Posted in Obedience, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 12: Obedience: Simply Live the Gospel

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

“I have been interviewed by many [news] reporters. The one thing they say is, ‘Now what is going to be your theme during your presidency?’ I simply say, ‘The same theme which I have heard repeated in this Church by the presidents of the Church and the apostles for as far back as I can remember: Simply live the gospel, and every one who does so will receive in his heart a conviction of the truth of that which he lives.’”

How can you increase your desire to live the gospel?

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1. We are a covenant people, and great are the obligations that go with that covenant.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ we have voluntarily entered into holy covenants, promising to obey the Lord’s commandments. Willing, righteous obedience leads to celestial life, indeed there is no eternal progress without it.

From the manual:

We are a covenant people, and great are the obligations which go with that covenant. We cannot be ordinary people. We must rise above the crowd. We must stand a little taller. We must be a little better, a little kinder, a little more generous, a little more courteous, a little more thoughtful, a little more outreaching to others.

What are some ways the covenants you have made with God influence your daily living?

2. The Lord expects us to live the gospel in every aspect.

Obedience to the commandments seems to be one of man’s challenges.  Sometimes it is not convenient – some of us have got too comfortable in our armchairs to go and do the work of the Lord. we find it too much hassle to go to the temple. Some of us say to ourselves, ‘I’ve done my share, someone else can do it now.’ Some of us are reluctant to leave our comfort zones. And then we wonder why we don’t feel the same sense of excitement about the gospel that we used to.

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From the manual:

We live in an age of compromise and acquiescence. In situations with which we are daily confronted, we know what is right, but under pressure from our peers and the beguiling voices of those who would persuade us, we capitulate. We compromise. We acquiesce. We give in, and we are ashamed of ourselves. … We must cultivate the strength to follow our convictions.

How do we sometimes compromise our convictions?

3. God will shower down blessings upon those who walk in obedience to His commandments.

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See: Christ-like attributes – obedience

“The treasure house of happiness is unlocked to those who live the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity and simplicity. Like a mariner without stars, like a traveler without a compass, is the person who moves along through life without a plan. The assurance of supreme happiness, the certainty of a successful life here and of exaltation and eternal life hereafter, come to those who plan to live their lives in complete harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ—and then consistently follow the course they have set” (Spencer W Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 259).

From the manual:

The gospel is not a philosophy of repression, as so many regard it. It is a plan of freedom that gives discipline to appetite and direction to behavior. Its fruits are sweet and its rewards are liberal. 

How would you respond to someone who feels that the commandments are too restricting?

4. Church leaders point out the way and invite members to live the gospel.

Video: I will go and do (1 Nephi 3:7) President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks about being willing to go and do the things the Lord commands.

From the manual:

I have … served in the general councils of this Church for [many] years. … I want to give you my testimony that although I have sat in literally thousands of meetings where Church policies and programs have been discussed, I have never been in one where the guidance of the Lord was not sought nor where there was any desire on the part of anyone present to advocate or do anything which would be injurious or coercive to anyone.

5. Small decisions can lead to tremendous consequences.

From the manual:

I approached a large farm gate one day. I lifted the latch and opened the gate. The movement at the hinges was so slight as to be scarcely discernible. But the other end of the gate cut a great arc sixteen feet in radius. Looking at the movement of the hinges alone, one would never dream of the magnified action that came as a result of that tiny movement.

So it is with the decisions in our lives. Some small thought, some small word, some small action can lead to tremendous consequences.

‘A major reason this church has grown from its humble beginnings to its current strength is the faithfulness and devotion of millions of humble and devoted [members]… He encourages us to “be not weary in well-doing, for [we] are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” May we be faithful in fulfilling the duties of whatever calling we have in the kingdom. Let us pay heed to the “small things” that make all the difference. Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments as we have made sacred covenants to do. As our heritage and our growth clearly show, we are, indeed, “laying the foundation of a great work.”

Let us dedicate ourselves to doing the Lord’s work to the best of our abilities. May we honor the faith of our fathers by giving our own faithful service to this great cause.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Faith of Our Fathers,” Ensign, May 1996, 34)

6. By living the gospel, we strengthen the Church and help God’s work grow across the earth.

Video: Cling to God’s values (Numbers 6:1-21) President Hinckley encourages saints to cling to God’s values.

From the manual:

I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel, we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness.

How can living the gospel help us cope with uncertainties in the world?

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Posted in Inspirational, Jesus Christ

Christ-like attributes – obedience

We are living in difficult times but the Lord desires to bless us as individuals and as families. But what do we know about blessings form the Lord? We know that there is a divine law –

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (D&C 130:20-21.)

If we want the Lord to bless us then we have to live the commandments.

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Let’s look at some more scriptural evidence:

“And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

“And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

“And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever.” (Mosiah 2:22-24.)

“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:41.)

For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world” (D&C 132:5).

Yet obedience to the commandments seems to be one of man’s challenges. Sometimes it is not convenient – some of us have got too comfortable in our arm chairs to go and do the work of the Lord. We find it too much hassle to go to the temple. Some of us say to ourselves – I’ve done my share – some one else can do it know. Some of us are reluctant to leave our comfort zones. And then we wonder why we don’t fell the same sense of excitement about the gospel that we used to.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have voluntarily entered into holy covenants, promising to obey the Lord’s commandments. Willing, righteous obedience leads to celestial life; indeed, there is no eternal progress without it.

President Spencer W. Kimball asked: ‘What is the price of happiness?’ One might be surprised at the simplicity of the answer.

The treasure house of happiness is unlocked to those who live the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity and simplicity. Like a mariner without stars, like a traveler without a compass, is the person who moves along through life without a plan. The assurance of supreme happiness, the certainty of a successful life here and of exaltation and eternal life hereafter, come to those who plan to live their lives in complete harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ—and then consistently follow the course they have set” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 259).

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that

“in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed; and as God has designed our happiness … he never has—He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 256-57).

Of course there is a flip side to the Lord’s promises. In the Book of Mormon we read that “despair cometh because of iniquity.” (Moro. 10:22.)

“When I do good I feel good,” said Abraham Lincoln, “and when I do bad I feel bad.”

While a man may take some temporary pleasure in sin, the end result is unhappiness. Eternal laws have both punishments and opportunities for happiness attached to them. When we disobey God’s laws, we suffer the punishments, but when we obey, we reap the happiness

 

Posted in atonement, Divine identity, General Conference, Melchizedek Priesthood Lessons 2018, Relief Society Lessons 2018

Study helps: President Dieter F Uchtdorf – Three Sisters

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From http://www.lds.org:

One way to review President Uchtdorf’s message would be to divide the quorum or Relief Society into small groups. You could assign each group to read about one of the sisters in President Uchtdorf’s message. Each group could write a letter to that sister summarizing his counsel and share what they wrote with the other groups.

