Archive for the 'Gospel Principles' Category



Missionary Work

One of the biggest themes throughout the scriptures is the importance of missionary work. Throughout this blog so far, I have tagged 54 posts with it, and that is just those that seem to plainly talk about it. You can read about the call from God to preach to the people, in all of the standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants). In Doctrine and Covenants 1:18 and 23, we read the following:

And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets (v. 18)— . . . That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers (v. 23).

As a commandment and as something so common throughout the scriptures, it is surely part of God’s plan for us, His children.

In what ways is missionary work part of God’s plan for His children?

Isaiah 52:7 reads, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” The plan of God involves all His children having the opportunity to come unto Him, learn of Him, follow Him, make covenants with Him, and eventually return to live with Him. None of this can happen, unless each child of God has the opportunity to hear the gospel from someone else. All those who have come to know Christ, have the duty to God to help others to know the truth and have that same opportunity to choose to follow Him. None of us would be able to return to live with God again, if we did not have missionary work. When we tell others about the gospel, we are publishers of salvation.

What are some different ways the Lord has prepared for us to share the gospel?

My experience has been that when I learn a gospel truth, I become filled with excitement and the immediate desire to share it with those I love. I think that the Lord prepares us to share the gospel, through the revelation that brings this happiness. In this day, we have great access to His word, which means that we can easily study the gospel and be prepared with a knowledge and testimony of our own. We are prepared when we are given opportunities to serve others. Our actions are a great missionary tool, and allow for the chances to share the gospel, without any uncomfortable interactions. Most callings in the church, allow us to share our beliefs with others within the church, which in turn will prepare us to share with those we associate with outside of church.

Personally, creating this blog and sharing my testimony and the gospel with anyone who happens upon it through searching the internet, has been a pretty awesome way to prepare for the times when I want and need to share with those I see. This amount of study, and the act of constantly developing and sharing what I learn and know to be true, strengthens my ability to share, my comfort level in sharing, and my testimony. This has been an amazing blessing in my life.

In what ways have you seen technology used effectively to share the gospel?

I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who are using the internet specifically, to share the gospel. The church has so much to offer through it’s site, lds.org and also through many other sites such as mormon.org and the mormon messages on youtube. The development of sites such as facebook and twitter, give enormous amounts of opportunities for saints to share what they believe and I am sure that many have been brought closer to Christ through these sites. Technology is something that I am truly grateful for, specifically for the benefits that are gospel related.

Why is it important for each person to hear and understand the gospel?

Like I wrote above, none of us could return to live with God again if it were not for missionary work and the spreading of the gospel because of it. We cannot return to live with God again if we do not understand and accept the gospel. Our eternal salvation depends on hearing the gospel. We cannot know that we need to turn to Christ and the saving power of His atonement, if we do not hear of it and the amazing blessings of repentance. We will not come to know Christ, if no one shares his life and missions with us. We will not be able to be together with our families after this life, if we are not told of the priesthood and the sacred temple ordinances which can seal us to our families forever.

In what ways can we actively seek opportunities to share the gospel with others? In what ways can we prepare ourselves for such opportunities?

I know that one of the best ways to seek for these opportunities, is to pray for them. When we show God that we are willing to share with others, He will guide those who are ready, to us. We should show others with our actions, how to live a Christ-like lives and then there will be times when they will want to know why we behave the way we do. In our constant striving to live righteously, the opportunities will come.

Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles related an experience in his talk during the October 2010 conference.

Many years ago two colleagues of mine—a nurse and her doctor husband—asked me why I lived the way I did. I answered, “Because I know the Book of Mormon is true.” I let them borrow my copy of the book, inviting them to read it. A week later they returned my book with a polite “thanks a lot.”

I responded, “What do you mean, thanks a lot? That’s a totally inappropriate response for one who has read this book. You didn’t read it, did you! Please take it back and read it; then I would like my book back.”

Admitting that they had only turned its pages, they accepted my invitation. When they returned, they said tearfully, “We have read the Book of Mormon. We know it is true! We want to know more.” They learned more, and it was my privilege to baptize both of them.

This type of experience can be our own experience. We can prepare ourselves by being open and friendly with others. We can prepare ourselves by learning how to serve others. We can prepare ourselves by learning to love the gospel and by not being ashamed of it. In Doctrine and Covenants 60:2 we read, “But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.” We all have the opportunity to be given this same talent to share the gospel with others. If we are ashamed, we cannot do what the Lord wants for us.

Most of all, I think we can prepare ourselves by learning to love others. This means forgiving, being merciful, doing away with unrighteous judgments, and feeling a deep compassion for all people. The Savior taught His disciples that we show our love for Him, by teaching others His gospel. In John 21:17 we read, “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

When have you experienced the joy of missionary work?

My greatest joy of missionary work has been experienced in my own home. I believe that this is the most important place for it to start. When I have shared with my children what I sincerely believe and hope for, and then they have turned around and expressed their own beliefs and understanding, I have been filled with great joy. When my everyday actions have inspired friends to ask questions about the gospel, I have been blessed to share with them. Most of the time it does not immediately turn into a change of heart for my friends, by I know that a seed is planted and someday, they will have a desire to know more. I know that blessings will come for the work I make the effort to do. In Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 we read, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”

I have thought a lot of the joy that we are promised for this. I have had some moments of that great overwhelming joy in my life, and no other experience compares to those. I believe that the joy we will feel after this life will be incomparable to anything else. There is no way to comprehend just how great our joy will be if we can be with the Lord again. I know that if we can serve to help others get there as well, our joy will be greater still. What an amazing thing to look forward to, and so worth every effort in this life.

Tithes and Offerings

View the entire lesson here: Tithes and Offerings

Tithes are the contributions we choose to give which make up a tenth of our earnings or income and the contributions are for doing the work of the Lord (see D&C 119). Offerings, in this case, I believe, are those contributions we give willingly that are more than the tenth of our earnings.

How does our willingness to pay tithes and offerings show gratitude to our Heavenly Father for all His blessings to us? In what ways does the payment of tithes and offerings help us thank our Heavenly Father?

Proverbs 3:9 reads, “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase”. The money or things that we earn from our hard work, mean a lot to us. These things make up the way that we provide for ourselves, and it is natural to feel strongly about the ownership of what we earn. When we willingly give of the things that we have earned, we show that we know we were able to earn what we did, because of the Lord’s help. In humility, we give something back for the blessings that were given, because we are grateful to the Lord for all that He has given. I think that our choice to pay tithes and offerings, is a way to show the Lord that we will be obedient to His laws. Being obedient is a way to show our gratitude. Our gratitude, obedience, and faith will honor the Lord.

