which one of these things may have to another, is not the point aimed at; nor are we to suppose that any other order of the words would not have answered the purpose of the apostle as well, or that anyone of the virtues specified would not sustain as direct a relation to any other, as the one which he has specified. The design of the apostle is to say, in an emphatic manner, that we are to strive to possess and exhibit all these virtues; in other words, we are not to content ourselves with a single grace, but are to cultivate all the virtues, and to endeavor to make our piety complete in all the relations which we sustain. ‘ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

“President David O. McKay once said, ‘A man who cannot control his temper is not very likely to control his passion, and no matter what his pretensions in religion, he moves in daily life very close to the animal plane’ (Improvement Era, June 1958, p. 407).”

 2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

‘Brotherly kindness; a love to those that are of the household of faith. This is joined to godliness, to show that it is in vain to pretend to true religion and yet be destitute of brotherly love.

Charity; this is more general than the former, and relates to all men, even our enemies themselves.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“The Apostle Peter tells us that when we possess these traits we are not ‘unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (2 Pet. 1:8; italics added.)

“To know the Savior, then, is to be like Him. God will bless us to be like His Son when we make an earnest effort.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “What Manner of Men Ought We to Be?” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 43)

2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

“After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands) … then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 150.)

  1. Resist false teachers and those who deny the Second Coming.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

‘Who privily – That is, in a secret manner, or under plausible arts and pretences. They would not at first make an open avowal of their doctrines, but would, in fact, while their teachings seemed to be in accordance with truth, covertly maintain opinions which would sap the very foundations of religion. The Greek word here used, and which is rendered “who privily shall bring in,” (παρεισάγω pareisagō,) means properly “to lead in by the side of others; to lead in along with others.” Nothing could better express the usual way in which error is introduced. It is “by the side,” or “along with,” other doctrines which are true; that is, while the mind is turned mainly to other subjects, and is off its guard, gently and silently to lay down some principle, which, being admitted, would lead to the error, or from which the error would follow as a natural consequence. Those who inculcate error rarely do it openly. If they would at once boldly “deny the Lord that bought them,” it would be easy to meet them, and the mass of professed Christians would be in no danger of embracing the error. But when principles are laid down which may lead to that; when doubts on remote points are suggested which may involve it; or when a long train of reasoning is pursued which may secretly tend to it; there is much more probability that the mind will be corrupted from the truth.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

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 2 Peter 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

‘A widespread apostasy from the Church was followed by an apostasy of the Church. This apostasy, which was repeatedly predicted, is attested by history, both sacred and profane. This fact is the justification for the claim of the Latter-day Saints that there has been a restoration of the gospel. This Church, then, is Christianity restored, together with the principles and ordinances, the priesthood and authority, as taught and exercised in the primitive Church. This is our declaration, my brothers and sisters. This is our warning voice to all men, that the God of heaven has set up his kingdom, which, as predicted by Daniel,

“. . . shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people . . . and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44) (Hugh B Brown, General Conference, April 1965)

2 Peter 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

‘and despise government] More literally, lordship, or, perhaps better, dominion. In Ephesians 1:21, and Colossians 1:16 the word seems used of angelic authorities. Here apparently, …the abstract noun is used as including all forms of authority.’ (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

2 Peter 2:12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

‘Where is the man on the face of the wide earth who has a claim to a wife in eternity? There is not one outside of this church. They do not profess it, they know nothing of such a principle. The extent of their covenants is that they are married until death parts them, and that ends the matter. Who is there who has any idea of associating with their children in the eternal world? They think about it. There is nature, or a kind of instinct that leads to reflections of this sort. But they have not the privilege of entering into covenants of this kind. There are a great many other principles connected with this Gospel of which, as the scriptures say, they are as ignorant as brute beasts that were made to be taken and destroyed.’ (Joseph F Smith, Journal of Discourses)

 2 Peter 2:13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

‘Sporting themselves – The Greek word here means to live delicately or luxuriously; to revel. The idea is not exactly that of sporting, or playing, or amusing themselves; but it is that they take advantage of their views to live in riot and luxury.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 2 Peter 2:14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

“This single, inspired sentence enables us to put in proper perspective the whole story of Balaam the son of Beor who was entreated by Balak to curse Israel and bless Moab. (Num. 22, 23 and 24.) Though Balaam was true to his prophetic trust and delivered the Lord’s message of blessing to Israel and cursing to Moab, yet as here shown he ‘loved the wages of unrighteousness’; that is, he sought the honor and wealth offered him if he would curse the Lord’s chosen people. And how often it is that the honors of men and the wealth of the world lead members of the Church away from their duty and cause them to lose their souls!” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 361-362)

 2 Peter 2:16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

‘ His transgression was that, although as a prophet he knew the blessedness of Israel, and although God gave him leave to go only on condition of his blessing Israel, he went still cherishing a hope of being able to curse, and so winning Balak’s promised reward.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

 Jude 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

The passage quoted in the text-“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men,” etc. (Jude: 4), has given rise to discussion, the question at issue being as to whether the principle of pre-appointment or foreordination is here involved. A hasty and casual reading of the passage may suggest the inference that the “ungodly men” referred to had been appointed or “ordained” in the providence of God to sow the seeds of discord and dissension in the Church. A careful study of this scripture shows that no such inference is warranted. The “ungodly men” “who were before of old ordained to this condemnation” were men who had already, i.e., previously, been denounced, proscribed and condemned for the very heresies which now they were endeavoring to perpetuate in the Church, they having crept in unawares, or in other words, they having become members by false pretenses and profession, and being able because of their membership, to spread their false teachings more effectively. (James E Talmage, The Great Apostasy [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1958], 53.)