  • What can we do to be more like the third sister?
  • How can we make our quorum or Relief Society a “safe home” for those who are struggling?

Sad (The Victim)

The first sister saw herself as a victim—as someone who was acted upon. It seemed like one thing after another kept happening to her that made her miserable. With this approach to life, she was giving others control over how she felt and behaved. When we do this, we are driven about by every wind of opinion—and in this day of ever-present social media, those winds blow at hurricane intensity.

See: 2 Nephi 2:14, 26

Watch: Things to Act and Things to be Acted Upon – Elder David Bednar (0.56)

Can we make a difference in our lives and the lives of our families by choosing to ‘act’ rather than ‘be acted upon’? How?

  • A victim asks how long it will take to feel good — a survivor decides to feel good even if things are not so great.
  • A victim grinds to a halt — a survivor keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
  • A victim wallows in self-pity — a survivor comforts others.
  • A victim is jealous of someone else’s success — a survivor is inspired by it.
  • A victim focuses on the pain of loss — a survivor cherishes remembered joy.
  • A victim seeks retribution — a survivor seeks redemption.
  • And most of all, a victim argues with life — a survivor embraces it. (From What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, Maxine Schnall)

Mad (The Hater)

The second sister was angry at the world. Like her sad sister, she felt that the problems in her life were all caused by someone else. She blamed her family, her friends, her boss and coworkers, the police, the neighbors, Church leaders, current fashion trends, even the intensity of solar flares, and plain bad luck. And she lashed out at all of them.

She didn’t think of herself as a mean person. To the contrary, she felt that she was only sticking up for herself. Everyone else, she believed, was motivated by selfishness, pettiness, and hate. She, on the other hand, was motivated by good intentions—justice, integrity, and love.

What can we do to help us to drive hate out of our hearts and replace it with genuine love?

A story is told about Alexander the Great. When he had his portrait painted, the selected artist was greatly perplexed about how to do it. Alexander had an ugly scar from battle on the side of his forehead. The artist did not want to paint that scar in the portrait, because it would be offensive. But leaving the scar out of the painting would not be honest either, and the likeness of his king would be false. The artist finally arrived at a decision what to do. He asked Alexander to lean his head forward and rest it on the fingers of his hand in a way that covered the scar. The finished portrait of the great conqueror was valued as a success.

Do you and I find ways to portray other people in the best light possible, or do we instead focus on their scars?

See Matthew 5:44-45

1 John 4:7-8

1 John 3:23

‘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)

“It is not always easy to live by these doctrines when our very natures impel us to fight back…Most of us have not reached that stage of compassion and love and forgiveness. It is not easy. It requires a self-discipline almost greater than we are capable of. But as we try, we come to know that there is a resource of healing, that there is a mighty power of healing in Christ, and that if we are to be his true servants, we must not only exercise that healing power in behalf of others, but, perhaps more important, inwardly.

“I would that the healing power of Christ might spread over the earth and be diffused through our society and into our homes, that it might cure men’s hearts of the evil and adverse elements of greed and hate and conflict. I believe it could happen. I believe it must happen. If the lamb is to lie down with the lion, then peace must overcome conflict; healing must mend injury.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Faith, The Essence of True Religion, p. 35)

Glad (The Authentic Disciple)

The third sister represents the authentic disciple of Jesus Christ. She did something that can be extremely hard to do: she trusted God even in the face of ridicule and hardship. Somehow she maintained her faith and hope, despite the scorn and cynicism around her. She lived joyfully not because her circumstances were joyful but because she was joyful.

None of us makes it through life’s journey unopposed. With so many forces trying to draw us away, how do we keep our vision fixed on the glorious happiness promised to the faithful?

What has the Lord promised to the faithful?

See 1 Corinthians 2:9

“We are not now ready for all things the Lord has prepared in the City of God for them that love Him. (See 1 Cor. 2:9.) Our present eyes are unready for things which they have not yet seen, and our ears are not prepared for the transcending sounds and music of that city.

“The trek will be proving and trying. Faith, patience, and obedience are essential (see Mosiah 23:21; Abr. 3:25), but he who completes the journey successfully will be immeasurably added upon. (see Abr. 3:26.) And he who does not will have subtracted from the sum of his possibilities.

“When we arrive home, we shall be weary and bruised. But at last our aching homesicknesses will cease. Meanwhile, our mortal homecomings are but faint foreshadowings of that Homecoming!” (Neal A Maxwell, “Called and Prepared from the Foundation of the World,” Ensign, May 1986, 36)

“What makes authentic disciples is not visions, ecstasies, biblical mastery of chapter and verse, or spectacular success in the ministry, but a capacity for faithfulness. Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may have stumbled and frequently fallen, endured lapses and relapses, gotten handcuffed to the fleshpots and wandered into a far county. Yet, they kept coming back to Jesus.”

― Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

Optimism and Physical Health

With a large longitudinal sample researchers  Maruta, Colligan, Malinchoc, and Offord categorized medical patients as optimistic, mixed, or pessimistic. The researchers found that for every 10 point increase in a person’s score on their optimism scale, the risk of early death decreased by 19%.

Optimism also plays a role in the recovery from illness and disease. Multiple studies have investigated the role of optimism in people undergoing treatment for cancer (e.g., Carver et al., 1993; Schou, Ekeberg, & Ruland, 2005). These studies have found that optimistic people experience less distress when faced with potentially life-threatening cancer diagnoses. For example, Schou and colleagues (2005) found that a superior “fighting spirit” found in optimists predicted substantially better quality of life one year after breast cancer surgery. Optimism also predicted less disruption of normal life, distress, and fatigue in one study of women who were undergoing painful treatment for breast cancer (Carver, Lehman, & Antoni, 2003). In this case, optimism appeared to protect against an urge to withdraw from social activities, which may be important for healing. There is also evidence that optimism can protect against the development of chronic diseases.

Optimism can have an effect on a person’s immune system, as well. In one study, elderly adults were immunized for influenza (Kohut, Cooper, Nickolaus, Russell, & Cunnick, 2002). Two weeks later, their immune response to the vaccination was measured. Greater optimism predicted greater antibody production and better immune outcomes.

Optimism can have profound effects on a person’s physical health. The mere act of expecting positive outcomes and being hopeful can boost a person’s immune system, protect against harmful behaviors, prevent chronic disease, and help people cope following troubling news. Optimism can even predict a longer life. Among psychological constructs, optimism may be one of the most important predictors of physical health.

