Posts Tagged 'Eternal Family'

Ponderizing – Week 8 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is
2 Nephi 25:26.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Jesus-Portrait

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everything I do to live my faith and my religion, revolves around the understanding that Jesus is the Christ. That He is the Lord who, under the direction of His Father, created the world I live on today. That Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, who spoke to the prophets of old, and cared for His people. He came down to the earth, to live and die for all mankind. He has made it possible for all men to live forever as resurrected beings. He is the only way that we have the opportunity to return and live with our Father in Heaven for all eternity. This opportunity can only come through our acceptance of His infinite atonement. He has done his part, but we need to choose to accept Christ into our lives and live faithful to Him and His commandments. Through the atonement, we can repent and be forgiven of all our sins. The faith and hope I have in Jesus Christ, has blessed my life beyond anything I ever thought possible.

As a covenant member of the church of Christ, I have a duty to share that understanding with others around me. This scripture is one of my favorite verses in all of the scriptures, because I am a parent. I personally find so much joy in believing in Christ, and I have a great desire to share all that I can about this with my children. I believe that families on earth, can be families in heaven. The gospel teaches that each person much choose this for themselves, and so if I hope to have my family with me forever, I have a responsibility to teach them of Christ and the power of His atonement. How will my children know Him, if I do not speak of Him? How will they know that He can bring the greatest joy, if I do not rejoice in Him? How will my children know that He is still actively leading His people today, if I do not teach them about the prophesies of Him that have come to pass and are still to come? How will they know where to go to learn of Christ, if I do not show them the importance of reading the holy scriptures and modern revelations, where the prophets’ writings of Him can be found? How will they know, that Christ is the only way to becoming and remaining free of the bondage of sin, if I do not do all that I can to teach them this truth? This freedom is the only way to have true happiness in our lives. This is eternal happiness.

There are places that people can learn of these things without their parents, such as church, but the best place for children to learn is within their own homes. A parent, who has already gained a testimony of Christ and his mission, would be shirking their greatest responsibility by selfishly keeping this knowledge to themselves. I understand that whether I have my own children or not, my responsibility would still be to help others in my sphere of influence, to learn these eternal truths, because everyone should have the same opportunities to learn them if possible.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Jesus taught, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) My heart yearns to tell the world as Alma’s of old. “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.” (Alma 29:1-2) In no other place does this mean more to me, then in my home. Jesus Christ, who’s birth we celebrate at this special time of the year, is the way.

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Do We Understand Our Divine Destiny?

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.

My next question in this series is do we understand our divine destiny? I thought I’d break this question down first to know just what to look for. To understand something is defined as perceiving “the significance, explanation or cause of” that thing. Are we aware of just how significant our divine destiny is? Do we have a knowledge of what that divine destiny is? Do we know why we have that divine destiny?

Starting first with a knowledge of what our divine destiny is, something divine is like God, devoted to God and sacred. Our destiny is those things that will happen to us in the future. More specifically, the destiny we are referring to is what will happen to us after this life in mortality. Our divine destiny therefore, is what is going to happen to us after this life, that will be like our Father in Heaven and sacred. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have been given the scriptures to teach us what that divine destiny is.

In 2 Nephi, chapter 9, the plan is laid out for us.

6 For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.
7 Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.
8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.
9 And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.
10 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.
11 And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave.
12 And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.
13 O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect.
14 Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness.
15 And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God.
16 And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.
17 O the greatness and the justice of our God! For he executeth all his words, and they have gone forth out of his mouth, and his law must be fulfilled.
18 But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.