Jude 1:8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

‘Likewise also – In the same way do these persons defile the flesh, or resemble the inhabitants of Sodom; that is, they practice the same kind of vices. What the apostle says is, that their character resembled that of the inhabitants of Sodom; the example which he adduces of the punishment which was brought on those sinners, leaves it to be clearly inferred that the persons of whom he was speaking would be punished in a similar manner.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Jude 1:18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

 19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

‘The real tragedy of following false ideals is that by so doing we stifle and sometimes choke out spirituality completely. The body with its five or more senses, with its appetites and passions, is essential to life and happiness, but in the ultimate analysis it is only a means to a higher end. When man makes its gratification an end in itself, he frustrates the purpose of life and descends to sensuality.

Spirituality is the consciousness of victory over self, and of communion with the infinite. Spirituality impels one to conquer difficulties and acquire more and more strength. To feel one’s faculties unfolding and truth expanding the soul is one of life’s sublimest experiences.

Being “honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men,” are attributes which contribute to spirituality, the highest acquisition of the soul. It is “the divine in man, the supreme, crowning gift that makes him king of all created things, the one final quality that makes him tower above all other animals.”’ (David O McKay, Pathways to Happiness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1957], 165.)

Posted in Inspirational

Walking the cold hard road (Reblogged from October 2014)

MormonBloke

The songwriter Colin Vearncombe (also known as Black) sang: ‘It’s a cold hard road and we walk it alone.’

colin

The writer of Ecclesiastes said:

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4 :9-10)

We all need help and company on our journey through life. That’s why we have the Church. We need the Church to receive the saving ordinances but we also need the strength that comes from fellowship with the Saints. President Gordon B Hinckley said: “[The Church] is a great family of friends who mingle together and enjoy one another.” (Oct 2002).

However, as brothers and sisters in the gospel and fellow travellers along the straight and narrow path, I…

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Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 42 – “Pure Religion”

  1. We should endure affliction patiently.

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

‘James directed his epistle “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” (James 1:1) His teachings may be applied to us, the Lord’s people who in a latter day would accept the restored gospel. He teaches principles that should guide your relationships with other members of the Church. He considers the commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself” to be the “royal law.” (James 2:8). To James, a testimony alone is not enough. The gospel has to become a living reality in your life. “And I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:18).  “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.” (James 1:22). James’s definition of the converted is: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27). He ends his brief epistle with these words: “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul … and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20). By reclaiming an errant brother, you save both him and yourself. Your sins are hidden or remitted because you ministered for the salvation of another.’ (Robert J Whetton, General Conference, April 2005)

 James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

‘When ye fall into divers temptations – On the meaning of the word “temptations,”  …it is now commonly used in the sense of placing allurements before others to induce them to sin, and in this sense the word seems to be used in James 1:13-14 of this chapter. Here, however, the word is used in the sense of trials, to wit, by persecution, poverty, calamity of any kind. These cannot be said to be direct inducements or allurements to sin, but they try the faith, and they show whether he who is tried is disposed to adhere to his faith in God, or whether he will apostatize. They so far coincide with temptations, properly so called, as to test the religion of men.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James stressed the importance of patience when our faith is being tried, because those grueling experiences ‘worketh patience’; he said, in what was almost a sigh of the soul, ‘let patience have her perfect work.’ (James 1:3-4.)

“To Joseph Smith, the Lord described patience as having a special finishing or concluding role, for ‘these things remain to be overcome through patience, that such may receive an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ (D&C 63:66.) A patient disciple will not be surprised or undone when the Church is misrepresented.

“Peter, being toughminded as well as tender, made the test of our patience even more precise and demanding when he said, ‘For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.’ (1 Peter 2:20.) The dues of discipleship are high indeed, and how much we can take so often determines how much we can then give!” (Neal A Maxwell, Notwithstanding My Weakness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 62-63.)

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James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

‘To encourage them to the exercise of patience, he points them to the example of those who had trod the same thorny path before them. The prophets were in general a much persecuted race of men; and the argument on which the apostle relies from their example is this:

(1) that if the prophets were persecuted and tried, it may be expected that other good men will be;

(2) that they showed such patience in their trials as to be a model for us.

An example of suffering affliction – That is, they showed us how evils are to be borne.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

James 5: 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

“‘Behold,’ wrote the Apostle James, ‘we count them happy which endure.’ (James 5:11.)

“In this vein, President Joseph Fielding Smith suggested that enduring to the end involves the acquisition of those attributes that bring happiness. ‘We must endure to the end,’ he said; … ‘We must so live as to acquire the attributes of godliness and become the kind of people who can enjoy the glory and wonders of the celestial kingdom.’ (Ensign, Nov. 1971, p. 5.)

“While some may see enduring to the end as Suffering through the challenges of daily life until death introduces them to a better world, Latter-day Saints are given a different perspective. Brigham Young said, ‘Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954, p. 345.) Such a perspective, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell points out, enables us, even in the most pressing of circumstances, to pass ‘the breaking point without breaking, having cause to be bitter-as men measure cause-without being bitter.’ (A Time to Choose, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, p. 42.)” (Robert J. Woodford, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, July 1986, 30)

  1. We should pray to God in faith.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

‘The Prophet Joseph went into the woods in his innocent faith and reliance, prayed for light and received in answer the greatest theophany of which we have any record, for the Father and the Son came to him in person and told him of the work there was for him to do. And from there on, the line of communication, the royal line, between him and our Heavenly Father was never broken.