Optimism and Psychological Health

Evidence suggests that optimism is important in coping with difficult life events. Optimism has been linked to better responses to various difficulties, from the more mundane (e.g., transition to college [Brissette, Scheier, & Carver, 2002]) to the more extreme (e.g., coping with missile attacks [Zeidner & Hammer, 1992]). Optimism appears to play a protective role, assisting people in coping with extraordinarily trying incidents.

Optimism may even play a role in the well-being of caregivers for people with chronic illnesses. Caring for a loved one with a severe, terminal illness can have serious negative effects on psychological well-being. However, optimism appears to protect against the worst of these effects, as optimism has been associated with less depression and greater well-being in studies of people caring for others with cancer (Given et al., 1993), Alzheimer’s (Hooker et al., 1992), and mental disorders (Singh et al., 2004). The association between optimism and coping with other, less extreme difficulties has been investigated, as well. For example, in one study of college freshman, measures of optimism, hope, and well-being were administered immediately upon beginning college (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992). At the end of the semester, measures of well-being were again administered. Optimism at the beginning of college predicted a smoother, psychologically healthier transition to college life, as well as larger groups of new friends.

(See http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/positive-thinking/)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divine identity

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

Watch: Child of God

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

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

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

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

Worth and worthiness

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

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

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

Virtue

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

See: Christ-like attributes – virtue

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

Scriptures:

Romans 8:16-17

Revelation 21:7

Revelation 3:21

Philippians 3:14

2 Peter 1:4

D&C 132:20

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine, Obedience, Temples

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 46: “Zion—The Pure in Heart”

1. The word Zion has several meanings.

D&C 97:21 The pure in heart

‘God has given us the perfect definition: Zion is the pure in heart-the pure in heart, not merely the pure in appearance. It is not a society or religion of forms and observances, of pious gestures and precious mannerisms: it is strictly a condition of the heart. Above all, Zion is pure, which means “not mixed with any impurities, unalloyed”; it is all Zion and nothing else. It is not achieved wherever a heart is pure or where two or three are pure, because it is all pure-it is a society, a community, and an environment into which no unclean thing can enter. “Henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (3 Nephi 20:36). It is not even pure people in a dirty environment, or pure people with a few impure ones among them; it is the perfectly pure in a perfectly pure environment. “I . . . will contend with Zion . . . and chasten her until she overcomes and is clean before me” (D&C 90:36).

This makes it so different from our world that it almost begins to sound distasteful. But a moment’s reflection will show that Zion cannot possibly be other than wholly pure. For Zion is the eternal order; it has existed elsewhere from the eternities and will someday be permanently established on this earth. Even the smallest impurity or flaw in anything designed to continue forever would, in the course of an infinite stretching of time, become a thing of infinite mischief. The most perfect structures men have been able to erect have been short-lived because of tiny, all-but-imperceptible flaws. Hence, any flaw, no matter how small, must be removed from a system designed to be timeless; otherwise, there will be no end of trouble.’ (Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 27)

D&C 82:14 Stakes

‘Zion is to increase in size, beauty, and holiness. Think upon that challenge as if we spoke of a tent. Stakes must be added, but this is not to be a common tent. The curtains must be more beautiful. The activities within this tent are not to be common or profane. A larger, more beautiful, and holier tent sounds like a description of the ancient tabernacle. Reflect upon the words of President Howard W. Hunter, who invited the Church to “look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership.”

Why the call for beauty? Perhaps Zion will need to expand because its beauty will serve as an attraction to those it seeks to gather. Similarly, the call for increased holiness may be to ensure the Lord’s protecting hand upon the Church. Just as each component in a tent interacts with the other components to accomplish its purposes, perhaps the growth, beauty, and holiness of Zion interact to fulfill its destiny.’ (Richard W Hall, Her Stakes Must Be Strengthened)

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D&C 45:66-67 The New Jerusalem

‘The city has yet to be built, and it will not be built and cannot be built except by a people who are living a celestial law. And after it is built, the fear and dread of the Lord will rest upon the wicked as they see how and in what manner the Lord preserves its righteous inhabitants.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 303.)

2. Zion has existed in previous dispensations.

Watch or read: Israel, Israel, God is Calling Jeffrey R Holland CES Broadcast

3. The Saints of our dispensation have been commanded to establish Zion.

Read: Revelations in Context – Newel K Whitney and the United Firm

D&C 6:6 Establish the cause of Zion

“The commandment to reestablish Zion became for the Saints of Joseph Smith’s day the central goal of the Church. But it was a goal the Church did not realize because its people were not fully prepared. In the wisdom of God, who comprehends the end from the beginning, the redemption of Zion will assuredly come as promised, but not until he has a prepared people who can live by Zion’s laws.” (William O. Nelson, “To Prepare a People,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 18)

D&C 57:1-3 Independence

‘Let Israel gather to the stakes of Zion in all nations. Let every land be a Zion to those appointed to dwell there. Let the fullness of the gospel be for all the saints in all nations. Let no blessing be denied them. Let temples arise wherein the fullness of the ordinances of the Lord’s house may be administered….

But still there is a center place, a place where the chief temple shall stand, a place to which the Lord shall come, a place whence the law shall go forth to govern all the earth in that day when [Christ] reigns personally upon the earth. And that center place is what men now call Independence in Jackson County, Missouri, but which in a day to come will be the Zion of our God and the City of Holiness of his people. The site is selected; the place is known; the decree has gone forth; and the promised destiny is assured.’ (Bruce R McConkie, New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 595)

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D&C 105:9 Wait for a little season

‘We must live God’s laws if we desire to reap his promises. The Latter-day Saints of Jackson County were a far better people than those who mobbed them and drove them from their homes; but a lack of preparedness hindered them from playing their full part in the great work that God had designed. The mighty event, however, was only postponed. Zion, in due time, will be redeemed; Israel will be gathered; and the preparation made that is necessary to precede the advent of the King of kings.’ (Orson F Whitney, Conference Report, October 1919, Afternoon Session 73.)

D&C 101:6-8 They polluted their inheritances

‘This great tribulation would not have come upon Zion had it not been for rebellion: Firstly, there were rebellions against the one to whom were entrusted the keys, & from thence it has spread down to the lowest & least member! not this alone, but those who were void of understanding were continually telling that which was not true, & putting false coloring to the things of  God! I mean those whose mouths are continually open, & whose tongues cannot be stayed from tatling! & the church will never have peace while such remain in her, therefore, brethren purge them out, & have no confidence in any except such as will lay down their lives for this sacred cause for none others are worthy of it. It was necessary that these things should come upon us: not only justice demands it, but there was no other way to cleanse the church.’ (Oliver Cowdery, Letter to Missouri, 10 August 1833; josephsmithpapers.org)

D&C 38:27 If ye are not one ye are not mine

“If we are not united, we are not his. Here unity is the test of divine ownership as thus expressed. If we would be united in love and fellowship and harmony, this Church would convert the world, who would see in us the shining example of these qualities which evidence that divine ownership. Likewise, if in that Latter-day Saint home the husband and wife are in disharmony, bickering, and divorce is threatened, there is an evidence that one or both are not keeping the commandments of God.