What is an honest tithe?

We learned about honesty in the last chapter (Honesty). Honesty is being truthful and not purposefully deceiving anyone. We cannot deceive the Lord, because he sees and knows all. If we justify reasons for not paying tithing, or for adjusting the amount we should pay, we are not paying an honest tithe. This is, in effect, stealing from God. We learn about this in Malachi 3, which says the following:

8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

An honest tithe, is giving to the Lord, what truly belongs to Him. Deuteronomy 14:22 reads, “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. (emphasis added)” If we have any question on what we should pay tithing on, our church leaders (specifically the Bishops) are there to help us to know.

In what ways is tithing a principle of faith more than a principle of finances?

The Lord does not need our money to take care of his people, he has all power to take care of the saints. What the Lord needs, is our obedience to this principle to show our faith. In modern revelations, the Lord has told us, “Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming. (D&C 64:23)” When we choose to give of that which we have earned, to further the work of the Lord, we submit our will to the Lord’s will. Every time we give, we are using our faith in God, hoping that our obedience will be pleasing to the Lord. For some it literally is an act of faith, that we will receive even greater blessings than the financial benefits of that money or goods.

What can parents do to teach their children to pay tithing and understand its importance?

Leading by example is a great way to teach this principle and its importance. We need to show that we consider paying tithing to be a vitally important thing to us. Also, we teach our children by having lessons about tithing, by giving them opportunities to earn money themselves, and showing them how and why they should pay tithing for what they earn.

Why is our attitude important as we pay tithing?

Our attitude in paying tithing, reflects our attitude toward obeying the Lord. When we pay with an ungrateful heart, or unwillingly, we are not learning the principle that the Lord wants us to learn. The act of paying tithes and offerings is so much bigger than just giving money to the church. It is our proof to the Lord, that we choose and have a desire to sacrifice something for Him. The promised blessings can only come, if we have the right attitude about paying tithes.

What does it mean to you to be a “cheerful giver”?

According to the Apostle Paul, we need to be a “cheerful giver” when we pay our tithing (see 2 Corinthians 9:7). Being a cheerful giver is being happy about paying tithes and offerings. I find it easiest to do this, when I choose not to consider that tenth as my money. When I earn my income, or when my husband does, I start first by thinking about returning what the Lord has earned through my work, to him. It was never mine to begin with, so I need to give it to the Lord so that he can bless others with it. Knowing that it will help to further God’s work, brings me happiness.

To take it a step further, we should have a desire to give more, in fact to give all that we possibly can. Our offerings, should also be given cheerfully. It is not right to boast of the things we give, but it is always good to give what we can. In Omni 1:26 we read, “And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.” Whether our offerings are monetary or service, they should be done with all our hearts and souls, and with happiness.

In what ways does the Church use tithing funds and other offerings?

Tithes are used to build church building and temples, to help the missionaries, to provide more church materials for learning, and so on. Fast offerings are used to help the poor and needy. Specific offerings are for missionaries, for helping others with education, for relief to those who suffer from disasters, and so much more. Sometimes we are not able to give financial offerings, but we can give offerings of our time and energy in many ways, such as serving at food storehouses, where the church works to help the needy.

What are some blessings you, your family members, or your friends have received through the payment of tithing and other offerings?

Continuing in Malachi 3:10, we read, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” The most obvious blessings to my family from paying our tithings, has been that we have never had to go without the necessities of life. We have been greatly blessed to always have our needs met, even when all practical ways have shown we should be going without food or something. Every time we feel like we are getting to a place where our kids are going to go without something, someone has felt prompted to bring something to our home that they no longer needed. At these times, I cannot truly express just how blessed we felt for paying our tithing. I know that we are also blessed also in the spirit in our home, being worthy to go to the temple (which provides amazing blessings on its own), and many other spiritual blessings. We are always taken care of. I know that just because we pay tithing, it does not mean that we will receive some physical thing in return, but I know that blessings will come that help us to deal with certain trying situations. I cannot imagine even considering not paying tithing in my life. It is a sacrifice for us, and we have gone without a lot of things so that we could pay our tithing, but I know that the strength and comfort I receive through obedience to this principle, is greater than any of the struggles that may come.

Honesty

View the entire chapter from the Gospel Principles manual here: Honesty

I’ve been trying to help my seven year old gain a better understanding of honesty and why we do not lie, so I think that I can benefit a lot from studying this chapter. To me, honesty is one of the core principles to the gospel that a lot of other things rest on. Why? Because the Lord is honest and Satan is the father of all lies and deceit. In the beginning of the life of man, he lied to Eve to get her to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. In 2 Nephi 2 Lehi taught his family about this.

17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.
18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.

Since he is the father of all lies, we choose to become his children when we are dishonest. We give Satan the power when we lie and deceive others as he has done.

What would society be like if everyone were perfectly honest?

My mind is not fully capable of imagining what that society would be like, but I believe that when all people are perfectly honest, they are living a life of peace and happiness. Honesty goes to our very core, it is in our hearts, thoughts, actions, and all that we are. When we are honest with others and with ourselves, we are certainly honest with God. Honesty bring harmony and unity, which is the way that it will be in heaven. When we are honest, we can be trusted. This type of society would be in harmony with God, and would probably be allowed to be with Him forever.

As I said above, lying is a form of dishonesty. When we lie, we intentionally deceive others or ourselves. In the ten commandments we are told, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour (Exodus 20:16).” To bear false witness is to lie. Therefore, we are given a commandment that we must not lie. I would take it even further and suggest that we lie when we purposely hide truth, in order to get our own way. I think they call this a lie by omission, and it is just as deceitful as a straight-out lie spoken to another. I’m not perfect in this, but I am a huge supporter of honesty. Most of my friends know that if they ask me a question, I will tell the truth, even if it means saying more than they would expect to know. (I suffer from TMI syndrome – Too Much Information) I would much rather be honest, then possible not be. In proverbs 12:22 we read, “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.” I have hope that people will gain a greater desire to delight the Lord, by dealing truly.

