Posts Tagged 'Joy'

1 Kings Chapter 8

Temple

The temple was built in Jerusalem and was prepared to be dedicated to the Lord. This chapter tells of the final steps needed to take this grand building that Solomon had built and make it truly the House of the Lord rather than just a pretty bulding. It begins with the following:

1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.
2 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.
4 And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up.
5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.
7 For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.
8 And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day.
9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,
11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.

The leaders of Israel were gathered together, so that the ark of the covenant could be brought to the temple, from where it had been placed prior to this. Once assembled, the elders had a feast. The priests and Levites brought the ark, as well as the tabernacle and all that went with it, and placed it within the holy place of the temple, just as they had been commanded in the tabernacle under the direction of Moses. The congregation of Israel made sacrifices in great number. It was placed under the wings of the cherubs, as it’s permanent location. There was no intention of it being moved again now that the there was a permanent structure instead of the portable tabernacle, so they removed the staves which were connected to the ark in order to carry it as they traveled. The two tablets of stone, brought down from the mount by Moses, which contained the words of the Lord regarding the covenants of Israel, remained in the ark. A cloud and the glory of the Lord filled the temple to the point where the priests were unable to stand and minister. The cloud showed the people that God accepted the temple.

The cloud was a physical representation of the presence of God among the Israelites. There was a cloud that led them from Egypt and was there when Moses received the law. There was a cloud with the tabernacle as they wandered in the desert. When they could see the cloud, they knew that God was there. Sometimes I wonder how people today, including myself, would behave if they were able to witness a physical representation of God in this way. I believe that we do not have this experience as a people, because we live in a time, even the latter days, when greater faith is required of us. In order to stand in the battle we have against evil, our faith must be strong. We can have our own personal witnesses after we act in faith. A personal witness has the power to convert our hearts and shape our character in ways that draw us nearer to God.

12 Then spake Solomon, The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
13 I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.
14 And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;)
15 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying,
16 Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.
17 And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
18 And the Lord said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.
19 Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.
20 And the Lord hath performed his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
21 And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.

King Solomon gave a blessing upon the congregation of Israel. He praised God for fulfilling the promise he made to his father, David. He spoke of the word of the Lord to David, telling him that his son would build the house to His name, which David desired to build. David spoke of building a place for the ark, which contained the words of the covenants made between God and the Israelites who were brought out of bondage in Egypt.

22 And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven:
23 And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:
24 Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
25 Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.
26 And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.
27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:
29 That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.
30 And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.

Solomon prayed to the Lord, giving praise to God. He asked that the Lord also continue to fulfill another promise made to David, which was that David’s line would continue on the throne according to their faithfulness. He asked if God would dwell among them, even though the house they build could not contain Him. He prayed that the temple would be watched over as His house, with His name, and that the prayer of Solomon would be heard, as well as the prayers of those who would turn towards the temple, that they might be forgiven.

31 If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house:
32 Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.

Solomon prayed that all their oaths would go before the altar of the Lord, and that they would be judged by them to the condemning of the wicked and blessing of the righteous.

33 When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:
34 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.

He prayed that when the people fell away and were brought down by their enemies, repenting and praying to the Lord, they might be forgiven and restored to the land of promise.

35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:
36 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.

He prayed that when times of drought, brought upon them by sin, caused that they returned to the Lord and to the temple, then God would hear them and forgive them, teaching them to walk in righteousness through the word of God and revelations, and allowing the rain to come upon the land of promise.

37 If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be;
38 What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:
39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
40 That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
41 Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name’s sake;
42 (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house;
43 Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.

He prayed that the prayers of those who suffered from any plague, whether upon the land or in one heart, would be heard. He prayed that God would forgive them and bless each man according to his heart. He prayed that as long as they live in the promised land, they would fear the Lord, and that any who left their own lands seeking for the Lord, praying towards the temple, could be blessed by having their prayers answered. He prayed that people all over the earth would know the Lord and fear Him as the people of Israel feared Him. He prayed that all would know that this temple was the Lord’s house.