“If we, in our wards and our branches, are divided, and there are factions not in harmony, it is but an evidence that there is something wrong. If two persons are at variance, arguing on different points of doctrine, no reasonable, thinking persons would say that both were speaking their different opinions by the Spirit of the Lord. …

“If it is so important, then, that this people be a united people, we might well expect that upon this principle the powers of Satan would descend for their greatest attack. We might well expect, also, that if there be those of apostate mind among us, they would be inclined to ridicule and to scorn this principle of oneness and unity as being narrow-minded or as being unprogressive. We would likewise expect that those who are enemies would also seek to fight against that principle.” (Harold B Lee, In Conference Report, Apr. 1950, pp. 97–98.)

Image result for The Saints of our dispensation have been commanded to establish Zion.

D&C 64:34 The Lord requires the heart and a willing mind

‘It doesn’t say that the Lord requires competence, or a Ph.D. or immaculate housekeeping, or professional success. But it doesn’t say that he’ll be satisfied with a half-hearted you, either. He wants your whole heart, and for good reason. Real power does not lie in external forces, but in the heart’. (Chieko Okazaki, Lighten Up! [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 69.)

D&C 105:3 They have not learned to be obedient

‘In the early 1830’s, the Lord directed the Saints to implement the “royal law” by living the United Order. In this they failed. Because they did not learn to impart of their substance as becometh Saints to the poor and afflicted among them  D&C 105:3 the Lord permitted them to be driven from Missouri, and the requirement that they live the United Order was withdrawn. But the “royal law” was not withdrawn. It remained in full force. At least partially to fulfil it, the Saints, since then, have been bound by the law of tithing and the “fast.”‘ (Marion G Romney, General Conference, October 1954)

D&C 97:13-14 A place of instruction

“Temple work … gives a wonderful opportunity for keeping alive our spiritual knowledge and strength. … The mighty perspective of eternity is unraveled before us in the holy temples; we see time from its infinite beginning to its endless end; and the drama of eternal life is unfolded before us. Then I see more clearly my place amidst the things of the universe, my place among the purposes of God; I am better able to place myself where I belong, and I am better able to value and to weigh, to separate and to organize the common, ordinary duties of my life, so that the little things shall not oppress me or take away my vision of the greater things that God has given us.” (John A Widtsoe, In Conference Report, Apr. 1922, pp. 97–98.)

D&C 105:10 That my people may be taught more perfectly

‘The modern Church even today is instructed to “wait for a little season” to build up central Zion. Why? So that we “may be prepared … and have experience.” (D&C 105:9-10.) We gain knowledge through particular experiences, but only incrementally, “in that thing.” (Alma 32:34.) Hence the ongoingness of it all, and perhaps we can be forgiven for wondering, “Is there no other way?” Personal, spiritual symmetry emerges only from the shaping of prolonged obedience. Twigs are bent, not snapped, into shape.

Without patient and meek endurance we will learn less, see less, feel less, and hear less. We who are egocentric and impatient shut down so much of our receiving capacity.

In any case, brothers and sisters, how could there be refining fires without enduring some heat? Or greater patience without enduring some instructive waiting? Or more empathy without bearing one another’s burdens-not only that others’ burdens may be lightened, but that we may be enlightened through greater empathy? How can there be later magnification without enduring some present deprivation?

The enlarging of the soul requires not only some remodeling, but some excavating. Hypocrisy, guile, and other imbedded traits do not go gladly or easily, but if we “endure it well” (D&C 121:8), we will not grow testy while being tested.

Moreover, we find that sorrow can actually enlarge the mind and heart in order to “give place,” expanded space for later joy.

Thus, enduring is one of the cardinal attributes; it simply cannot be developed without the laboratory time in this second estate. Even the best lectures about the theory of enduring are not enough. All the other cardinal virtues-love, patience, humility, mercy, purity, submissiveness, justice-they all require endurance for their full development.’ (Neal A Maxwell, “Endure It Well,” Ensign, May 1990, 34)

4. The scriptures include glorious promises about the future of Zion.

D&C 97:18 If Zion do these things she shall prosper

“The Saints did not build the temple in Jackson County. The command to build one ‘speedily’ must have sounded to them like a strange demand in light of their situation. Their leaders had been tarred and feathered. Their press had been destroyed and their homes ransacked and burned. Yet the Lord was counseling them to walk into the center of Independence and start laying the foundation of a temple.

“I have often wondered what would have happened if all the Saints in Missouri had dropped whatever they were doing, picked up their tools, and marched, en masse, to Independence and started digging foundations. It would have taken tremendous courage, but the history of the Church might have been much different. Let us never underestimate the protective power of the temple. ‘Every time a temple is dedicated to the Lord,’ Spencer W. Kimball said, ‘the darkness pushes farther back, . . . and light comes into the world.’ (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 534.)” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 65 – 66)

D&C 97:25 Zion shall escape

‘My brethren and sisters, why should we hope to escape, who have been baptized into this Church, yet ignore the commandments of the Lord? For there are among us those who do not keep the Word of Wisdom, some of us do not pay our tithing; we do not sanctify ourselves by adding unto our faith, virtue: to virtue, knowledge, to knowledge, temperance, and patience, and godliness, and brotherly kindness. Why should we claim exemption-we who know the truth, we who have been warned, we who will testify that we believe God has spoken-why should we escape if we do not keep the commandments of the Lord? And I say this with a feeling in my heart of deep appreciation that the Latter-day Saints are, notwithstanding all this, the best people in the world…  The Lord is speaking… to the whole Church, crying repentance unto us, calling us to set our houses in order, to keep the commandments of the Lord.’ (Melvin J Ballard, Conference Report, June 1919, Second Day-Morning Session 89.)

Posted in Fellowship, Missionary work, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 22: Reaching Out with Love to New Converts and Less-Active Members

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

President Hinckley’s concern for new converts and less-active members was a result of his experience in seeing how the gospel blesses lives. A news reporter once asked him, “What brings you the greatest satisfaction as you see the work of the Church today?” President Hinckley replied:

“The most satisfying experience I have is to see what this gospel does for people. It gives them a new outlook on life. It gives them a perspective that they have never felt before. It raises their sights to things noble and divine. Something happens to them that is miraculous to behold. They look to Christ and come alive.”

How has the gospel given you a new outlook on life?