We believe in the doctrine of continuous revelation. We advocate it boldly and with rightful pride, boast of it. It is seriously challenged by many, by many great Church organizations. But I would like to challenge those organizations on their position. If, as they contend, God no longer informs his children, advises them and counsels them, that being their position, then I ask them why they pray. The fact that they pray seems to me to give the falsehood to their opposition.’ ( J Reuben Clark Jr, General Conference, October 1958)

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James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

‘The “nearness to God,” to which the promise is attached, is primarily that which is involved in all true and earnest prayer, but it should not be forgotten that it includes also the approximation of character and life. We are to walk with God as Enoch walked (Genesis  5:25)’. (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

  1. We should control our tongues and be “slow to wrath.”

James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

“Parents and teachers, learn to listen, then listen to learn from children. A wise father once said, ‘I do a greater amount of good when I listen to my children than when I talk to them.’… The time to listen is when someone needs to be heard. Children are naturally eager to share their experiences, which range from triumphs of delight to trials of distress. Are we as eager to listen? If they try to express their anguish, is it possible for us to listen openly to a shocking experience without going into a state of shock ourselves? Can we listen without interrupting and without making snap judgments that slam shut the door of dialogue? It can remain open with the soothing reassurance that we believe in them and understand their feelings.” (Russell M Nelson, “Listen to Learn,” Ensign, May 1991, 22)

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

‘No religion, group, or individual can prosper over an extended period of time with fault-finding as their foundation. To the world, and especially to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we declare there is no time for contention. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”’ (Marvin J Ashton, General Conference, October 1982)

 James 3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

“A middle-aged couple on the farm had a violent quarrel at breakfast time. Later in the day they started for town in the buggy with a fine team of horses to sell their vegetables and eggs. As the horses trotted along, Mary said, ‘John, why can’t we travel together like these horses do? They don’t quarrel and fight.’ John said, ‘Mary, we could if there was only one tongue between us.’

“Oh, the unkind things we say to those we love.

(Hugh B Brown, The Eternal Quest [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956], 310.)

James 3: 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

‘A ship is a large object. It seems to be unmanageable by its vastness, and it is also impelled by driving storms. Yet it is easily managed by a small rudder; and he that has control of that, has control of the ship itself. So with the tongue. It is a small member as compared with the body; in its size not unlike the rudder as compared with the ship. Yet the proper control of the tongue in respect to its influence on the whole man, is not unlike the control of the rudder in its power over the ship.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

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James 3: 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

“Lies and gossip which harm reputations are scattered about by the four winds like the seeds of a ripe dandelion held aloft by a child. Neither the seeds nor the gossip can ever be gathered in. The degree and extent of the harm done by the gossip is inestimable.” (Spencer W Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 54)

James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

‘The point in the remark of the apostle is, the absurdity of employing the tongue in such contradictory uses as to bless one who has to us the relation of a father, and to curse any being, especially those who are made in his image. The word bless here is used in the sense of praise, thank, worship.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

James 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

“Be one who nurtures and who builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. Be fair with your competitors, whether in business, athletics, or elsewhere. Don’t get drawn into some of the parlance of our day and try to ‘win’ by intimidation or by undermining someone’s character. Lend a hand to those who are frightened, lonely, or burdened.

“If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.

“If the adversary can influence us to pick on each other, to find fault, bash, and undermine, to judge or humiliate or taunt, half his battle is won. Why? Because though this sort of conduct may not equate with succumbing to grievous sin, it nevertheless neutralizes us spiritually. The Spirit of the Lord cannot dwell where there is bickering, judging, contention, or any kind of bashing.” (Marvin J Ashton, “The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword,” Ensign, May 1992, 20)

 James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

‘The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy.’ (Richard G Scott, General Conference, October 2013)

 James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

‘The farmer sows his seed in peace. The fields are not sown amidst the tumults of a mob, or the excitements of a battle or a camp. Nothing is more calm, peaceful, quiet, and composed, than the farmer, as he walks with measured tread over his fields, scattering his seed. So it is in sowing the “seed of the kingdom,” in preparing for the great harvest of righteousness in the world. It is done by men of peace; it is done in peaceful scenes, and with a peaceful spirit; it is not in the tumult of war, or amidst the hoarse brawling of a mob. In a pure and holy life; in the peaceful scenes of the sanctuary and the Sabbath; by noiseless and unobtrusive laborers, the seed is scattered over the world, and the result is seen in an abundant harvest in producing peace and order.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

James 4: 11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

‘speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law …] The logical train of thought seems to run thus. To speak against a brother is to condemn him; to condemn, when no duty calls us to it, is to usurp the function of a judge. One who so usurps becomes ipso facto a transgressor of the law, the royal law, of Christ, which forbids judging. ‘ (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

  1. We should be “doers of the word,” showing our faith by our works.

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

“Some tend to think that just because a few ordinances have been performed, or just because they have repented, they can relax and think they ‘have it made.’ This life is not one of arrival; rather it is a journey, where we are continually being given the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of the rewards promised to those whose efforts have been characterized with steadfastness, hope, faith, and love throughout life to the very last moment of this existence.” (Robert E Wells, The Mount and the Master [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 204.)

 James 1:23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

‘And so it is with many who are in this Church. They have experienced joy, they have had testimonies from God, they have had the power and the gifts of God resting upon them; but after a little while, coming in contact with the world, and the spirit of the world, they forget these things, the remembrance of them fades away from their minds and other things appear more desirable to them. This is the difficulty that the servants of God have to contend with in their ministering among men. It would appear, looking at matters naturally, that if men and women had tasted the word of God, had received revelation from God, had knowledge poured into their souls concerning this being the work of God, they would always be faithful to the truth; but it is not so, and this is evidence of the great power which the adversary exercises over the hearts of the children of men.’ (George Q Cannon, Journal of Discourses)

 James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

‘The perfect law of liberty – Referring to the law of God or his will, however made known, as the correct standard of conduct. It is called the perfect law, as being wholly free from all defects; being just such as a law ought to be. It is called the law of liberty, or freedom because it is a law producing freedom from the servitude of sinful passions and lusts.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Then what is religion? James declares: ‘Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.’ This may be interpreted as meaning that a person who is religious is thoughtful to the unfortunate, and has an inner spirit that prompts to deeds of kindness and to the leading of a blameless life; who is just, truthful; who does not, as Paul says, think more highly of himself than he ought to think; who is affectionate, patient in tribulation, diligent, cheerful, fervent in spirit, hospitable, merciful; and who abhors evil and cleaves to that which is good. The possession of such a spirit and feeling is a true sign that a person is naturally religious.