44 If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:
45 Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;
47 Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
48 And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:
49 Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,
50 And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:
51 For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron:
52 That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.
53 For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.
54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
55 And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,
56 Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
57 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:
60 That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.
61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

Solomon prayed that those faithful who prayed towards the temple would be blessed in the battles with their enemies (at least those who God would command them to fight). He prayed that sinners, who would be carried away captive by their enemies, but repent and turn their hearts back to God in prayer, would be forgiven and blessed that their enemies would have compassion on them. He asked that the Lord would remember them as His people when they had repented. When Solomon finished his prayer, he blessed the congregation, with a reminder that the Lord would be with them, if they would turn their hearts to God and keep the commandments. The Lord had fulfilled all that He had promised them regarding the rest among their people, and for this they should have been grateful. God always keeps his word and promises to mankind. He asked that all the earth would come to know that the Lord was the true and only God, as they strived to keep the commandments.

62 And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord.
63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.
64 The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the Lord was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
65 And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.
66 On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.

The people then made sacrifices at the dedication of the temple. Solomon held a feast and the people were worshipping there for fourteen days. Then Solomon sent the people back to their homes, and they were full of joy and gladness because of the blessings that the Lord had given to David and all Israel. The completion of the temples today, followed by the sacred dedications, also bring much joy and gladness to the hearts of disciples of Christ.

There is great importance in having dedicatory prayers. When we want the Lord to accept our sacrifices and offerings, we need to commit them through our words to Him. When we want to serve the Lord in our personal lives, we need to dedicate our time to Him through prayer. The spirit can attend us, just as it can be in the house of the Lord, after we dedicate our bodies, hearts, minds and time to Him.

This chapter is an indication of the love that Solomon had for the Lord. He clearly desired to do the will of God and lead his people to do the same. He showed gratitude and praise for God, and recognized His hand in the lives of his predecessors as well as his own life. Solomon did not take credit for the peace of his people, but owed that to the Lord. He feared God and loved his people.

One other thing that this chapter causes me to ponder on, is the need to pray towards the temple. The children of Israel were told to physically turn towards Jerusalem and pray towards the temple. We have not been told to do this physically in our day, but we too must face ourselves towards the temple if we desire to have the Spirit as our companion. This means that we pray with the intent to keep our covenants and the commandments of God. It means that we will strive to live the gospel, with a continued prayer in our hearts. It means that we will live worthy of the temple, even when we are not in the walls of the temple. I am grateful for the temple and the figure of holiness it is in my life. It is a constant reminder of my personal desire to draw nearer to God.

The temple is truly the house of the Lord. I know that the Lord continues to command His people to build temples today. I have seen the dedication and rededication of a handful of temples and I have felt the spirit there. I know that this prayer of Solomon is much like the dedicatory prayers of the temples today. And like the people of Israel, the Lord will bless those who repent of their sins, turn to Him, worship Him, and serve in His holy house.

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Ruth Chapter 4

Ruth was a Moabite woman, who had married the son of an Israelite woman named Naomi. After her husband and both her father-in-law and brother-in-law had died, Ruth moved to the land of Israel with Naomi, in order to care for her. Ruth had gleaned from the field of a man named Boaz, who was related to Naomi. In following a suggestion from Naomi, Ruth asked Boaz if he would offer her family redemption through marriage. Redemption was offered in Israel, so that a man’s inheritance could continue with his family even after he had passed away. (To redeem, was to deliver another from distress or bondage.) Boaz had agreed to ask the nearest relative to Naomi, if he wanted to offer redemption, and if he would not, Boaz would marry her and redeem their inheritance. This chapter begins:

1 Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.
2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.
3 And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s:
4 And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.
5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

Boaz went to the kinsman and in the presence of elders and witnesses, told him that the land of Naomi’s husband had been offered for redemption. He was allowing the man the opportunity to buy from Naomi, through marriage to Ruth of Moab, so that her children would be able to have the inheritance.