1. We have a great responsibility to minister to the individual.

“It is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love-show forth everlasting increase; cast our bread upon the waters and we shall receive it after many days, increased to a hundredfold. Friendship is like Brother Turley in his blacksmith shop welding iron to iron; it unites the human family with its happy influence.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 316).

From the manual:

We are becoming a great global society. But our interest and concern must always be with the individual. Every member of this church is an individual man or woman, boy or girl. Our great responsibility is to see that each is “remembered and nourished by the good word of God” (Moro. 6:4), that each has opportunity for growth and expression and training in the work and ways of the Lord, that none lacks the necessities of life, that the needs of the poor are met, that each member shall have encouragement, training, and opportunity to move forward on the road of immortality and eternal life.

Why must “our interest and concern … always be with the individual,” even in a worldwide church?

2. Every convert is precious and is a great and serious responsibility.

‘So, my brothers, it is your duty to reach out to anyone who appears at the doors of your Church buildings. Welcome them with gratitude and without prejudice. If people you do not know walk into one of your meetings, greet them warmly and invite them to sit with you. Please make the first move to help them feel welcome and loved, rather than waiting for them to come to you.

After your initial welcome, consider ways you can continue to minister to them. I once heard of a ward where, after the baptism of two deaf sisters, two marvelous Relief Society sisters decided to learn sign language so they could better communicate with these new converts. What a wonderful example of love for fellow brothers and sisters in the gospel!’ (Gerard Caussee, General Conference, October 2013)

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“In building the kingdom of God, every positive act, every friendly greeting, every warm smile, every thoughtful, kind note contributes to the strength of the whole. It is my prayer that we may be open and outgoing, friendly, and helpful to all who come among us. But let us give special care and concern for the new converts to the Church. When we detect a halting step or a stumble as they begin their journey on the gospel path, let us be there to lift and support with words of kindness and concern; let us be available to give gentle, loving counsel that will strengthen and sustain. Let us conscientiously look for occasions to show that love which the Savior admonished us to have when He said, ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another’ (John 13:34).” (Carl B Pratt, “Care for New Converts,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 12)

What can we learn and apply from the letter that President Hinckley shares in section 2? 

3. Every convert needs friendship, a responsibility, and nurturing with the word of God.

‘Deep down we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What matters is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course. Life teaches us that we can achieve happiness when we seek the happiness and well-being of others.’ (Elaine S Dalton)

“A faithful friend is a strong defense. And he that hath found . . . one hath found a treasure” (Ecclesiasticus 6:14).

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From the manual:

With the ever-increasing number of converts, we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with “the good word of God” (Moro. 6:4). It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things.

What are some ways we can befriend new converts? 

4. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose by coming back to Church activity.

Watch: A Yearning for Home – President Uchtdorf, General Conference October 2017

‘Experiences of activators suggest that there are eight key factors in helping less-active Latter-day Saints participate fully in gospel ordinances and opportunities.

  1. Positive experiences with active Church members are vital. Through friendship, negative feelings toward the Church and other members can be resolved.
  2. People are most likely to respond to those they trust. Activated members say they strongly identify with activators who are willing to make sacrifices for them and accept them rather than judge them. It is important for the less-active to sense that an activator’s efforts are genuine and not merely the fulfillment of duty.
  3. The three most important attributes of a successful activator are disclosure, warmth, and commitment. Disclosure means that the activator is willing to discuss his or her own life and experiences. Warmth connotes a friendly, trusting attitude. Commitment means consistency in visiting and willingness to fulfill promises.
  4. Successful activators feel a moral responsibility for the people they activate. They care about others’ spiritual lives.
  5. Activators need to be involved in the four distinct processes of reactivation: (1) Diagnosis—helping determine why an individual is not participating more fully in the Church; (2) Problem resolution—helping the less-active person learn to overcome problems through obedience to gospel principles; (3) Social integration—helping the person become accepted and involved in the community of Latter-day Saints; (4) Forgiveness and self-acceptance—helping less-active members sense that the Lord accepts them and forgives them of their mistakes. Bishops often must be involved in this part of the process.
  6. Activators play a key role in helping less-active members interpret their own experiences and challenges in terms of the gospel.
  7. Activation involves reintroduction to spiritual things with which less-active members may have had limited experience. These members need to be placed in situations where they can feel the Spirit of the Lord and understand how it can lead them to truth.
  8. Building people’s confidence in their own ability to change and become righteous is an important part of activation. (Don L Searle, Ensign Feb 1990)

From the manual:

My beloved brethren and sisters who may … have drifted, the Church needs you, and you need the Church. You will find many ears that will listen with understanding. There will be many hands to help you find your way back. There will be hearts to warm your own. There will be tears, not of bitterness but of rejoicing

 How can we help people return? 

5. For Latter-day Saints who return to Church activity, it will feel good to be home again.

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What do you learn from the account that President Hinckley shares in section 5?

Watch: The Faith of Youth- The Ennis Family

The Ennis family had become less active, but they responded when ward members reached out in love. (3:35)

Posted in General Conference, Priesthood

General Conference Oct 2017 – General Priesthood Session

The session began with a rousing rendition of Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel  by a mixed age priesthood choir. This was followed by Secret Prayer

Elder Dale G Renlund

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A rocket being manouvered for take off – valuable payload. The rocket’s mission is simply to deliver the payload. Rocket=priesthood. Payload =blessings of the atonement. [An interesting analogy further developed in the talk]

Because of His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power and authority to redeem all mankind. To make His atoning power accessible, He has delegated a portion of His power and authority to men on earth. This delegated power and authority is called priesthood. It permits priesthood holders to help Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in Their work—to bring about the salvation and exaltation of God’s children. It does so because it provides His children the opportunity to receive the blessings of the Savior’s atoning power. …

We need the Saviour’s atoning power so that we can be reconciled with Heavenly Father.

Christ’s atoning power needs to be delivered to his children.

God intends priesthood to …deliver the payload.

… Priesthood is essential because necessary ordinances and covenants on earth are administered only by its authority. …

… Priesthood conferral is safeguarded by priesthood keys which are the rights of presidency given to men.. … Priesthood use is likewise safeguarded by priesthood keys but also by covenants that the priesthood holder makes. …

Priesthood is not an amorphous source of autonomous power.

The purpose of the priesthood is to help others come unto Christ…

God’s atoning power is made accessible through the priesthood which delivers the payload.

Both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods are received by covenant. God determines the terms and man accepts. Broadly speaking, priesthood holders covenant to help God in His work. …

To each man who receives the Melchizedek Priesthood, God affirms His covenant promises with an oath. This oath pertains only to the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is God who swears the oath, not the priesthood holder. …

Being casual or apathetic in a priesthood calling…jeopardises the priesthood covenant.

Story of restoring priesthood blessings to a ‘young’ man.

