Posts Tagged 'Endure'

2 Samuel Chapter 18

An Israelite army, led by Absalom, was prepared to fight against David and his people. David had fled Jerusalem and gone into the wilderness for safety. Absalom was following the counsel of Hushai, a friend of David who was secretly helping to stop Absalom from destroying the king. This chapter begins with:

1 And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them.
2 And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab, and a third part under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and a third part under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said unto the people, I will surely go forth with you myself also.
3 But the people answered, Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city.
4 And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.
5 And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.

David sent Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, as captains of part of his army, each with one-third of his people as their army. David was willing to go and fight along side of them, but the people told him no, because he was of so much greater value than they. Instead, they told him that he would be better helping them from the city, which he did. David commanded his captains to deal gently with Absalom, who was, after all, his son, whom he loved. It really seems as though David would have made any other choice, than to go to battle against his son. This was not a worthwhile battle against some outside enemy, but a fight against his own blood and his own people. This must have been extremely difficult for him as a leader, and especially as a father. Sometimes in life, we are forced into our own battles against things that we had no intention of fighting. It can be hard and heartbreaking, just as it was for David.

6 So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;
7 Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men.
8 For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.

A battle began in the woods of Ephraim, and thousands of the army of Israel were slain. I think it is interesting that is says the woods were the reason for more deaths than the sword. The Lord, was once again on David’s side and blessing those who had been loyal to him and allowing other forces to be the reason for the deaths of so many of their own people, instead of their own hand.

9 And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
10 And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.
11 And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle.
12 And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king’s son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.
13 Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me.
14 Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
15 And ten young men that bare Joab’s armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him.
16 And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people.
17 And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.

Absalom was riding on a mule and got caught up on an oak tree. His mule left him there, and a man of David’s side of the fight saw it, and went to tell Joab. He told him that Absalom was hanging in an oak tree, and Joab asked him why he did not killed him right then and there, because he would have been rewarded for it. The man would not take any amount of money in order to kill the son of the king, because David had commanded them not to touch him. He knew that the king would have known what he had done and his own life would have been at risk, even from Joab himself. Joab left the man, taking three darts with him, and went and shot Absalom in the heart. Men of Joab’s army, made sure that Absalom was dead. The fighting was stopped at the sound of a trumpet, and the body of Absalom was thrown into a pit with a pile of stones on his body. The men of Israel then fled back to their own tents.

18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king’s dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom’s place.

Absalom, who said he had no son to remember him, had built a memorial to himself, which was called Absalom’s place. I believe Absalom had had three sons, but I am guessing that at some point he had either lost them by death, or they had chosen to follow David and be with other family members, in essence, abandoning their father and his cause.

19 Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the Lord hath avenged him of his enemies.
20 And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king’s son is dead.
21 Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran.
22 Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?
23 But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.
24 And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone.
25 And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth. And he came apace, and drew near.
26 And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone. And the king said, He also bringeth tidings.
27 And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings.
28 And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the Lord thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.
29 And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king’s servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.
30 And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still.
31 And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee.
32 And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.

Ahimaaz, wanted to return to David and tell him that the Lord had avenged him, but Joab refused and told him that the king’s son was dead. Instead, Joab told Cushi to bear tidings to David, of what he had done, and Cushi obeyed. Ahimaaz also wanted to go with Cushi, but Joab asked why, when he would have no message to take. Ahimaaz still asked to go after Cushi, so Joab allowed him to go. Ahimaaz took a shortcut and got to David first. The watchman of David saw Ahimaaz and Cushi coming from afar off, and told David they were coming. David knew they bore tidings from the fighting. They recognized Ahimaaz and David told them that he was a good man who would bring good tidings to him. Ahimaaz greeted David and David asked about Absalom. Ahimaaz told him that when he had been sent by Joab, he had seen a large amount of confusion, but that he did not know why. David told him to stand aside, to let Cushi come. Cushi told him that the lord had avenged him, and when David asked about Absalom, Cushi told him that he was killed with those that had risen against the king.

33 And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!

David left to his room and mourned for his son Absalom. It is horrible to suffer the loss of your own child. Even for some of the worst souls, who do horrific things in their lifetime, a good parent will still love them and want them to have peace and happiness. This was not how David had wanted things to turn out, and David cried that he would have rather died himself, than to lose Absalom.

Absalom was not blessed for his own choices to go against his father and to do wicked things to gain power. The Lord allowed the forest to stop Absalom from pursuing his course against David, just as the forest had caused the death of many others, and I wonder how likely it would have been for Absalom to have eventually been found dead from hanging where he was. I don’t know why Joab decided to go against David’s command, other than that he felt this was an enemy worthy of death. I think we will see what consequences came from this choice. And I don’t think that David would be glad to know that Joab had seen to the death of his son. David’s life continued to get harder and be full of heartache and loss, as he had been promised. However, because there was goodness in him, he continued to rely on the Lord through his difficulties, and he continued to lead his people as he had been called to do. We can follow this example through our own difficulties. Blessings come to those who rely on God and endure through the challenges of life.

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Notes on Patience – Seeing it Through

Patience is something that is tested in my life every day, as I am sure it is for most of us. I thought that perhaps it would be a good idea for me to begin a study that was a bit more in depth so that I could know how to gain a self-mastery that I do not have right now. I hope that my readers will enjoy following this series of posts on patience and that it may help someone else out there, as much as it has helped me. To see more posts, check out Notes on Patience

Yea, cleave unto me with all your heart, that you may assist in bringing to light those things of which has been spoken—yea, the translation of my work; be patient until you shall accomplish it. (D&C 11:19)

  • When I am given a commandment or inspiration by God, I cannot do it halfway. I need to see it all the way through, because I do no believe that God would ask us to do things to be quitters. As Nephi said, God gives no command to us without preparing a way for us to accomplish it (See 1 Nephi 3:7). He did not say God gives us a way to try it and move on. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said the following:

    Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well! (Continue in Patience)

    I am sure that the blessings and knowledge will be more fully gained, if I can faithfully and patiently accomplish the things that God has asked of me.