6 And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.
7 Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.
8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

The man declined the offer to redeem the land, because it might have ruined his own inheritance, or because he would not have benefited personally from it. Instead, he told Boaz that he could redeem it, and as was the custom, he gave his shoe to Boaz as a testimony to his refusal. It was part of the law for a man to redeem the widow of his brother (or near kinsman), and when refused the reputation for his refusal would be witnessed and known to others (see Deuteronomy 25). It seemed a bit selfish for this man to refuse, but Ruth was blessed to have the second chance for redemption, through Boaz.

9 And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.
10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
11 And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Beth-lehem:
12 And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.

Boaz told the witnesses that he would then purchase the land and belongings of Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, and all that had passed on to their sons, Chilion and Mahlon. He would also take Ruth to be his wife, and any children they had, would be heirs of the inheritance of Elimelech, so that their family line would continue in the land. Verse 11 and 12, sound much like a blessing upon their marriage and his posterity with Ruth.

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.
14 And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.
15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth and Boaz were married and had a son. She blessed Naomi that day, with her son and a posterity to carry on her name and place in Israel. Naomi took the son and raised him. He was called Obed and became the father of Jesse, who was the father of David the king. In kindness, Boaz fulfilled his promise to Ruth and offered redemption through marriage. In doing so, he gave a full life back to Naomi. I am sure there was joy and rejoicing for both Ruth and Naomi at this time.

18 Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,
19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,
20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,
21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,
22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

This is the family line from Pharez who was an ancestor to Boaz, to kind David. Pharez was the son of Judah, of the twelve sons of Israel, and Tamar, his daughter-in-law (see Genesis 38). This connection is interesting to me, because Pharez was the resulting child of a father, Judah, who refused to allow his younger son to redeem the widow of his first born, and was tricked into becoming the path for redemption to Tamar.

This idea of redemption can teach us of the redemption which we all should seek. We, like Naomi and Ruth, have an inheritance promised to us. This is an inheritance from our Father in Heaven, but we have been separated from this inheritance through the spiritual death of our first parents, and our own resulting spiritual death. We are separated from God, and cannot receive the inheritance in the state that we find ourselves in at this time. We live here on this earth, in the spiritual state much like of physical state of widows in Israel. When we realize that we have our spiritual brother, Jesus Christ, nearby, as they learned of Boaz, we can turn to Christ, and plead for His offering of redemption. He has the power to offer it to us, because he paid the great and infinite cost of the atonement. If we are virtuous, He will offer us this redemption, through our personal covenants with Him. When we make and keep the covenants we make with God, we make our inheritance sure, just as the marriage and bearing of a son to Ruth and Boaz made Naomi’s inheritance sure. And much like I believe there would have been joy and rejoicing in the family of Ruth, and believe there will be great joy and rejoicing after our own redemption by the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jesus-Portrait

I think that it is no coincidence, that we should have this record that teaches us of Tamar, who was to be redeemed through Judah and his son Pharez, which eventually gives us Boaz. Boaz then redeems Ruth and Naomi through his son Obed. Finally, through his line, there is a connection to Jesus Christ, who is the great redeemer of all mankind. The story of Ruth, is a story of redemption: redemption from famine, redemption from an unrighteous nation and redemption through marriage. Redemption is the key to plan of happiness, which allows all mankind the opportunity to return to our heavenly home and to then choose to receive all the blessings that God has in store for us.

Leviticus Chapter 23

This part of the bible is mostly instruction to the Israelites from the Lord. They had been given strict commandments and statutes to follow in their daily lives, so that they would draw nearer to God and separate themselves from the worldliness of the nations around them. This was all in preparation for them to receive the promised land and blessings of Abraham, as well as to give them a way to look towards the coming of the Savior, who would make all things possible for His people. The word of the Lord continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.

The feasts of the Lord were holy convocations, or holy meetings and gatherings of the people. The sabbath was a day to gather together, when no one was to work. We have been given a similar commandment today, which we can read in Doctrine and Covenants 59:

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

The sabbath was made for man, that we might be unspotted, rest from the work of our regular days, and have a fullness of joy. Isn’t that awesome. I think it is of great significance, that the Lord would give us one day of seven, to rest, be edified, and receive joy through worship and service to the Lord.