Another form of dishonesty is stealing. To steal is to take something that belongs to another, and claim it as your own. One of the definitions I found for the word “honest” said, “gained or obtained fairly”. When we steal, we are not being fair. It is only fair to allow the person who has earned or paid for something, the owner of that belonging, to keep it until they decide to no longer have it. This is also a commandment found in Exodus, chapter 20. “Thou shalt not steal (v. 15).” My husband and I have talked a lot about this lately, because it seems that some leaders are insisting on taking things that have rightfully been earned from some, to give to others. A better society and a better people, come from them being willing to give of themselves to those in need, not being forced to give. Being forced to have things taken from us, will only encourage more dishonesty so that people can keep what is rightfully their own. This in not the way that God would have us live because it is dishonest.

Finally, cheating is a form of dishonesty. Words that I have found to describe cheating are swindle, defraud, elude, violate (as in rules), and to be unfaithful. All of these things relate to using deceit to get your own way or to satisfy your own desires. Cheating occurs all the time, when things are gained that are not deserved. Lying, stealing and cheating go hand-in-hand, and they are all tactics that Satan uses to tempt people to be dishonest.

What happens to us spiritually when we excuse our dishonesty?

When we excuse our dishonesty, we excuse a sin. If we justify why we lie, cheat and steal from another, we truly give Satan control in our lives. These things have a snowball effect. One lie leads to another, cheating once leads to cheating again, and stealing encourages more stealing. Likewise, cheating can easily lead to stealing, which almost always involves lying to someone along the way. This continues until we realize that we no longer have control over our own lives, and eventually great costs will have to be paid, especially spiritually. In Doctrine and Covenants 3:2 we read, “For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.” Nothing that is dishonest is acceptable to God, because he is perfect in honesty. There are no exceptions to this. There is no excuse of anything dishonest being deserving of any blessing. If we cannot be honest with our fellow men, we are not able to be honest with God, and therefore we must be separated from him. We cannot have the spirit to guide us in our lives, if we choose to be dishonest.

What does it mean to be completely honest?

My favorite definition of complete as far as honesty is concerned, is “perfect in kind or quality” (dictionary.com). Therefore, to be completely honest means to be honest to perfection. It means that there is nothing in our lives that is dishonest. It means that every fiber of our being is truthful: every word we speak is truth, every thing we imply is truth, every thing we own is truly ours, every thought we have is true, every promise we make is kept, and so on. It means that we are like God in honesty. Complete honesty requires repentance, because no person is perfect. We can become completely honest through repentance. This is a possible goal in this life. We may not be perfect in all things, but we can become perfect in this. We know this because it has been done before. We know of the people of the city of Enoch, who were taken up to live with God. We can also read in Alma 27:27, that the people “were perfectly honest and upright in all things”. This is a goal that we should reach for continually.

In what ways does our honesty or dishonesty affect how we feel about ourselves?

Being honest has the added blessing of the spirit, which will testify to us that we are doing what is right. It can lift our mood and strengthen our confidence in our actions. Honesty helps us to stand a little taller and feel better about ourselves. On the other hand, dishonesty brings guilt, shame, and the feeling to withdraw from others, especially those who are trying to live righteously. “Wickedness never was happiness”, and so there is no lasting happiness that will ever come from being dishonest (Alma 41:10).

Charity

View the entire lesson here: Charity

How would you define charity?

I’ve often heard it said that charity is the pure love of Christ. In Moroni 7:47, it tells us that this is and that it lasts forever. Charity is therefore an eternal principle and it has a lasting effect on our spirits, which are also eternal. When I think of charity, I usually relate it to service, because service is the way in which we show the love of Christ to others. In the Bible Dictionary it says that charity is “The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ.” Charity is service with a pure heart, or with pure intentions. Charity is service done because of a love for another.

Charity is a commandment. In 2 Nephi 26:30 we read, “. . . wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing.” If we hope to become like our Father in Heaven, we must choose to live as His Son lived. The Savior did all that he could, to the point of death, to love and serve all men. We must do our best to have charity and show or love to our fellow men as well.

Why is charity the greatest of all virtues?

Charity is like the umbrella of all Christ-like attributes. The ribs of the umbrella include things such as all the things we learn of in 1 Corinthians 13. These are kindness, patience, gratitude, humility, decency, unselfishness, temperance, calmness, righteousness, purity, truth, hope, endurance, and more. All of these individual things, lead us to charity and the love of Christ.

In the parable of the good Samaritan, how would you describe those who passed the injured man? How would you describe the Samaritan? In what ways can we apply the message of this parable in our lives?

In this parable, the first man to pass the man in need, was the priest who crossed the road to walk on the other side. I think of those of us (I include myself in this category, at different times in my life), who teach others to live a life devoted to God, but who see another in need as beneath them. Sometimes we don’t help someone because of the appearance they have, even from afar, which makes us uncomfortable. If we truly do not feel safety in helping someone because of their appearance, than the spirit could be warning us. If however, we immediately dismiss someone because of their appearance, we are walking with this priest. If we have the thought that perhaps someone needs help, and then immediately dismiss it before we even know if they do, we have not done as Christ would have. If we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, this type of action is entirely selfish and hypocritical. We cannot quickly look away when we see another in need, and expect to get a free pass from the Lord.

The second man, was a levite who looked on him and then crossed the street and walked on his way. The difference in this man that sticks out to me is that he did not just see the man, but he looked on him. I may not be accurate in this, but it seems like he walked towards the injured man, saw that he was not someone he wanted to help, and then walked away. I think that he looked and could see that the man was injured and unable to help himself, where the priest did not even know what the mans problem was. The levite made a more conscious decision to walk away. There are times when we become fully aware of someone’s troubles and trials, and we don’t even take the time to think of what they might need. Again, this is selfish and not charitable.

On the other hand, the samaritan had compassion. He saw the man, went and looked on him, and seeing his need, he did all that he could do to help him. If we want to live a Christ-like life, then we need to stop overlooking those who have needs. We need to help the poor in whatever ways we can. We need to be there for others and truly love them as we help them. Sometimes our means stop us from doing more then listening to the trials of another, or giving a hug or a smile. This does not mean that we are not being charitable if we cannot fix the problems of others. Being charitable is doing all that we can and giving it our greatest effort.

How can we love people in spite of their sins and faults?

In Matthew 22, we learn of the two great commandments.

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

We are commanded by the Lord to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. A lesson that I learned is that we need to separate people from their sins and other faults. We are not judge and jury of others as far as their sins or mistakes go. That is left to God and it should be. We need to love the person notwithstanding their sins or the little things that we think they do wrong. This does not mean that we love the sins, and surely not that we condone them, because that is not the right thing to do. It means, however, that we recognize that sins and faults are things taken on by that individual. The person, underneath it all, is a child of God and their spirit is eternal. Sins and faults are things that come and go, and they are things that in most cases may be forgiven by God, and must be forgiven by us. We need to find ways to see the individual through those things, and love them. I think the best way to do this is to serve them. When we serve others, we can see that everyone is human. We all have flaws. The flaws of others may look appalling to us, because they are not ours. Serving others, helps us to recognize our own faults and be less judgmental of the faults of others. In Matthew 5:44 the Savior taught, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”. Even when the faults of others, cause them to be our enemies, we must love them and find charity for them.