The Church’s outward ordinances and requirements are but necessary-yet they are necessary-aids to the inner spiritual life. The Church itself, the organization, meetings, ordinances, requirements, are only helps, but very necessary helps, to the practice of true religion.” (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 121.)

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James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

‘He doubtless had in his eye those who abused the doctrine of justification by faith, by holding that good works are unnecessary to salvation, provided they maintain an orthodox belief. As this abuse probably existed in the time of the apostles, and as the Holy Ghost saw that there would be danger that in later times the great and glorious doctrine of justification by faith would be thus abused, it was important that the error should be rebuked, and that the doctrine should be distinctly laid down that good works are necessary to salvation. The apostle, therefore, in the question before us, implicitly asserts that faith would not “profit” at all unless accompanied with a holy life, and this doctrine he proceeds to illustrate in the following verses.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

‘”Well, some people say: ‘I would like to help the poor in my own way.’

“I think we all should help the poor in our own way, but I think likewise we should help the poor in the Lord’s way, and the Lord has said so much in so many words: Said he:

‘And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.

But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.’ (D. & C. 104:15, 16.)

“I call your attention to the fact that the Lord says that the helping of the poor ‘must needs be done in mine own way,’ and the Lord’s own way in 1947, in this centennial year, is that organized assistance be given through the Church welfare program and through the priesthood quorums allied with that program. We ask you one and all who are laborers in this Church to cooperate fully and heartily and willingly with that program, and remember that not your way, but the Lord’s way is to be done.”’ (Mark E Petersen, Conference Report, April 1947, Afternoon Meeting 100-101)

James 2: 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

‘To be and to do are inseparable. As interdependent doctrines they reinforce and promote each other. Faith inspires one to pray, for example, and prayer in turn strengthens one’s faith.

The Savior often denounced those who did without being—calling them hypocrites: “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”  (Mark 7:6) To do without to be is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not—a pretender.

Conversely, to be without to do is void, as in “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”  (James 2:17). Be without do really isn’t being—it is self-deception, believing oneself to be good merely because one’s intentions are good.

Do without be—hypocrisy—portrays a false image to others, while be without do portrays a false image to oneself.’ (Lynn G Robbins, General Conference, April 2011)

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

“Religion is a thing that has to live in the lives of people, and hence all these expressions to the effect that we show our faith by our works (James 2:18), and that we are not hearers only, but doers (James 1:22), or should be. You can be a hearer if all that is involved in religion is this matter of theology, of studying and analyzing passages of scripture. But you are a doer if you get religion into operation in your life. You are a hearer, in part at least, if all that you have is testimony. But you become a doer when you add to a testimony this pure conversion of which we are speaking.” (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998], 139.)

 James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

‘Faith in the Savior requires more than mere belief. The Apostle James taught that even the devils believe and tremble. But true faith requires work. The difference between the devils and the faithful members of this Church is not belief but work. Faith grows by keeping the commandments. We must work at keeping the commandments. From the Bible Dictionary we read that “miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness’ (Wilford W Andersen, General Conference, April 2010)

 James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

‘Justified by works – That is, in the sense in which James is maintaining that a man professing religion is to be justified by his works. He does not affirm that the ground of acceptance with God is that we keep the law, or are perfect; or that our good works make an atonement for our sins, and that it is on their account that we are pardoned; nor does he deny that it is necessary that a man should believe in order to be saved. In this sense he does not deny that men are justified by faith; and thus he does not contradict the doctrine of the apostle Paul. But he does teach that where there are no good works, or where there is not a holy life, there is no true religion; that that faith which is not productive of good works is of no value; that if a man has that faith only, it would be impossible that he could be regarded as justified, or could be saved and that consequently, in that large sense, a man is justified by his works that is, they are the evidence that he is a justified man, or is regarded and treated as righteous by his Maker. The point on which the apostle has his eye is the nature of saving faith; and his design is to show that a mere faith which would produce no more effect than that of the demons did, could not save.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

“Since the scriptures-not just the Bible but all the scriptures-discuss the importance of both grace and works, we are not at liberty to choose sides or to throw out one in favor of the other. Any theological view that slights the vital role of either grace or works is defective. Luther was wrong to ignore James. Latter-day Saints are wrong to shy away from Paul. Both James and Paul wrote the word of God. Both the Epistle of James and the Epistle to the Romans are scripture. Unfortunately, some LDS missionaries, when confronted with Paul’s ‘By grace are ye saved’ (Ephesians 2:8) or ‘A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law’ (Romans 3:28) have counterattacked with James’ ‘Faith without works is dead’ (James 2:26) as though Paul was wrong or as though James somehow cancels out Paul. But Paul was an apostle of the Lord, and his letters are just as much the word of God as the letter from James (see the eighth Article of Faith). We cannot choose sides between grace and works-both must be right!” (Stephen E. Robinson, Following Christ: The Parable of the Divers and More Good News [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 80.)