4 These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s passover.
6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

In addition to the sabbath day, the Lord had commanded them to gather for the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We have a repeat of what these feasts were to include. This will not be the last time these feasts are discussed in the bible, which shows me that they are of great importance to God. We first learn of these in the book of Exodus after the children of Israel had participated in the passover of Egypt (see Exodus 12). This was the time to make offerings to the Lord. On the first and seventh day of the feast, they were not to do servile work, or work as servants.

9 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord.
13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the Lord for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.
14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

When they arrived in the promised land, they were to keep the Feast of the Firstfruits, also known as the Feast of Pentecost. They were to give an offering of a sheaf of the firstfruits of their harvest, as a wave offering to the Lord. Then a firstling lamb without blemish was to be offered as a burnt offering to the Lord, and a meat and drink offering to the Lord.

15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.
17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.
18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord.
19 Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.
20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest.
21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

After seven sabbaths from that feast, they were to offer another meat offering to the Lord, which is called the feast of weeks in the book of Deuteronomy (16:10). They were to give of two leavened loaves as a meat offering, and seven firstling lambs without blemish, a young bullock and two rams for a burnt offering. Additionally they were to give a young goat for the sin offering and two firstling lambs as a peace offering. A wave offering would be made and the day would be proclaimed as a holy gathering or feast with no work of servitude.

22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.

The corners of the harvested fields were to be left for gleaning of the poor and strangers. The welfare of the poor and needy, should always have a part in our lives.

23 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

Israel was commanded to keep the Feast of the Trumpets, which was a sabbath when they were to blow trumpets. No work of servitude, or the daily labor, was to be done and they were to make a burnt offering to the Lord.

26 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God.
29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

Additionally, they were to keep the Day of Atonement, with a feast or gathering. They were to humble themselves, as with a fast, and make an offering to the Lord. No one was to do work, but instead they were to make an atonement. Anyone who was not in the attitude of fasting and humility, were to be cut off. Anyone who worked would be held accountable by the Lord. It would be a day of rest, fasting and sabbath celebration or a day to observe the sabbath. I like that it uses the word celebrate here, because the sabbath day should be a day in which we honor the Lord and show joyful gratitude for all that He has given to us. Being solemn and reverent, does not mean to be sad or forlorn, but to be humble and have a thankful heart.

33 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord.
35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.
37 These are the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:
38 Beside the sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the Lord.
39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.
40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.
41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:
43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.

Also, the Israelites were to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days. The first day would have a gathering and no servitude was to be performed. Offerings to the Lord, were to be made for seven days. Then on the eighth day, they were to gather again and make an offering. This day was a solemn assembly and no servitude was to be done. When they had gathered in the harvest, they were to feast seven days, from a sabbath to a sabbath. On the first day, they were to rejoice before the Lord, with boughs and branches from the trees. This reminds me of the Triumphant Entry of the Lord, when they laid the branches and boughs of the trees in a path for the Lord to cross over. The Israelites were to keep the feast through the week, and as a memorial of the Lord having them dwell in booths (some type of tent or personal tabernacle) when they came into the promised land, they were to dwell in booths for those seven days.

These feasts were holy occasions to the Lord. They were days to make offerings as prescribed by the Lord, in addition to their normal sabbath days, offerings, vows, or gifts to the Lord. These things were established with the children of Israel, so that they would remember the Lord, their God. It is easy to let life draw you away, even with the best intentions, as we get busy and focused on ourselves and our families. The natural man in each of us, needs a frequent reminder of where our blessings come from and of the perspective the Lord would have us take. I am very grateful for the sabbath day and for our own special gatherings, which draw us apart from the world. Partaking of the sacrament is a privilege that I am eager to participate in each week. I look forward to our modern day convocations, such as General Conference, where we can worship the Lord in humility by heeding the words of His holy prophets.

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 – Recognition Well Deserved

    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

    3 I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the Zoramites.
    4 For I know that thou wast in bonds; yea, and I also know that thou wast stoned for the word’s sake; and thou didst bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee. (Alma 38:3-4 emphasis added)

  • Those who love me and are trying to live righteously themselves, will recognize my patience and will find joy in it. More importantly, God will recognize it and will be glad for me. A patient person will lift others around them, which should be something every good person wants to do.
  • Do We Delight in Giving Service and Doing Good Works?