The destiny which awaits us after this life, begins with resurrection. We cannot become like God, unless we are resurrected as He was. Jesus Christ was the first to be resurrected and because he overcame death, we all have the divine destiny to be resurrected. After that resurrection, we will all be judged for our works. Those who lived righteously, will fulfill their divine destiny because of their deeds in this mortal life. The divine destiny of those who follow Jesus Christ, is an inheritance of the kingdom of God and joy for eternity. This is not where the divine destiny ends. The inheritance of all that God has to give, includes great power. In Doctrine and Covenants 132:19, we read of the promises to those who take upon themselves the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in this life. It reads, “… 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—…and if ye abide in my covenant, … 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. (emphasis added)” The power of God to have spiritual seed forever, is the divine destiny of all the faithful and covenant people of God. This means that part of our divine destiny, is to be spiritual parents of countless children who may inhabit worlds without end. It is the opportunity to forever be with our families we love so dearly. That is joy that is eternal.

This is what we can hope for as we travel this mortal journey. Are we aware of just how significant this divine destiny is, or why we even have a divine destiny? We learn from the scriptures, that this is the purpose of our being here. 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.” The work of God and the purpose of sending us here to this earth, is to give us the opportunity to gain immortality and eternal life. The first, immortality, has been accomplished for all mankind, by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He experienced the resurrection and caused that all of us will be resurrected no matter what. The second, eternal life, is the rest of our divine destiny that I wrote of above. In Abraham 3, the purpose for us being here is written as follows:

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.

We are here to prove that we can be faithful and obedient to God, so that we can have the glory of God forever, or in other words, so that we can fulfill our divine destiny.

I wonder what it would be like to have just a glimpse of life in the pre-mortal world. From the gospel of Jesus Christ, we know that we are here because we chose to follow the Savior at that time. This life is our first estate that the scripture above talks about. We were obedient to God’s plan and used our agency to follow it. Our spirits, with the unveiled knowledge we had gained in the pre-existence, wanted to have this opportunity to show that we could choose for ourselves to return to live with God again. That desire is there in each of us. As we walk this life, we can sometimes loose our way because life and all it entails, fills our view and clouds the goal. I wonder how it would be if we could truly understand, that we all were excited to strive for our divine destiny. We were striving for that, because we understood then what our alternative was. Obviously, having that glimpse would negate the purpose of our being here to learn and grow through our choices, but it is something interesting to think about.

The plan of God offers an opportunity to use our agency, which requires a choice. The choice of our divine destiny, or a destiny without God and godliness. Alma 41 describes the other destiny in the following passage:

2 I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.
3 And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—
5 The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.
6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.

Once we are resurrected, we are judged, and all that is good will be restored to good, endless happiness, and an inheritance of the kingdom of God. This is our divine destiny. But, all that is evil is restored to evil, endless misery, and an inheritance of the kingdom of the devil. The alternative to all the blessings of heaven, is an eternity of misery. If we could know in our hearts that this gospel of our destiny is true, I don’t think a single soul would seek after the things of the devil. That is the test of this life. It is living in faith, that will bring us our reward.

As people of God, we need to come to a personal understanding of our divine destiny. I believe that we are all seeking for happiness, but it is only when we seek after things that are Godly, that we will be rewarded with Godliness and true happiness for all eternity. It is so important for us to search the scriptures and learn what God wants for us individually. I have a testimony of the plan of salvation and I know that if I really, truly do my best to keep my eye on the goal of a divine destiny, my Savior and Redeemer will help me to achieve it. I want to live today, in a way that will keep me in line with that ultimate prize. I know that the blessing of returning to be with God again and receiving power and glory that He offers to us, is what makes this life worth living well.

Do We Rejoice in the Blessings of the Temple?

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.

The next question in this series is do we rejoice in the blessings of the temple. I absolutely love the temple. In the LDS church, we have temples all over the world, which are dedicated to the work of salvation. There are certain saving ordinances that can only be performed in the temple, both for the living and those who have died. All are invited to enjoy the blessings of the temple and can do so, if they are found worthy to enter the holy and sacred house of the Lord. In Psalms 24 we read the following:

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.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (emphasis added)

To answer the question for today, we have to understand what some of the blessings of the temple are. The first one I think of, based on my description above of what the temple is ultimately for, is the eternal blessings that come from the ordinances performed there. With the covenants made in the temple, we have promised blessings that await us. The one that I look forward to the most, is eternal families. We believe that through the work in the temple, our earthly family relationships can be ours for eternity. In Doctrine and Covenants 138:48 we read, “Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.” It may be hard to see this as a blessing to rejoice in right now, but there is great hope that comes from this knowledge. It is a huge blessing to be able to look at my loved ones and feel that even if we are parted because of death or distance, we will see each other again some day and enjoy the blessings of heaven with one another.