D&C 58:42 Behold, he who has arepented of his bsins, the same is cforgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will aconfess them and bforsake them.

The priesthood delivers the gospel of Jesus Christ.

… I invite you to make and keep priesthood covenants. Receive God’s oath and his promise… Use the priesthood to help deliver the opportunity to benefit from the Savior’s atoning power to someone else! As you do, great blessings will come to you and to your family.

Elder David F Evans

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Our individual search for truth.

Through study, prayer, and keeping the commandments, I found that there are answers to all of my important questions. I also found that for some questions, continuing faith, patience, and revelation are needed. …

… Willingness to be patient is part of our search for truth and part of the Lord’s pattern of revealing truth. …

President Monson: If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far.

I came to know that constant nourishment and continuing effort to repent and keep the commandments is needed. …

President Monson: a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study.

To know the truth, we need to live the gospel and “experiment” on the word. We are cautioned to not resist the Spirit of the Lord. Repentance, coupled with a determination to keep the commandments, is an important part of each individual’s search for truth. In fact, we may need to be willing to “give away all” our sins in order to know the truth.

We are commanded to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” and to “seek … out of the best books words of wisdom” [D&C 88:118]. Our search for truth should focus on “the best books” and the best sources. Among the very best are the scriptures and the words of living prophets. President Monson has asked each of us to do what is necessary to obtain and keep a strong testimony.

… What is necessary for your testimony to deepen and strengthen? Each of us has a personal responsibility to do what is necessary to obtain and keep a strong testimony.

Patient covenant keeping brings the blessings of Heaven into our lives.

Elder Richard J Maynes

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Brethren, perhaps there is no greater compliment we could receive from the Lord than to know He trusts us to be worthy priesthood holders and great husbands and fathers.

One thing is for certain: earning the Lord’s trust is a blessing that comes through great effort on our part. Trust is a blessing based on obedience to God’s laws. Earning the Lord’s trust comes as a result of being true to the covenants we have made in the waters of baptism and in the holy temple.

I love both ancient and modern-day scriptures that use the phrase “integrity of heart” when describing a righteous person’s character. Integrity or the lack of integrity is a fundamental element of one’s character. Men who have “integrity of heart” are men to be trusted—because trust is built on integrity.

Family Proclamation – responsibilities of fathers.

Unity with our wives.

2 Nephi 4:34 O Lord, I have atrusted in thee, and I will btrust in thee forever. I will not put my ctrust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his dtrust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

Trust brings, peace, love and an environment where that love can grow.

Trust plays an important part in creating a Christ-centred home.

Story of going on a business trip to Los Angeles with his father. Offered a bribe.

Brethren, it is my prayer this evening that we might all first place our trust in the Lord, as Nephi exemplified, and then through the integrity of our hearts earn the trust of the Lord, as well as the trust of our wives and children. As we understand and apply this sacred principle of trust built on integrity, we will be true to our sacred covenants. We will also succeed in presiding in our families with love and righteousness, providing the necessities of life, and protecting our families from the evils of the world.

Hymn: How Firm a Foundation

President Dieter F Uchtdorf

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Story of elderly man buying stamps at post office. Young woman offered to show her how to use machine. He replied that he preferred waiting – ‘The machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.’

We accept aging and illness as part of our earthly journey.

We also face spiritual challenges.

Spiritual wellness.

Sometimes spiritual illness comes because of sin.

..we lose sight of the joy of the gospel. We might even feel that we have no more to give.

We can heal spiritually. Even the deepest spiritual wounds…can be healed. The healing power of Jesus Christ is not absent in our day.…

Whatever causes our spiritual ailments, they all have one thing in common: the absence of divine light.

Darkness reduces our ability to see clearly. It dims our vision of that which was at one time plain and clear….When we are in darkness we are more likely to lose hope.

Light, on the other hand, allows us to see things as they really are. It allows us to discern between truth and error.…We will find spiritual healing as we step away from the shadows of the world and into the everlasting light of Christ.

John 8:12 I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

D&C 84:45-46 For the aword of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is blight, and whatsoever is light is cSpirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

46 And the aSpirit giveth blight to cevery man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.

Matthew 6:22 if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

What is night? Night is nothing more than a shadow.

The absence of light causes darkness.

Darkness is not an indication that there is no light. Most often, it simply means we are not in the right place to receive the light. During the recent solar eclipse many made great efforts to get into the narrow band of shadow…

Satan will make every effort to create a shadow or get us into a shadow of our own making.

Even in moments of grearest darkness God hears our humble petitions.

It is up to us to be in the right place to see and feel the divine light and truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even when night has fallen and the world seems dark, we can choose to walk in Christ’s light, keep His commandments, and courageously testify of His reality and His greatness.

As a bearer of God’s priesthood and as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are a bearer of light. Keep doing the things that will nurture His divine light. Hold up your light and let it shine before men…

My dear brothers, you are instruments in the hands of the Lord with the purpose of bringing light and healing to the souls of Heavenly Father’s children. Perhaps you do not feel qualified to heal those who are spiritually ill…maybe you face spiritual challenges of your own Nevertheless the Lord has called you…. to uplift and bless God’s children.…

Every time you reject temptation and choose purity…the light chases away darkness and attracts others who are seeking light and truth…..

Our young people are seeking light and they need to hear from you…

Christ’s light brings hope, happiness, and healing of any spiritual wound or ailment. Those who experience this refining influence become instruments in the hand of the Light of the world to give light to others…

It is my prayer and blessing that you will succeed in fulfilling your destiny as priesthood holders of Almighty God and always be joyful bearers of His heavenly light.

[Another wonderful talk from President Uchtdorf that I suspect will repay greater study]

President Henry B Eyring

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Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church

He leads his church by speaking to men called prophets

He gives confirming revelation to those who serve under the leadership of his prophets.

The Lord’s leadership of His Church requires great and steady faith from all who serve Him on earth. …

It takes faith to believe that he knows the people that he calls perfectly.

… You have the capacity to receive revelation and to act on it fearlessly.

It takes faith to do so. It takes even greater faith to believe that the Lord has called imperfect human servants to lead you. My purpose..is to build your faith…that the Lord is inspiring the imperfect persons that he has called as your leaders…

Faith is essential.

Story of secretary in teachers quorum sent to a less active boy.

A bishop is sometimes called to serve people who know him well…These members have to know that the call to serve as a bishop came from the Lord by revelation.

Mosiah 2:10-11 I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear ame, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man.

11 But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and aconsecrated by bmy father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.

Your leader in the Lord’s Church may seem to you weak and human or may appear to you strong and inspired. The fact is that every leader is a mixture of those traits and more. What helps servants of the Lord who are called to lead us is when we try to see them as the Lord did when He called them.