    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.

    To delight is to take great pleasure, satisfaction, or joy in something. I truly delight in several things in my life such as crossing off items on my todo list each day, making a new meal and my family enjoying it, studying the scriptures and understanding something new, hearing about something good my daughters have done, and so on. These things bring my great happiness. As disciples of Jesus Christ, and people who strive to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is nothing better then the joy that comes from doing what is right and good. This is not some new notion for modern times. The prophets of old wrote about this several times in the scriptures. In Psalms 40:8 we read, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” When we delight in the will of God, which is service and good works, we have a love for his commandments. This concept of delighting in service and good works, causes me to think about what it is I do and create with the time that I have been blessed with. In Isaiah 55:2 it says, “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (emphasis added)” We should feel completely satisfied by the good that we do and seek for in this life.

    I’ve thought a lot about the things that I create in my life. We are creating something every day and often times we are creating multiple things each day. I believe that even when we feel like we are doing nothing, we are creating something we should not want to create. When I choose not to do what I should be doing, I create something that Satan can use against me, such as a bad habit. We really should avoid this kind of creating, because it leads to sins of all types. We will not find true delight in sinning. In 2 Nephi 9:49 we read, “Behold, my soul abhorreth sin, and my heart delighteth in righteousness; and I will praise the holy name of my God.” Rather that creating things that support Satan and his cause, we should be creating the things that support God and his cause. We really should find delight in serving others and doing works that are good.

    Our duty as covenanted saints and disciples of Christ, is to give all that we can to the service of God. In Romans 12:1 we read, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” When we delight in these things, we willingly give of our bodies to the service of the Lord. In Ephesians 6 we read the following:

    5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
    6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
    7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
    8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
    9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

    We need to serve others, not as if we are serving them, but as if we are serving God. Know that God will bless accordingly, no matter who you are in this life. I think we should ask ourselves how God would serve this person or group? After all, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17) If we think about doing a service for God, because we are indeed serving him when we serve others, then the effort to accomplish that service will bring the delight that comes from trying harder to accomplish something, as well as a knowledge that we are making our Father in Heaven proud of or happy with the things we do.

    When we serve with God in mind and seeking for delight, I think we are more inclined to do more than would ever be expected of us. In Doctrine and Covenants 4:2 we read, “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” When we give our all and don’t stop at only serving a portion of what is needed, our joy will be full at that last day when we stand before God.

    Our example of good works and service will bring others closer to God. In Matthew 5:16 we read, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Others will be able to recognize where the light within us comes from us, when we strive to do good works. Our influence is great. In Doctrine and Covenants 64:33 we read, “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” Great things come from every small good work we do. There is no greater satisfaction or delight that we can have, then in bringing others to God. In Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 we read, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” And also in Mosiah 5:15 we read, “Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.” I know that when we do service and good works, others will see our light and we will seal the covenants we have made with the Lord. He will give us our salvation and eternal life, and this should give us something amazing to delight in, both in this life and in the kingdom of God.

    I feel that I have a lot to improve upon in my choices every day, to get to where the Lord wants me to be with this. I think that if I can change my perspective to choose more of things that I can delight in, which would also be a service to my Father in Heaven, then I will be on the right track. I am grateful for the divine attributes of womanhood, which help me to be more mindful of the needs of others, especially if I am living worthy of the guidance of the spirit. I have had so much delight in the service and good works that I have done in my life and I look forward to improving and filling my life with even more.

    Do We Find Joy in Womanhood?

    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.

    Joy is the reason we are here. According to 2 Nephi 2:25, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” We are here on this earth to have the joy that God promised the faithful, before we came. We can have great joy in this life, if we live in a way to be able to recognize and receive it. As women, I think we spend a lot of our lives getting down on ourselves. We think a lot about all the things we should have done, but didn’t get finished. We focus a lot on our flaws and the things that make us so far from perfection. It seems to be a common part of the female characteristics within us. We may be willing to forgive others, but we find it extremely difficult to forgive ourselves. If we spend so much of our time focusing on the perceived failures, flaws and imperfections in ourselves, we cannot possibly recognize the joy that our lives have to offer us, or rather that God has to offer us because of the good we are and do.

