Posts Tagged 'Happiness'

1 Samuel Chapter 8

Samuel was called to be the prophet of the Lord, when he was a young boy serving with Eli in the temple. He helped deliver the Israelites from the Philistines, through prayer and fasting to the Lord. He had judged Israel for many years of peace. This chapter begins:

1 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba.
3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

Samuel began to get old, and so he caused that his sons should be judges over Israel. They did not serve righteously in their callings, and took bribes for their judgments. Rather than be unrighteously judged, the elders wanted to have a king as other nations had.

6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

Samuel did not think it wise to have a king. He prayed to the Lord, who gave his consent to give the people a king. The Lord says here that Israel had rejected the Lord, not Samuel. I believe this is because the Lord had given them a pattern of judges, and they were now choosing to do things their own way. If the Israelites began to rely on an earthly king, they would no longer seek help from the Lord. They were, in effect, choosing an earthly king over their Heavenly King. The Lord was allowing the Israelites to freely choose their leadership, because He has given us agency and knows that we will only progress if we are given the opportunity to choose for ourselves. Samuel was to allow this choice, with a protest and with teachings of what type of king they would possibly have rule over them. If Samuel did all he could to persuade the elders to change their minds, he, as their prophet and leader, would not be held accountable for this decision.

10 And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.
11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.

Samuel told the elders they could have a king, but he also warned them of what would happen when they were ruled by evil kings. He said that a king would make their sons and daughters do what he wanted for himself. A king could claim the fruits of their labors, and they would become servants to him. He also told them that when the day came when they were oppressed to the point of crying to the Lord, He would not hear them. They were choosing a king over the Lord.

There have been other times when men of God have warned their people of this same thing. In Mosiah 29 we read:

13 Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.
… 16 Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you.
17 For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!
… 21 And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.
22 For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;
23 And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.
… 30 And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.
31 For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings.

Likewise, earlier in Mosiah, chapter 23, we read the following:

7 But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king.
8 Nevertheless, if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your kings it would be well for you to have a king.
… 13 …even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.

For those who heard this in the book of Mosiah, they heeded these words of wisdom and did not continue to seek after the rule of a king. This was not the case with the elders of Israel. Chapter 8 continues:

19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.
22 And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

Even with his protest, the elders did not listen to Samuel. They desired strongly to have a king to rule over them and to lead them against other nations. Samuel returned to the Lord and told Him all that the elders had said.

The people of Israel were unhappy with the men who had become their judges, because they were choosing unrighteous dominion over the people. The elders of Israel probably felt that they would have a better life under a king, then what they were living under bribed and easily-persuaded judges. The elders looked at the seemingly great nations around them, and were desirous of that lifestyle. The nation had lost the faith in God to trust that He knew how to lead them. If more of the Israelites had been faithful and true to the commandments of the Lord, they would have been the mighty nation they desired to be. But instead of being personally accountable for the state of their lives and their nation, they wanted a king to make all the decisions for them. They were choosing to very likely forfeit their agency and freedoms, in order to be like the other nations of the world. The Lord let them know, through the words of the prophet Samuel, that this decision would not bring them happiness and they would regret it some day.

We have the promises of God today as well. Throughout the scriptures, the lesson is that those who keep the commandments will prosper and have the protection of the Lord from all enemies. If we loose faith in God, or stop putting our trust in him, and turn to the rule and support of men, we will forfeit our own agency to others. Likewise, the result will not be that we are a happy people, but that one day we will remember what the scriptures teach us. We might then desire for those things that bring true happiness, and we could possibly find that the Lord will be slow to hear our own cries. To avoid these circumstances, we should follow the words of the prophets, ancient and modern, and most of all, we should trust that God knows what is best for us and live according to His plan. This is how we can choose to live after the manner of true happiness.

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1 Samuel Chapter 4

Samuel was established as the prophet in Israel. Eli, the high priest serving in Shiloh where the tabernacle had been raised, had been promised some serious results for allowing unholy things to occur in the temple. Among the promises, was that two of his sons would die on the same day, and that his line would no longer serve or give sacrifices in the temple. In effect, they were going to be cut off from the Lord for their wickedness. This chapter begins:

1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Eben-ezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.
2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.

The word of the Lord went to Israel, from the prophet Samuel. The Philistines came against the people of Israel, and killed about 4,000 men of the Israelite army.

3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
5 And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord was come into the camp.
7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.
8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.
9 Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.