  • Notes on Patience – Examples of the Light of Christ

    Patience is something that is tested in my life every day, as I am sure it is for most of us. I thought that perhaps it would be a good idea for me to begin a study that was a bit more in depth so that I could know how to gain a self-mastery that I do not have right now. I hope that my readers will enjoy following this series of posts on patience and that it may help someone else out there, as much as it has helped me. To see more posts, check out Notes on Patience

    And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls. (Alma 17:11)

    Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days. (D&C 24:8)

    Be patient in afflictions, revile not against those that revile. Govern your house in meekness, and be steadfast. (D&C 31:9)

    And again, be patient in tribulation until I come; and, behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, and they who have sought me early shall find rest to their souls. Even so. Amen. (D&C 54:10)

  • I have some amazing examples in my life of true Christ-like love and kindness. One of the ways that I see those individuals showing that love, is their patience in all that they have to face. They don’t question their faith or blame God for their problems. They are quick to love others and not to judge. They truly show the light of Christ and it radiates to others and draws them in. I want to be that kind of example and being patient through my own afflictions is a very important part of that. A good example of patience with God, others and ourselves, is a powerful tool for bringing others to Christ. One of the reasons for this outcome, is that when we are patient through our trials, and endure them well, we recognize the companionship of the Lord. He is always there and we just have to recognize and accept Him. Knowing he is there will, in turn, help give us the strength to continue moving forward until our journey here is done.
  • Notes on Patience – Enduring Trials in Righteousness

    Patience is something that is tested in my life every day, as I am sure it is for most of us. I thought that perhaps it would be a good idea for me to begin a study that was a bit more in depth so that I could know how to gain a self-mastery that I do not have right now. I hope that my readers will enjoy following this series of posts on patience and that it may help someone else out there, as much as it has helped me. To see more posts, check out Notes on Patience

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

  • It’s good to have patience no matter what, but it is better to be patient when I’m doing what is right and am made to suffer for it, than it is when I am doing wrong and suffer for my own faults. There are greater blessings for having trials and enduring them well, because it shows dedication and faith to the Lord and his gospel.
  • Are We Striving for Exaltation?

    As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of one of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

    We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
    Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
    Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
    Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.
    Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.
    Delight in service and good works.
    Love life and learning.
    Stand for truth and righteousness.
    Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.
    Rejoice in the blessings of the temple,understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.

    This series of posts has been a lot of fun for me to go through. It’s been great to focus on the Relief Society declaration and all that it means to me in my life. I’m a little sad to see it coming to an end. The last question of this series is are we striving for exaltation? It goes right along with the previous posts and is a perfect final thought for this series.

    What is exaltation? Every person will receive the blessings of immortality that comes with the resurrection, because the Savior has fulfilled the requirements for that and it doesn’t matter what we do. However, there are additional blessings to be received after this life, and they come from the choices we make in this life. Exaltation is what happens when God raises us to a level or glory above where we can reach for ourselves. In Matthew 25:34 we read, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”. Exaltation is receiving our inheritance of the kingdom of God, which has been prepared for us. It is there that we have a fullness of joy. In Psalms 16:11 we read, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Exaltation is the reward which allows us to live in the presence of God and at His right hand. It is often described in the scriptures as receiving the crown prepared for us. In 2 Timothy 4:8 it says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day. . .”. Also in Doctrine and Covenants 59:2 it says, “For those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them; and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father, which I have prepared for them.” Exaltation is the ultimate reward of the rest that the Savior has promised to us in John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Exaltation is the companionship of the Godhead as we live in their glory forever more.

    With this understanding of what exaltation is, what are we doing to strive for it? Striving for something, is not simply allowing it to come to us, but making a great effort to obtain it. To strive for exaltation, we must be actively working to do what the scriptures teach us we need to do in order to obtain it.

    I think that first, we need to believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. When we come to know Christ, we come to know God. We cannot hope to achieve our potential if we do not understand what that potential is by having faith in Jesus the Christ. In John 17:3, the Savior teaches us, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Once we come to have a belief and faith in Christ, we need to live as He did and follow His perfect example. In that example, the Savior showed us that we need to be baptized in His name. In 3 Nephi 11:33 we read the words of the Savior to those on the American continent. He said, “And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

    One of the things I found in my study of this, is the reward of salvation from honoring the priesthood of God. This makes perfect sense to me, but probably wouldn’t have come to my mind immediately as a way to strive for exaltation. In Doctrine and Covenants 84 we read the following:

    35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
    36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
    37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
    38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

    To receive the priesthood, means to allow the power of God to act in our lives. It means to honor it by honoring the men who hold it, by following our modern prophets and apostles, by living according to the covenants we make through it, by allowing the atonement to be a part of our everyday lives, and more. Part of honoring the priesthood, is making sacred covenants with God and taking upon us the ordinances that must be performed with the priesthood authority given to us by God. One mentioned above, was baptism. Others include receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and our temple covenants in the endowments and sealings. In Doctrine and Covenants 132, great rewards of exaltation are promised to those who enter into the covenant of eternal marriage, or the new and everlasting covenant.

    19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
    20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

    Continually striving to honor the Lord by living according to the priesthood power he has allowed us to have or by making and keeping these sacred covenants with him, will push us towards that reward of exaltation. It will give us the opportunity to be as God and have forever families and rule in glory with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.