    Womanhood is a blessing. President Gordon B. Hinckley said the following:

    “Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good.

    “Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth.” (“Our Responsibility to Our Young Women,” Ensign, Sept. 1988, 11.)

    He may have been talking to the young women in saying this, but the thought is true for all women. To find the joy in womanhood, we need to first recognize what the natural and divine characteristics of women are, otherwise called our divine nature. We can find these qualities as we live in a way that is virtuous, honor our bodies, cultivate our minds, enlarge our understanding, and nurture our spirits.

    There are qualities that are inhierantly different for men and women and therefore are part of what we should celebrate in womanhood. In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” it says the following about one of those qualities:

    By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

    Men are divinely created to be the providers and protectors and they have the qualities that make them good at this. Women are divinely created to be nurturers. Not just to our children, but to all people. We have the qualities within us to make us great at this. As women, I believe we are blessed with the ability to draw close to the Lord with greater ease than men. We are more in tune with things of the spirit. Because of this, we tend towards the more gentle side of things. We have the ability to be more forgiving, loving, kind, and charitable. These nurturing qualities should be praised and never pushed aside for the things of the world.

    We have been blessed with the amazing ability to bear children, which is nothing short of a miracle. President Spencer W. Kimball said the following:

    Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord’s spirit children and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments. Could there be a more sacred trust than to be a trustee for honorable, well-born, well-developed children? (“The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976.)

    As mothers, we have the power within us to be extremely influential. Our children look to us for care, learning, guidance and direction. I cannot count the number of times when I have heard grown men and women talk about the amazing influence of their mothers. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve once said the following:

    . . . women are the compassionate, self-sacrificing, loving power that binds together the human family. (“The Sanctity of Womanhood,” General Conference Address, April 2000)

    Families need these wonderful qualities of a woman to keep them together. I believe that this is why a mother is part of the eternal design of families.

    Moreover, our husbands depend on our nurturing care for support and strength. I believe that most great men are where they are because of the support of great women. They may not always realize it, but they need us just as we need them. In 1 Corinthians 11 we can read the following:

    11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
    12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

    Together, men and women are able to receive all the blessings that God has in store for us. Our role in that partnership as women, cannot be replaced. One of the first things we read in the bible has to do with this relationship in mortality. In Genesis 2:24 we read, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” We become first to our husband, who leave their families to be in union with us. If this relationship is treated properly, we should be able to find great joy in our part of it as women.

    To find joy in womanhood, I love to read and listen to the words of the general authorities to us as women. They have the amazing ability to build us up and give us the guidance we need. In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball was quoted as saying, “Each of you should be grateful to be a woman! … To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times” (“Privileges and Responsibilities of Sisters,” Ensign, Nov. 1978, 103). I know that this is true even today. We live in a world that is challenging and has evil around every corner. Our amazing influence as women can touch our family members whether we are married or not, have children or not, or even if our family is not near us now. Our influence reaches those we work with, go to school or church with, and even those we pass on the streets each day. I know that if we seek to find more joy in womanhood, we will have a greater desire to do good. I hope that I can remember to rejoice in my own womanhood and use my divine qualities to be a greater influence for good in the lives of those around me.

    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.

    The Creation

    This is the fifth chapter of the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To view the entire lesson, go here: The Creation

    God’s Plan for Us – Why did we need to come to the earth?

    This question is one I have reflected on quite a bit lately. It is the purpose of our life. We came so that we can learn, grow and progress. We came so that we could become like our Father in Heaven. We came so that we could gain a body and experiences we could not have in the immortal state of heaven. We came so that we could have salvation and exaltation in eternity. God said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)” To read more of my thoughts on this, go here: What is the Purpose of Our Lives?.

    Why do you think we shouted for joy when we learned of the plan of salvation?