The Elders of Israel decided that they would bring the ark of the covenant out of the temple in Shiloh, to protect themselves against the Philistines. History had taught them that the ark, representing the presence of the Lord, had brought them protection and power in the past. Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were the ones with the ark when word was received from the Elders. They allowed the ark to be removed to the camp of Israel. When it arrived, the camp of Israel shouted in joy, because they believed they would then be spared through the power of God. The Philistines heard the shout and learned that the ark of the Israelites was in the camp. This brought fear to the Philistines, because they knew what the God of Israel had done for them in the past. The Philistines were determined to fight and prevent themselves from becoming slaves to the Hebrews, as the Hebrews had been slaves to them. So they gathered their courage for the fight.

10 And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

The Israelites were defeated and the ark was captured. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli who had departed with the ark of the covenant, were both killed that day.

12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.
13 And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.
14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.
15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
16 And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

Eli, sat in Shiloh worrying about the ark of the covenant, when a man from the army came in mourning. The man told the people of Shiloh what had happened. When Eli heard that his sons had died in the battle, which the Israelites had lost, and that the ark of God was taken by the Philistines, Eli fell off his seat and died from a broken neck. Eli had been a judge in Israel, for forty years.

19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.
20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.
21 And she named the child I-chabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

Shortly after, the wife of Phinehas who was very pregnant at the time, learned of what had happened to the ark, her husband and her father-in-law, and she went into labor. She died during childbirth before she saw the son she had given birth to. The woman who had helped her named the baby boy I-chabod, meaning “where is the glory?” according to the footnote for verse 21, for it was a time when glory was removed from Israel. The words of the Lord against Eli and his family, had been fulfilled.

I don’t think that the sons of Eli had gone to the Lord to ask if taking the ark was the right thing to do. It does not tell us here, if even the Elders of Israel had sought the Lord’s permission to request this for the army. Whatever the case, the Lord, in his wisdom and foresight, knew that this would happen. It was because the sons of Eli had taken the ark to the fight, that they were both killed in one day by the Philistines. If they had remained with the ark in Shiloh, they would not have been where they would have been killed that day. This action had left Israel without the sacred ark of the covenant, which I am sure was a shock and a great defeat to their nation, both physically and spiritually. I wonder if the Lord had allowed this to happen in part, because the sons of Eli had defiled the temple in Shiloh with their actions. They had made light of all that was sacred there. Moreover, the Lord had established that He would speak with Samuel personally, even while he lied in bed, and Samuel did not need to go directly to the ark to receive instruction and revelation from God.

Wickedness will never bring true happiness. This is one of the eternal truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This story of Eli and his family, can teach us this principle. The sons of Eli had turned from God even though they still were there in the temple where they could have serve Him and felt his spirit. They chose to seek after pleasure and gain, rather than the eternal happiness and treasure that God would have given them. This brought upon them the judgements of God and physical death. God has given man the plan, which if followed will be the source of true happiness. This plan of happiness is basically, that we follow after His Son, Jesus Christ. If we choose to live after the manner of happiness by striving to be righteous like Christ, fleeting pleasures and wickedness will not entice us, or give us the false impression that we can be happy if we seek them. In following Jesus Christ, we can find great strength, power, love, peace, and joy.

Honoring Our Fathers and Our Mothers

Every Sunday, my family studies a talk from the most recent General Conference. In the days following, I will read it again on my own, to gain deeper understanding and really focus on the things that are being taught. A few weeks ago, we read the talk, “To My Grandchildren”, by President Henry B. Eyring (First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I think it really drew me in, because the focus of his talk seems to be on learning how we can truly have happiness in our families. This is something I am thinking about often and I tend to hang on every bit of instruction given on this topic.

President Eyring pointed out that all people are unique, with different experiences, but there is only one path if happiness is what we desire. He said, “Whatever our personal characteristics or whatever will be our experiences, there is but one plan of happiness. That plan is to follow all the commandments of God.” I’ve been recording the things the general authorities teach us to do in order to receive specific blessings. This one was so simply stated and straight forward. Do: Follow all the commandments of God. Receive: Happiness. In total confidence, I thought, “I can do that.” President Eyring continues by reviewing what the scriptures teach us of the commandments. He quoted the Lord, from Matthew 22 with the following account:

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

Immediately my mind went to something that I learned a few years ago about the commandments. That is, that the statement that all commandments hang on these greater commandments, is true. Every commandment from God can be categorized as a way to love God, or a way to love others as we would ourselves. If we take the basic ten commandments, the first show our love to God: to have no other gods before Him, to have no graven images (of any type), to not take the name of the Lord in vain, to keep the Sabbath holy, and to honor our father and our mother. The remainder fit under the category to love our neighbors as ourselves, the first falling under both: to honor our father and our mother, to not kill, to not commit adultery, to not steal, to not bear false witness, and to not covet. My focus was drawn to the commandment to honor our parents, because it carries weight in both of these greater commandments.

“Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12). This commandment remains binding throughout our lives and can be understood in several ways: We should honor our fathers and our mothers who are our ancestors; we should be grateful to the father and mother who provided our earthly bodies; we should honor those who raised us in the knowledge of the truth. Above all, we should honor our Heavenly Parents. The way we honor all these fathers and mothers is by keeping the commandments.

I found the above statement when searching the gospel topics on lds.org, under the topic Ten Commandments. It seemed so fitting. Typically, when I think of this commandment, I think in terms of what I feel would honor my earthly parents, based on my own understanding and experiences. I was thinking I was doing a pretty good job at this. In pondering this more, I began to feel the need to go to the source. My parents, as President Eyring had stated, are unique and have had their own experiences and learning. What they feel honors them, may not be exactly the same as what I have been feeling. This proved to be accurate, as I called them to ask and learned some of their thoughts and testimony of this.

All of the things they shared made complete sense to me, but perhaps were not a focus I have had at this time in my life. Some of the things that my parents said would honor them, were being a good citizen and teaching my children to be a good citizen, being a good parent, being self-reliant, teaching my children the gospel, and being involved in family history. They felt that being a good decision maker, by searching (with the help of good and reliable sources), pondering and praying, would also honor them. One they felt strongly about, was being in contact with them more frequently, even by simply touching base with a quick update or picture on social media. The one that meant the most, was to honor them by taking care of one when the other passes away and they are left alone. I’ve learned through this study, seeking answers from them, and pondering the things that were shared, that even with the commandments which I have felt I am doing pretty well at, I can do so much more. If I can learn to truly honor my earthly parents, I know that I will be able to do more to honor my heavenly parents. I plan on putting the promise of President Eyring to the test, and I am pretty confident that if I strive to honor my parents more, in the ways that they shared with me, there will be greater happiness in my relationship with them, as well as with others in my immediate and extended family.

Challenge: If you are seeking greater happiness at home, study the commandments and try to live one better today.

Notes on Patience – Happiness and Lasting Joy

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

1 Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;
2 Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted. (D&C 98:1-2 emphasis added)

  • Patience with the Lord will allow me to have a more grateful heart and as a result I will be happier and have a lasting joy. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the following:

    If we have faith in God and if we are committed to the fundamentals of keeping His commandments and putting Him first in our lives, we do not need to plan every single event—even every important event—and we should not feel rejected or depressed if some things—even some very important things—do not happen at the time we had planned or hoped or prayed. (Timing)

    Patience with the Lord is living with a hope and faith that my heartfelt prayers will be answered someday and I will have the righteous desires of my heart.

  • Notes on Patience – Attitude is Everything

    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 now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. (Mosiah 24:15)

  • Having patience with the Lord, others, or even myself does not happen if I have a bad attitude. Being either depressed about my situation or negative about the experiences and outcomes of life, is a sure way to allow Satan to have a place in my heart. Being happy and cheerful in spite of the difficulties of life, opens the heart to the inspiration of the spirit and communications with God. He wants us to be happy, and he wants to help us in our times of trial. Submitting to will of the Lord, with patience and a cheerful attitude, will give us the strength to weather any of the storms of life.
  • How do we know we are beloved of God?

    As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member 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 I would like to 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.

    The declaration begins “we are beloved spirit daughters of God”. My first question is how do we know we are beloved of God? This is a big one. The word beloved means to be dearly loved. It is used often as a term of endearment, which is a completely personal and real love to the deepest parts of our hearts and souls. Some other words connected to beloved are cherished, adored, treasured, and valued. How then, do we know that we are dearly loved, cherished, adored, treasured and valued by God?

    In Deuteronomy 7:13 we read, “And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.” This was a promise given to those who believed in God and obeyed the commandments. The blessings we receive are an evidence of the Love of God for us. One of these blessings is life itself. God has given us the gift of mortality to learn and grow. He wants us to become like him because he loves us. Another blessings, is the wonderful creations around us each day. God shows his love for us, in the beauty of the world. Beautiful things bring me joy, and I believe that God created these things to make us happy. When I can look at His creations and wonder in awe, I know that God loves me.

    In John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God loves us so much that he allowed His first-born Son, even Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for us. In Doctrine and Covenants 138 we read the following:

    2 And reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world;
    3 And the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world;
    4 That through his atonement, and by obedience to the principles of the gospel, mankind might be saved.

    I believe that this is true. The sacrifice of the Son of God, is a manifestation of the love of God for each of us.

    One of the best evidences of His love for me, is the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I believe that this is one of the greatest gift that God can give us in this life. The Holy Ghost is a comforter when times are difficult, a protector when we are faced with temptation and when physical harm may come to us or our loved ones, a teacher when we are seeking for truth, and so much more. When I feel the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, or when others are inspired to do something for me, I know that God loves me and is mindful of me.