The Lord sees His servants perfectly. He sees their potential and their future. He knows how their very nature can be changed. He also knows how they can be changed by their experiences with the people they will lead. …

I try not to judge servants of the Lord.

James E Faust: We also need to support and sustain our local leaders, because they also have been “called and chosen.” Every member of this Church may receive counsel from a bishop or a branch president, a stake or a mission president, and the President of the Church and his associates. None of these brethren asked for his calling. None is perfect. Yet they are the servants of the Lord, called by Him through those entitled to inspiration. Those called, sustained, and set apart are entitled to our sustaining support……Disrespect for ecclesiastical leaders has caused many to suffer spiritual weakening and downfall. We should look past any perceived imperfections, warts, or spots of the men called to preside over us, and uphold the office which they hold.

Brigham Young: Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God and sink themselves to hell.

There is a thread that binds us to the Lord in our service. It runs from wherever we are called to serve in the kingdom, up through those called to preside over us in the priesthood, and to the prophet, who is bound to the Lord. It takes faith and humility to serve in the place to which we are called, to trust that the Lord called us and those who preside over us, and to sustain them with full faith.

[An emotional and powerful address by President Eyring]

Closing hymn: We Ever Pray For Thee

Posted in General Conference

General Conference Oct 2017 – Saturday Morning Session

President Eyring announced that President Monson was watching the proceedings from his home.

The choir sang ‘God Bless Our Prophet Dear’

President Dieter F Uchtdorf

Inbuilt longing for our spiritual home.

God is our Father, he cares for us and there is a way to return to him.

You are not alone, God still calls to you.

2 reasons why you should turn to the Lord:

  1. Your life will be better. Following our Saviour will not remove all our trials. It will remove the barriers between us and God. Those who incline their hearts to God will be encircled by his peace.
  2. It will help you bless the lives of God’s other children. Blessings will come not so much because of our abilities but because of our choices.The history of God’s work is filled with people who consider themselves inadequate.

How encouraging it is to know that God was able to use them anyway (talking about people in Church history who were imperfect).

Those who love and serve God and fellow man and actively participate in his work will see wonderful things happen in their lives and the lives of those they love.

Life is not a self-driving car, it is not an aeroplane on auto pilot……Discipleship requires a willingness to swim upstream when needed.

Please heed the call of your Saviour, follow him.

The gospel…is the pathway that leads us home.

Sister Bonnie L Oscarson

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Losing ourselves in service to others.

Need to be diligent in the way in which we use our personal devices.

It is sometimes easy to miss opportunities for service because we are distracted.

Serving those who are closest to us.

Changing the world begins with strengthening your own family.

Serving in the ward family.

Ask your Heavenly Father to show you who around you needs your help.

Remember that some of the greatest needs might be those right in front of you….You can find ways to serve, lift and strengthen. Begin where you are.

Who needs me today?

Elder Dallin H Oaks

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John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Thomas S Monson: We must be vigilant in a world which has moved so far from that which is spiritual. It is essential that we reject anything that does not conform to our standards, refusing in the process to surrender that which we desire most: eternal life in the kingdom of God.

Elder M Russell Nelson:  In God’s eternal plan, salvation is an individual matter; exaltation is a family matter.

Latter-day Saints have distinctive priorities and practices.

Isaiah 51:7 …fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.

The Family Proclamation defines the nature of family relationships.

We sometimes face but need not fear what Isaiah calls the reproach of men.

[Description of what led to the Proclamation]

Gordon B Hinckley: Now, in closing, I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness.

Elder John C Pingree Jr

Fulfilling divine assignments
4 principles:
1. Focus on others.
2. Discover and develop spiritual gifts. As we discover our gifts we have a responsibility to develop our gifts.
3. Make use of adversity.
4. Rely on God .
D&C 30:2 But your mind has been on the things of the aearth more than on the things of me, your Maker, and the ministry whereunto you have been called; and you have not given heed unto my bSpirit,

 

Elder D Todd Christofferson

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Jesus Christ as the Bread of Life.

John 6: 56  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, adwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath asent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall blive by me.

58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

The symbolism of the sacrament.

As the bread is broken we remember the Saviour’s torn flesh.

As we drink the water we think of the blood that he shed

Jesus could not have atoned for the sins of others unless he was sinless…This suggests the need for a mighty striving in our life…We must be willing to give away all of our sins.

To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ means to pursue holiness.

Marion G Romney: Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.

Elder Jeffrey R Holland

Be ye therefore perfect.

Such celestial goals seem beyond our reach.

I’m just not good enough…I’ll never measure up.

As children of God we should not demean or vilify ourselves.

We live in a fallen world, and for now we are a fallen people.

I am grateful that God is merciful and a peacemaker because I need mercy and the world needs peace.

From the beginning the gospel has been for the perfecting of the Saints.

Our only hope for true perfection is in receiving it as a gift from Heaven, We won’t earn it.

Every one of us is a debtor.

While in mortality let’s strive for steady improvement.

Give your help to anyone trying to walk the path back to God.

May we refuse to let our own mortal follies…make us cynical.

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine, Prophets

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 37: “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”

1. Our need for a living prophet

Watch: We Need Living Prophets Members of the Church across the world bear testimony of living prophets and apostles and speak of the blessings of peace and hope that arise from that knowledge.

Watch: Gods Words Never Cease Elder Jeffrey R. Holland testifies of the truth of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and continuing revelation from God to His children.

See: Prophets of the Restoration

“The very first [dispensation of the gospel] was in the time of Adam. Then came dispensations of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others. Each prophet had a divine commission to teach of the divinity and the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ. In each age these teachings were meant to help the people. But their disobedience resulted in apostasy. …

“Thus a complete restoration was required. God the Father and Jesus Christ called upon the Prophet Joseph Smith to be the prophet of this dispensation. All divine powers of previous dispensations were to be restored through him” (Russell M Nelson in Conference Report, Oct. 2006).

“I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal” (Spencer W Kimball in Conference Report, Apr. 1977).

2. The roles of our living prophet

Watch: Watchman on the Tower (Ezekiel 33:1-7) The Lord calls prophets to be the “watchmen” on the tower.

Watch: Ministry of Thomas S Monson – Rebuilding Lives An invitation to write an article for the Washington Post, ten years after the atrocities of 9/11, allows President Thomas S. Monson to speak to the world of forgiveness and hope.

D&C 1:38 Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same

‘I do not believe members of this Church can be in full harmony with the Savior without sustaining His living prophet on the earth, the President of the Church. If we do not sustain the living prophet, whoever he may be, we die spiritually. Ironically, some have died spiritually by exclusively following prophets who have long been dead. Others equivocate in their support of living prophets, trying to lift themselves up by putting down the living prophets, however subtly.