 James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

‘Again, when Abraham and Sarah were commanded of the Lord—requested at least—to give as a sacrifice their son Isaac  we can imagine what must have gone through their minds. Nevertheless, they met the test. The Lord did it to see how much they loved him. Abraham was sustained, I am sure, by an unwavering trust in God. I am sure that Abraham knew that to accomplish his purposes, God could, if he desired, raise up Isaac from the dead, even after he had died. But what a lesson that is in service, of dedication, of consecration of that which he dearly loved! No wonder that Abraham was called a “friend of God”’ (ElRay L Christiansen, General Conference, October 1955)

 James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

‘This instance of Rahab is joined to that of Abraham, either to show, that none of any condition, degree, or nation, was ever numbered among true believers, without good works; or else to prove, that faith, wherever it is sincere and genuine, is likewise operative and fruitful, not only in older disciples and stronger, such as Abraham was, but even proportionably in those that are weaker, and but newly converted to the faith, which was Rahab’s case.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Our advocate with the Father (Reblogged from October 2014)

MormonBloke

images (1) I served as a magistrate for about 10 years and watched with interest the various solicitors who represented their clients in court. There was one that I will call Mr Toad because he resembled a large fat toad watching unblinkingly as the prosecutor presented the case against the defendant. If I ever get into trouble with the law I want Mr Toad to defend me. Many a time I would listen to the prosecution case and wonder how on earth Mr Toad could combat the seemingly irrefutable evidence. But then he would slowly rise and with a wide smile on his amphibian-like face he would set about his work. Twisting a fact here, planting an insinuation there, continually pressing and harrying witnesses he would eventually generate enough cracks in the edifice constructed by the prosecution and create enough doubt in the minds of the magistrates that a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict…

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Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 41 – “I Have Finished My Course”

  1. Learn and teach true doctrine.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

‘The Lord poured out His Spirit upon the people and gave them visible manifestations of His power, in addition to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost which made them all see and comprehend alike, and which bore witness to the divine mission of Christ and to the mission of the Apostles whom He had sent forth. These signs were seen in their midst, which comforted and made them strong. But after a time the people began to go astray. Wicked men took the Apostles and put them to death. Some were cast unto wild beasts; some were thrown into caldrons of boiling oil; some were crucified; others were tormented in various ways, persecuted and afflicted and slain. Then others began to depart from the faith, bringing in damnable heresies. Others began to preach for hire and divine for money, making merchandise of the souls of men. And thus the apostasy went on until darkness covered the minds of the people, and paganism was introduced into the Christian church. And the time came when that wicked power spoken of in the Revelation overcame the saints. The Spirit of God left the polluted church. The body became dead. Just as when the spirit of man leaves his body, the carcass begins to crumble; every particle seems desirous to get away from every other particle. So it was after the time that the Apostles fell. The Holy Ghost left the church. The spirit of revelation departed from the body and dissolution set in. Darkness ensued. Apostasy prevailed.’ (Charles W Penrose, Journal of Discourses)

1 Timothy 4: 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

‘The apostle meant to say that this grand apostasy would occur under the influence of a hypocritical, hardened, and arbitrary ministry, teaching their own doctrines instead of the divine commands, and forbidding that which God had declared to be lawful.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

1 Timothy 4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

‘Just as a cucumber must be prepared and cleaned before it can be changed into a pickle, so you and I can be prepared with “the words of faith and of good doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6) and initially cleansed through the ordinances and covenants administered by the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, April 2007)

 1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

‘And exercise thyself rather unto godliness – Rather than attempt to understand those fables. Do not occupy your time and attention with them, but rather cultivate piety, and seek to become more holy.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

President Joseph F. Smith said: “When [we receive] the truth [we] will be saved by it. [We] will not be saved merely because someone taught it to [us], but because [we] received and acted upon it” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1902, 86; see also Teaching, No Greater Call [1999]

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

‘The Apostle Paul also saw our day. He described it as a time when such things as blasphemy, dishonesty, cruelty, unnatural affection, pride, and pleasure seeking would abound. (See 2 Timothy 3:1-7) He also warned that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)

Such grim predictions by prophets of old would be cause for great fear and discouragement if those same prophets had not, at the same time, offered the solution. In their inspired counsel we can find the answer to the spiritual crises of our age.

In his dream, Lehi saw an iron rod which led through the mists of darkness. He saw that if people would hold fast to that rod, they could avoid the rivers of filthiness, stay away from the forbidden paths, stop from wandering in the strange roads that lead to destruction. Later his son Nephi clearly explained the symbolism of the iron rod. When Laman and Lemuel asked, “What meaneth the rod of iron?” Nephi answered, “It was the word of God; and [note this promise] whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.” (1 Nephi 5:23-24) Not only will the word of God lead us to the fruit which is desirable above all others, but in the word of God and through it we can find the power to resist temptation, the power to thwart the work of Satan and his emissaries.

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Paul’s message is the same as Lehi’s. After portraying the terrible wickedness of future times—future to him, but present to us!—he said this to Timothy: “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned. …

“From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15)’ (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1986)

2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

‘By “evil men” are meant, not sinful men in common, as all are by nature and practice; nor only open profane sinners but rather wicked men under a form of godliness, as before; and who are full of wickedness and malice against truly godly persons, even as the devil himself, of whom the same word is used, when he is called the wicked one; and this is a reason why true professors of religion must expect persecution, seeing as there ever were, so there ever will be such sort of men, who will not grow better, but worse and worse. ‘ (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

“The New Testament indicates that the early Apostles worked hard to preserve the church that Jesus Christ left to their care and keeping, but they knew their efforts would ultimately be in vain. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Saints, who were anxiously anticipating the second coming of Christ, that ‘that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first’ (2 Thes. 2:3). He also warned Timothy that ‘the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; … And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables’ (2 Tim. 4:3-4).” (M Russell Ballard, “Restored Truth,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 65-66)

2 Timothy 4: 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

‘The sober, sound doctrine of the Word of God, teaching self-discipline, humility, and purity of heart and life, will not assuage their itching ears, and therefore they will turn away from it, and go after more congenial fables – those taught by the heretics. ‘ (Pulpit Commentary)

Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

 11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

‘Here St. Paul goes to the root of the evil, when he shows what was the end and aim of these “teachers” life. It was a mean and sordid ambition, after all—merely base gain. When this is the main object of a religious teacher’s life, his teaching naturally accommodates itself to men’s tastes. He forgets the Divine Giver of his commission, and in his thirst for the popularity which brings with it gold, his true work, as the faithful watchman of the house of Israel, is forgotten and ignored.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

  1. “Be … an example of the believers.”