    The scriptures teach us that God chastens those he loves. In Doctrine and Covenants 95:1 we read, “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you—”. We are chastised so that we will become the best us we can be. We are chastised so that we will remember the Lord and repent of our sins. We will only be able to return to be with God again, if we make repentance a part of our lives. Therefore being chastised is a way that God can show us He wants us to return to be with Him because he loves us.

    In Alma 24:14 we read, “And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations.” We can know that we are loved of God, because he has given us the gospel. The restoration of the fullness of the gospel, and the ability to have it freely if we will seek it out, is evidence of his love for us. Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said the following in the April 1988 General Conference:

    God expresses his love for us by providing the guidance we need to progress and reach our potential. Perhaps a simple story will illustrate this point. Recently, a young man purchased a used computer but could not get it to work properly. Soon he became discouraged. His temper grew short and he threatened the inanimate object with painful destruction unless its performance improved. A wise father intervened and took his son to a local vendor, where they obtained an instruction manual. After all, who would know more about a complex computer than the person or company that created it? Who would know most about its capacity and potential? Who would better know the safeguards required to avoid damaging or ruining this fine instrument? Soon the boy enjoyed the full potential of his computer by working within the guidelines given in the instruction book provided by its creator.

    Likewise in our lives, he who knows most about us, our potential, and our eternal possibilities has given us divine counsel and commandments in his instruction manuals—the holy scriptures. When we understand and follow these instructions, our lives have purpose and meaning. We learn that our Maker loves us and desires our happiness.

    His desire for us to learn so that we can find happiness, through the gospel, is evidence of His love for us. I believe that there is no greater love that we can feel than can be found by learning and following the gospel.

    President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said, “[God] loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.” (October 2009 General Conference Address, The Love of God.) I can know that no matter where I may be in life, or what my flaws may be at that time, God loves me.

    Finally, I believe that there was a time when God himself experienced a mortal life to become what he is today. Therefore, I think the love we experience as mortals represents a small portion of the love he has for us. I think of the love of a father in this life. We are His children and He has a natural and eternal love for us unlike anything we have ever known. I think also of the special love a father has for his daughters. I have experienced the feelings of being Daddy’s little girl a few times in my life and that love is overwhelming. As a daughter of my Father in Heaven, I know that he looks at me as his little girl. He wants nothing but the best for me, but he knows he will have to let me do things on my own and make my own mistakes so that I can learn. He can see the woman I will become in the eternities and he gently guides my hand so that I can find my way there. Another love of a father, is the love towards those who bear his children. I believe that every mother in mortality works with our Father in Heaven to bring children into this world. This is not to say that we are all mortal children of God the way that the Savior was, but that we are all made up of a spirit born of God and a body born of earthly parents. I believe that God has a special love for all those who give of their bodies to allow His spirit children to be born into this world. I know that as a child, a daughter, and a mother, God has a great love for me. I know that he loves all his children. I know that we can feel that love, if we seek for Him.

    Family Responsibilities

    View the entire lesson here: Family Responsibilities

    What responsibilities do husbands and wives share in raising their children?

    My family has recently studied “The Family: A Proclamation to the World“, which teaches us that parents share the duty of loving and caring for their children. It says, “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.” Every parent should work to find opportunities to teach their childrenIn Deuteronomy 32 we read the following:

    45And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:
    46And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.

    We need to specifically teach our children to keep the commandments of God. We should do our best to teach them whenever the opportunity presents itself. As parents, I think we sometimes feel like our kids should already know things that they haven’t been taught. Then sometimes our kids are forced to learn things the hard way, through making mistakes that they could have avoided if they had simply been taught.

    Parents need to do their best to provide for their necessities of life. In 1 Timothy 5:8 we read, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Heavenly Father is the spirit Father of our earthly children, as much as He is of each of us. He puts His trust in us, by allowing us the privilege of raising His children. We deny our faith in God when we do not do all that we are able to provide for our children, because we choose to not recognize His children for what they are.

    Children also need to be shown how to be and to help them to know how to be honest and faithful people. They learn this by example from their parents. In Mosiah 4:15 we read, “But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness …”. Parents are responsible for living an honest and true life that their children can follow. This teaching must be done out of love, and parents should recognize that everyone will make mistakes and will need love, guidance, and support to do the best they can.

    How can husbands and wives support each other in their roles? Where can single parents turn for support?