In our lifetime we have been favored with ongoing communication from the heavens, which have been open to the prophets of our time…This process of revelation comes to the Church very frequently. President Wilford Woodruff stated, “This power is in the bosom of Almighty God, and he imparts it to his servants the prophets as they stand in need of it day by day to build up Zion” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 56). This is necessary for the Church to fulfill its mission. Without it, we would fail.’ (James E Faust, “Continuing Revelation,” Ensign, Aug. 1996, 5)

D&C 21:1 A seer, a translator, a prophet

‘A prophet is a teacher of known truth; a seer is a perceiver of hidden truth, a revelator is a bearer of new truth. In the widest sense, the one most commonly used, the title, prophet, includes the other titles and makes of the prophet, a teacher, perceiver, and bearer of truth.’ (John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 258)

D&C 107:91-92 Preside Over the Whole Church

‘The President of the Church directs the use of all of the keys and authority of the priesthood and is the only person who can exercise all of them, even though all of the ordained Apostles hold these keys, some of which are in latent form.

Brethren, I have been a member of the First Presidency for only a few days. It seems as though before I had this calling I had limited vision, but I have now put on glasses that allow me to see more clearly, in a small way, the magnitude of the responsibility of the President of the Church. I am afraid I am like the aristocrat who wore a monocle in one eye. Of him it was said, “He could see more than he could comprehend.” The men who see most clearly the big picture are these giants of the Lord, President Hinckley and President Monson, who have served many years faithfully as counselors to the previous Presidents of the Church.’ (James E Faust, Ensign, May 1995, 47)

3. Heeding the words of our living prophet

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Read: Give Heed Unto the Prophet’s Words Quentin L Cook, April 2008

“We have been promised that the President of the Church, as the revelator for the Church, will receive guidance for all of us. Our safety lies in paying heed to that which he says and following his counsel” (James E Faust, Ensign, Aug. 1996)

“It is no small thing, my brothers and sisters, to have a prophet of God in our midst. … When we hear the counsel of the Lord expressed through the words of the President of the Church, our response should be positive and prompt. History shows that there is safety, peace, prosperity, and happiness in responding to prophetic counsel as did Nephi of old: ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded’ (1 Nephi 3:7).’ (Elder M Russell Ballard, General Conference, April 2001)

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D&C 21:4-6 His Word Ye Shall Receive

‘In other words, the Lord has said it was not only important that there be revelation to his Church through his mouthpiece, the one who held the keys, but his Church must also be founded on personal revelation, that every member of the Church who has been baptized and has received the Holy Ghost must be admonished so to live that each might receive a personal testimony and a witness of the divine calling of him who was called to lead as the President of the Church so that he will accept those words and that counsel as if from the mouth of the Lord himself. Otherwise, the gates of hell would prevail against that individual.’ (Harold B Lee, General Conference, April 1953)

4. Latter-day prophets’ example of Christlike love

Watch: Teachings of Spencer W Kimball – Man of Compassion Elder Spencer W. Kimball blesses a tiny Native American boy in Denver, Colorado. (0:56)

Watch: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley – Love for the People While preparing for a ground-breaking ceremony, President Hinckley learns that an old missionary companion is in the audience. He seeks him out. (1:31)

Watch: Teachings of Thomas S Monson- Rescuing Those in Need Bishop Thomas Monson and his ward welcome a poor German family into their community, providing them with housing, warmth, and food for Christmas. (5:01)

Teachings of Joseph Smith:

A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. (History of the Church, 4:227.)

It is a duty which every Saint ought to render to his brethren freely—to always love them, and ever succor them. (History of the Church, 2:229)

Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (History of the Church, 5:23–24 (9 June 1842))

Posted in Book of Mormon, Holy Ghost, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 16: The Power of the Book of Mormon

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

Throughout his ministry, President Hinckley emphasized the importance of the Book of Mormon. In August 2005, as President of the Church, he challenged Latter-day Saints to read the entire book before the end of the year. He later reported: “It is amazing how many met that challenge. Everyone who did so was blessed for his or her effort. As they became immersed in this added witness of our Redeemer, their hearts were quickened and their spirits touched.”

How has regular reading of the Book of Mormon blessed you?

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1. Hand in hand with the Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ.

Read: They Shall Grow Together: The Relationship of the Book of Mormon, The Bible and the Joseph Smith Translation (BYU Religious Studies Centre)

Bible stories teach us
How to live like Jesus.
Book of Mormon stories, too,
Tell what He would have us do.
Hand in hand together,
the Bible and the Book of Mormon
stand forever to tell of Jesus Christ.
Bible prophets tell us
Things to bless and help us.
Book of Mormon prophets, too,
Testify of all that’s true.
Hand in hand together,
the Bible and the Book of Mormon
stand forever to tell of Jesus Christ.
Hand in hand together,
the Bible and the Book of Mormon
stand forever to tell of Jesus Christ.
© 2001 by Janice Kapp Perry

From the manual:

As the Bible is the testament of the Old World, the Book of Mormon is the testament of the New. They go hand in hand in declaration of Jesus as the Son of the Father.

What examples have you seen of the Book of Mormon and the Bible going “hand in hand” in testifying of the Savior? 

2. By the power of the Holy Ghost, we can receive a witness of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

‘This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.

We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Because the Book of Mormon is true, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth, and the holy priesthood of God has been restored for the benefit and blessing of His children.

If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far. However, once obtained, a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study.

My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives. I so testify with all my heart in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.’ (President Thomas S Monson, General Conference, April 2017)

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From the manual:

Why do you think the promise in Moroni 10:3–5 is more important than physical evidence of the Book of Mormon?

3. A testimony of the Book of Mormon leads to a conviction of other truths.

Watch: Book of Mormon Testimonies Prophets and Apostles discuss the importance of gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

“We should know the Book of Mormon better than any other book. Not only should we know what history and faith-promoting stories it contains, but we should understand its teachings. If we really do our homework and approach the Book of Mormon doctrinally, we can expose the errors and find the truths to combat many of the current false theories and philosophies of men. I have noted within the Church a difference in discernment, insight, conviction and spirit between those who know and love the Book of Mormon and those who do not. That book is a great sifter.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

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4. The Book of Mormon offers teachings that can help us find solutions to the problems of today’s society.

We should constantly ask ourselves, “Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?

From the manual:

[The Book of Mormon] narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions to those problems.

What are some passages in the Book of Mormon that have helped you in times of personal challenge?

5. The Book of Mormon has the power to change our lives and our perspective.

Watch: A Book of Mormon Story A young bishop in England describes how the Book of Mormon came to life for him and changed his perspective forever. (5:15)

From the manual:

If someone asked you about the Book of Mormon, what could you say about how it has influenced your life?