Posts Tagged 'Spirit'

1 Kings Chapter 19

Jezebel had married Ahab, who was the king of Israel. She was from Sidon and had brought with her the practice of worshipping Baal and other false gods. With Ahab, she had led the people of Israel into greater wickedness. She had sought out the prophets of the Lord, and killed many of them. Elijah had been in hiding and had been preserved by the Lord, until he was commanded to go to Ahab. The prophet challenged the wicked priests of Baal, and proved Baal to be a false god. Elijah had the wicked priests and prophets destroyed. This chapter continues the account with the following:

1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.

Ahab returned to Jezebel and told her what had happened, including that Elijah had killed her prophets. Jezebel swore to kill Elijah, so he left and went into Judah, leaving his servant in Israel.

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

Elijah traveled for a day and sat under a tree in the desert wilderness. Elijah felt that he couldn’t do anymore to help the people. It seems like he felt as though he had failed and was the only righteous man living, and he was ready to die. An angel came to him as he slept, and touched him, telling him to wake and eat. When Elijah awoke, he saw a cake and water next to him, which he ate and drank. He went back to sleep, and the angel came again and told him the same thing, because he would need strength for his journey. He woke and ate and drank, and this food gave him strength for a long time, during which he fasted, as he traveled to Horeb. Horeb was the mount where the Lord had spoken to Moses a long time before Elijah lived.

9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Elijah arrived at a cave and stayed there, when the Lord spoke to him. The Lord asked him what he was doing there. Elijah said that he was upset with the wickedness of the people of Israel, and since they wanted to kill him, he had come to this place to hide. Then, Elijah was commanded to stand on the mount, before the Lord. As the Lord passed Elijah, there was a strong wind that split the mountain and rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then, Elijah felt an earthquake, but the Lord was not there. After that, there was fire, but the Lord was not present in the fire. Finally, there was a still, small voice, and when Elijah heard it, he went to the cave entrance and heard the voice of the Lord. The voice of the Lord, the voice of the Spirit, is a still, small voice. This is how we can all expect the Lord to speak to our hearts and minds. Because it is this way, we have to separate ourselves from the world, just as Elijah did, and push away the distractions, so that we may be able to hear Him speak.

The Lord asked what Elijah was doing there. Elijah again repeated why he was there, that he had done much for the Lord because the people had lost their way, killing the prophets and leaving only him remaining. The Lord told him to return to Damascus and anoint Hazael to rule over Syria and Jehu to rule over Israel. Then, he was to anoint Elisha as the prophet to follow after him. The Lord revealed to Elijah, that anyone that escaped death from Hazael, was to be killed by Jehu, and anyone that escaped death from Jehu, would be killed by Elisha. He told him that there were 7,000 people in Israel, which did not worship Baal. With this, the Lord helped Elijah to know that he was not alone.

19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?
21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

Elijah left and found Elisha working in the fields. When Elijah passed him, he threw his mantel on him as a sign that he was to go with him, I believe. The mantle of Elijah was a symbol of authority. Elisha left the field and asked to say goodbye to his parents before following Elijah. Elijah told him to go back. Elisha went, fed the people his oxen, and then left and followed Elijah.

Elisha is an example of a righteous man, who had the courage and faith to leave his family and work, to follow the prophet of the Lord. Today, very few are asked to leave everything they have, as Elisha was in that day, but we are all invited to leave behind the things of the world that have no lasting value, to follow those things that the prophet teaches and exhorts us to do. For most of us, this will take just as much courage and faith, if not a great deal more. I can imagine that for many of us, it would be easier to follow if we had the prophet come to us personally and extend a call to action, but most of us are required to believe and follow in faith without the prophet being in our presence. The blessings will be great for those who choose to follow the prophet, as Elisha chose to follow Elijah.

The Lord did not leave Elijah in his times of trial and depression. He gave him physical blessings to help him have strength to physically continue in the work. Moreover, he blessed him spiritually, with the spirit and with direction in his calling, which would help him to continue in his service to the Lord. He received these blessings, because he had a desire to do what was right, and to help others to know God. When we want to be righteous and bring others to Christ, we will have the help of the Lord as well. The spirit will be there, as a still, small voice, to bless and guide us. I know these things to be true, because I have felt the blessing of strength beyond my own, both physically and spiritually, when I have had moments where I have felt defeated and down in what I believe to be righteous endeavors of my own. God loves us and will not leave us comfortless.

1 Samuel Chapter 10

The Lord gave a revelation to the prophet Samuel, that Saul was to be the king of Israel. Saul was told that he was the answer to the prayers of Israel, and was given honor at a meal with Samuel. As Samuel escorted Saul from the city the following day, he told Saul to remain so that Samuel could tell him the word of the Lord. This next chapter begins with the following:

1 Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?
2 When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?
3 Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Beth-el, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:
4 And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
5 After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:
6 And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
7 And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.
8 And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.

Samuel anointed Saul as the captain over the Lord’s inheritance. Saul was called by the Lord, and was anointed according to the ancient custom. I think anointing was possibly a way of dedicating the service of the king, to the Lord. Today, those who receive calls from the Lord to serve in his church, are set-apart by the authority of the priesthood and by the laying on of hands, and they then receive a blessing to help them in their service. Being set-apart is a way of dedicating one to the service of the Lord.

Samuel, in his role as a seer, told Saul that as he would be traveling, two men would approach him and tell him that his father’s donkeys had been found and that his father had begun to be concerned for him. Then as Saul continued on his way, he would come upon three men taking offerings to the place of worship. They would salute him and give him two of their loaves of bread. Then, Saul would go to the hill of God, where there were Philistine guards, and he would meet a company of prophets with musicians in front of them. They would prophecy and then Saul would receive the spirit of prophesy and appear as someone new. Theses things would be a sign to Saul, and he would know that the Lord was with him. Then Saul was to go to Gilgal and Samuel would go there to make offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. Saul was to stay there for seven days, until Samuel met him there.