    There are two things that we need to do, which are often found hand in hand: keep the commandments and endure to the end. In Doctrine and Covenants 25:15 we read, “Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come.” I love that it has the word continually in there. We cannot just keep the commandment once and receive that great reward. Rather, we must continually return to Christ through repentance and strive each day to do our best to keep the commandments, for the remainder of our days. That is endurance. Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 says, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” We need to endure through the everyday temptations of Satan as we are instructed in James 1:12 which reads, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” When we endure these temptations, we choose which side we would rather be on. Through our endurance, we can overcome evil and love that which is good. In Revelation 3:21 it says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

    This continual path of striving to keep the commandments and endure, will not be easy. In fact, it will probably be harder than any other path we could choose to take in this life. There are many more trials in life, then just those that Satan puts before us. Yet, even with these difficulties, we learn and grow so much more from trials than if we did not have them. In Doctrine and Covenants 58:4 we read, “For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.” These promised blessings are for the faithful, who are truly striving each day to do what is right. Doctrine and Covenants 75:5 teaches us, “And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many sheaves, and crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life.” Again in section 81, verse 6 of the Doctrine and Covenants we learn, “And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality, and eternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father.”

    Our efforts in striving for exaltation, really come down to the little decisions of every day. The gospel in this is simple. We either choose to do the things that God has asked us to do, or we choose to follow the path that Satan has made easily accessible to all of us. In 2 Nephi 2:27 we learn this gospel truth. “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” Then again we are reminded of the consequences of our choices in 2 Nephi 9:39 which reads, “O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.” Our eternal reward is dependent upon the thoughts, words and deeds which we choose to have while here in mortality.

    Faith is a Sunrise

    I hope and have great faith in the promises of exaltation. I cannot imagine anything better then being allowed to live in the presence of God and have my own eternal family. I know that in order to receive this, I have to believe in God and Jesus Christ, honor all that is truly sacred which is all connected to the amazing power of the priesthood, keep the covenants which I have made with God, keep the laws and commandments that He has given to us, and endure to the end of my days. I know that I cannot allow things to act upon me, but that I must choose these things for myself and be striving for the blessings of exaltation each and every day. I know that I am not expected to be perfect right at this moment, but that if I am willing to make my best effort and rely upon the Lord and the atonement in repenting and returning to the Lord always, that the blessings will come. It is after I put forth the effort to live righteously each day, that my Savior will take me from the imperfect state that I will be in, and raise me to that state of glory and reward that I will deserve. We, as disciples of the Lord, can receive exaltation through our Savior, Jesus Christ, if we will do our best to strive for it each day.

    The Thirteenth Article of Faith

    As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

    We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

    We believe that we should be honest and true people. Our integrity is a precious thing. Being honest and true in all things, keeps our integrity intact. Proverbs 20:7 reads, “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” When I think of honesty, I think of what it means to be dishonest. All things that are meant to mislead others or raise ourselves up in a manner of false perceptions or lies, which are those things that are dishonest, are things of Satan. Satan is the father of lies. Satan wants to shadow the truth with a little dishonesty here and there, and when we give in to these things, we are following Him. Honesty on the other hand, keeps us following Christ. Honesty is a very worthwhile attribute, which leads to stronger relationships, building up of trust, and so much more. Personally, one of the most obvious blessings of being an honest person, has been that people have found me trustworthy. I have been blessed with greater responsibilities in work, opportunities to have higher positions, chances to do work that others are not allowed to do, and a feeling of value that has given me a sense of strength and courage.

    We believe in being chaste. The concept of chastity is fading away in the world we live in today. There are many who feel that being chaste is a thing of the past, and that we all need to change with the times. Chastity is purity. It is absolutely necessary for us to be clean if we hope to live with God again. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 we read, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” As temples, our bodies must be clean if we hope to have the spirit dwell in our hearts. Our cleanliness or purity will determine if we can dwell with God, because “no unclean thing can dwell with God” (1 Nephi 10:21). There is safety in this life and in the life to come, if we remain pure and chaste now.

    Benevolence is charity and kindness. We believe in being a people of service and love, and continually striving to live as Jesus did. We believe in living life with our minds set on helping others in whatever way that we can. The Lord blesses each of us with material things, talents, time, and energy. The best way that we can show our gratitude to Him for all that we have, is to use it for good. The world today, tries to focus a lot of attention on what we can do for ourselves, but this is not how the Lord wants us to live. We need to be mindful of those in need. In giving, we can share the light of Christ with all those around us. In James 1:27 we read, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” This is truly how we show our love and devotion to our Father in Heaven.

    We believe in being virtuous. Being virtuous is being morally clean. In the topical guide, the word virtuous references Psalms 24.

    3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
    4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

    One who is virtuous is worthy to be in holy places of the Lord, because he has clean hands and a pure heart. We believe that we should not involve ourselves in those things which keep up unworthy, especially those related to our morality. We believe that the Lord has established that physical intimacy outside of marriage, is against his laws. Being a virtuous person will allow us amazing blessings, in particular those that can be received through attending the temple, which are the greatest blessings of all.

    We believe in serving others. This is the type of life that the Savior patterned for us. We need to be continually engaged in doing good to others. This doesn’t mean that we should always be performing grand gestures of service, but mostly that we need to be constantly courteous and mindful of those around us. The good we do can be as simple as a smile or a hug. I think that it is extremely important, especially as we are living in a time where the world would have us take huge amounts of time to focus on ourselves, that we do our best to put the needs of others as a priority in our lives. We need to do kind deeds, teach whenever possible (especially the gospel truth), show sympathy and love, and pray for others. We believe that the reason for living this way, is that we will be eternally judged for our works in this life. If we live a life of good works, we will receive the greatest reward later. In Ecclesiastes 12:14 we read, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” I have experienced great blessing for the good works I have done in my life and I know that our lives will be greatly enriched through the service we give.