The temple is a house of glory. When we make covenants with the Lord, the faithful are promised to receive great glory. In the LDS faith, we believe in an order to the kingdom of God. That order divides His kingdom into three degrees of glory. They are the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial glories. The one we are aiming for, which is the glory in which the faithful, covenant, and righteous will dwell, is the celestial glory. We believe that within that glory, there are three degrees. All the faithful, who have made their first covenants (baptism by water and the spirit), will qualify for the lowest degree in that glory. Those who have made greater covenants will be worthy of the greater degrees of glory. Ultimately, we believe that the covenants of celestial marriage, will allow the faithful to be worthy of the highest degree of glory within the celestial kingdom. Doctrine and Covenants 131 starts with the following:

1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

I find additional hope in this knowledge. This highest degree of glory, is where our Father in Heaven dwells. In Doctrine and Covenants 97 we read the following:

15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.

I see it as a great blessing to have hope in living with God again someday, because I have made and kept the covenants in this life to be worthy of His glory.

So, I guess when I think of these two things I have already mentioned, the blessing in this life is hope for things to come after this life. In Romans 8:24 we read, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” Do we rejoice in the blessing of hope? I certainly do. My life has so much more purpose because of this hope. I find that I devote more energies to my family than that natural woman inside me would give. I am more devoted to learning about and living at the level of personal righteousness that God would have me live. This gives me more strength and a greater desire to face each day and challenge with courage and confidence.

The temple is a house of prayer. I cannot even begin to number the blessings that come from prayer. But prayer is something that is not excluded to the temple. Why rejoice in the blessings of prayer from the temple then? The temple is the house of the Lord. Aside from our homes, there is no place that is more sacred on earth. The peace of the temple shuts out the volume and distractions of the world. It is in that setting that we can feel closest to the spirit. Because of that peace, we can show the greatest reverence in our conversation with our Father in Heaven. There, we should be able to hear the answers we are seeking, with ease. There is a video I watched yesterday, which went right along with this topic.

Our Eternal Life

There were a few things that I got from this, worth mentioning here. First, I know that most people are seeking for happiness. We want to have our own ‘happily ever after’. Most people do not realize where the real, lasting happily ever after can be found. I know that this can only be found through the temple. In Isaiah 56:7 we read, “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” God wishes to bless us with the things that we desire physically and spiritually. When we are worthy to enter the temple, our desires will naturally be more focused on the things of an eternal nature and our dreams will be what God wants for us as well. When we take our dreams and desires with us to the temple and ask God in sincere faith, he will give us answers and will bless us for our faithful obedience. These answers and blessings will lead us to our dreams becoming a reality. They will lead us to becoming the person that God would have us be. Who wouldn’t want to rejoice in the blessings of getting what they truly desire, or in knowing (not just believing) that those dreams will be fulfilled someday?

Doctrine and Covenants 110:7 reads, “For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.” Another blessing of the temple, that goes right along with answers to prayers and fulfillment of our dreams, is the blessings of revelation received. What I mean by this, is that we can receive inspiration we were not even seeking. There have been many times when I have been blessed with some unexpected inspiration, that once followed has led to incredible blessings in my life. One of those thoughts that came from watching the video above, was that the temple is God’s way. Therefore, in the temple, He will guide us to do His will, and to be an instrument in His hands in ways that we had not thought of before. The Lord will manifest his will through the inspiration we receive in the temple.