In the course of this revelation, we can see that the Lord was looking out for Saul. First, he would have confirmation that the donkeys he had been searching for, had been found and he did not need to continue looking or worrying about them. Likewise, there would be those who could return to his father and tell him that Saul was alright. With that, Saul could continue on his way without concern that his father was worried about where he was. Next, we learned in the previous chapter, that Saul and his servant had nothing left to give when they had went looking for Samuel. When they headed to the high place, which Samuel was now referring to, they would want again to bring an offering. Along their way, they would meet three men who would give them bread which they could them take with them to the high place. The experience of being among prophets and prophesying with them, would show people, who already knew Saul, that he was not the same boy they had seen grow up. It could help some to support him in his calling as their king. In addition, these things would be able to give Saul courage and greater confidence to approach his calling, because he could know that the Lord was on his side.

9 And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
10 And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
11 And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?
12 And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?
13 And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.

God blessed Saul with all the things that Samuel had prophesied for him. The Lord gave Saul a new heart. He was met by the prophets and he prophesied with them as he was given the spiritual gift to do so. The people who had known him, were surprised at what they witnessed. When he was done being among the prophets, he went to the high place, just as Samuel had instructed.

When the spirit touches men, it changes their hearts. The spirit has the power to help us become new people. The spirit is the power that brings conversion to the Lord. I’m not sure how much the heart of Saul was changed from the person he was before, but it had an effect on him, which I believe was intended to prepare him for becoming the king for the people. I believe also, that this change of heart came to Saul, because he acted in faith. He was given instruction by the prophet of the Lord, and he followed those instructions with faith. We can also experience a change of heart, that is powerful and will convert us into the person that God wants us to be. As with Saul, this will only come to us, if we listen to the words of the prophet, both ancient and modern, and follow with faith in the Lord.

14 And Saul’s uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.
15 And Saul’s uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you.
16 And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not.

Saul’s uncle came to him and asked where he and his servant had gone. Saul told him what had happened as they searched for the donkeys. His uncle asked what Samuel had told him. The only part of it that Saul told his uncle, was that Samuel had told them the donkeys had been found.

17 And Samuel called the people together unto the Lord to Mizpeh;
18 And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:
19 And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands.
20 And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.
21 When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
22 Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.
23 And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
24 And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
25 Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.

In Mizpeh, which I am guessing is the high place referred to earlier in this chapter, Samuel called the people together. Samuel told them the word of the Lord, which was first a reminder of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and from all other oppressors. He told them that in that day, they had rejected God as their ruler and had desired a king to rule over them. He called the people to present themselves to the Lord by their tribes. Once they did this, Samuel called the tribe of Benjamin out from among them. Saul was called out from the tribe of Benjamin, but he was not found right away. They prayed to the Lord to know where he was, and they were told that Saul had hid himself. They found him and brought him in the midst of the people, where Samuel announced that Saul had been chosen by the Lord. The people recognized Saul as the king. Samuel gave the people instructions regarding the kingdom, which were recorded, as the scriptures were recorded. Then, the people were sent to their homes.

26 And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.
27 But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.

Saul returned to his homeland, with a band of men who had been inspired to go with him. Some people among the Israelites, who followed after the false gods, questioned the ability for Saul to save them from the Philistines and other enemies. The doubted his calling and they refused to honor him as their king, but Saul kept peace, or ignored them. There will be times, and have been many times, when people do not support the callings extended to certain individuals by the Lord. This is their choice. All we can do ourselves, is to allow individuals to voice their opinions or concerns and move forward in the work of the Lord as He has inspired us to do so. I believe that we grow so much more, and in the ways that God would have us grow, when we sustain and support those who have been called to lead us. I am grateful for the blessing of the spirit, which as I have followed in faith, has confirmed in my heart that those who lead our church today, are indeed men and women called of God.

Here we see, that when the desires of the people of the Lord are united, the Lord will give them what they want. In this case, they desired for a king. I believe the wisdom of the Lord was that the people of Israel would learn from this experience, even if it was not what the Lord desired for them. God did not place people here on this earth, to force us to do His will. We were blessed with agency and God wants us to learn from choices that we make, both the good and bad. If we draw near to Him, we will know what He desires for us and He will be able to bless us greatly for being obedient and loving children. However, if we reject God, as the Israelites did, we may get the things that we want in this life, but God will not be able to give us the blessings later. Our loving Father in Heaven, will allow us to choose for ourselves, so that we can receive the consequences of our choices, good or bad, and learn for ourselves those things that we should learn from this mortal experience.

1 Samuel Chapter 3

Eli was the high priest, in the Israelite temple in Shiloh. Samuel was a young boy, who had been given to Eli, into the service of the Lord. From a very young age, Samuel served the Lord in the temple. Eli’s sons had dealt unrighteously with their own service in the temple, and because of that, and how he had chosen to deal with it, Eli had been told that his posterity would not continue to serve in the temple. The story of Samuel and Eli continues as follows:

1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.
2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;
3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;
4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.
6 And the Lord called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.
8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child.
9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

At this time, the Lord had not been leading his people through visions and revelations, but through His words alone, which had already been given by the prophets long before. There have been many times throughout the history of the world, when the Lord has removed his prophets from the earth. Whether this is done to test the people, because the people become too wicked, or some other reason, it is a test of the faith of the people of the Lord. This had been one of those times for the Israelites, who had not had a prophet among them since the days of Joshua.