    Paul taught the followers of Christ, the way to be saints. If we, as members, hope to live up to the name of our church, which claims that we are saints of these latter-days, than we need to be willing to be saints. In his letter to the Philippians he said, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phillippians 4:8)” This is the admonition of Paul, of which we want to follow.

    Faith is a Sunrise

    We are believers or people of faith. There is a lot of what we believe that cannot physically be proven, but rather is felt to the center of our beings. Our beliefs are focused on the hope that God is there and will bless us for living righteously. In Jeremiah 17:7 we read, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” Our beliefs are centered on an eternity and the possibility to live with God and our families again after this life. We are Christians, in the pure sense of the word. We believe that we can only receive salvation through Jesus Christ, who gave the eternal sacrifice for our sins and died so that we could live again. As Christians, we have been in a constant battle against the enemies of God. The early saints suffered all things in standing up for the gospel of Christ. We believe that true saints of God will continue to face extreme trials at the hands of those who do not believe. We will have to endure all the trials of our lives in order to receive the great reward that God has offered to us. We believe that if we are faithful in our endurance, God will be there to support and sustain us through all things we face. We need to remain steadfast, strong and firm in our beliefs, so that we can learn from our trials and have the ability to grow and progress. If we continually seek to find and follow those things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy, we will find happiness in this life and joy in the eternities. All things that are good, come from God. In Moroni 7:12 we read, “Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.” We believe that in order to come unto Christ and return to live with God again someday, we need to look for the good and avoid the evil at all costs.

    I am a believer. I have hope in my salvation through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I want to live a life worthy of the rewards promised to all the children of God. I look forward with faith and hope in the blessings of eternal life. I am so grateful that I have the gospel in my life and that I have been blessed to believe in the truths found in the articles of faith.

    Joseph Smith-History (Part 4)

    This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-History part 3).

    At this point in the history of Joseph Smith, he has witnessed the first vision, experienced a lot of persecution, had several visits from the Angel Moroni regarding the plates of Gold, had the location of the plates revealed and been prepared to be a prophet, seer and revelator in the latter-days. This record continues:

    55 As my father’s worldly circumstances were very limited, we were under the necessity of laboring with our hands, hiring out by day’s work and otherwise, as we could get opportunity. Sometimes we were at home, and sometimes abroad, and by continuous labor were enabled to get a comfortable maintenance.
    56 In the year 1823 my father’s family met with a great affliction by the death of my eldest brother, Alvin. In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal, who lived in Chenango county, State of New York. He had heard something of a silver mine having been opened by the Spaniards in Harmony, Susquehanna county, State of Pennsylvania; and had, previous to my hiring to him, been digging, in order, if possible, to discover the mine. After I went to live with him, he took me, with the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month, without success in our undertaking, and finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger.
    57 During the time that I was thus employed, I was put to board with a Mr. Isaac Hale, of that place; it was there I first saw my wife (his daughter), Emma Hale. On the 18th of January, 1827, we were married, while I was yet employed in the service of Mr. Stoal.
    58 Owing to my continuing to assert that I had seen a vision, persecution still followed me, and my wife’s father’s family were very much opposed to our being married. I was, therefore, under the necessity of taking her elsewhere; so we went and were married at the house of Squire Tarbill, in South Bainbridge, Chenango county, New York. Immediately after my marriage, I left Mr. Stoal’s, and went to my father’s, and farmed with him that season.

    During the four years in which he was being prepared to receive the gold plates, he continued to work for his family. Joseph seems to have been a good worker, and a good example of dedication and great work ethic to those who would later join the church. It is my understanding that Alvin, who died just months after the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph for the first time, was very close and beloved to Joseph and that loosing him was very difficult. This love and sadness at his death, would prove to be a great testimony builder when eventually the revelation that work could be done for those who had already died without the opportunity to have the blessings of priesthood ordinances. Alvin was a great example to Joseph, and he helped to keep Joseph committed to his calling. It would be good for all of us to try to be that kind of example in the lives of our family members, both by the things we teach others and the things we do.

    Joseph met Emma and about 2 years later, they were married. This was in the same year that he would receive the plates. I look up to Emma for her courage in the face of difficulty. Even before they were married, I am sure that the persecution placed on Joseph became something that she had to deal with as well. I imagine that it was really difficult at times and she must have been a strong woman to be able to stick with him through it all. She lost the approval of her family when she chose to be married to Joseph and that is something that can be extremely difficult to deal with. She is a great example to me of one who is supportive of the priesthood and callings even when it meant extreme trials and heartache at times.

    59 At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected.
    60 I soon found out the reason why I had received such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call for them. For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me. Every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose. The persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them from me if possible. But by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him; and he has them in his charge until this day, being the second day of May, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight.

    Joseph was allowed to have the plates for translation, just as he had been promised. With his calling to translate the plates, he was also given the duty to keep them safe no matter what. Joseph must have been a very trustworthy man, with only the best of intentions in his heart. This was such an enormous responsibility that was given to the prophet. Because of this, Satan worked extremely hard to get men to try every way possible to get the plates from him. His persecution turned into physical violence against him, raids against his family home and more. Joseph recognized the hand of God in keeping them safe until he was able to return them to Moroni. I am sure there was a heavy weight until that day, when he no longer had to protect the plates from the hands of wicked men.

    61 The excitement, however, still continued, and rumor with her thousand tongues was all the time employed in circulating falsehoods about my father’s family, and about myself. If I were to relate a thousandth part of them, it would fill up volumes. The persecution, however, became so intolerable that I was under the necessity of leaving Manchester, and going with my wife to Susquehanna county, in the State of Pennsylvania. While preparing to start—being very poor, and the persecution so heavy upon us that there was no probability that we would ever be otherwise—in the midst of our afflictions we found a friend in a gentleman by the name of Martin Harris, who came to us and gave me fifty dollars to assist us on our journey. Mr. Harris was a resident of Palmyra township, Wayne county, in the State of New York, and a farmer of respectability.
    62 By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pennsylvania; and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them, which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father, in the month of December, and the February following.