    Every home is different, but the ideal situation has the father taking on the role of provider, meaning he works to provide the necessities for his children, and a mother taking on the role of nurturer. Sometimes the situations of the family do not allow for this, and it is then that things must be adjusted so that both the physical and spiritual needs are met. Husbands and wives can support one another, by allowing their spouse to do their part. One should not be in control of everything or telling the other how they should do everything, but they should work together to fulfill these responsibilities. Parents can support each other by being grateful for the things done by their partner. Showing this gratitude and helping children to show their gratitude as well, will go a long way in strengthening the relationships in a family. Single parents can turn to other family members and to their ward family for support. Most of all, parents can turn to the Lord for support, whether they are married or single.

    What positive examples have you seen of fathers raising their children?

    In the scriptures there are many great fathers. Alma the elder is a great example to me, of a father doing his best to raise a wayward son. We learn from him, that we should not give up on our children and stop praying for them. Lehi is another good example of a father. He was an example to his sons of following the spirit, and having faith in God. He had a great love and desire for all his children to follow the strait and narrow path.

    In my own life, I have seen many examples of good fathers. The one that comes to mind right now is my grandfather who passed away last year. He was an extremely loving father, who made teaching his children a priority in his life. He worked very hard to provide for his family, but did not let work get in the way of spending quality time with his kids and grandkids.

    What positive examples have you seen of mothers raising their children?

    One of the best examples in the scriptures, is from the story of the stripling warriors. In Alma 56 and 57, we learn of the teachings of these mothers and the example of faith in God that they were to their sons. In Alma 56:47 we read, “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” It was by their teaching and example, that their sons were able to have faith and not fear.

    I have seen many examples in my life as well. The best examples have been of love, patience, and kindness. I have witnessed sweet moments of teaching and love that come from soft spoken words to little children. I have seen countless sacrifices by loving mothers who give up their own wants and needs to bless the lives of their children. I am so grateful to the many examples of good mothers in my life.

    How do children help their parents build a happy home?

    I often wonder what I did in my home growing up, to help my parents have a happy home. I can recognize the things I should have done more, now that I am a mother. For me, the greatest things that children can do is to love each other. My hardest moments as a mother, come when my children are fighting and unhappy. Happiness in the home, is greater when children obey their parents. In Colossians 3:20 we read, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” This does not mean that parents should force their children to do things or exercise any unrighteous dominion over them, but that children should do the things their parents ask of them. Children can help by being an example as well. When my girls remind me to say a prayer, or want to share the things they have learned at church, and so on, their example teaches me more then I think I teach them. Children help by being willing to participate in family activities and in taking care of the house and needs of one another. A happier home will come when children serve and love one another and their parents.

    What should children do to honor and respect their parents?

    As I mentioned above, children should obey their parents. Another way they can honor and respect their parents, is to live in a way that would never bring shame to their parents. Proverbs 10:1 reads, “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” Children who are righteous and live wisely will live to make their parents proud, which is a great way to honor them. Children should show respect in their words and actions, both in the home and outside of it. How we speak about our parents can affect how others see them, and we should not do things that would cause others to judge them.

    What did your parents do that led you to honor and respect them?

    My mother has made family history a priority in her life, which is something that I have admired and loved in her. Her example has pushed me to do what I could do as well. I want to continue to do this work, so that I can make her proud and honor her. My father has taught me the value of music and meaning the things that I sing. These lessons have strengthened not only my performances, but my testimony as well. I have a great respect for my Dad’s musical talents and I hope that my desire to follow his instructions will honor him as well. Most of all, I hope that I honor my parents by how I am raising my own children. I am far from perfect, but I hope that I have learned from the examples that they have shown me, because I am truly grateful for them and the person I have grown up to be because of them.

    What can each member of the family do to make home a happy place?

    Using all of the things mentioned above, will make a happy home. All family members should follow the commandments, listen to one another, respect and love one another, serve each other, be kind and considerate, and so on. A happy home is a home of peace, love, laughter, enjoyment, health, and more. We need to do as the Savior taught us in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” This is an active love that comes through doing our part.

    What are some traditions and practices that can make home a happy place?

    Things that make a happy home include family prayer and scripture study, family home evening, and going to church together. It is also very important that we find ways to have fun together through playing games, doing projects, and so on. I am so grateful for the family and for the opportunity to learn and grow because of the responsibilities that I have to my own family.

    The Family Can Be Eternal

    View the entire lesson here: The Family Can Be Eternal

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe in the family unit as the most important group we can be a part of. Our leaders have said, “The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

    Why did our Heavenly Father send us to earth as members of families?