Samuel was serving the the temple of the Lord. Eli became old and his vision was weak, he was in bed, and it says the lamp of God went out. The instructions of the Lord had been, that the lamp of the Lord was always to be lit. It seems that Eli was unable to perform the duty of keeping the lamp lit. At that time, Samuel had laid down to sleep. The Lord called him and he answered, assuming that it was Eli who had called him. He went to Eli, but Eli told him he had not called him, and that he should return to his bed. The Lord called Samuel again, he answered and returned to Eli to see why he had been called. Eli told him again, that he had not called him, and that he should return to his bed. Samuel was young and had not been taught all the things about the Lord. He was not yet familiar with the word of the Lord, or possibly the ways the Lord spoke to men. He did not recognize, for himself, that the Lord was speaking to him. The Lord called Samuel for the third time, and when he went to Eli to ask why he had called for him, Eli recognized that it was a calling from the Lord. He told Samuel to return to his bed, and if he was called again, he was to answer the Lord and say that he was ready to hear the word of the Lord. He went back to bed and when the Lord called him for the forth time, Samuel answered the Lord as Eli had instructed.

It is blessing to learn how to hear the Lord speak to us. The spirit of the Lord can touch the hearts and minds of all men and women. When we learn to listen, and are obedient to the commandments, we can feel and hear God speak. A child, as Samuel, is unlikely to know and recognize this on their own. It is important for those who know, to teach the youth of the world these things. I think it is one of the most important thing parents and leaders of youth can teach them. There is great power and safety in learning to recognize how the Lord speaks to us personally. If we want the youth of today to have greater strength and courage to do what is right, we need to teach them this principle.

11 And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.
12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.
13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.
14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

Samuel was told that in the day when his promise to Eli was to be fulfilled, the ears of every one who heard it, would tingle. The witness of the spirit, would come to the Israelites, and they would be able to know that the Lord had been true to his word regarding the house of Eli. The Lord told Samuel that Eli had been told of the judgement which was to come upon his house because of the wickedness that he was aware of in his family, which he did nothing to stop. His family would no longer be purged by sacrifices and offerings.

I think that the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, was such that He knew the sons of Eli would not somehow become an example of righteousness, but would instead be a stumbling block to the House of Israel. They could no longer be counted among the worthy, and therefore could no longer serve in His holy house. Additionally, they could not bring their own sacrifices and offerings to the temple, to be made clean by them. In punishing the house of Eli in this way, the Lord was setting (or resetting) a standard for worthiness in serving in the temple. There are times, when a few must be stopped or even destroyed in their wickedness, so that a great number more might be saved. This reminds me of a Book of Mormon story of young Nephi. He had been sent to get sacred records from Laban, who dealt wickedly with his family. The Lord gave the following instruction through the voice of the spirit, “Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” (see 1 Nephi 4:13) This was the wisdom of the Lord for the family of Nephi and the future nation that would come from them. Likewise, the punishment of the family of Eli, needed to be this strong for the benefit of the souls of many others.

15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.
16 Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.
17 And he said, What is the thing that the Lord hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.
18 And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good.

Samuel stayed in his bed until the next morning, got up and opened the temple doors. He was afraid to tell Eli what the Lord had told him. It would have been natural for a young boy to be worried about telling his master that the Lord was prepared to judge the master for something he had done. I imagine that Eli spent the night considering what the Lord was sharing with Samuel as well, and possibly because of that, Eli called Samuel for him. Eli asked Samuel what the Lord had said, so Samuel told him everything and Eli knew it would be as the Lord had said.

19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord.
21 And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

Samuel grew up and was recognized throughout all of Israel, as the prophet of the Lord. All the words of Samuel were fulfilled and he had the Lord, or the spirit of the Lord, with him. The Lord showed himself unto Samuel in Shiloh, and He showed revelations unto him, because Samuel was the prophet of the Lord.

Joshua Chapter 22

When the tribes of Israel had conquered the land on the eastern side of the Jordan, across from Jericho, they took some time to encamp there. It was a good land for cattle and herds, and the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh, decided they would like that land for their inheritance. The Lord allowed them to have what they wanted, as long as the promised to help the rest of the children of Israel in gaining the land of their inheritance. They agreed and left their families in their lands while they helped fight. Now that all of Israel had found rest, these tribes had fulfilled their promise.

1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
2 And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:
3 Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God.
4 And now the Lord your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side Jordan.
5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
6 So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, were released from their service and told to return to their homes in their own land. They were given instruction to heed the commandments of the Lord, which Moses had given to them. Then they were given a blessing by Joshua and left to go home.

I think that the instruction given to them here is so important. They were not just told to keep the commandments, but were told to “take diligent heed to do”. The word diligent is defined as “careful and persistent work or effort”, and the word heed means “careful attention”. They were being instructed to be carefully persistent in their attention to the law and commandments. The Lord knew that they would need to be actively engaged every day of their lives, if they were going to remain faithfully His people. Likewise, we must be watchful every day, and be persistent in living the gospel of the Lord. One decision can put us on the path that leads away from God and our own promised blessings. If we take diligent heed to follow the commandments, we will be greatly blessed and have the honor of being called the people of the Lord.

7 Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: but unto the other half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan westward. And when Joshua sent them away also unto their tents, then he blessed them,
8 And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.

The remainder of the tribe of Manasseh, was also given a blessing by Joshua and told them to share the spoil from their enemies.

9 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, whereof they were possessed, according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
10 And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, had obeyed the Lord and served their brethren by fighting for a long time. They had left their homes and families to do this, and had not returned, even though I am sure the temptation was there for some. They had faithfully fulfilled their oath to the tribes of Israel and were only now being able to return to their homes. They returned to their lands on the eastern side of the Jordan. On their way, they stopped by the Jordan and built and altar.

11 And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel.
12 And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.
13 And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,
14 And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.