How can we become more charitable?

Becoming more charitable is a change of our hearts. It is a shift from being as selfish and self-centered as the world would want us to be right now, to thinking more of others and thinking of others before ourselves. I think that this change of heart takes a lot of will power, strength, and prayer. For me, prayer is the key to noticing more opportunities to be charitable. Next, is being worthy of the spirit to hear the promptings of things that I can do. It is also helpful to study and learn of ways that others have been charitable. Think of someone in your life who is an example of charity. Then think of the things that they do that make them charitable and see what you can do in your own life. The greatest example of charity is the Savior. We can study the ways that he had charity in the scriptures.

There are so many wonderful blessings that come from being charitable. In 1 Corinthians 8:1, we learn that charity is edifying. In the foot note it says that edify is to build up, strengthen, establish, or repair. Charity has the ability to do each of these things for those we serve, as well as ourselves. I have experienced the strengthening power of charity, especially in relationships. When we are charitable to others, our bond of friendship and love for them increase. I have experienced a love for another come when there had been nothing there before. I have also experienced the healing power of charity. All of these things are amazing and I know that as I live a more charitable life, I will become a better sister, a better daughter, a better friend, a better partner, a better mother, and a better person.

The Lord’s Law of Health

View the entire lesson here: The Lord’s Law of Health

I looked up the word “health” in the bible dictionary and I just loved what it had to say there.

In old English this word denoted healing power, deliverance, salvation. . . . health = safety.

This lesson is related to the revelation that we know as the Word of Wisdom. This revelation was given to the early saints of the church, to help us to know what things are good for our bodies, which are sacred gifts from Heavenly Father and should be treated as such. The health of our bodies will keep us safe.

What has the Lord commanded us not to take into our bodies?

We are told not to partake of wine, strong, or hot drinks, meaning alcohol and other drinks that impair our judgements as well as coffee and tea. This is found in the Word of Wisdom as well as other scriptures. In Leviticus 10 we read the following:

8 And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying,
9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

They were not to drink wine or strong drink because they would not be holy enough to enter the tabernacle of the temple. This meant the difference between being clean or unclean. This applies to us in our day as well. If we want to be clean, we must not drink wine or alcoholic drinks.

We are also told not to partake of tobacco and certain herbs, which are used as drugs to impair us. Their are medicines that are appropriate when used properly to aid in healing and such. The Lord has also revealed that certain foods should be eaten in their proper seasons and basically that we should use our best judgement to have moderation in most food choices.

What are some things that are not specifically mentioned in the Word of Wisdom that we should avoid?

There are a lot of things that are left out of the word of wisdom and I think it is so that we will learn to use our own judgement and the guidance of the spirit. In my own life, I found that if I had soda with any caffeine in it, I would crave it really often. To avoid developing a dependance on that soda, I stopped drinking it. That is one of the things not specifically mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, but for me it is part of it. Anything that we take into our bodies, which we know is not healthy for us, impairs our judgement, or causes an unhealthy dependence on it, is something we should consider carefully before consuming.

According to the Word of Wisdom, what are some things the Lord says are good for us?

One of the things listed as good for man is all wholesome herbs, also referenced as plants. It also says fruits in their season are good for us. Meat is good when it is used sparingly, or rather that they are not consumed excessively. It also says that grain is the staff of life. I looked up the meaning of the phrase staff of life, and it says that it is those things which are used to make bread and other staples of our diets. I believe that the key to these things being for our good, is that they are balanced in our diets. No one would be living healthy if all they ate was grain all day long. And a life without fruits and vegetables is also not a healthy life.

In D&C 59 we read the following:

18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
20 And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.

This is called the Word of Wisdom, because it is a guide to us, for our use. We are to study these things and then in wisdom and with the help of the spirit, choose what will be the healthy choices for us.

How has the use of these things blessed you?

I think that one of the most obvious blessings for me, when my diet is balanced, is that I have more energy throughout the day. The more homegrown or homemade the food is, the healthier and better I feel. I am not very good at cooking or growing my own food, so the difference is very noticeable to me, when I do.

What do work, rest, and exercise have to do with the Lord’s law of health?

A good diet is good, but it will not bless us to the fullest extent if we are living a slothful or lazy life. Work keeps our minds sharp and exercise keeps our bodies in shape. With those, it is necessary to rest so that our bodies can re-energize and not get worn down. In D&C 88:124 we read, “Cease to be idle; . . . cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” There is wisdom in knowing how much rest and sleep are good for us. We need to know what is too little and what is too much. This is different for each of us, but there is wisdom in going to bed early enough to rest when our bodies need it, and waking up early enough that our minds will be sharp.

What blessings come to us as we obey the Word of Wisdom?

In the Word of Wisdom (section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants) we are promised the following:

18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

If we follow the Word of Wisdom, we will be healthy and our minds will be capable of greater knowledge. We will be able to do our work and exercise without becoming weak or faint, but even greater is the promise that with obedience to this principle, we will be saved by the Lord from the destroying angel. This means that the Lord will protect us, or he will send angels to watch over us and we will be safe.

How can we help children and youth understand the eternal significance of the Word of Wisdom?

For me, the greatest understanding of this principle comes from a logical point of view. Telling my children to follow it because we are told to, does not explain the reason for following it. Rather, explaining that when our bodies and minds are free from the things that weigh them down or make it so we cannot think, we will be able to focus on learning and growing more. Exercising, working, and resting will help us to live a full life, both in the length of it, as well as being able to get the most our of it. Then putting these things into the eternal perspective, our knowledge and wisdom from our experiences are what we will take with us from this life. The richness of eternity will be directly affected by how healthy we live our lives now.

What can we do to help family members or friends who have difficulty obeying the Word of Wisdom?

Issues with the word of wisdom, either drugs of some type or over-eating, can not be solved by someone else. No matter how sincere and caring the intentions, only the individual can overcome problems with it. When we know someone who is struggling, we can show support in their successes, we can provide information or worth-while resources such as the church welfare services for recovery and addiction programs, we can love them and be there for them through their trials, we can be an example to them, and we can pray for them. Teaching those we love, that the Lord is there to help them overcome any challenges they may have, can be a huge help to some who are struggling with the Word of Wisdom.

