Posts Tagged 'Witness'

1 Kings Chapter 20

The Israelite nation had seen peace in the days of Solomon, when he ruled in wisdom. Then, he fell away from righteousness and the Lord, bringing the threat of other nations upon his people. When the nation split into two kingdoms, the people of Israel were led further away from the Lord, through idolatry and wickedness. The Lord’s protecting hand could not be over the people because of their choices. They had suffered greatly through drought and famine, and in this chapter it tells us of the struggle they would have with other nations.

1 And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.
2 And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Ben-hadad,
3 Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine.
4 And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have.
5 And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Ben-hadad, saying, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children;
6 Yet I will send my servants unto thee to morrow about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away.
7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man seeketh mischief: for he sent unto me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not.
8 And all the elders and all the people said unto him, Hearken not unto him, nor consent.
9 Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Ben-hadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do: but this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again.
10 And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me.
11 And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.
12 And it came to pass, when Ben-hadad heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants, Set yourselves in array. And they set themselves in array against the city.

The host of Syria surrounded the city of Samaria, which was the capital of Israel. The leader of the Syrians, Ben-hadad, sent a message in to Ahab, claiming all the treasures that belonged to Ahab, as well as his wives and children. Ahab responded with submission to the claim. Ben-hadad then threatened Ahab by saying that he would also send his servants to search and find anything with value to take away. Ahab told the elders of Israel that he had given all that the Syrians had asked from him, and their king was still trying to get more. The elders told Ahab that he should not hearken to him or give into the demands. Ahab followed their council and sent a reply to Ben-hadad, which said that he would hold up to the first agreement, but he would not allow the servants to search and take anything else. Their exchange continued with a threat from Ben-hadad to take the dust of Samaria for his people, and after Ahab said a man should not boast as much in putting on his armor as the man who causes it to come off of that man. Ben-hadad ended their exchange by commanding his servants to go against the city.

13 And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.
14 And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Even by the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall order the battle? And he answered, Thou.
15 Then he numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty two: and after them he numbered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand.
16 And they went out at noon. But Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him.
17 And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out, and they told him, saying, There are men come out of Samaria.
18 And he said, Whether they be come out for peace, take them alive; or whether they be come out for war, take them alive.
19 So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army which followed them.
20 And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Ben-hadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen.
21 And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.

A prophet went to Ahab with the word of the Lord. The Lord said that he would deliver the host of Syria into Ahab’s hands and Ahab would have a witness that He was the Lord. Ahab asked who would be able to do this, and the Lord said young men would fight. Ahab asked who was to start the battle, and the Lord said that Ahab was to start it. Ahab gathered 232 young men, who would lead the fight, with an army of 7,000 Israelites. The army went out while Ben-hadad was drunk along with 32 kings he had gathered to his side. Ben-hadad commanded his men to take the Israelites alive, whether they came out in peace or to make war. The Israelites fought, killing the Syrians, who began to flee. The army of Israel went after them, Ben-hadad escaped, and Ahab destroyed the horses and chariots, and killed a great number of Syrians.

22 And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest: for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee.
23 And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.
24 And do this thing, Take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their rooms:
25 And number thee an army, like the army that thou hast lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot: and we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And he hearkened unto their voice, and did so.
26 And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Ben-hadad numbered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.
27 And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.

The prophet told Ahab, to take the time to gain strength and prepare for what he should do, because the Syrians would return in a year. The servants of Ben-hadad told him the Isrealites had strength because their gods were the gods of the hills, but if they fought them in the plains, the Syrians would be stronger than them. The Syrian servants suggested that he replace the kings he had gathered, with captains. Then, they suggested that he gather an army of the same size they had fought with the first time, even to the horse and chariot. They thought that they would then be stronger, if they took the fight to the plains. Ben-hadad listened to the council of his servants. When the year came again, he took his army to Aphek, to fight against the host of Israel. Israel went against them with a host that was much smaller than the Syrians.

28 And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
29 And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day.
30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Ben-hadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.

A prophet came to Ahab again, saying that the Syrians said the Israelite God was God of the hills, but not the valleys or plains, so the Lord would deliver them into his hands and show Ahab that He was the Lord. The armies camped for seven days, and on the seventh day, the battle began. The Israelites destroyed 100,000 footmen in one day, and the rest of the Syrians fled towards the city of Aphek. A wall of the city fell on 27,000 of the Syrians and Ben-hadad fled into an inner chamber of the city.

31 And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life.
32 So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Ben-hadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother.
33 Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother Ben-hadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Ben-hadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.
34 And Ben-hadad said unto him, The cities, which my father took from thy father, I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.

The servants of Ben-hadad told him, that they heard of the mercy of the kings of Israel, so they would go to him in humility, begging to save the life of their king. They did this and asked that Ahab spare his life. Ahab called Ben-hadad his brother and told the servants to bring him. They brought Ben-hadad forth, and Ahab had him come into the chariot. Ben-hadad promised to return cities to Ahab, which had been taken by his father. Ahab made a covenant with Ben-hadad and let him go free, even though the Lord had delivered the king into his hands.

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the Lord, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.
36 Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.
37 Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him.
38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face.
39 And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver.
40 And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it.
41 And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets.
42 And he said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.
43 And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.