The other tribes of Israel, heard about the altar that they built, and prepared to fight against these tribes for it. They believed that these tribes had chosen to go against the commandments of the Lord. Phinehas, Eleazar’s son, was sent with ten of the princes of Israel.

It would have been so destructive, if they were indeed building an altar in order to perform sacrifices, because it would have been directly against the word of the Lord. Many of the host of Israel, had been destroyed for this type of disobedience, in their journey to the promised land. It was the duty of the rest of Israel, to get rid of any such disobedience among them.

15 And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spake with them, saying,
16 Thus saith the whole congregation of the Lord, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the Lord, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the Lord?
17 Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the Lord,
18 But that ye must turn away this day from following the Lord? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the Lord, that to morrow he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.
19 Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the Lord, wherein the Lord’s tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the Lord, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the Lord our God.
20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.

These men went to the tribes who had built the altar and asked why they had trespassed against the Lord by building the altar. They accused them of coming out in open rebellion against God. They supposed that if they did not repent of this thing, the Lord would bring his anger against the entire host of Israel, as had been done in the past when one man or group had trespassed against the Lord.

21 Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered, and said unto the heads of the thousands of Israel,
22 The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the Lord, (save us not this day,)
23 That we have built us an altar to turn from following the Lord, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering, or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the Lord himself require it;
24 And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the Lord God of Israel?
25 For the Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no part in the Lord: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the Lord.
26 Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice:
27 But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the Lord before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the Lord.
28 Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of the Lord, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you.
29 God forbid that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn this day from following the Lord, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the Lord our God that is before his tabernacle.

They responded by telling them that this altar was not made for burnt offerings or sacrifice, but to witness that they were children of the Lord as well, even though the Jordan separated them from the rest of Israel. They knew that they could not make an altar for sacrifice when the altar at the tabernacle had been dedicated for that purpose. They also knew that God would know what the purpose was, and they were well aware that He would not let them live, if they did this things against Him.

30 And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spake, it pleased them.
31 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the Lord is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the Lord: now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the Lord.

Phinehas and the princes, were pleased with this explanation and agreed that they had not trespassed against the Lord. They knew this was right, because they could tell that the presence of the Lord was still with the host of Israel. When we are doing what is right, we can also have this confirmation. I am reminded now, of the times when I have suspected one of my children has been dishonest with me, and I confront them because I feel the withdrawal of the spirit. Quite often, I confront them based on these feelings, and once they confess and apologize, I can feel the presence of the spirit, letting me know that things are right among us. Feeling the impressions and companionship of the spirit, is a very important tool to knowing that we are doing what the Lord would have us do.

32 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again.
33 And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.
34 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the Lord is God.

They returned to Canaan and told the rest of the host of Israel what had been done. The desire to fight was gone, and the host of Israel blessed God instead.

When our own lives are affected by the actions of others or the circumstances that they might put us in, it is our duty, as it was for the tribes of Israel, to make what we can right. In the areas, in which we can make changes or influence for good, we should do so. This is the only way for us to continue to have the influence of the spirit of God in our lives. If we allow ourselves to be denied the influence of God, because of what someone else has done, we choose to separate ourselves from God and the blessings He has in store for us. I am grateful, every day, for the companionship of the spirit. I thank God for His presence in my life and for the confirmation that even though I make mistakes, I am still on the right path and can be a more righteous person with His help.

Leviticus Chapter 24

The book of Leviticus continues to cover the law of Moses, as received from the Lord. The children of Israel were given instruction for daily life, as well as specifics commandments regarding the holy tabernacle. The word of the Lord continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.
3 Without the veil of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.
4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually.

The Israelites were to provide pure oil for lighting the lamps in the tabernacle of the congregation. The lamps were to be continually burning and the sons of Aaron were to make sure they were trimmed and lit at all times. I’d like to think about why it was necessary for the lamps to be lit at all times. If the lamps were lit, the spirit of the Lord would dwell with them. I wonder if this was evidence of the spirits of the Israelites. If there came a time, or rather when there was a time, when the lamps went out, it would have been due to disobedience or apathy of the people. When people get to that point, the spirit of the Lord cannot dwell among them. Likewise, our own spiritual lamps must be lit at all times. We cannot allow life to draw us away from this duty. If we do not keep the lamp of faith burning in our hearts, the spirit will withdraw from us.

5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.
6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord.
7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.
9 And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the Lord made by fire by a perpetual statute.

They were commanded to have twelves loaves of bread, or shewbread, with frankincense, in rows on the table within the tabernacle. This was a memorial and offering to the Lord. I am figuring that the number was twelve, to represent the tribes of Israel and the covenant between them and God. This was an offering, which the sons of Aaron were to eat. Reminding me, once again, of the sacrament we partake of each week to renew our own covenants with God.

10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;
11 And the Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)
12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the Lord might be shewed them.
13 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.
16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.

There was a man of the Israelite tribe of Dan, and of Egyptian blood. He was out among the people along with another Israelite man. The first committed blasphemy, and was then taken and brought to Moses. As a witness of what was done, those who heard him were to lay their hands upon him. Then he was to be put to death by stoning. Moses was to teach the people that any who cursed God, Israelite or stranger, was to be held accountable for that sin and would be put to death by stoning.

17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.
18 And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast.
19 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him;
20 Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.
21 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.
22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God.

Moses was to teach them again, that anyone who killed another, would be put to death. Those who killed someone’s animal, was to give equally to that individual. Moses was told the law was eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Those who hurt or killed another, would receive punishment in kind. The law would be the same for the Israelites and any who came into their camp or land from without.

23 And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses.

Moses went and commanded the people those things that God had said.