The video reminded me of additional blessings that come from the temple, for which I am always grateful. When I’ve talked to others about the feelings they get in the temple and from temple service, they often talk about the renewed strength they feel.When we serve in the temple, God blesses us with the fortification and energy of strength to face the world outside. In the temple, we focus on the eternal perspective of life, and that alone gives me greater faith in living my daily life according to God’s desire for me. That faith crushes the fears that I am faced with every day. I am a natural worrier and my tendency is to look always to the worst case scenario first. When I am in the temple, God helps me to recognize that be aware of what that worst case can be is fine, but focusing faith on my Savior will give me the power to have everything work out for the best. In Exodus 15:2 we read, “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” What a blessing it is to be renewed with a greater faith in Jesus the Christ, and to put aside the worries of life to focus on the power of Him who wants me to succeed and be happy.

Another thing that this video caused me to think about, was the blessing of time. In Alma 40:8 we read, “. . . all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.” The eternal perspective we gain in the temple, teaches us that this life is really just a moment in the never-ending life that we are living. Because of this knowledge, there are two lessons that bring tremendous blessings, if applied. First, the experiences of this life have greater value. A blessing of the temple, is learning that we need to spend the time we have focusing on what is most important. This includes things like our relationships with family members, gaining knowledge of all things, and nurturing a greater love for others, which are the things that we will take with us into the eternities. Second, the lesson that we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves. Acts 15:11 reads, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” The grace of God is eternal. We need to trying our best, but God does not expect us to achieve perfection in this life. The path to perfection is eternal. We will continue to progress after we leave this mortal world. If God expected perfection in all things right now, or rather if we all could achieve it in this life, we wouldn’t need to be here. The blessing of time, or rather a better understanding of what time is, brings me so much peace and happiness.

The temple truly is a house of learning. There is so much to be gained there. In Isaiah 2:3, we read, “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” There is an infinite amount of knowledge that we do not have. In the temple, we are given an understanding that we cannot receive in other places. The more often we go, the more we realize just how much we do not know. God blesses us with a knowledge line-upon-line, as we are prepared to receive it. 2 Nephi 28:30 reads, “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” The things that I have learned in the temple, are a blessing beyond measure to me. Gaining the knowledge is empowering and humbling at the same time. In addition, we learn through the covenants we make, that we must use that knowledge for good. We have a duty to build up the kingdom of God and we will not retain that knowledge unless we use it in our lives. The blessings of learning from the temple continue as we live according to the things that we have learned there, to the point that we cannot even realize just how great they are.

I think that the list of blessings from the temple could go on for a while. Deuteronomy 26:11 reads, “And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee . . .”. As people of faith, we should rejoice in the blessings that come from the temple. If you are worthy to enter the Holy House of the Lord, I would hope that you would have a desire to go often and be reminded of these amazing blessings. If you have not yet been to the temple of the Lord, I encourage you to put your life in order to be able to enjoy these blessings for yourself. I am so grateful for the temple. I cannot imagine living in a time or place where this privilege was not available to me. I am inspired by many stories of people who have sacrificed so much to be able to go just once in their lifetime. I am blessed to have several temples close enough to drive there in a matter of hours. The temple that is closest to me has been closed for renovations for a while now, but will be rededicated this coming month. I am excited to take my children to the open house, which is a time before the dedication when anyone can enter the temple and see what it looks like and where we perform our sacred ordinances. I hope that many people will take advantage of this opportunity to see this beautiful temple and feel the spirit that is there.

I feel so much joy when I am in the temple. It is one of the places that I can feel the closest to heaven, and I know that the blessings that I receive from it cannot be numbered. I know that God loves His children. He has given us this great blessing, to give us a place where we can draw closer to Him, make sacred covenants and promises to Him, and show Him just how much we love Him in return.

Here are some additional posts I have done regarding the temple and related topics:

  • Temple Work and Family History
  • Eternal Marriage
  • The Family Can Be Eternal
  • Are we Dedicated to Strengthening Families?