    The principle of the family is an eternal principal. In the Bible Dictionary, under “family” we read, “The Bible is family oriented. … Latter-day revelation confirms all that the Bible teaches about the family and adds the most important truth that through the gospel of Jesus Christ the family can be sealed together in a permanent relationship for time and all eternity.” We were created spiritually as part of Heavenly Father’s family and we are working towards returning to that family after life. Therefore, it would be strange to be completely separated here from a family. Families help us to learn and grow and they should provide a feeling of safety and security that cannot be felt elsewhere. We are not all born into a strong family, or one that is whole, but we all can work towards finding and strengthening the familial relationships we do have even if they are not those related to us by blood or marriage.

    Why is the home the best place to prepare for eternal life?

    In Doctrine and Covenants 49:15 we read, “And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.” I believe that marriage is a sacred institution in which a man and woman can make promises to each other and to God. When able, they are given the opportunity to partner with God to bear and raise children. Parents are given the divine calling to love and teach their children in a way that no other people can. When accompanied by righteous living, the spirit can dwell in the home and strengthen the family as well as each member of the family. This is no doubt the best environment to learn about the principles of the gospel and how we can be more Christ-like.

    How can we help the youth of the Church understand the sacredness of the family and the marriage covenant?

    There is so much in the world today, that teaches false things about family and marriage. Doctrine and Covenants 93:40 says, “But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.” Parents have the responsibility to teach the correct principles related to marriage and family with the help of the spirit, so that children can learn why these are so sacred. Showing the youth that we hold these things sacred, by our actions and words is very important. Confusion begins when we do things that teach our children we teach one thing and do another. I think that teaching our youth about temple work and devoting time regularly to go to the temple, shows the youth that we value the eternal relationships of family and marriage above our own time and other things we may be interested in.

    How can we develop greater harmony in our homes?

    In Doctrine and Covenants 132 we read the following:

    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 … 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.
    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.
    21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.

    I believe that if we make and keep sacred covenants in the temples of the Lord, we will be able to be with our families in the eternities. Moreover, I believe that we will be able to progress as a family and continue to grow spiritually as well as in number. I also believe that our attitudes are part of our soul and therefore will carry one with us after this life. In Doctrine and Covenants 130:2 we read, “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.” If we do not work towards having harmony in our home now, we cannot expect to be able to live together in harmony after this life. One of the best ways to develop greater harmony is to pattern our lives after the Savior’s life. If we can learn to have a greater love for one another, and a deeper understanding of who each member is, our compassion and charity will grow. I believe that we can learn to love others more, when we willingly serve them. We have more compassion when we put the needs and desires of others ahead of our own. When our focus is on the happiness of those around us, there will be a greater harmony in our home.

    What can parents do to encourage their sons and daughters to be good friends with one another? What can brothers and sisters do to nurture their friendship with one another?

    “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him (1 John 2:10).” When I was growing up, the times I was closest to my siblings was when we had found things we could do and share together. I think that parents can help their children to be good friends by encouraging them to do activities they can enjoy together. This can be simply during family night activities, or in more time-consuming extra-curricular activities. Taking time for everyone to learn more about each other is also a good way to encourage friendship. One example I heard is on birthday or special days, the family can focus on that individual. They can do things like ask them all of their recent favorites or what they want to be when they grow up and so on. As brothers and sisters, we can nurture our friendships by practicing good communication skills, especially by listening to one another.

    What can husbands and wives do to help each other be happy?

    The most important relationship that we can have is the one with our spouse. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Our energies should go first to making each other happy and then to others in our lives. Date night is a big help in the happiness and strength in a marriage. Taking the time to share interests, hopes and dreams can also help. We should be regularly thinking of how to show our love and then doing just that. The times when I see my friends the most unhappy, is when their spouse is critical and unsupportive of them. We should really try our best to see the good in our spouse and take unnecessary judgement our of our marriage.

    What are you doing to help strengthen your family and make it successful?

    “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God (D&C 88:119)”. Some things that seem to help our family, are regular scripture study, prayer and family home evening. We find greater strength when we work or play together. Eating dinner together and taking the time to listen to the lives of one another, is also a big help in our family. Also, making it a priority to talk and get together with other relatives is a great thing for our family. We are no longer very close physically to most of our family, but we are working hard to keep in touch still.

    What can families do to work through difficult times?

    I think that one of the most important things to do during difficult times, is to strengthen our families spiritually. We should focus on prayer and scripture study, as well as make sure that we attend church meetings together, especially sacrament meetings. Learning together and making sure that we can still have the spirit to guide us, gives families a strength to get through any difficulties that may come.

    What evidence have you seen that efforts such as family prayer, family scripture study, family councils, family meal times, and family home evening make a difference?