Most of these things have been mentioned already in the previous chapters of the Bible. Repeated instruction on the way things should be in the tabernacle, was necessary to keep it a holy place to the Lord. The people knew well enough to bring a sinner to the prophet for what they should do, but may have needed multiple reminders of the law before they knew just what to do when something happened. I wonder what life would be like now if the law of Moses was practiced all over the world. If people knew any kind of punishment would come with cursing the Lord, would they take his name in vain so frequently? I doubt it. If there was laws now that required the death penalty for all those who killed others, would it happen as often as it does? If it was standard for someone to make restitution for hurting another, by being hurt themselves, would people be gentler towards others? Moreover, I wonder what kind of punishments I would have received for the things I have done in my life or what kind of person I would be today if the law of Moses was still in place. It is not today, because the Savior fulfilled that law and gave the higher law to men. More is expected of us, but the punishments are more often spiritual and therefore of greater significance than something just physical. In Matthew 5 we read the following words of the Savior:

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Jesus teaches us that as the one offended or hurt by another, we should have mercy on them and forgive them. I’ve heard it said that usually when others are of a mind to hurt someone, it is because they are lacking in something, such as love or self-worth. Punishments according the law are fine, but the greater response from us personally, is to give them our forgiveness and kindness. We cannot say that anything done to us is an exception to this, because of the example from the Savior himself. He allowed others to hurt him, break him, and kill him, and in the end he pled for their forgiveness from God.

Being forgiving and showing mercy to others is a very difficult thing at times, but I know that our lives are better for it. I hope that I can live my life worthy of spiritual blessings and not of those things that would punish me spiritually. I also hope that others will find it in their hearts to forgiven me of the many things I may do to offend them. I know that in forgiving others we are forgiven, and in being merciful, we find mercy. Hopefully, more of us can find the strength and faith to live as the Lord commands.

Notes on Patience – An Abundance of the Spirit

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

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God. (Moroni 8:26)

  • If I am patient, I will be blessed with the spirit more abundantly in my life. The spirit is long-suffering, meek and temperate, so I need these qualities more, in order to have the spirit with me. I love to feel the spirit in my life and it is something I pray daily to have. If I seek to be more patient, I know I will have this blessing in my life more often. The blessing of the spirit will help me to be able to more patiently endure to the end.
  • Are We People of Vision?

    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 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 . . .

    The next question in this series is are we people of vision? What is a person of vision? Visions, when in reference to gospel principles, are those things revealed to us by God. In Proverbs 29:18 we read, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The footnote for the word vision in this verse, references the word revelation. When there is no revelation, the people perish. Without revelation from God, we are a people who dwindle in unbelief and sin. A person of vision is one who relies on the revelations from God.

    As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in continuing and personal revelation. There are many who believed that revelation existed in times of old, such as the revelations recorded in the Bible, but they do not believe that revelation occurs today. I cannot imagine a God, who would consistently inspire the prophets and people of ancient times, but not allow us the same privileges today. Because of continuing revelation, the prophets of today, can lead and guide us the way the Lord wants us to be led. Moreover, we believe in the ability to have personal revelation, through the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. In the Bible Dictionary, the word revelation says, “Continuous revelation from God to his saints, through the Holy Ghost or by other means, such as vision, dreams, or visitations, makes possible daily guidance along true paths and leads the faithful soul to complete and eternal salvation in the celestial kingdom.” Faithful followers of Christ, must look for this daily revelation to be able to follow the plan that God has for us. We are a people of vision, when we rely on the revelations of the Holy Ghost to guide our lives and to guide the church as a whole.

    Being a person of vision, isn’t just allowing the spirit to reveal things to us. It is to seek for that guidance of the spirit. We are promised in the scriptures that we can receive those things we ask for in faith. In Matthew 7 we read the following:

    7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
    8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

    The key is to seek in faith, with a true desire not only for the answer, but to follow that answer. To be a person of vision, we must make the choice to follow and learn from the revelation we are given. In the most recent general conference of LDS church, Elder Richard G. Scott spoke about revelation. He said, “When it is for the Lord’s purposes, He can bring anything to our remembrance. That should not weaken our determination to record impressions of the Spirit. Inspiration carefully recorded shows God that His communications are sacred to us. Recording will also enhance our ability to recall revelation. Such recording of direction of the Spirit should be protected from loss or intrusion by others.” It is important for us to actively proceed with revelation given to us, and recording those things is a way to do that. Otherwise, these thoughts will fade away and we will not benefit from revelation given to us. When we follow and learn from these the things that God reveals to us, we are given greater opportunity for learning and growth. In 2 Nephi 28:30 we read, “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” I have truly experienced these things in my own life. I have tested this and have found that I can seek for an answer or for help and receive an answer at the time that is just right for me to receive it, meaning the Lord’s time not my own. Then when I have acted upon that answer, I have been blessed with further revelation and guidance in my life, which is always beyond what I could have expected. I am so grateful for the spirit and the opportunity to be a woman of vision.

    How Do We Know We Are Spiritually Born 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 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.

    The declaration begins “we are beloved spirit daughters of God”. As I reflect on that line, I wonder how I know that I am spiritually born of God. I think there are two ways to look answer this question. First, I believe that we are literal children of God. I believe that he is the Father of our spirits because he created us spiritually before we were physically created on this earth. In Acts 17:28 we read, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” To take that even further, God created our first father, Adam, both spiritually in heaven and physically on the earth. All of us our the descendants of Adam, who was created in all ways by the hand of God. In the Bible Dictionary it says, “Latter-day revelation confirms the biblical account of God as the literal father of the human family; as a being who is concerned for the welfare of mankind, and a Personage who hears and answers prayers.” I have a testimony of the truth in this latter-day revelation, and therefore I feel strongly that we must be children of God (See Bible Dictionary, God). Also in the Bible Dictionary we read, “Every person is literally a son or a daughter of God, having been born as a spirit to Heavenly Parents previous to being born to mortal parents on the earth (cf. Heb. 12:9). Thus each one of us is a dual being: an immortal spirit body, clothed with a body of flesh and bone. (See Bible Dictionary, Spirit)”

    We are taught throughout the scriptures that mankind are children of God, born spiritually. The scriptures are written for all mankind, not just those who believe in them, and therefore they apply to all of us. In Malachi 2:10 we read, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? . . .”. Ephesians 4:6 reads, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Psalms 82:6 says, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” In 1 Nephi 17:36 we read, “Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.” Doctrine and Covenants 84:83 reads, “For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things.” Moses 3:5 reads, “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;”. And again in Moses 6:51 we read, “And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh.”