I am grateful for the words of the Lord’s law of health. I know that they are wise and that they show that God knows what is best for us. I have seen and experienced the blessings that come from following this counsel and they are surely greater than anything that comes from going against it. I find peace in the safety that the Lord’s law of health or the Word of Wisdom provides.

Service

View the entire lesson here: Service

How We Can Serve

There are countless ways to serve. In Doctrine and Covenants 81:5 we read, “Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” If we magnify our callings, and help those who are weak, tired, depressed, or anything such as that, we are doing service. Sometimes it is hard to feel like we can go outside of our everyday lives to serve elsewhere. At these times in life, I think it is important to find how we can serve where we are. For me, a lot of my days I feel stuck at home without a car and with 3 little children to take care of. It is my duty to find ways I can serve in and around my home, and sometimes this can be the most rewarding service because it is for my family. I think that the key to deciding how to serve, is to come to know others and what they want or need. Getting to know others is also a service. We read about this in Mosiah, chapter 5:

13 For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

It is a cycle of service. We learn how to serve by getting to know others, but then we are blessed to know them through the service we give them. The possibilities are limitless.

Why the Savior Wants Us to Serve Others

One of my favorite scripture mastery scriptures is found in Mosiah 2:17.

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

It is wisdom to give service to others because we are in effect doing service to God. God’s work is to bring us all back to Him. Through our service, we do little parts of God’s work for Him by helping others to see the light of Christ.

Why does the Lord want us to serve others?

When we serve others, we forget ourselves. One of the biggest challenges that we need to work on in this life, is the natural feeling of selfishness. Our service focuses our attentions on others. Because of the service we give, we become more loving, forgiving, kind, and Christ-like. By doing service, we act as the tools of our Father in Heaven. When we are serving, we open the doors to bring others closer to Christ.

What can we do to be ready to meet the needs of others?

I think that a major part of this readiness, is being worthy of the spirit. When the spirit is there and we are listening, then we can feel the promptings to know how to serve others according to the will of God. Part of being ready, is not filling our lives too much with our own interests. We need to be flexible with our time and energy.

In Galatians 5:13 we read, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Part of being ready to serve, is recognizing that we are here to serve. I live in a country that is blessed with great liberty. There are many who chose to use this liberty for selfish purposes. Our job is to use our liberty to serve others with love.

We Receive Blessings through Service

In Colossians 3 we read the following:

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

When we serve, and do our service for the Lord and not for man, we will receive an inheritance from the Lord. The Lord wants to bless us. He has his arms full of blessings to be poured out upon us. In Doctrine and Covenants 76:5 we read, “For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.” He delights to honor us. Our service brings joy to the Lord.

What blessings do we receive through service to others?

There are great blessings that come through service to others. Sometimes it is just the good feelings that we get for it. Sometimes the blessings come in a greater testimony, or in the ability to love more. I think that most of the time, we don’t even know the blessings that we are given. I have grown so much from the joy that I have seen in others when I have done service for them, especially when they don’t know who did it.

Opportunities to Serve

It is surely easier to serve those that we love, and more difficult to serve those we do not get along with. But the opportunities are there for us to serve everyone we come in contact with. I had an experience last year that strengthened my testimony greatly, with a woman that I do not seem to get along with. I had the opportunity to serve and then I felt the need, as the spirit prompted me, to serve her, but I was fearful of her reaction. I followed the promptings and did what I was feeling I should do. She was so grateful and friendly with me, in a way that she has never been before. If I had not taken the time to serve her, I may not have ever known that sweet side of her. I wish I could say that we have been dear friends since, but we have not. However, this experience has given me the courage to serve her more and to serve others that I may not have thought about before. It has really been a blessing to me.

Sometimes the best service is the simplest. This can be a smile or hug. Sometimes someone just needs a listening ear. Sometimes, it is in a simple note for a family member or asking a neighbor how they are feeling. These acts of service can really add up to great strength in relationships and love and trust that otherwise would not have existed.

One of the reasons that being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is so wonderful, is because we are given opportunities to serve all the time. No one in our church is paid for the service they give in callings, which is very different from a lot of other churches. All that we do is voluntary and because we are not compensated, we are able to learn and grow from it the way the Lord wants us to.

How can we give enough time to our family, even with our many opportunities to give service in the Church and community?

Family should be the first place that we think to serve. Our families need the unity and strength that comes through our service. Then as a family, we can work together to serve others. We serve our children by teaching them the value of serving others as well. Finding ways to serve as a family, in the Church and community, will bless our families in so many ways.

Jesus Christ Is the Perfect Example of Service

What are some of your favorite scripture stories in which the Savior sets an example of service?

One of my favorite scriptures that the Savior set an example of service is when he visited the Nephites in the Americas. When the first day was coming to a close, He prepared to leave them. This is found in 3 Nephi, chapter 17.

5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.

The people were sad and did not want Him to go. He served the Nephites by staying with them and blessing them. I am sure that many of those there were hurt and afflicted because they had just experienced great earthquakes and darkness before he came to them. Then there would have been even more who were already suffering from afflictions and sickness. He healed and blessed them all. Then an even greater service was done at this time, when he called for the little children. He prayed for all the people and then he took these precious children and blessed them and prayed for them. In verse 21 we read, “And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.”

What can we learn from the Savior’s example of service?

The Savior served all men. He did not choose to avoid those who were sick, or those who had sinned grievously. He served the people when he was tired, at all times of day and night, and on every day of the week. He served us all through immense pain, suffering, to the point of death. His example teaches me that we should be willing to serve others at all times, in all places, and in all things. His example teaches me that I should not withhold service from others based on their situations or their righteousness. His example teaches me pure love and forgiveness. His is a pure example of selflessness in all situations. If I can live even a tenth of the life of service that He lived, I know that I will be greatly blessed for my service.

Work and Personal Responsibility

View the entire lesson here: Work and Personal Responsibility

Work Is an Eternal Principle

In the book of Moses, as we do also in Genesis, we learn that work is something that God has engaged in, and therefore it is an eternal principle. Moses 3:2 reads, “And on the seventh day I, God, ended my work, and all things which I had made; and I rested on the seventh day from all my work, and all things which I had made were finished, and I, God, saw that they were good”. The work of God continues on and did not stop with the creation. In Moses 1:39 we read, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” This work continues on through eternity.