    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.

    Every person is part of both a spiritual family and an earthly family. I believe that families are the most important unit of anything that God has created on this earth. Earthly families have the great potential of being together forever, whether they are just a husband and wife or parents with several children. In respect to the time after the Savior comes again, Doctrine and Covenants 130:2 reads, “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” Because families are so important, it is vital that we work to keep the bonds and relationships strong.

    How do we strengthen our family? When I think of examples of strong families, I think of how they look happy to be together. I believe that when love is tenderly nurtured in the home, joy and happiness are there. In Ecclesiastes 9:9 it says, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.” The reward or portion of the reward we receive in this life, is our family. They are the reason for the work we do and when we love them, we will find true joy. I think love is the key tool to strengthening our families.

    Additionally, one of the greatest sources of strength that we can have in this life, is prayer. Through prayer, the Lord can bless our families to be able to get through any difficulty and to stay strong when times are good as well. Prayer together builds a unity that will be lasting. In 3 Nephi 18:21 we read, “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” My family has been greatly blessed for praying together. Hearing my husband pray on my behalf, gives me support in such a personal way that it shows just how much he cares for me. I believe our children will benefit from hearing us pray for them and all the things they are dealing with in their days. I know it may sound silly, but I truly believe that the ‘family that prays together, stays together’.

    Mark 9:37 says, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” Children are a gift from God. Part of strengthening our families is taking on the responsibility to have them if we are able. I understand that this decision really is between couples and Heavenly Father, but there are so many people in the world today, who are choosing to have careers and focus on worldly things, instead of receiving one of these beautiful spirits into their families. Having children is challenging and difficult, but the life lessons we learn and the growth that we attain will strengthen our families greatly. The earth was created for this purpose. In Isaiah 45:18 we read, “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” The earth serves its purpose when we bring children into the world. I know that having children when we are capable, is one of the greatest ways that we can be strengthened as married couples.

    In a family, strength comes from teaching and learning together. Parents should always be looking for ways to teach their children things that are both spiritual and secular. Learning from one another, sharing understandings, and seeking for answers together, will bring families closer together. In Moses 5:12 it says, “And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.” Our first parents were the first example of teaching all that they knew to their sons and daughters. When we work to teach one another, I believe the Lord will bless us all with greater knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Proverbs 24:5 reads, “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.” I know that this also applies to families as a whole. We should seek for wisdom and knowledge as a family so that we can nourish one another and become stronger as a whole.

    Strengthening our families is helped when we honor one another. In Exodus 20:12, we read the following commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Our parents deserve our honor and respect. Likewise, children need to be respected also. If we say or do anything to tear one another down, instead of saying things to encourage, compliment and uplift each other, we are not adding the strength that our families need. The things we choose to do will reflect greatly on our family name. Moreover, a strong family is one where the individuals live in a way to make the whole family proud. Proverbs 10:1 reads, “. . . A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” I know this goes both ways and as parents we need to remember that we do not want to do anything to shame our children either.

    We strengthen our families by being a good example of righteous principles. Likewise, a bad example can weaken a family. Jacob 2:35 reads, “. . . Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.” Applying the principles of the gospel to our lives makes us stronger as individuals and in turn builds our family up as well. Job 17:9 says, “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.” The Lord blessed the righteous and faithful. When we live righteously, we gain the strength to be more capable of enduring through the difficulties of every day life. As part of the learning process to gain this strength, the Lord will show our families where we need to improve. We learn this in Ether 12:27, which reads, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” When we humble ourselves as families, we make the decisions to change things we do as a group. For example, our family recognized, through inspiration of the spirit, that we had a weakness when it came to the things we chose to watch on tv. When we faithfully humbled ourselves and removed those shows that were not good for us, we grew together as a family. The Lord has promised us that “. . . he that is faithful shall be made strong in every place . . .” (see D&C 66:8).