    Our modern prophets and apostles have also shared there own witness to the knowledge that we are all children of God. In The Family:A Proclamation to the World they write, “ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” I believe we were part of the spiritual family of Heavenly Father, just as surely as we are a part of a physical family here.

    Even the Savior himself, taught us that He was not alone in being a child of God. In the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew, we read the following in 5:48:

    Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    Then later we can read the Lord’s Prayer in 6:9, where he teaches us the proper way to pray. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” The Savior did not single Himself out in this. God is our Father in Heaven, because He is the Father of our spirits.

    I have experienced sweet moments of confirmation in this fact. I know that I am a child of God and that He loves me, personally, as His daughter. I know this because the spirit, or the Holy Ghost, as born witness to me of these things. In Romans 8:16-17 we read the following:

    16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
    17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

    One of my favorite songs as a child, which remains a favorite even now, is “I Am a Child of God”.

    I am a child of God,
    And he has sent me here,
    Has given me an earthly home
    With parents kind and dear.
    (Chorus)

    I am a child of God,
    And so my needs are great;
    Help me to understand his words
    Before it grows to late.
    (Chorus)

    I am a child of God.
    Rich blessings are in store;
    If I but learn to do his will
    I’ll live with hime once more.
    (Chorus)

    I am a child of God.
    His promises are sure;
    Celestial glory shall be mine
    If I can but endure.
    (Chorus)

    Chorus:
    Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
    Help me find the way.
    Teach me all that I must do
    To live with him someday.

    When I sing it with my daughters today, I feel the spirit testify to me that what it teaches is true. I know that I am a spiritual daughter of God.

    The second answer to this question, has to do with the choices we make in this life. All of mankind are the literal sons and daughters of God, but the scriptures teach us of becoming children of God, or being born of God, in this life. In The Guide to the Scriptures under “Born Again, Born of God” we read the following:

    “To have the Spirit of the Lord cause a mighty change in a person’s heart so that he has no more desire to do evil, but rather desires to seek the things of God.” – Whosoever is born of God does not continue in sin, JST, 1 Jn. 3:9

    We are born of God when we seek after Him, have a change of heart, repent of our wrongs, and live according to His will for us. In the October 1999 session of General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, James E. Faust said the following:

    To be a daughter of God means that you are the offspring of Deity, literal descendants of a Divine Father, inheriting godly attributes and potential. To be a daughter of God also means that you have been born again, changed from a “carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness.”

    In Mosiah 27:25-26 we read the following:

    25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
    26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

    Our natural state is that which was brought about by the fall of Adam. We tend to think of our immediate wants and desires, which seem more often then not, to be selfish and lean towards immediate satisfaction. The natural man is not able to become like God or dwell in heaven with him. The nature of God is eternal righteousness and happiness. To be that kind of person, we have to be willing to work harder to make better choices and change our wills to be like His. We should want this because we have the ability to become like Him. Not only do we have that ability, but it is exactly what He wants for us.

    President Gordon B. Hinckey said the following in the October 1991 session of conference (LDS):

    I wish to affirm also at the outset . . ., that you are very precious, each of you, regardless of your circumstances. You occupy a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God, our Father in Heaven. You are His daughters, precious to Him, loved by Him, and very important to Him. His grand design cannot succeed without you.

    God’s work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). His grand design is fulfilled when we choose to become born of him in this life, and receive the gifts of immortality and eternal life as our reward after this life. We cannot be born of God in this life, unless we follow his commandments and make and keep sacred covenants with him. When we are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost we are spiritually born of God. In Alma 36:23-24 we read the following related verses:

    23 But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.
    24 Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

    Baptism

    I have been baptized and received the gift of the Spirit. I know that through this act I was and have since become a spiritual daughter of God in the sense that although I was spiritually born of him before this life, I naturally have been separated from him in this life. Through receiving His gift of the spirit in my life, I have the ability to return as part of his spiritual family after this life, if I will remain true and faithful to his commandments. I am so grateful for this knowledge and for the gospel in my life. I don’t know what kind of person I would have chosen to be without the influence of the gospel. I believe that knowing I am a daughter of God has given me the reason for living a good life and being a good person. I want to live worthy of the spirit, so that I can return to live with God again someday.

    The Postmortal Spirit World

    Read the entire lesson here: The Postmortal Spirit World.

    There are three big questions of life, where did we come from, why are we here, and where are we going? One of the best things about the gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that the answers are there. I’ve never had to wonder about these things, because the scriptures tell me exactly what I need to know. This lesson discusses that which happens after our mortal life.

    What happens to us after we die?

    When we die, our bodies and spirit separate from one another. The body is left in the mortal sphere, or the grave, while our spirits move on to the spirit world. We will each have the opportunity to work and learn in the spirit world. Those who did not have the chance to learn of the gospel in this life, will have that chance. Those who were covenant people of Christ in this life, will have the opportunity to serve and to teach others. At some point, we will all have the opportunity to be reunited with our bodies through the power and gift of the resurrection, which has been provided to all men by the Savior, Jesus Christ. When we are resurrected, we will never experience a physical death or a separation of our body and spirit again. In addition to experiencing resurrection, we will also be judged for our works in this life. Each of us will be brought before the judgement seat, to determine what glory we have earned for our choices in life. Then we will receive the reward that we have gained. We learn of life after death throughout the scriptures. In Alma 11 we read the following:

    42 Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
    43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

    There will be nothing unknown by God or ourselves and I believe that we will be completely reconciled with the reward we receive and will find our greatest joy no matter what that reward may be.