    Family prayer is a consistent reminder that we are mindful of one another. I love to hear my husband pray for me in front of my children or when we pray as a couple. When we pray for specific things as a family, it has helped us to be more understanding of one another and more mindful of how we can serve others. Family scripture study has brought my family a lot closer together, especially when we take the time to discuss what we understand from what we read. Family councils have helped us to be a better organized family. They help us to talk about everyday issues within our family that need to be worked through. Family meal times has given us the chance to share the best and worst parts of our days outside the home. It is a place where we have been able to really listen to what we each face during the day and we can discuss how to deal with those situations that the world presents to us. Family home evening has really brought our family together. It is almost always crazy, because our kids are little, but it is special to us and really helps us to have fun together and enjoy learning from one another. All of these things together have brought my husband and I closer together than we ever were before.

    I am so grateful for my family. I am thankful that I have been sealed to my sweet husband in the temple and that I have the opportunity to be with him and my beautiful children forever. I know that our families should be our greatest priority. I love my parents and my siblings and care for them deeply. I know that I can be with them after this life, if I do my part and live worthy of the blessings promised to me in the temple.

    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 136

    In 1846, after Joseph Smith, was martyred, the saints began leaving Nauvoo, Illinois. This move was under the direction of the Apostles and specifically, Brigham Young, who at the time was the senior apostle and the President of the Quorum of the Twelve. In 1847, many of the saints were in Winter Quarters, Iowa. This section is the word of the Lord, given to the saints in Winter Quarters, through President Young.

    1 The Word and Will of the Lord concerning the Camp of Israel in their journeyings to the West:
    2 Let all the people of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and those who journey with them, be organized into companies, with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord our God.
    3 Let the companies be organized with captains of hundreds, captains of fifties, and captains of tens, with a president and his two counselors at their head, under the direction of the Twelve Apostles.
    4 And this shall be our covenant—that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord.
    5 Let each company provide themselves with all the teams, wagons, provisions, clothing, and other necessaries for the journey, that they can.
    6 When the companies are organized let them go to with their might, to prepare for those who are to tarry.
    7 Let each company, with their captains and presidents, decide how many can go next spring; then choose out a sufficient number of able-bodied and expert men, to take teams, seeds, and farming utensils, to go as pioneers to prepare for putting in spring crops.
    8 Let each company bear an equal proportion, according to the dividend of their property, in taking the poor, the widows, the fatherless, and the families of those who have gone into the army, that the cries of the widow and the fatherless come not up into the ears of the Lord against this people.
    9 Let each company prepare houses, and fields for raising grain, for those who are to remain behind this season; and this is the will of the Lord concerning his people.
    10 Let every man use all his influence and property to remove this people to the place where the Lord shall locate a stake of Zion.
    11 And if ye do this with a pure heart, in all faithfulness, ye shall be blessed; you shall be blessed in your flocks, and in your herds, and in your fields, and in your houses, and in your families.
    12 Let my servants Ezra T. Benson and Erastus Snow organize a company.
    13 And let my servants Orson Pratt and Wilford Woodruff organize a company.
    14 Also, let my servants Amasa Lyman and George A. Smith organize a company.
    15 And appoint presidents, and captains of hundreds, and of fifties, and of tens.
    16 And let my servants that have been appointed go and teach this, my will, to the saints, that they may be ready to go to a land of peace.

    This revelation would tell the saints how they should be organized for traveling to the west. I think that the wisdom in having groups of tens, fifties, and so on, is that every individual would be accounted for. In larger groups, people can go unseen and can be lost physically or spiritually along the way. Plus, within smaller groups people will be more likely to be held accountable for what they do. The saints as a whole, needed to be living worthy of the guidance of the Lord, so that they could make it safely to the west. As a church, they were dependent on the safety provided by the Lord.

    In their organization, they needed to covenant to help others. Those who were going to leave first, needed to be ready to prepare the way for those who would follow. And all who were unable to provide for themselves, were to be helped among the different companies, so that they all could have the opportunity to go with the saints. Those who organized the companies were to consider all the saints and when it would be best for each to travel. The saints were to covenant to use all that they could (time, money/property, and energy) to make this possible for all of them to go. I think that this was probably part of the reason they had been asked to give so much in all the places they had lived before, because they needed to be prepared to give all they could at this time, when the saints as a whole, would need it most. This was going to be a very difficult journey, and their obedience and sacrifice would determine if they would make it or not.

    This revelation is very interesting to me, because some of my family traveled with the saints. I have some family members who traveled in the summer of 1847. They were in Captain Samuel Turnbow’s company of ten, who was under Captain George B. Wallace, who was under Captain Abraham Owen Smoot. Most of their company arrived safely in Utah, and their legacy has been a great example for me to follow. I had other members of my family who traveled a few years later, to join the saints when it was the right time for them. I am so grateful for their sacrifice and the blessings that I have in my life because of the choices they made to follow.