 1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

“The Apostle Paul wrote an epistle to his beloved companion Timothy in which he provided inspired counsel equally as applicable to you and me today as it was to Timothy. Listen carefully to his words: ‘Neglect not the gift that is in thee,’ ‘but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.’ (1 Tim. 4:14, 12.)

“We need not wait for a cataclysmic event, a dramatic occurrence in the world in which we live, or a special invitation to be an example-even a model to follow. Our opportunities lie before us here and now. But they are perishable. Likely they will be found in our own homes and in the everyday actions of our lives. Our Lord and Master marked the way: ‘[He] went about doing good.’ (Acts 10:38.) He in very deed was a model to follow-even an example of the believers.

“Are we?” (Thomas S Monson, “An Example of the Believers,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 98)

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  1. “Follow after righteousness” and deny ungodliness.

1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

‘Why another farm, another herd of sheep, another bunch of cattle, another ranch? Why another hotel, another cafe, another store, another shop? Why another plant, another office, another service, another business? Why another of anything if one has that already which provides the necessities and reasonable luxuries? Why continue to expand and increase holdings, especially when those increased responsibilities draw one’s interests away from proper family and spiritual commitments, and from those things to which the Lord would have us give precedence in our lives? Why must we always be expanding to the point where our interests are divided and our attentions and thoughts are upon the things of the world? Certainly when one’s temporal possessions become great, it is very difficult for one to give proper attention to the spiritual things.’ (Spencer W Kimball, General Conference, October 1953)

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1 Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

“As members of the Church, we are engaged in a mighty conflict. We are at war. We have enlisted in the cause of Christ to fight against Lucifer and all that is lustful and carnal and evil in the world. We have sworn to fight alongside our friends and against our enemies, and we must not be confused in distinguishing friends from foes. As another of our ancient fellow apostles wrote: ‘Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.’ (James 4:4.)

“The great war that rages on every side and which unfortunately is resulting in many casualties, some fatal, is no new thing. There was war even in heaven, when the forces of evil sought to destroy the agency of man, and when Lucifer sought to lead us away from the path of progression and advancement established by an all-wise Father.

“That war is continuing on earth, and the devil is still wroth with the Church and goes forth ‘to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ (Rev. 12:17.)

“And it is now as it has always been. The Saints can only overcome him and his forces ‘by the blood of the Lamb, … by the word of their testimony,’ and if they love ‘not their lives unto the death.’ (Rev. 12:11.)

“Now there neither are nor can be any neutrals in this war. Every member of the Church is on one side or the other…We are either for the Church or we are against it. We either take its part or we take the consequences. We cannot survive spiritually with one foot in the Church and the other in the world. We must make the choice. It is either the Church or the world. There is no middle ground. And the Lord loves a courageous man who fights openly and boldly in his army.” (Bruce R McConkie, “Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 33-34)

1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

‘Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded – One of the evils to which they are particularly exposed. The idea is, that they should not value themselves on account of their wealth, or look down with pride and arrogance on their inferiors. They should not suppose that they are any better people or any nearer heaven, because they are wealthy. Property really makes no distinction in the great things that pertain to character and salvation, It does not necessarily make one wise, or learned, or great, or good. In all these things, the man who has not wealth may be vastly the superior of him who has; and for so slight and unimportant a distinction as gold can confer, no man should be proud. Besides, let such a man reflect that his property is the gift of God; that he is made rich because God has chosen to arrange things so that he should be; that it is not primarily owing to any skill or wisdom which he has; that his property only increases his responsibility, and that it must all soon be left, and he be as poor as the “beggar that lies at his gate;” and he will see ample reason why he should not be proud.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 1 Timothy 6:18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

“Andrew Carnegie, one of this country’s great philanthropists, stated his attitude toward wealth as follows: ‘This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of wealth: First, to set an example of modesty, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community-the man of wealth thus becoming the mere trustee and agent for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.’ (The Gospel of Wealth.)

“With this philosophy of wealth in mind, one might properly say, ‘What I am worth is what I am doing for other people.’

“In many respects the real test of a man is his attitude toward his earthly possessions.” (Franklin D Richards, “The Law of Abundance,” Ensign, June 1971, 46)

1 Timothy 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

‘Riches in themselves are but for the present, but there is a use may be made of them for the time to come, if we employ them for the better enabling us to do what God hath commanded us to do.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

‘Virtue is the golden key to the temple. So, third, be not moved in being worthy to make and keep sacred covenants. The covenant you make at baptism will tether you to the path of virtue and happiness as you renew that covenant each week by partaking of the sacrament. As you keep your baptismal covenant, you will look different, dress different, and act different from the world. Keeping this covenant will enable you to be guided by the Holy Ghost. Stand in holy places, and do not even go near those environments or music, media, or associations that might cause you to lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost.’ Elaine S Dalton, General Conference, April 2013)

Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

‘Be sober.—In a more extended sense than the bare literal meaning of the word would give. Let the elder men be “thoughtful,” in contrast with the thoughtlessness of careless youth.

Grave.—And quietly earnest, in contrast with all passion and undue excitability.

Temperate.—Discreet, or self-restrained, would be a better rendering for the Greek word.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Posted in Family, Inspirational, Leadership

Saints, Ain’ts and Complaints (Reblogged from October 2014)

MormonBloke

I remember being struck by President Gordon B Hinckley’s remarks at the October 2003 General Conference. He said:  “Within your sphere of responsibility you have as serious an obligation as do I within my sphere of responsibility. Each of us should be determined to build the kingdom of God on the earth and to further the work of righteousness.”