    What comfort do you receive from your knowledge that there is life after death? How can we use our understanding of the postmortal spirit world to comfort others?

    I think that the passing of our loved ones would be unbearable if we did not have a hope in life after death. Having the knowledge that there will be work to do, lessons to learn, blessings received, and mostly forever families, gives me the hope to live life the best I can. I know how to live here because I know what is in store for me there. There can be great comfort in the trials, hardships and losses of this life, when we know these things. Those of us who have an understanding of these things, can help bring comfort to others by teaching them. We can honestly support and love others through their difficult times even if they do not understand. Our hope and happiness can help to lift the most burdened souls if we are willing to share it. It is the duty of all people who have made the covenant of baptism with the Lord, to comfort those who are in need. In Mosiah 18 we read the following about this:

    8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
    9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

    We have the light and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we should share that with others.

    Where Is the Postmortal Spirit World?

    It may be difficult for some to understand, but I believe that the spirit world is very near to us. There are countless experiences of people feeling the presence of their loved ones, and I believe that these experiences are real. I think that at times the veil which covers our minds and separates us from the truths of an eternal nature, can be very thin. I think that our loved ones are truly near us, and that even though they are probably hard at work, they are watching over us and even guiding us at times.

    What Is the Nature of Our Spirits?

    One of the understandings that I have gained about the nature of our spirits, is that we will continue to have the same appetites and desires after this life, as we have during this life. In Alma 34:34 we read, “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” For example, if we seek to gain power in this life and that is the desire which drives our actions, we will continue to seek that after this life. The difference is that everyone will have a full knowledge and those desires will not be able to be acted upon. I think that our own desires will bring our own torment and so we must attain to have righteous desires, which will be completely realized after this life.

    Why is it important to know that our spirits will have the same attitudes in the spirit world that they have now?

    This knowledge should lead us to live a righteous life. Our state in eternity, depends upon the attitudes that we gain here. If we have a knowledge given to us in this life, about what types of attitudes we should have, then we need to seek to gain those attitudes now.

    What Are the Conditions in the Postmortal Spirit World?

    Before we receive our reward, we will either go to spirit prison or spirit paradise. In Alma 40 we read:

    11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
    12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
    13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
    14 Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.

    Paradise is a state of happiness. I think it comes from having an understanding of the plan of salvation which all will have at that point. The righteous will know that they have been seeking for those things that were right and good. In paradise, they will have happiness and find joy in working and serving God. This service will come through teaching others the gospel. Meanwhile, the unrighteous, will know that they have been living a life of little worth and will feel the torment of that in darkness. There is a difference between outer darkness and spirit prison. Spirit prison is for those who are damned because they did not accept Christ in this life, but who have the opportunity in the spirit world to hear the gospel and choose if they will accept him as their personal savior. In Moses 7:57 we read, “And as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth, and stood on the right hand of God; and the remainder were reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.” The wisdom and mercy of God, is that we will continue to have the opportunity to progress after this life, as long as a physical being has performed the necessary ordinances in the flesh. Those who are not cast to outer darkness, may learn of the gospel and with the full truth in front of them, choose for themselves if they will accept it.

    How are conditions in the spirit world similar to conditions in this life?

    First of all, we will continue to have our agency. We will choose for ourselves, the reward which will bring us happiness knowing fully our own flaws and mistakes. Agency is an eternal principal and it will continue forever. Second, we will continue to learn and progress. In this life, we are constantly learning new things. These things are both religious and secular. Both are important in our overall knowledge. Our learning will continue after this life. The difference there is that truth will be plain. Something I read while studying said that our spirits will still have the ability to be persuaded towards good or evil, so that is also a condition that will continue which we know well today.

    I am so grateful for the knowledge of what is to come after this life. I am glad that death of those I love, does not cripple me. I find joy in my loved ones moving on to work for the Lord on the other side of the veil. I know that death is a welcome part of our eternal life and the eternal plan of God. I look forward to meeting many who have gone before me and sharing my testimony and understanding of the gospel with them. I love knowing that God is so kind and merciful, and yet that he is consistent and stable in his plan. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I hope that I can live my life in a way that will make me a worthy spirit in the life to come, so that I can help further the work of the Lord.

    Abraham Chapter 4

    One of the many things revealed to the prophet Abraham, was the plan of salvation. In this chapter, Abraham wrote down what he knew of the creation. This chapter begins:

    1 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.

    This is one of three writings which tell about the creation. The Lord has said that two to three witnesses will establish his gospel. I have a testimony that the scriptural accounts of the creation is true. Our Father in Heaven, as the ultimate creator, directed His Son, Jesus Christ, to create the heavens and the earth. We learn earlier in the Book of Abraham, that other righteous foreordained leaders assisted Him in the physical creation. I believe that when it says “the Gods”, it is referring to God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The creation of the heavens and the earth, were from matter that already existed. It would not make sense to organize them from nothing. I think that you can only organize things which already exist. In this sense, I don’t believe that their was some “big-bang” that made them exist.

    2 And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.
    3 And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.
    4 And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.
    5 And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night. And it came to pass that from the evening until morning they called night; and from the morning until the evening they called day; and this was the first, or the beginning, of that which they called day and night.