What experiences have you had that have shown you the importance of work?

I grew up in a home where work was part of being a member of the family. Each person had work to do in order to make the home nice and comfortable. This taught me the value of work early on. I could see that when one person slacked in their responsibilities it made it harder for everyone else. We were all important and needed. I could also see that sometimes it was necessary to help one another in order to accomplish a goal for all of us. This taught me how work would be out in the world. This taught me how to be a valuable employee and how to feel joy in my accomplishments as far as working went.

I have also seen the opposite to be true. I have witnessed others who were raised with someone else doing all the work for them. These people become lazy and have a greater sense of entitlement. It has been difficult to depend on those people to help out and to do what is needed of them.

We Are Commanded to Work

Jesus said, “There are six days in which men ought to work” (see Luke 13:14). I looked up the meaning of ought and everything I find says that it implies an obligation or a duty. It does not say that “we can work on these six days if we want to”; it says that we should work on six days. Paul taught the gospel of work to the Thessalonians, when he said, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (see 2 Thessalonians 3) I believe that it is through work that we grow and learn. Therefore, we must work to do that which we have been sent here to do.

Family Responsibility

The Savior gave us the best lesson in this, by example. In John 5:17 we read, “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” The Savior knew and understood the value of work, even though His father could literally have done all for Him. If the Savior found it necessary to go to work and do all that He could in His position, how could we possibly think it is less than necessary for us to do the same.

What are some responsibilities that fathers, mothers, and children have to maintain a home?

In order to maintain a home, there must be some who clean, some who fix, some who nurture those in the home, some who work to pay for the things a family needs and more. I think that ideally a father should be the one who earns the money and the mother should be the nurturer, but this is not always the case. For each family, these specific duties should be given to the parent who can best handle those things, or who is able to do them. Children should be given responsibility of helping to clean and fix things around the house.

What can family members do to share in the work?

There are plenty of things in a home that can use the work of all who are there. They can share in the work, by taking on their own duties and helping others when they are able. Everyone can share in the work of strengthening the home spiritually, by participating in family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening and so on. I think that even though these may not always seem like it, they are part of the work necessary to maintain a home.

We Can Enjoy Our Work

The scriptures teach us that we need to work, and they also teach us that we are (or that we exist) so that we might have joy. (2 Nephi 2:25) Logically, this means that we should be able to have joy in our work. This should apply to all of our work.

How does our attitude affect our work?

I believe that it is our attitude that turns work into a chore. Chores are not fun. They are something we do because we have to do them and they tend to drag and they do not bring us joy. Work can be fun. We make it fun, by finding what we love about it or by focusing on serving others. When we serve others, we forget ourselves and we find happiness in even the most mundane tasks.

How can we improve our attitude about work?

I think it starts first with how we start our day. If we start the day by dedicating our duties and actions to the Lord, our work will take on a different tone. We do this through prayer. If we find ways to add some fun to a typical chore, it will help. Doing things like playing some music while we work, or getting others to help us will help the work to go quicker and to make it more enjoyable. If we take the approach of “blooming where we are planted”, we will find greater success in our work. When we find we can be better at work, or we do it well, we should find a greater joy in doing it.

God Condemns Idleness

In Galatians 6:4, we read, “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” In our time of judgement, we will not rejoice over the work that someone else has done, with the exception of the Savior. Our reward will come from our own works. To depend on others to work, when we are able, is not the way that God wants us to live. In 2 Nephi 9:27 we read, “But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!” When we are idle, we waste the days that the God has given us on this earth.

How does idleness affect an individual? a family? a community?

Idleness in an individual is an invitation for Satan to bind us. When we are idle, we are being selfish. This sometimes leads to mindless entertainment, depending fully on others to do everything for us, sleeping away hours of the day, not taking care of ourselves, and more. Most of all, idleness halts our progression. We are on this earth to learn and grow, but being idle is doing neither of these things.

In a family, idleness causes contention, negative feelings, a lack of unity and harmony, and failure to take care of all the things the Lord has blessed us with. On a larger scale, idleness can do these same things in a community. I think that idleness breeds sin and all negative behaviors and thoughts. In a community, this can lead to crime and a lot of fighting. Idleness is bliss for Satan, but is completely against the standards of God.

Work, Recreation, and Rest

In Moses 3:3, we read, “And I, God, blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it I had rested from all my work which I, God, had created and made.” Even though work is important, we must also give ourselves the time for rest. There is also a place for recreation. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “Having spoken in praise of labor, I must also add a kind word for leisure. Just as honest toil gives rest its sweetness, wholesome recreation is the friend and steadying companion of work. Music, literature, art, dance, drama, athletics—all can provide entertainment to enrich one’s life and further consecrate it.” (See “Reflections on a Consecrated Life,” , (October 2, 2010) General Conference.)

Why is it important to keep a balance in life between work, recreation, and rest?

A healthy individual, family, or community, has found a good balance of these three things: work, recreation, and rest. None of these things is completely bad, in fact they are all necessary for happiness. Each of these however, can be horrible if they are not carefully balanced in our lives. When we rest too much, we become idle and we do not learn and grow. When we play or work too much, we allow those things that are not the best things in life, to become the priority, and we loose our eternal perspective and goals.

What can we do to keep a good balance between work, recreation, and rest? How can parents help their children maintain this balance?

This balance will be different for each and every person. For me, it is always helpful to have someone I trust to be open and honest with me, to tell me if I am doing something a little too much. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in living that we may not see the imbalance. I am often the person who will work too much and not take time to rest. I am glad that I have my husband and best friend who will tell me if they can see that I need to take some time to rest or to play. It is even better, if we can recognize for ourselves when we may be taking on too much in one area over another. In Doctrine and Covenants 11:12 we read, “And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good”. When we are close to the spirit, it will guide us in knowing the right balance for us.

The Blessings of Work

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be (Revelation 22:12).”

What are some blessings that come from honest work?

We can learn a lot from honest work. When we are happy in our work, we will want to learn and to improve. We can be blessed with greater confidence and self-worth. We can be blessed with joy as we serve. Honest work will open up more doors for inspiration. Honest work helps us to be better examples to others, which gives us greater opportunities to share the gospel. A good example of this can be found in the Book of Mormon, when Ammon went to do missionary work. He became a servant of the king, and through his diligent work, he was able to convert many. (see Alma 17-18)

I find great happiness in work, when I am looking for that happiness. If we are seeking for joy, it will come to us. This life is for our learning and growth. If we are neither learning nor growing, then we need to find what needs to change in our work, so that we can. I think that most often this change will come when we change our attitude and focus. I know that great things will come to us if we involve ourselves in good work. I am so grateful for the blessings that good, honest work has brought to my life.