    James Allen (1807-1886), one of my ancestors who was a pioneer to Utah.

    17 Go thy way and do as I have told you, and fear not thine enemies; for they shall not have power to stop my work.
    18 Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time.
    19 And if any man shall seek to build up himself, and seeketh not my counsel, he shall have no power, and his folly shall be made manifest.
    20 Seek ye; and keep all your pledges one with another; and covet not that which is thy brother’s.
    21 Keep yourselves from evil to take the name of the Lord in vain, for I am the Lord your God, even the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.
    22 I am he who led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; and my arm is stretched out in the last days, to save my people Israel.
    23 Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another.
    24 Cease drunkenness; and let your words tend to edifying one another.
    25 If thou borrowest of thy neighbor, thou shalt restore that which thou hast borrowed; and if thou canst not repay then go straightway and tell thy neighbor, lest he condemn thee.
    26 If thou shalt find that which thy neighbor has lost, thou shalt make diligent search till thou shalt deliver it to him again.
    27 Thou shalt be diligent in preserving what thou hast, that thou mayest be a wise steward; for it is the free gift of the Lord thy God, and thou art his steward.

    The saints have been told many times, how they should live, just as we are told time and time again. This instruction is as good for us to live by today, as it was for the saints. The Lord tells us to follow His commandments and counsel, do not covet, do not take the name of the Lord in vain, keep our promises and agreements with one another (be trustworthy), do not be contentious, do not bare false witness or gossip about others, follow the word of wisdom, edify and uplift others, do not steal and be honest with one another, and take care of the things which the Lord has given us. If we live by these commandments and principles, we will have Zion with us in our hearts. The Lord is the same forever, he saved the ancient people of Israel, and he saved the saints of modern day. The Lord will protect and lead the righteous who choose to follow Him.

    28 If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
    29 If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful.
    30 Fear not thine enemies, for they are in mine hands and I will do my pleasure with them.
    31 My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom.
    32 Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear;
    33 For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly.

    The saints were going to have a very hard road ahead of them and the Lord knew how they could find happiness to continue on, through praising the Lord with music, singing, and dancing. I love this counsel from the Lord. If you are happy, then show it in your actions. If you are sad, then do what you need to do to be happy. Don’t fear, because the Lord will handle your enemies. It will be difficult, but these things will teach you and prepare you for your eternal future. Be humble and trust the Lord to teach you to be wise. The spirit of the Lord will be with you if you are humble, grateful, and have the desire to repent and be better. We would all benefit from following this.

    34 Thy brethren have rejected you and your testimony, even the nation that has driven you out;
    35 And now cometh the day of their calamity, even the days of sorrow, like a woman that is taken in travail; and their sorrow shall be great unless they speedily repent, yea, very speedily.
    36 For they killed the prophets, and them that were sent unto them; and they have shed innocent blood, which crieth from the ground against them.
    37 Therefore, marvel not at these things, for ye are not yet pure; ye can not yet bear my glory; but ye shall behold it if ye are faithful in keeping all my words that I have given you, from the days of Adam to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Jesus and his apostles, and from Jesus and his apostles to Joseph Smith, whom I did call upon by mine angels, my ministering servants, and by mine own voice out of the heavens, to bring forth my work;
    38 Which foundation he did lay, and was faithful; and I took him to myself.
    39 Many have marveled because of his death; but it was needful that he should seal his testimony with his blood, that he might be honored and the wicked might be condemned.
    40 Have I not delivered you from your enemies, only in that I have left a witness of my name?
    41 Now, therefore, hearken, O ye people of my church; and ye elders listen together; you have received my kingdom.
    42 Be diligent in keeping all my commandments, lest judgments come upon you, and your faith fail you, and your enemies triumph over you. So no more at present. Amen and Amen.

    The Lord had already promised that if they did their part in teaching the gospel, the Lord would bring justice for the wrongs done against them. The majority of the people around them, had rejected them, killed the prophets (Joseph and Hyrum) and many others, and driven them to this point where they had to travel west in order to survive. The Lord knew all the people, and now the time had come to remove the faithful, so that justice would come to their enemies.

    Joseph Smith had been called to bring the work of the Lord forward. He was a faithful servant, and was rewarded by being received by the Lord into heaven. Because of his death, a testimony was left so that his name would be honored, while those who were his enemies, would be condemned. There was a purpose in allowing the prophet to die at the hands of the wicked. He was blessed for his faith and service. It is our responsibility to be faithful to the commandments and counsels given here, so that we will not bring condemnation upon ourselves. I hope and pray that I will live worthy enough to be received into the Lord’s presence also.


    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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