 While at first it seemed strange to think that each of us had as serious an obligation as the President of the Church, on reflection I realized that this was true. We all need to play our part in building the kingdom.

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 My first Bishop was John Dale. He had a saying or two for every occasion and was generous in dispensing them. Two of them that are appropriate here were:

‘The Church is made up of Saints, Ain’ts and Complaints – which are you?’ and ‘There are two types…

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Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 40 – “I Can Do All Things through Christ”

  1. Paul encourages the Philippian Saints to follow Jesus Christ.

 Philippians 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

“By appealing his rights of Roman citizenship, Paul had been brought to Rome to stand trial before Nero’s court. There in a hired residence near the Imperial Palace on the Palatine hill, and for two whole years, Paul was confined to house arrest. Whatever motives his enemies had in pressing for the delay of his trial, or if legitimate purposes may account for the wait, Paul used those years to build in Rome the cause of the Master. He was guarded day and night by a sequence of soldiers, many of whom, together with others from the royal household, became convinced by the steady faith and persuasions of Paul that Jesus was indeed the Lord and Redeemer whom they should serve. His preaching in those years was incessant, and his letters to the church never tired.” (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 359)

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 Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:

 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

‘What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in, truth, Christ is preached: q.d. It doth not follow, that these different intentions of the preachers should hinder the spreading of the gospel, and therefore it should not abate either your confidence or mine in the cause of Christ, since, by the overruling providence of God, that is carried on, both by the one and the other; not only by those who in truth preach the word faithfully, from a principle of love, (as before), to the same good intent with myself; but also by those who, though they act (as in Philippians 1:15) out of envy and ill will to me, for base ends under a fair show, yet they occasionally and accidentally, not by any direct causality, do promote the interest of Christ.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

 Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

‘The word “conversation” we now apply almost exclusively to oral discourse, or to talking. But it was not formerly confined to that and is never so used in the Scriptures. It means conduct in general – including, of course, our manner of speaking, but not limited to that – and should be so understood in every place where it occurs in the Bible.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

“Whereas the spirit of the world divides, the Spirit of God unites. Whereas the spirit of the world encourages divisive competition, the Spirit of God prompts us to look to the needs of others and to cooperate. In short, whereas the spirit of the world celebrates diversity as an end in itself, the Spirit of God calls us to unity in all our diversity.” (Robert L. Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 124-125.)

 Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

‘Bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory. The Apostle Paul thus counseled the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Such high mutual regard would then let us respectfully disagree without being disagreeable.’ (Russell M Nelson, General Conference, April 1989)

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

‘To acknowledge the scriptural evidence that otherwise perfectly united members of the Godhead are nevertheless separate and distinct beings is not to be guilty of polytheism; it is, rather, part of the great revelation Jesus came to deliver concerning the nature of divine beings. Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best: “Christ Jesus … being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.’ (Jeffrey R Holland, General Conference, October 2007)

 Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

‘This verse needs more exact translation. It should be, But emptied (or,stripped) Himself of His glory by having taken on Him the form of a slave and having been made (or,born) in likeness of men. The “glory” is the “glory which He had with the Father before the world was” ‘ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

‘In such a climactic time as the last days, we shall see things both wonderful and awful. Joel and Zephaniah prophesied that the last times would be a “day of gloominess” (Joel 2:2; Zeph. 1:15). Even so, this is all the more reason for us to “shine as lights in the world” (Philip. 2:15). So illuminated, we can better help to gather the Lord’s flock in “the last days” from wherever they have been scattered in the “cloudy and dark day” (Ezek. 30:3; 34:12). Yet even as some things clearly worsen in the world, the true Saints will simply get better.’ (Neal A Maxwell, One More Strain of Praise [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 18.)

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

‘Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle. But growth cannot come by taking the easy way. We clearly understand that an athlete who resists rigorous training will never become a world-class athlete. We must be careful that we don’t resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature.

Not one of the trials and tribulations we face is beyond our limits, because we have access to help from the Lord. We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.’ (Paul V Johnson, General Conference, April 2011)

  1. Paul reminds the Colossians that redemption comes only through Christ.

 Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Our Savior has redeemed us from the sin of Adam, but what about the effects of our own sins? Since “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23), we are all spiritually dead. Again, our only hope for life is our Savior, who, the prophet Lehi taught, “offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law” (2 Ne. 2:7).

In order to lay claim upon our Savior’s life-giving triumph over the spiritual death we suffer because of our own sins, we must follow the conditions he has prescribed. As he has told us in modern revelation, “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I” (D&C 19:16-17). (Dallin H Oaks, “The Light and Life of the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 64-65)

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

‘Not one of us could have entered this house this evening without being sustained by the power of God. Not one of us could leave this house without guidance, strength and power from him to accomplish it. We have been taught to believe that he is the Creator of all things visible and invisible, whether they be things in the heavens or on the earth, whether they belong to this world or other worlds, and that there is an all wise, all powerful Being, who controls, manipulates and manages all the affairs of the human family, and this is true whether it relates to the world in which we live, to the heavens that are above us, or to other worlds by which we are surrounded. It relates to our bodies and to our spirits, and to all things associated therewith. Hence we are very dependent beings.’ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses)

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 Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

‘And by him all things subsist – Or are sustained. The meaning is, that they are kept in the present state; their existence, order, and arrangement are continued by his power. If unsupported by him, they would fall into disorder, or sink back to nothing. If this be the proper interpretation, then it is the ascription to Christ of infinite power – for nothing less could be sufficient to uphold the universe; and of infinite wisdom – for this is needed to preserve the harmonious action of the suns and systems of which it is composed.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

I know that I am not the head of this church… The Lord Jesus Christ is its head. He is its living head. My mission, my chief responsibility, my greatest honor comes in bearing solemn testimony of His living reality. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who condescended to come into this world of misery, struggle, and pain to touch men’s hearts for good, to teach the way of eternal life, and to give of Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. (Gordon B Hinckley, “News of the Church,” Ensign, Feb. 1996, 76)

 Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;

‘In the hearts of all mankind, of whatever race or station in life, there are inexpressible longings for something they do not now possess. This longing is implanted in man by a loving Creator.