Sacrifice

To view the full lesson go here: Sacrifice

The Meaning of Sacrifice

Why is it important to sacrifice as the Lord asks without expecting anything in return?

Sacrifice is one way that we prove our faithfulness as disciples of Jesus Christ. Sacrifice is not simply giving up things that we don’t need in our lives, it is giving up things that we want to do or have. I do not consider my choice to not shop on Sunday as a sacrifice, because it is something that I have never had the desire to do, but paying my tithing is a sacrifice. This is not because I struggle with the act of paying tithing, but because my family does not have a lot of money and we just get by as it is. Every time I choose to make the sacrifice of money and pay tithing, I am showing my faithfulness to the Lord.

In Doctrine and Covenants 64:23 we read, “Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.” Giving of tithing is one of the most important sacrifices that we can make today. One of the purposes for this earthly life is for us to prove that we have faith in God and that we are willing to follow His commandments. When we only do what we are asked, because we expect to get something in return, we are not showing our true devotion. We cannot expect a return of our money when we pay tithing, and we should not give with the expectation of something in return, but we can have faith in promised blessings to come for our obedience. The Lord will bless us, because He has promised us blessings, but they will come in His time and in His way.

The Law of Sacrifice Was Practiced Anciently

What was the significance of the sacrifices performed by the Lord’s covenant people anciently?

Before Christ died for all mankind, the performing of sacrifices was a standard way of showing devotion to God. The sacrifices that we accepted, were those of a firstborn lamb without blemish. This symbolized the great sacrifice of God, which would come with the death of His Son, the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Why is the Atonement considered the great and last sacrifice?

The Atonement was the great and last sacrifice because it did away with the requirement to make physical sacrifices of the firstling of the flock. It was the great sacrifice, because it was the most important one and it would cover the need for all those who had ever lived or would ever live, to pay for their own transgressions.

We Still Must Sacrifice

How do we observe the law of sacrifice today?

We follow the law of sacrifice today by keeping out baptismal covenants and all other covenants we make with God. When we are baptized, we commit to the Lord, that we will serve Him. We covenant that we will use our time and energy to do all that we can in helping with the Lord’s work on the earth. We promise to stand as a witness of Jesus Christ and to lead others to Him by our own examples and service. We sacrifice our time, energy and all our means to do the will of the Lord. Moreover, we sacrifice our own pride through repentance for the sins that we have done, and through humility we rededicate ourselves to the Lord.

We Must Be Willing to Sacrifice Everything We Have to the Lord

Why are people willing to make sacrifices?

People who want to be obedient, will make sacrifices. Sacrifices make us stronger. Those who want to improve themselves, will give up things that they hold on to that are not of an uplifting, eternal consequence.

What examples of sacrifice have you observed in the lives of people you know, your ancestors, early members of the Church, or in the scriptures? What have you learned from these examples?

I have ancestors who gave all that they had to move to Utah with the saints. Their sacrifices included money, belongings and hardest of all – their families. I have known converts to the church who have been disowned by family for joining. I have even seen some who sacrificed long-awaited goals in order to serve in callings in the church. They all have been great examples to me. In the scriptures I think of Ester, who was willing to risk her own life, to save her people. I think of Lehi’s family, who gave up all that they had to travel to the promise land. I think most of all, of the sacrifice of the Savior. I think of how difficult it must have been for Heavenly Father to let His Son suffer on His own. I think of the Savior willingly giving up his life so that we all would be able to live again.

Sacrifice Helps Us Prepare to Live in the Presence of God

In Luke 9:62 we read, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” This scripture teaches me, that we are not ready to fully serve the Lord, unless we can sacrifice and not look back or have any regrets for moving on from that thing. If we claim to be ready to serve the Lord, we need to do it with a full heart and intention to serve Him.

Why do you think our willingness to sacrifice is related to our readiness to live in the presence of God?

In Doctrine and Covenants 98 we read, “And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal (v. 13). Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy (v. 14). For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me (v. 15).”

Our sacrifices today, show our worthiness for eternity. When we live with God again, we need to be completely prepared to live His laws and to serve. I believe that this is how we will have the greatest joy we can ever know. I believe that the selfishness of the natural man, is what keeps us tied to our things in this life. We want our own time for us, our own money for us, and so on. When we live with God again, we will realize that our time and all that we have is truly His and we will happily use everything to serve and bless others, if we have the attitude of sacrifice and service in this life.

I am so grateful for the examples of sacrifice in my life. I am also very grateful for the blessings that I have already received for the little bit of sacrifice that I have given. I know that I have a long way to go, in order to truly be worthy. I pray that I will have the faith to sacrifice as the Lord asks it of me.

Fasting

How to Fast Properly

What can we do to make fasting a joyful experience?

Fasting is to go without food (or drink). In the Bible Dictionary it says, “Fasting, a voluntary abstinence from food, is a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ for developing spiritual strength; it has always existed among true believers.” I think that a lot of us fast with the idea of going without food on our minds. We can make it a more joyful experience if we choose to think of fasting as a way to feel the spirit and draw closer to the Lord. The more we can focus on drawing closer to the Lord, the less we will think about the fact that we are actually going without food. Through fasting and prayer we can become strengthened and we will be able to see greater joy in our lives.

We Should Fast with a Purpose

Fasting with a purpose is an ideal act of those who want to be more righteous. Fasting with a purpose can bring comfort to our hearts and minds. I have had experiences of family fasts for loved ones that were suffering in one way or another, and the next day they have been healed of that suffering. Having a purposeful fasts, takes our attentions and focuses them on that thing so we are not thinking of other everyday things.

How does our attitude influence our experience when we fast?

Our attitude really is everything, when it comes to fasting. When we fast with a focus on going without food or drink, our attitude will reflect that of one who is being deprived of something we naturally want. If, however, we choose to focus on the uplifting power of the spirit, serving others, learning more of the Savior, and so on, our attitude will reflect the positive effects that each of those has on our lives. We are here to have joy (see 2 Nephi 2:25). I know that this is true. Therefore, I know that the Savior would not tell us to fast so that we would be miserable. Fasting is meant to bring us joy.

The Fast Day

How have you benefited from sharing your testimony in fast and testimony meeting? How have you benefited from hearing others share their testimonies?