    Our family will be strengthened when we are actively in defense against Satan and his influence. We are in defense mode when we live the things that the Savior has taught. In Ephesians 6 we read the following:

    10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
    11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

    We need to be vigilant in not allowing Satan’s influence into our families. There is so much in the world today that is working to break the family unit down. Our attitudes, the things we choose to be entertained by, and the worldly things we seek after can break down our family relationships without us even realizing it. Doing things together such as family home evening, scripture study, prayer, attending church, serving others, and wholesome activities, will bring our families closer together and keep Satan’s influences from so easily breaking us down.

    Greater still, our families will be strengthened when we make the choice to be sealed for time and all eternity. As a member of the LDS faith, I believe that God has given us the ability to become forever families. Authorized priesthood holders, in temples of the Lord, are able to bind worthy families eternally to one another and to God. This is a greater commitment than anything we can be a part of in this life. Because my own family is sealed, I am more aware of how the things I choose to do will affect us as a group both in this life and after it. In Malachi 4:6 we read, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” I believe the greater version of this promise can be found in Joseph Smith-History 1:39, which says, “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” These promises can only be realized through the amazing blessings of being sealed as a family. I don’t know what greater source of strength there can be in a family, than to know that they are able to be with each other forever.

    As disciples of Jesus Christ, we should strive to help other families to be strengthened as well. We need to stand up for families in the world today. We should support those things that lead to building families and fight against the evils that seek to drive families apart. Making our families a priority over careers and other extra-curricular activities, shows others the true value of family. We should live as examples of happy families and show others how our families can bring us the most joy and fulfillment in life. Being consistent with our family traditions and such (i.e. family holidays, prayer, game nights, scripture study, dinners, etc.) will stand as a bright example to others. Doing things together like playing, learning, and simply being together, will show others that we care about our family relationships. We need to help others to see that it is never okay to disrespect or dishonor our family members. We should never talk bad about our family members, gossip even if it may be true, or say or do anything that would make them feel bad. Being an example of love towards our family, in our words and actions, will go a long way in building other families up. Moreover, remember that even though we are part of separate earthly families, we are all part of the same spiritual family. The more we can share this gospel principle and that we really can be part of an eternal family, the stronger our spiritual family will be.

    I cannot truly express in words, just how grateful I am for my family. I love my husband and children with all my heart. I am so grateful for my parents and siblings and all that I have learned and continue to learn from them. I rejoice in the hope of being with all of them forever. I am grateful for the things I learn from the Relief Society, and the church and gospel, which help to build and strengthen my family more each day. I hope that others can recognize just how important it is for us to work on strengthening our families and also helping others to have strong families as well.

    Are We Dedicated to Strengthening Marriage?

    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.

    The next question in this series is, are we dedicated to strengthening marriage? What is marriage? Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve, said,

    Marriage is the foundry for social order, the fountain of virtue, and the foundation for eternal exaltation. Marriage has been divinely designated as an eternal and everlasting covenant. Marriage is sanctified when it is cherished and honored in holiness. That union is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God.

    Marriage is the union between a man and woman, which was instituted by God when Adam and Eve were married in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:24 Adam says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Why does it need to be strengthened? In the proclamation to the world on the family it says, “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” Our destiny depends on the family unit which begins with marriage between a man and a woman. In 1 Corinthians 11:11 we read, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” We need one another to achieve all that God has in store for us. As a member of the LDS faith, I believe that marriage has the potential to be an eternal unit that can be forever. My hope in this becoming a reality for me, depends upon the strength of my marriage in this life.

    I think that there are two parts to this question of strengthening marriages. First, do we work to strengthen our own marriage? The world teaches that marriage is a temporary thing, which can come and go as we please, but this is not what God wants marriage to be. Marriage is about working through any and all difficulties together. It is about learning to serve another person in a way that is truly god-like. It involves a lot of patience, forgiveness, love, understanding, dedication, communication and so much more. In Doctrine and Covenants 42:22 it says, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” It is a life-long labor for those who are truly committed.