It is God’s design that this longing of the human heart should lead to the one who alone is able to satisfy it. That fulness is found only in Jesus the Christ, the Son of our Eternal Father in Heaven. Paul declared, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.”’ (David B Haight, General Conference, April 1982)

Colossians 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

‘And you, that were sometime alienated – In this work of reconciling heaven and earth, you at Colossae, who were once enemies of God, have been reached. The benefit of that great plan has been extended to you, and it has accomplished in you what it is designed to effect everywhere – to reconcile enemies to God.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Colossians 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

‘Grounded – On a firm foundation;

And settled – Greek, “firm;” as a building is that is founded on a rock; compare Matthew 7:25.

And be not moved away from the hope of the gospel – By the arts of philosophy, and the allurements of sin.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Colossians 2:5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

 6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

‘We have the seed of the gospel word. It is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful. We must seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Colossians 2:6-7). We achieve this conversion by praying, by scripture reading, by serving, and by regularly partaking of the sacrament to always have His Spirit to be with us. We must also seek that mighty change of heart that replaces evil desires and selfish concerns with the love of God and the desire to serve Him and His children.’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2015)

  1. Paul teaches the Colossians what they should do as the elect of God.

Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

We need to pray for the gift of love so that those whom we serve will feel our love. Just as Christ’s followers were bound one to another by his love, so too should the members in each ward and branch be “knit together in love” (Col. 2:2). (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Guided by His Exemplary Life,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 37)

 Colossians 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

‘The word “hidden” (apocryphi) is an almost technical word for secret teaching given only to the initiated;’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

If there be any who nurture in their hearts the poisonous brew of enmity toward another, I plead with you to ask the Lord for strength to forgive. This expression of desire will be of the very substance of your repentance. It may not be easy, and it may not come quickly. But if you will seek it with sincerity and cultivate it, it will come. And even though he whom you have forgiven continues to pursue and threaten you, you will know you have done what you could to effect a reconciliation. There will come into your heart a peace otherwise unattainable. That peace will be the peace of Him who said: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15.) (Gordon B Hinckley, Be Thou an Example [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981], pp. 50-51.)

 Colossians 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

‘Which is the bond of perfectness – The bond of all perfection; the thing which will unite all other things, and make them complete,’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the  which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

‘Rule in your hearts – Preside in your hearts; sit as umpire there; govern and control you. The word rendered here “rule” – βραβεύετω brabeuetō – is commonly used in reference to the Olympic and other games. It means, to be a director, or arbiter of the public games; to preside over them and preserve order, and to distribute the prizes to the victors. The meaning here is, that the peace which God gives to the soul is to be to us what the brabeutes, or governor at the games was to those who contended there. It is to preside over and govern the mind; to preserve every thing in its place; and to save it from tumult, disorder, and irregularity.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

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The scriptures contain many affirmations that hymn singing is a glorious way to worship… When the Lord’s Apostles meet in modern times, the singing of hymns is still part of their meetings. The weekly meetings of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Salt Lake Temple always begin with a hymn. Elder Russell M. Nelson plays the organ accompaniment. The First Presidency, who conduct these meetings, rotate the privilege of selecting the opening song. Most of us record the date each hymn is sung. According to my records, the opening song most frequently sung during the decade of my participation has been “I Need Thee Every Hour” (Hymns, 1985, no. 98). Picture the spiritual impact of a handful of the Lord’s servants singing that song before praying for his guidance in fulfilling their mighty responsibilities.

The veil is very thin in the temples, especially when we join in worshipping through music. At temple dedications I have seen more tears of joy elicited by music than by the spoken word. I have read accounts of angelic choirs joining in these hymns of praise, and I think I have experienced this on several occasions. In dedicatory sessions featuring beautiful and well-trained choirs of about thirty voices, there are times when I have heard what seemed to be ten times thirty voices praising God with a quality and intensity of feeling that can be experienced but not explained. Some who are listening today will know what I mean.

Sacred music has a unique capacity to communicate our feelings of love for the Lord. This kind of communication is a wonderful aid to our worship. Many have difficulty expressing worshipful feelings in words, but all can join in communicating such feelings through the inspired words of our hymns. (Dallin H Oaks, “Worship through Music,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 10)

  1. Paul encourages Philemon to be forgiving toward Onesimus.

Philemon 1:14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

‘But without thy mind would I do nothing,…. Which shows great modesty and humility in the apostle, that though as such he had an authority, which he could have used, as well as had understanding and judgment how to have used it without consulting Philemon, or having his sense of this affair, yet chose to consult him: and it also shows the strict regard the apostle had to equity and justice, that he would do nothing with another man’s servant without his consent; he would not seem to alienate, or engross another man’s right and property, whatever power he might have, as an apostle, to have retained Onesimus as a minister to him,’ (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Philemon 1:16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?

“The church equalized society in a unique fashion. It leveled rich and poor by insisting that wealth was merely an accident and that wealth or appearance must not cause discrimination in worship. (See James 2:1-4.) The gospel created a feeling of brotherhood and emphasized that true achievement was righteousness before God, rather than status with men. Paul and Peter consistently treated the slave as a brother, while asking him to fill his legal obligations to his master. Yet Paul did more than hint at a better way in his short letter appealing for mercy to the master Philemon, insisting that as a missionary he loved the slave as much as the master, both of whom owed their conversion to Paul.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Church and the Roman Empire,” Ensign, Sept. 1975, 22)