    Because of the help of others, Joseph was able to remove himself from the intense persecution at his family home. He and his wife moved to Pennsylvania, where her family lived, because Martin Harris gave them the money to do so. Once in Pennsylvania, Joseph was able to work on the translation of the Book of Mormon by the power of God with the use of the Urim and Thummim. He had translated several characters in the first few months of working on this. It was at this time, that Martin, who had become a close friend to Joseph and acted as his scribe, asked the prophet to let him show some of the translated pages to others. After asking the Lord twice with the response that he was not to do this, the prophet asked again and was told that he could let Martin take the pages.

    63 Sometime in this month of February, the aforementioned Mr. Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off the plates, and started with them to the city of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters, I refer to his own account of the circumstances, as he related them to me after his return, which was as follows:
    64 “I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.
    65 “He then said to me, ‘Let me see that certificate.’ I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.”

    Martin had hoped to receive the proof from wise men, so that others would believe the translation was true. The problem with this, is that it assumes that men can gain a full understanding of a spiritual thing from men. Martin Harris did not understand at this point, that the only way for people to believe the translations were true, would be by the power of the spirit, not by the word of man. This event of talking with a learned man who could not read a sealed book, was fulfillment of scripture. In Isaiah 29:11 it says, “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed”.

    While away from Joseph, Martin lost the translated pages to the hands of wicked men. Martin was removed from his calling as the scribe for Joseph. This time became a trial of faith and obedience for Joseph, who had to sincerely repent for what he had done before he could begin translating again. We should never trust in the word of men over the promises that are given to us by God. This lesson teaches us that the Lord will allow us to have the things we truly desire, and if those desires are not the best He will give us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. This learning is meant to refine us into more obedient and faithful followers of Christ. I am grateful for the lessons that I have been able to learn from my own mistakes. I recognize that the pain that goes along with those lessons is necessary for our growth and that I will probably go through a lot more of these lessons throughout the rest of my life.

    More on the Teachings of Paul

    I know that we are all sinners. We cannot be with God if we are unpure because of sin. If we do not repent or become justified (made righteous in the sight of God) through the redemption of Jesus Christ, we will remain in our sins at the last day. We are justified through our faith. Or rather we are forgiven of our sins when we act in faith and repent. The atonement has made this possible to all mankind.

    I know that simply going through the motions of partaking of the sacrament does not bring us a renewal of our covenants that we made at baptism. It is the faith we act in repentance of the things we have done wrong, which allow our partaking of the sacrament to work as a renewal of those covenants. We will not grow in our testimony or in knowledge if we live the law without faith in Christ and His gospel.

    I know that there is no value to sin when their is no law. The commandments clarify what is sin. Once we know the commandments we are held accountable for any sins against that commandment. If we do not have a commandment for something, we cannot sin against it. Therefore, there is no judgement held against us for that things and we have no need to be justified for it.

    Baptism

    I know that baptism, after the pattern of the Savior, is like putting the natural man within us to rest and rising again as a new person who has made a covenant and promise to live a righteous life. We are able to start fresh and focus our lives on God’s will for us.

    I know that I am a child of God and I have the ability to progress to become more like Him. I know that if I am doing the things that are right, that my trials and adversity will be for my benefit and learning. If, however, I am knowingly committing sin, my trials will not have the benefit until I have changed my ways. If we are righteous, we will continue to turn to Christ and feel his love and support through any difficult times that come our way.

    I know that missionary work is so important to the salvation of all the children of God. Without missionary work, those who are accepting are not able to hear the gospel. Without hearing the gospel, they cannot choose if they will believe it or not. Without believing it, they cannot fully repent of the things they do wrong or make a change of heart. Without repentance they cannot be baptized. Without baptism they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. I am so grateful for missionaries and for the opportunity that I have to share my own testimony with you out there in the world and do my own little piece of the Lord’s missionary work.

    Here are some of the things I know I need to work on being, in order to become like Jesus Christ and return to live with Him and our Father in Heaven some day (according to a scripture chain for the qualities of a Saint):

  • Be worthy and dedicated to your callings
  • Be submissive, lowly and meek – humble, quiet and gentle
  • Be patient and enduring well through difficulties and trials
  • Be restrained in our emotions to others – temper your emotions
  • Be loving and charitable
  • Be unified in the Spirit
  • Be peaceful
  • Be refined, courteous, and polite
  • Be faithful
  • Be honest in your feelings and love others
  • Be disgusted by evil and cling to those things that are good
  • Be kind and affectionate
  • Be respectful of others
  • Be a good worker, diligent, active, productive, and involved
  • Be passionate in spiritual things
  • Be hopeful
  • Be patient through adversity – be a thriver
  • Be prayerful and fast
  • Be generous and giving, especially to those in need, and even to those who are our enemies
  • Be hospitable and welcoming
  • Be forgiving of those who do you wrong, pray for them, bless them, and do not try to get back at them
  • Be happy for others when things go well for them
  • Be there for those who are suffering
  • Be thoughtful of those who have less
  • Be smart, knowledgable, and wise
  • Be real, genuine, and modest in your knowledge
  • Be honest in all things at all times
  • Be righteous and overcome evil with good
  • Be open to the promptings of the spirit and follow them
  • Be a partaker of the atonement, through repentance and a change of heart
  • Be better than what comes naturally
  • Be dedicated to the work of the Lord and willing to submit yourself to His will – consecrate and sanctify yourself
  • Be virtuous, clean and pure
  • Be a member of God’s church and attend your meetings
  • Be organized and prepared
  • Be a teacher of all that is good, especially the gospel – testify to others and preach repentance when appropriate
  • Be like God
  • Obedience

    Note: I’m going to try to do more than one chapter from the Gospel Principles manual this week, because I just moved to a new ward and they are a bit ahead of where I was.