    In the scriptures we can read of when Job asked God how the earth was created. In Job 38:7 he asked, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” In the counsel in heaven, the hosts of heaven shouted for joy at the presentation of the plan of salvation. I think that we understood that we could go no further in the eternities without this amazing opportunity. I think we rejoiced in the ideas of what would come as a reward for living a good life. I think we rejoiced to know that we could prove ourselves to our Father in Heaven.

    Carrying Out the Creation – What are the purposes of the Creation?

    As part of the plan, the earth had to be created physically for us to inhabit. All living things on the earth had to be created as well. Jesus, under the direction of Heavenly Father, created the earth and all that grew and lived on it. In Moses 1:33 we read, “And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.” I believe also, that many souls had the opportunity to serve in the creation, under the direction of the Savior. This earth was created in most simple terms, for the use of man.

    However, there is so much more to the purpose of the creation than purely giving us a place to live in our mortal bodies. An even greater purpose of the creation, is to give us knowledge and wisdom. That may seem an odd thing to say, but I believe it is true. Everything we ever do, in our entire existence, has to do with creating. Understanding the creation of the earth and all things on it, helps us to learn of our own potential. In Doctrine and Covenants 132:20 we read of our potential, “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.” We are working towards being able to create our own worlds, as gods in heaven. As we learn of the creation, we learn that order, work and rest are eternal principles that must be applied in all areas of our lives. When we take the time to learn about the creation, we learn to see the eternal value of all things. We can be more grateful and love with a greater love.

    The earth was created to teach us how to properly take care of our own. In Doctrine and Covenants 104:13 we read, “For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.” This is part of what we will be judged on when we return to Him someday. The creation teaches us the responsibility and divine traits of caring and nurturing that we need to strive towards.

    The creation teaches us that the principle of delegation is also an eternal principle. God delegated to His Son, and the creation was the result. We can see that as parents we need to allow our own children the opportunity to create so that they can reach their own potential. We learn that allowing others to help us, gives everyone the opportunity to grow. These are just a few of the reasons that the earth was created.

    God’s Creations Show His Love – How do God’s creations show that He loves us?

    God’s creations are for man. In Doctrine and Covenants 59:20 we read, “And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.” We learn in the scriptures that mankind has been given dominion over all of God’s other creations on earth. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26)” In a way, God has given all his creations to us as gifts. They are all for our good, and ultimately for our joy. In 2 Nephi 2:25 we read, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” Even those things that are annoyances to us now, are for our learning and growth, which will lead to an even greater joy in heaven.

    What are some things you appreciate about God’s creations?

    One of the things that I appreciate most about God’s creations is beauty. Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time . . .”. There is so much beauty in the way things have been made, as well as in the appearance of those things. I think that the way the human body works, with so many little parts working perfectly with other parts, is a beauty that cannot be duplicated by man. I think that the world in its different seasons, has beauties that are magnificent and inspiring. I saw a huge rainbow over my home this weekend and it was beautiful and amazing to see. I also appreciate the individuality of everything, even when things seem similar. The individuality makes me feel a personal love from God that is touching. I appreciate how things have been created to have relationships with others. The trees having need for us to live, and our need for the trees, is one relationship that amazes me often. The way the water cycle works to replenish the earth is incredible. There are purposes to things that we don’t even recognize yet, I am sure of it.

    I am so grateful for the creations of my Father in Heaven. I am honored to be among such beautiful things each and every day. I hope that as I grow, I can become a better creator, and that someday I will be worthy of creating worlds as well.

    Freedom to Choose

    This is the forth chapter of the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To view the entire lesson, go here: Freedom to Choose

    Agency Is an Eternal Principle – If someone asked you why it is important to have agency, what would you say?