    The spirit of God brooding over the world. The word brooding is the word used for the work of a mother bird. My understanding of this is that the spirit watches over the creations of God, just like a mother bird broods over her eggs or babies after they are hatched. The spirit continues to watch over God’s creations, and we can feel this watchful eye when we feel the guidance and comfort of the spirit. God cannot physically be with us or we would never learn the gospel for ourselves. Instead, the spirit is there to watch over us and to help us to find our way.

    God created the light and called it day. It was separated from the darkness, or the night. The footnotes in verse four, say that God saw the light and it was good. I can picture God as an artist who created the light and then stood back to view His work, making sure that it was exactly the way he wanted it. Then He decided that it was good, gave it a name and then moved on to the next step. These verses teach us about the origin of what we know as days and nights. God established that the time from morning until evening was day, and that the time from evening until morning was night. This idea is not a man-made idea. I think it is important for us to recognize this, because there are many references to day and night throughout the scriptures. With this understanding, we may comprehend what is meant and be able to live the gospel more fully.

    6 And the Gods also said: Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and it shall divide the waters from the waters.
    7 And the Gods ordered the expanse, so that it divided the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so, even as they ordered.
    8 And the Gods called the expanse, Heaven. And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and this was the second time that they called night and day.
    9 And the Gods ordered, saying: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the earth come up dry; and it was so as they ordered;
    10 And the Gods pronounced the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, pronounced they, Great Waters; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.

    The waters of heaven were divided from the waters of the earth. I believe that this is referring to the atmosphere being separate from the water on the earth. Then the waters of the earth were gathered together, and the land was gathered as the earth. I believe that it was at this time that the cycles of water began to work on the earth.

    11 And the Gods said: Let us prepare the earth to bring forth grass; the herb yielding seed; the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind, whose seed in itself yieldeth its own likeness upon the earth; and it was so, even as they ordered.
    12 And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth grass from its own seed, and the herb to bring forth herb from its own seed, yielding seed after his kind; and the earth to bring forth the tree from its own seed, yielding fruit, whose seed could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.
    13 And it came to pass that they numbered the days; from the evening until the morning they called night; and it came to pass, from the morning until the evening they called day; and it was the third time.

    Once the earth was prepared to receive seeds of plants, God created the grass, herbs, and fruit which grow from the ground. This is noted here as the third time, instead of the third day as in other versions of the creation. I think that this is a reminder that our version of time is not the same as God’s. This was probably more like a period of time marked by the light. We don’t know how long the days were at that time, and it is likely that they were a lot longer than we know them to be now.

    14 And the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven, and caused them to divide the day from the night; and organized them to be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years;
    15 And organized them to be for lights in the expanse of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so.
    16 And the Gods organized the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; with the lesser light they set the stars also;
    17 And the Gods set them in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to cause to divide the light from the darkness.
    18 And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.
    19 And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that it was night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that it was day; and it was the fourth time.

    God created the sun, moon, and stars which were set to distinguish the day from the night. It was at this time, that they were organized into their times and seasons as well. There is no coincidence to how the stars come and go. They were placed specifically to serve their own purposes. They truly are a beautiful site to see. Another note here, is that Abraham calls the sun the greater light, which rules the day. In the previous chapters, we have learned that the use of the word greater can mean closer to God. I think that this is true. The sun is the greater light, because it is closer to God, or closer to being a celestial body. It’s power is therefore greater, which is why it can more fully dispel the darkness of the night.

    20 And the Gods said: Let us prepare the waters to bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life; and the fowl, that they may fly above the earth in the open expanse of heaven.
    21 And the Gods prepared the waters that they might bring forth great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters were to bring forth abundantly after their kind; and every winged fowl after their kind. And the Gods saw that they would be obeyed, and that their plan was good.
    22 And the Gods said: We will bless them, and cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas or great waters; and cause the fowl to multiply in the earth.
    23 And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and it was the fifth time.
    24 And the Gods prepared the earth to bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind; and it was so, as they had said.
    25 And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth the beasts after their kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind; and the Gods saw they would obey.

    The water and earth were then prepared for the animals of every kind. All things were created to reproduce “after their kind”, meaning that the fish have been fish, and that the monkey did not come from the waters. I don’t know everything about the beliefs of evolution and such, but I do believe that animals were created to be what they are and that one did not come from another. I do understand that within our own species, there are changes to adapt to our environments, but that is as far as it goes for me.

    26 And the Gods took counsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness; and we will give them 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.
    27 So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them.
    28 And the Gods said: We will bless them. And the Gods said: We will cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
    29 And the Gods said: Behold, we will give them every herb bearing seed that shall come upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it; yea, the fruit of the tree yielding seed to them we will give it; it shall be for their meat.
    30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, behold, we will give them life, and also we will give to them every green herb for meat, and all these things shall be thus organized.
    31 And the Gods said: We will do everything that we have said, and organize them; and behold, they shall be very obedient. And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and they numbered the sixth time.

    In the sixth creation period, man was created. Here is another account, that teaches us that we are created in the image of God. This belief has always made perfect sense to me. I am created like God, and I am able to become like God as well. Mankind was given dominion over all living things on the earth. I know there was great wisdom in man being created last on this earth. It makes logical sense that man was after animals, which would provide food and clothing among other things. Animals and man came after the sun and moon, because they needed to be able to have light to survive. Plants came before the animals, because that is how the animals would have food. The water and earth were separated and prepared in order for the plants to grow and animals to have the proper place to live. The waters were separated so that the cycle – water in the atmosphere giving water to the earth, and the earth giving back its water to the atmosphere – would sustain everything living, and so on. This is just another example that God is a being of order.

    I am so grateful to have all the beautiful creations of God around me. I know that all things serve a purpose in the plan of salvation, and that I can be blessed because of the perfection in that plan. I am so grateful to be created after the image of my Father in Heaven. I have a great hope and faith in being able to become like Him someday.


    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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