    To read the entire lesson go here: Obedience

    When I was in my youth, this principle was often referred to as the big one and was discussed often. What is obedience? It is “the trait of being willing to obey“. To obey is to follow a command, rule, direction, etc.. We can obey anyone. Part of the test in life is for us to discern right and wrong, and then choose to obey either God or Satan. Our hope should be to be obedient to God, so that we can return to live with Him.

    What difference does it make to obey willingly rather than unwillingly?

    The gospel is based upon one of the greatest eternal gifts that we have been given, which is agency. Our willingness to obey, shows that we are using that agency to choose to follow the plan that God has provided for us. Anything we do unwillingly is a forfeit of that gift of agency and entirely against the design of God for our eternal happiness. If we do all that is right, with an unwilling heart, and earn the reward for our actions, we will not experience the full joy of the reward because our hearts were not in it. However, it would be a shame not to obey God at all, because disobedience to God’s commands means obedience to the desires of Satan and great suffering beginning at the day of judgement. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says, “… Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (v. 13). For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

    Our duty in this life is to keep the commandments, because that is how we will be judged. In the lesson we read the following:

    It is better to obey the commandments because we fear punishment than not to obey them at all. But we will be much happier if we obey God because we love Him and want to obey Him. When we obey Him freely, He can bless us freely.

    The state of our happiness during as well as after this life, will depend on if and how we choose to obey in this life.

    How can we increase our desire to obey?

    There are a few ways that I can think of to increase my desire to obey. The first, is to discover the love I have for the Lord. I do this by learning of Him, the plan of salvation, the atonement, and so on, through scripture study and study of other words from church leaders. The more I learn of the reasons that God has done what he has, for me, the greater my desire is to obey. Second, is that sometimes I don’t know why I should obey something, but I understand that being obedient is better than being disobedient. In this case, I increase my desire by putting the commandment to the test. Every law that is given by God, has a blessing that will come from it. In Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21 we read,

    20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
    21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

    Sometimes if I need the desire to obey, I will try following that law with the hope that I will be blessed for my faithfulness. Then when I see the blessings come, which I always do in some way or another, my desire to follow that commandment is much greater.

    Why do we not always need to understand the Lord’s purposes in order to be obedient?

    As part of our learning process in this life, God gives us the opportunity to grow and progress. One of the ways He does this is by giving us commandments for which we may not understand the purposes. In these cases, it may be several years before we understand why we have been told to do something, if we understand at all in this life. In Abraham 3:25 we read, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them”. Our obedience to the commandments, especially when we do not understand the purpose, proves to God that we have faith in Him. It also proves to God that we can be trustworthy. The Lord can trust us to do His will, and therefore to help Him accomplish His great work.

    When has the Lord prepared a way for you to obey Him?

    In the Book of Mormon, Nephi was a great example to us of how the Lord prepares a way for us to be obedient to his commands. In 1 Nephi 17:3 we read, “And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.” As I have thought about this question, I have realized that the personal preparation that the Lord provides for me to obey Him, usually comes when I have been given direction by the Spirit of God. Years ago I was given the prompting that I needed to be the person to take care of my daughter during the day, and at that time I was working full time and had a friend watching her. It was weighing heavy upon my heart and mind. I honestly thought that it would be an impossible thing for our family, but I wanted to be obedient to that inspiration. The next thing I new, I had the impression to do something that took me away from work for several days. Our family was able to manage fine and so I took a leap of faith, quit work, and have found that everything has worked out by following this direction. It has not been easy, but we have been greatly blessed. This experience has felt like a stepping stone to many other promptings that have come. This one experience has prepared me for other promptings, and has given me much greater faith and hope in being obedient no matter what.

    When have you received blessings as a result of your obedience to commandments that seemed small?

    “And by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given unto the saints, to possess it forever and ever (D&C 103:7, emphasis added).” Not all of God’s commandments are written out plainly in the scriptures. Some of His commandments are given as direction from our modern prophets, who he has said our His mouthpiece on the earth. One of the things that the prophets have said is for us to have family home evening. This seemed like a small thing to my family, that we did not decide to make this a regular thing in our lives until a few years ago when we realized its importance. As I have heard many say, the blessings don’t usually come from the particular lessons that we have in family night or the specific things we do, they come from being together and taking the time to strengthen our relationships through learning and growing together. I believe this to be true. One of the greatest blessings I have seen in my family, is the desire that my children have to be together as a family more often because they have enjoyed being together for family night.

    What examples come to mind when you think of Jesus Christ obeying His Father?

    The Savior was continually living by obedience to His Father. He was mortal and experienced temptation just as we do. The salvation of all mankind was dependent on his willingness to be obedient. In 2 Nephi 31:7 we read, “Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.” The greatest example to me, was in the garden of Gethsemane. The record in the scriptures teaches us that the Savior asked for the cup to be removed from Him if possible, and yet he continued through the Atonement, humbly and in complete obedience to the directions given to him by God. Even the Savior had to prove Himself by being obedient.

    How can remembering the Savior’s example help us be obedient?

    In 2 Nephi 31:16 we read, “And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.” It helps to remember that Jesus Christ did all that He did because he loved us. His love was expressed through obedience. This example should inspire us, because no matter what is asked of us, we will never be made to experience the things that He did for us. If He was willing to be obedient to save me, than I should be willing to be obedient to keep His suffering from being in vain. When we remember His example and then try harder to do what is right, we show our love in return. John 14:15 reads, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” I want to show my love, by not being the reason for more of the Savior’s pain and suffering.

    What are the consequences of obeying or disobeying the Lord’s commandments?