    Agency was given to us, by God, to allow us the opportunity to choose for ourselves if we would follow Him. It is an eternal principle which existed before life on this earth. We learn of our agency in the scriptures. In Doctrine and Covenants 29:36 we read, “And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;”. We used our agency and chose to follow the Savior. Agency is the thing that allows us to be free. It is the principle that causes us to learn, grow and ultimately to progress. Without agency, we cannot become more intelligent. Rather we are forced to remain in the same state forever, which is to be under the control of another. As an eternal principle, agency gives us the ability to become like our Father in Heaven, who is free to act for Himself in all things. In 2 Nephi 2:27 we read, “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” Our agency gives us the eternal opportunity to be free like God, or be captive like the Devil. Abraham 3:24-25 says the following:

    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;

    Agency also makes us responsible for our own decisions and therefore able to prove ourselves worthy to God by choosing to follow His commandments.

    Agency Is a Necessary Part of the Plan of Salvation – How does making right choices help us make more right choices?

    To every choice there is a consequence, either good or bad. There are many times when we are choosing between two good things and either consequence would be good. Then there are plenty of times when our choices are between that which is good and that which is bad. There is a feeling of peace and contentment when I know that I have made the right choice. This feeling is one that I long for often in my life. There is so much uncertainty and struggle in life, that a moment of peace can give me the strength to take the next step forward. Knowing that I can get peace from making the right choice, gives me a simple enough reason to continue making right choices. I know from study of the gospel, that the peace is a gift from God, through the blessings of the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Agency Requires That There Be a Choice – Why is opposition necessary?

    We learn from the scriptures that there has to be opposition in all things in order for us to progress. In 2 Nephi 2:11 we read, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so . . . righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.” As an example of the importance of this, I have not experienced much death in my life so far. In fact, the only family member in my side of the family, who had passed away before 2010, was my great-grandmother. She died the day I was born, so I don’t really recall the experience that my family went through at her passing. In 2010, my Grandfather died from complications resulting from cancer. It was not entirely expected and progressed so quickly that the family was not really prepared for his death. I realized as we went through the process, that I never really knew the value of life until experiencing this so personally. I had an idea of principles and concepts, but I could not understand what I had not experienced. Our entire growth in knowledge and intelligence, depends on the experiences of life. We have to go through the opposition, in order to understand the joy. Doctrine and Covenants 29:39 reads, “And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet—”. We must learn to choose the good, in order to learn from our choices. The Savior had to suffer through the greatest opposition of all. Matthew 26:39 reads, “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” By choice he followed God’s will and suffered even death for us so that we would have the ultimate ability to choose our eternal outcome.

    What are some examples of actions that limit our choices? What are some examples of actions that give us more freedom?

    Each consequence of our choices can either give us the freedom to choose more, or the limit to the choices we can make. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:86 we read, “Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.” An action that limits our choices, is anything which causes us to give of our freedom to choose, to another. We give this, when we put ourselves in some kind of bondage. As a temporal example, choosing to live life based on credit, gives the creditors the right to choose how our finances can be used. Many people have suffered greatly for this mistake in the recent years. On the other hand, living a life free of debt, gives us the freedom to spend our money how we choose and the freedom to keep the things that we own without someone waiting to take it all away from us.

    Another example of an action which limits our choice, is partaking of something that impairs our own judgment. There are things which can affect us in a way where we become either dependent on that thing, or we physically cannot control our own thoughts and actions any longer. These things can be taken into our bodies, such as harmful substances, alcohol, and other drugs; or they can be things we choose to become addicted to, such as gambling or pornography. Before we can understand what is happening, we become bound to that thing and are unable to have the self-control to do something else. I have experienced my own types of addictions in life and I understand that the struggle to overcome them, no matter what they may be, is difficult and can feel next to impossible at times. The Savior taught of the power sin has over us. In John 8:34 we read, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” We cannot have freedom if we choose to become a servant to sin and to the master of sin itself, Satan. On-the-other hand, when we keep ourselves free from addictions of any sort and from sin, we are completely free to act according to our own will, and more importantly, according to the will of God.

    I am amazed at the wonderful gift of agency that we have been given. It is natural and right to be able to choose for ourselves and to be responsible for the path our life takes because of these choices. I cannot imagine the way life would be if agency did not exist. I know that agency gives purpose to our life and makes us better beings. I am so glad that I can gain knowledge and experience through my choices, good and bad.


    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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