    To strengthen a marriage, we have to rely on the Lord. Just like all other things in the gospel, if both a husband and wife put God first, their marriage will remain strong as a result. The first step in this, is involving God in the commitment of marriage. I believe that if we are worthy and able, we should make sacred covenants of marriage in the house of the Lord, to be sealed as a couple to God. These covenants must not be taken lightly. If we are sealed in marriage, through proper authority from God, we stand on a stronger foundation than anything else. Next, I firmly believe that with prayer we can do anything, and keeping our marriages strong is not an exception to this. A husband and wife should pray together often. In Matthew 19:6, the Savior teaches, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” A strong marriage is one that turns to God first, and then to one another before depending on any one else. One of the quickest ways for a marriage to loose its strength is for either or both people to turn to something or someone else for strength. This kind of strength will not last and will actually weaken our marriage probably without us even recognizing it. On the other hand, turning to the Lord first will bring a unity that cannot be duplicated.

    There is also a need in marriage, to find joy in one another. In Doctrine and Covenants 25:14, the Lord told Emma Smith something that applies to all men and women in marriage. It reads, “. . . Let thy soul delight in thy husband [or wife], and the glory which shall come upon him [or her].” We strengthen our marriages by spending time together. Going out on dates, taking an interest in what the other enjoys, listening to their hopes and dreams, being intimate, and working together are all things that will bring joy and strength to a marriage. In a strong marriage, we recognize that their are differences between us, and that is perfectly okay. It is our differences that make one another complete. The differences between us and our spouse, will bless us beyond our own understanding. This acceptance of each other, requires unselfish effort on the part of both people in a marriage. We can strengthen our marriages by looking at our spouse the way that God looks at them. We can look for their potential in this life and our eternal lives. When we see them as God sees them, it is so much easier to look past the differences we have and see the amazing people they truly are.

    A strong marriage does not falter under pressure. There are so many people today, who say that they fall out of love with their spouse and I just don’t think this is a true excuse for a marriage falling apart. We cannot expect our marriages to remain strong without putting our all into it. In Ephesians 5:25 we read, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”. The Savior gave all that he had to give in mortality, in love. Marriage is not going to be a dream every moment of every day. Life will always be there and with it comes a lot of trials and struggles. Sometimes our all is only 30%, but in a good marriage, our spouse will be willing to make up the difference without complaint. Likewise, we will be patiently willing to give more when they cannot give as much of an effort. True love comes from the willingness to serve and be charitable towards another person even when times get rough.

    The second part of this question is do we help to strengthen the marriages of others? As usual, our example goes a long way. Living with charity in our marriage, so that others can see the love and commitment we have for one another, will give others the desire to have that as well. Helping our friends to be more positive about their spouse is a great way to help them to have a strong marriage. There is wisdom found in Proverbs 21:23, which reads, “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” Don’t talk bad about your spouse and definitely don’t encourage others to talk bad about theirs. Getting to know our married friends as a couple and helping them to see the good in one another by the things we say and do, is just one way that we can strengthen marriages.

    We can strengthen the marriages of others, by teaching them the eternal significance that marriage has. When we recognize just how important marriage is to our eternal salvation, we have a duty to share that with others. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:118 it says, “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom. . . “. Telling others the things we do to keep our own marriages strong is so helpful. Those who have been together for years can be a great source of strength to more newly married couples. I have gotten a lot of help from others who have learned a lot through the experiences that life has brought to them. We can uplift those who are struggling through gospel teachings and reminders that they are loved children of our Father in Heaven. I think that helping others to turn to the Lord when they are struggling, is one of the best ways that we can strengthen them in their own marriages.