    Both obedience and disobedience bring consequences to any commandment of the Lord. Some of the consequences of obedience are blessings that the Lord knows we need, unrestrained agency, and the opportunity to progress and do more. In John, Chapter 8, the Savior teaches us one of the consequences of obedience.

    31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
    32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

    When we are obedient, the spirit can teach us truth, which will keep us free from Satan’s deceptions. The Lord has also promised us the opportunity to prosper is we are obedient (see Mosiah 2:22). In Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 we read, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” For every promised blessing that is given to us by God, He is bound to His end of the promise, but when we choose to disobey, He does not have to give us anything. Consequences of disobedience include this forfeiting of those same blessings God has planned for us, separation from the Lord and the Spirit, giving Satan allowance to bind us to his will, and halting our own personal progression (D&C 1:14; 93:39; 132:6).

    What does the phrase “endure to the end” mean to you?

    In the Doctrine and Covenants, we learn that eternal life is the blessing of keeping the commandments and enduring to the end (see D&C 14:7). To endure to the end, is a phrase we use a lot in the gospel, and to me it means that once we’ve made all the covenants we must make in this life, we need to remain firm in the faith and be continuously striving to follow the commandments until the end of our mortal existence. It doesn’t mean being perfect every day, otherwise there would be no reason to be here any longer. It means trying our best and then repenting and making things right when we make mistakes, which will happen. It means getting back up and going forward again, every time we fall or take a step off of the path that God would have us follow.

    What can we do to stay true to gospel principles even when it is unpopular to do so? How can we help children and youth stay true to gospel principles?

    We all have a natural desire to be loved and accepted by others. When we make the gospel principles a priority in life, we will often times be faced with decisions to do what is right or do what is the popular thing to do. I believe that this will continue to be more difficult in our time because we are getting so much closer to the second coming. The things that I believe will help us to stay true, is to read the scriptures, pray regularly and often, attend church and partake of the sacrament every week, have family home evening, go to the temple, serve others and so on. If we do the more simple things, our testimonies will be strengthened and we will be able to remain strong and true even when others mock us for doing what is right. As parents and leaders of children and youth, we need to help them to remain true as well. Some things we can do include living by example, giving encouragement for choosing the right, teaching true gospel principles and also teach how they can discern for themselves when other situations arise. Even the Savior had seen the example of His mother. In Luke 8 we read the following:

    19 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.
    20 And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
    21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

    We need to follow the example of loving parents and also our leaders, such as King Benjamin, who said the following:

    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 God hath spoken it. (Mosiah 2:41)

    We need to teach the younger generations that keeping the commandments will make them the happiest that they could possibly be.

    I know that in my own life, I am the most happy when I am doing what is right. Being obedient to the commandments has helped my faith to grow, my relationships to be strengthened, and my hope in the plan of salvation to become rooted in my heart. When I have chosen to be disobedient, I have consistently become unhappier and more withdrawn from those that love me. I know that enduring to the end through obedience to God, is the only way to remain on the path that will lead me to return to my Father in Heaven and my Savior.

    D&C Section 121

    The prophet, Joseph Smith, had been captured and put in prison in Liberty, Missouri. He had been put in prison after the governor of Missouri, Governor Boggs, had issued the extermination order of all Mormons. The prophet and other men of the church were put in jail without any charges against them. Early in 1839, after several months in the jail and attempts to be helped by the government, the prophet prayed for the Saints and received revelation in their behalf, both of which became this section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

    1 O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?
    2 How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?
    3 Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?
    4 O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us.
    5 Let thine anger be kindled against our enemies; and, in the fury of thine heart, with thy sword avenge us of our wrongs.
    6 Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever.

    This is the prayer that the prophet gave on the behalf of the saints. The saints had already been promised that the Lord would avenge them and have compassion on the righteous. Here, Joseph Smith, was pleading with the Lord. I can imagine the complete sincerity of these words and I am sure that his pleading came with some tears and a lot of humility. They really were made to suffer a lot at the hands of wicked men.

    7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
    8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
    9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.
    10 Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.

    I think often of the words of the Lord’s response to him. First, the Lord reminds him that this life is only a small portion of eternity. When we face trials, they feel like they consume everything and they can go on for many years, but they are only a small sliver of time in the eternities. Then the Lord tells Joseph to endure the trials and the rewards will come. The thing that I am often reminded of here, is that he says “endure it well”. When we are faced with trials, it takes more than just suffering through the trial for the reward to come. We must also, endure our trials well. We must show faith, and persevere through them. We must continue to do the will of God, even though during the trials Satan may tempt us to give up, and give in to misery. We will all have trials. Adversity is something that helps us to grow and progress. Through our trials, we learn to be more like the Savior. Personally, my trials cause me to humbly realize the things of real importance in this life, and those things that truly matter for my eternal life. The prophet is reminded to look to those who supported him. We need to find strength in our own friends as we go through our trials. Let others push us onward, let them help when we need it, they will also be blessed for the service they give us in these times. The prophet was not alone in trials and none of the saints were alone either. They had one another for support and strength.

    When we are faced with adversity, we need to try our best to learn from it. We need to stand tall through it. If we do not act in faith as we are being tested and tried, we will not receive the promised blessings from God. Moreover, when we see others who are struggling, we need to be there for them. Our support and love can make a world of difference to those who are seeking comfort and relief during their own trials.

    11 And they who do charge thee with transgression, their hope shall be blasted, and their prospects shall melt away as the hoar frost melteth before the burning rays of the rising sun;
    12 And also that God hath set his hand and seal to change the times and seasons, and to blind their minds, that they may not understand his marvelous workings; that he may prove them also and take them in their own craftiness;
    13 Also because their hearts are corrupted, and the things which they are willing to bring upon others, and love to have others suffer, may come upon themselves to the very uttermost;
    14 That they may be disappointed also, and their hopes may be cut off;
    15 And not many years hence, that they and their posterity shall be swept from under heaven, saith God, that not one of them is left to stand by the wall.
    16 Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.
    17 But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves.