I occasionally share my testimony in fast in testimony meeting, but when I have, I am always blessed to feel a bit stronger. I feel like I stand a little firmer in my beliefs. I feel a greater love from and to the members of my ward, because we are sharing the thoughts of our spirits with one another. This is a very enriching and uplifting experience for me. In addition, listening to the testimonies of others often strengthens my own testimony. It helps to know that I am not alone in my beliefs. It helps to hear the joys that come from trials, and the life lessons that come through living every day the best they can. Some of my greatest personal revelations have come through the testimony of others, on fast Sunday.

Fast Offerings

Why do we contribute fast offerings?

First of all, fast offerings are the contributions we make above the basic tithing we have been commanded to give. There is not a specific amount that we have been told to give for fast offerings, but we should give what we can. It generally should represent what we would have spent on the two meals we do not eat. Fast offerings go toward helping those who are in need. As I think about this, it feels like we are not in need of food for those two meals we have chosen to go without, so we are giving of the surplus of food (or rather the money for that food), to those who are in need of it. Fast offerings are our little portion of the law of consecration that is practiced today.

We Are Blessed When We Fast

What blessings can we receive when we fast properly?

The blessings that I think of right away, are the blessings of feeling the spirit stronger in our lives, and the blessing of clearer understandings of the gospel. In Alma 17, we learn of the story of the sons of Mosiah and their experiences with the Lamanites. In verse 9 we read,

And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct.

The spirit will be felt stronger and give guidance to those who fast and pray. In addition, fasting blesses us physically with the ability to gain more self-control. Hunger is a basic, natural feeling for all people. When we choose to put aside that need for food, we gain a greater control over our bodies and we give the power to our spirits. The blessings of greater knowledge comes from fasting as well. In Alma 5:46 we read the following:

Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

Moses fasted to gain instruction from the Lord, and he received the revelation of the Ten Commandments (See Exodus 34) When we fast, we can receive greater personal revelations regarding our lives and the lives of those we have a stewardship for. The believers in God have often times fasted for protection from wars and oppression. Ester called her people to fast for her, when their lives were in danger and because she was going to go before the king without being summoned, which was punishable by death (see Ester 4). Likewise, we can fast for the strength of our leaders to do what is right and for their safety as well as our own. In Psalms 35 we read the following:

13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

The blessing of humility can come from fasting, as well as answers to prayers. Also, fasting can give us a firmness in our faith just as it did for the people of Nephi in Helaman 3.

35 Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.

Fasting can also give us the blessing of unity, as we fast together with a common purpose and for greater strength as a group. There are many more blessings that will come to us personally and collectively as we fast and pray and grow closer to the Lord.

How can fasting increase our spiritual power to resist temptations? to receive revelation? to do righteous acts?

When we humble ourselves through fasting, we in effect give our bodies over to the will of the Lord. This strengthens our spirits and our faith in a way that we will be able to resist more temptation, receive greater revelations, and to be led by the spirit in doing more acts of righteousness.

I am so grateful for the spiritual blessings and power that come from fasting. Personally, I have needed to go without fasting for quite a while now and I truly miss it. There are some, who physically cannot fast without it doing harm and so fasting must be purely in mind and not in body. I can say, that although I was able to pray and focus attention on better things, I can clearly feel the difference from fasting physically. I look forward to being able to fast again and for the blessing that will come from such a simple sacrifice on my part. I think that it is important to remember to “fast” from other things in my life that will draw me away from the Lord as well. I know that great blessings can come from fasting with a sincere purpose and with heartfelt prayers to God.

The Sabbath Day

To view the entire lesson go here: The Sabbath Day

The Meaning of the Sabbath Day

What is the Sabbath day?

The Sabbath day is the day set aside to worship and devote ourselves to the Lord and his purposes. It is the day of rest just as God had a day of rest during the creation. We learn of this in the ten commandments given to the Lord’s people, in Exodus 20.

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

The Purpose of the Sabbath Day

How would you explain the purpose of the Sabbath day to someone who does not know about the Sabbath?

God gives us six days of the week to work, create, play, and do the everyday things that are necessary to get by. He expects in return that we will use the seventh day to focus on His plan, His work, and His Son, Jesus Christ. This gives us an opportunity to draw closer to God and to help to teach and save other souls. Modern revelation to the prophet, Joseph Smith, has taught us the purposes for the Sabbath. In Doctrine and Covenants 59 we read the following:

9 And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.

The Sabbath is designed for us to rest from our work, pray, partake of the sacrament, confess our sins, and fast, so that we will be clean of the sins of the world.

The Lord’s Day

Why was the Sabbath changed from the seventh day to the first day?

Before the death of the Savior, Jesus Christ, the Sabbath was observed on the seventh day. This was a likeness to God resting on the seventh day. Then the Savior died and was risen on the first day of the week. To keep the remembrance of the resurrection of the Savior, the Sabbath was changed to the first day of the week for the Christian world. In Acts 20:7 we read the following:

7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

How can the remembrance of the Resurrection influence our worship on the Sabbath?

I think if we recognize that this change was made to stand as a reminder of the Lord’s resurrection, we may be more inclined to focus on Him. We should realize that we need to remember the saving power of the resurrection and how Jesus Christ has freed every person who has lived or will ever live, from the bonds of death. Because of His resurrection, we all will be resurrected.

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy

What does it mean to keep the Sabbath day holy?

To keep the Sabbath day holy, we need to refrain from our typical daily work and play. The Sabbath is kept holy when we go to church, worship and focus our thoughts on the Lord, serve others through teaching and visiting them, study scriptures and words of the prophets and other church leaders, spend time strengthening our family relationships, and so on. Even though it is the day of rest, this does not mean that we should literally rest all day. It means that we rest from the typical and work on the spiritual. When we have to work to provide for our families, we need to continue to keep it holy, by remaining in the spirit of worship and reverence for the Lord.

Blessings for Observing the Sabbath

What are some blessings we receive when we keep the Sabbath day holy?

As mentioned above, one of the blessings is that we will be kept clean from the ways of the world. The Sabbath offers us the blessings of the spirit, which come from partaking of the sacrament worthily. We are blessed with stronger relationships with our families and friends. I often feel the blessing of renewed strength from going to church on the sabbath day. It feels like taking a deep breath so that I can face the challenges of the week with a renewed spirit. I am so grateful to have a day to focus an even greater attention on the Lord and to put my life into the eternal perspective. I am so glad that our family has been fortunate enough to never have to work on Sundays and that we have been able to truly set aside that day. I am grateful for my Savior, His life and ministry, the atonement, and His death and resurrection.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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