    The work of strengthening marriages should be one of true dedication for any who strive to be disciples of Jesus Christ. His desire is that all people be able to achieve salvation, which we cannot do without striving to keep our marriages strong. Just as with all things in life, we may not always be able to be married in this life, but if we have the desire to strengthen all marriages as God would have us do, we will be blessed with all that God has to offer us. I am so grateful for my own marriage. I cannot imagine life without my sweet husband. He is my eternal partner and I know that I am a better person when I focus on loving him and working with him to build our family. I am so grateful for the knowledge that families can be together forever and that while marriage may not always be perfect, it will bring me joy according to the effort I am willing to put into it. I have a desire for others to have happy marriages and I know that I can help by how I choose to live. As a woman devoted to my Savior, Jesus Christ, I am striving daily to strengthen my marriage and I know I will be blessed for the efforts I give.

    Genesis Chapter 25

    Abraham is getting to be much older in years, by this point in the scriptures. His wife, Sarah died and his son has been married off. The story of Abraham continues:

    1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.
    2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.
    3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.
    4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

    Abraham was remarried to Keturah. He continued to have children and add to the number of his descendants, which he had been promised would be great upon the earth.

    5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
    6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.
    7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.
    8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.
    9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;
    10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

    Isaac was the son of birthright and covenant, once Ishmael had been made to leave his home. Abraham gave Isaac his inheritance and his other sons were given gifts and left the land to Isaac. Then Abraham died and was buried where Sarah had been buried earlier, by his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. Looking at the footnotes in this chapter, we can see that this became the resting place for the patriarchs of Abraham’s posterity. In verse 8, it says that Abraham was “gathered to his people”. The footnote references eternal family. I think this is a beautiful phrase in reference to the death of so great a patriarch and prophet of God. Abraham died and was gathered with his family and loved ones who waited for him on the other side of the veil. I am sure that it was a beautiful reunion for him there.

    11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.

    Isaac became the patriarch of his family and I believe that he was blessed with the blessings of Abraham through the priesthood.

    12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham:
    13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,
    14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,
    15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:
    16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.
    17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.
    18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.

    The grandsons of Abraham through Ishmael were princes of twelve nations. This was according to a promise given to Abraham by the Lord, in which he had said that Ishmael would be the father of twelve princes and through him a great number would be added to Abraham’s seed. Then, Ishmael died.

    19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac:
    20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.
    21 And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
    22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord.
    23 And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

    Rebekah like Sarah before her, was unable to have any children. This was probably very difficult for them, considering the promised blessings they had been given about being the father and mother of nations. I am sure they had a great deal of faith in the promises they had been given, and the Lord blessed them for this faith. Isaac prayed to the Lord on her behalf, and they were blessed to have twins. Rebekah seems to have been able to tell from before they were born, that the two would not get along. She prayed to know about them and was told that her two sons would become two separate nations, and one would rule over the other.

    24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.
    25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
    26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
    27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.
    28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

    Esau was the firstborn of Isaac and Rebekah, followed by Jacob, who was holding onto Esau. I find it interesting that they appeared so different from birth since they had already been prophesied to be very different later on. Esau was loved by his father, because he was a good hunter and a provider of food for the family. Rebekah, however, loved Jacob. These verses describe Jacob as a plain man, which I think means that he was simple and yet obedient to the commandments. I think it means that he was not one to seek for the things of the world, but that he was able to be a happy man with the simple things of life.

    29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
    30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
    31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
    32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
    33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
    34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

    Jacob convinced Esau to sell his birthright to him for food. Esau did not care for the birthright as much as Jacob desired to have it, but rather cared that he be able to eat and continue on his way. I’m not sure how this plays out after this point, but it is interesting to know that he was willing to give up all that Isaac had to give him. The birthright was not only for the physical blessings of land and such, but it also was the birthright to the covenant blessings of the priesthood. Since Jacob was righteous and seemingly more focused on devoting his life to God, he was the more worthy choice for the birthright. I know that great blessings come to those who choose to focus their lives on the gospel and keeping the commandments, rather then seeking for things of this world.


    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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