    The Lord was not pleased with those who falsely accused the prophet and his followers. He promised that they would be cursed and suffer for their actions. All things that they cared about would be lost to them. They were servants of sin, or in other words, they were doing the works of Satan, by persecuting the righteous. Sadly, many of those who stood against the saints at this time, were people who had once been members of the church and had fallen away into apostasy. We cannot always think that we will live righteously just because we are doing well right now. It takes constant awareness and strengthening of our testimonies to continue to believe the gospel is true. If we are continuing to seek for the kingdom of God, he will help us through our adversity and those who stand against us will not be able to overcome us.

    18 And those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death—
    19 Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house.
    20 Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them.
    21 They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation.
    22 It had been better for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks, and they drowned in the depth of the sea.
    23 Wo unto all those that discomfort my people, and drive, and murder, and testify against them, saith the Lord of Hosts; a generation of vipers shall not escape the damnation of hell.
    24 Behold, mine eyes see and know all their works, and I have in reserve a swift judgment in the season thereof, for them all;
    25 For there is a time appointed for every man, according as his works shall be.

    Those who knowingly stand against the righteous would have suffered less by drowning in the sea, then suffering at the hand of the Lord. I know that they would not be worthy of the priesthood or temple blessings, but I think it is interesting that their families from generation to generation, would not be able to have the priesthood. They would be cursed for their wickedness. As I studied on this, I can see that this is natural, because the families would be raised by those who were wicked and taught of their ways. It takes a mighty change of heart to break this kind of cycle. However, it is not impossible. If their children were to live righteously, they would not be held accountable for the things which others have done before them. The likelihood that they would break the cycle in the closer generations, was really unlikely. Their judgement would be harsh for their choices.

    26 God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;
    27 Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory;
    28 A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.
    29 All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    30 And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars—
    31 All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months, and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times—
    32 According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence and into his immortal rest.

    The righteous would be blessed with amazing revelations. There will be a time when all things will be known to us, and nothing will be held back from our knowledge. That time will be awesome. We live in a time today, when all the blessings of the different dispensations of time, are available to us. We have every ability to prepare ourselves for this knowledge that is to come, if we are willing to live worthy.

    33 How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.
    34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
    35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
    36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
    37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
    38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
    39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
    40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

    Man cannot defy the laws of heaven to stop the work from progressing. No one who persecuted the saints then, or who tries to do it now, can stop the spirit from influencing the righteous. No person has the ability to stop the spirit from giving knowledge to those who have made and kept covenants with God. The one thing we must learn, is that the blessings of heaven come through the power of the priesthood, which is only available to those who are righteous. The spirit will not be where there is unrighteousness, therefore the priesthood will not be with the unrighteous.

    Verse 34 is a scripture that is quoted often in the church. Many people have been called to do wonderful things in this life, but only those who are worthy of them, will be chosen to do them. Many men were called to bear the priesthood while in the pre-existence, but only the worthy are chosen to hold it and use it in this life. These verses seem to focus in on the priesthood, but it does apply to all members of the Church. In my study, it talks about those who are chosen being those who are dependable. If we are chosen, we will magnify our callings and be dependable in all things that we are asked to do. This is not selective. We are not dependable if we only do the things that we want to do and we ignore our other duties. I have been called to be several things both in the home and at church. I am only chosen, if I do all of them to the best of my ability. If I find that I cannot do it on my own, I need to learn to trust the Lord, because he will give me the strength and help to be able to do them. We can actively become those who are chosen, by seeking after the things of God and for his approval. Then, we will see that we need to be humble and repent, and magnify our callings through a greater service and love for others. If we faithfully show our worthiness to be chosen, we will feel the spirit more often and God will allow us to have more authority and even greater blessings.

    41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
    42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
    43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
    44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
    45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
    46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

    The priesthood is not for the power of men. It is not a power that should be used to take control of others. In fact, as soon as the intents are for this power, the priesthood will leave that man. There are purposes and deeds that the priesthood is for, and all of them have to do with the will of God. This is the pattern of the priesthood whether at church, work, out in public, or in the home. Men who hold the priesthood should try to influence others with gentleness, meekness, and love.

    The verses here are quoted often in church, including the phrase “reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost”. In the dictionary, it says that the word ‘betimes’ means “early: in good time . . . in a short time, soon”. When the spirit impresses on a priesthood bearer, that he should reprove or rebuke, he should do it soon or early enough to correct behavior. Then that rebuke must be followed up with an increase in love. It is important with those whom we have stewardships over, that we point out the things that must be stopped, but it is also important that they know that it is because of our love for them and our desire to help them be better.

    As members of the church, and especially those who hold the holy priesthood, we should be full of charity and love towards others. Our confidence should be strong for God, not for men. This means that we need to live our lives so that when we are rewarded, we will be confident with God. If we are not, and instead have built our confidence in man, we will be rewarded with a lesser glory, and one that we can be comfortable with forever. If we live by these principles of love, charity, meekness, faith, gentleness, humility, and so on, we will be blessed with the companionship of the Holy Ghost, exaltation, and great blessings for eternity.

    I believe that this things are true. I have seen great blessings from the priesthood. I have felt the lack of the priesthood, when unrighteous dominion has been exercised. I trust that the rewards we all received after this life, will be those we worked for in this life. I believe that those who knowingly fight against truth and righteousness, will receive their just reward. Most of all I know that God loves us. He loves me. I know that God knows what is best for us and He wants nothing more than to bless us with great things beyond our understanding. I know that He wants me to do what is right today. I know that He wants me to be kind and loving, gentle and charitable. I know that if I am these things, He will bless me.


    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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