A man, who was one of the prophets, told another to strike him. The other refused. The prophet said to the other, that because he had not listened, he would be killed by a lion once the prophet had left him. As he left, a lion found the man and killed him. Again, the prophet found a man and told him to hit him, which the man did and wounded him. He left wounded and waited for Ahab on the side of the road, in disguise. When Ahab went by, he cried out to him that he was a servant who had gone into the middle of battle. The prophet told Ahab that a man turned to him and brought another man to him, telling him to keep the man with him. If the man went missing, his life would be taken for the other, or he would have to pay a talent of silver. He said that as he was going here and there, the other man was gone. Ahab told the disguised prophet that he would have to fulfill his agreement with that other man, because he had made that choice. The prophet quickly took the disguise off of his face, and Ahab recognized the man. The prophet told him, that because he let the king of Syria go free, when the Lord had appointed him to destruction, his life would be taken for the life of Ben-hadad, and the people of Israel for the Syrian people. Ahab returned to him home with a heavy heart.

Ahab was a king who wanted to have it both ways. He wanted to rule in wickedness, causing that his people should turn away from the Lord. At the same time, he wanted to be a blessed king, ruling over a strong, and wealthy nation. He followed the council of the prophet and elders, only to let the enemy go when he should have destroyed him. This, because the enemy offered him the things he wanted. He was not expecting to be told that this had brought the promise of destruction upon himself and his people. We likewise, cannot choose to live a life away from the Lord and his promises, expecting to have all the blessings of heaven to come to us.

The Lord continued to look after his people. He gave them an opportunity to listen to His council, witness His power, and return to Him. He will give all of His children, many opportunities to turn to Him. We can use our agency to follow the council given by his prophets, or follow after our own desires. On the one hand, we can have the blessings attached to obedience and coming unto Christ. While on the other hand, we can be promised eventual destruction to our souls, should we choose to make covenants with the enemy. This weekend is general conference again, and the perfect opportunity to hear the council of the Lord’s chosen servants. I am looking forward to hearing their words and I hope that I can be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, by applying the teachings to my life.

1 Kings Chapter 18

The prophet Elijah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, where Ahab was king. Ahab had married Jezebel, and he and his wife led the people of Israel in the worship of Baal. The worship of Baal was a wicked practice and led to great evil among the Israelites. Elijah had the sealing power and had closed the heavens in the land, meaning the people were suffering in a time of drought and famine. During this time, he had been blessed and preserved at the hand of the Lord. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.
3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly:
4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.

Elijah was commanded to return to Ahab, and then the Lord would allow rain to fall upon the earth again. So, Elijah went to Ahab in Samaria, where the famine had become very sore. Ahab called for his governor Obadiah. Obadiah had secretly saved a hundred prophets who were going to be killed by Jezebel, hiding them in caves and giving them food and water. Ahab sent Obadiah to find a place with water in the land, where they could save the animals they had left. Obadiah and Ahab parted ways.

7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?
8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?
10 As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.
11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.
13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.
15 And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

Obadiah met Elijah on the way, and recognizing him, fell down and honored him, asking if he was, in fact, Elijah. Elijah confirmed this and told Obadiah to tell Ahab that he was there. Obadiah was afraid that he would be harmed by Ahab if he returned to him saying that he knew where Elijah was. This was because Ahab had been hunting for Elijah the whole time he was in hiding, causing his people to make oaths promising that they did not know where Elijah was. If he returned saying he knew, Obadiah was worried that Elijah would not remain there, and then Ahab would kill him for it. Obadiah told Elijah that he had saved the prophets and that he feared the Lord, and he begged that Obadiah would not send him to do this. Elijah made a promise to him, assuring Obadiah that he would reveal himself to Ahab that very day, so Obadiah returned to Ahab and told him. Then, Ahab went to find Elijah.

Obadiah honored Elijah by falling on his face in a manner that showed great respect in their day. I wonder what it must have been like to be Obadiah in that moment. Clearly he had a love from the prophets of the Lord. He recognized Elijah and must have felt some awesome feelings at their meeting. In my own experience, I have had the opportunity to meet one who I believe to be a man of God. At the time, he was a member of the Seventy, and he came to our stake to call a new president. I attended a few meetings where he was present and the spirit he brought with him, was amazing. As the first meeting came to a close, I found myself having the desire to stay there and hold onto that spirit as long as I possibly could. Later, I had the opportunity to meet him personally and have a short conversation with him. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of respect and honor I had towards this man. I am sure that Obadiah felt some of these same feelings towards Elijah.

Obadiah’s role in this chapter, is a good example of trust in the Lord’s servants. Obadiah was able to put aside his fears of what the king might do to him, and trust in the promise from Elijah that he would remain to meet Ahab. He followed in faith, and although we don’t learn of anything more about him in this chapter, I am sure that he was blessed for his faithfulness.

17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.
19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Ahab saw Elijah, but did not honor him. Instead he blamed him for the troubles of Israel. Those who do not live as God would have them live, cannot recognize the blessings of God around them. Elijah’s presence there, was a blessing to Ahab, though he did not see it yet. Elijah said that the troubles they had were because of Ahab and his family, who had turned from the Lord and His commandments, and worshipped Baal instead. When people have come to know the Lord, and then reject Him and follow after their own heart, they bring troubles upon themselves. Elijah called for a gathering of Israel at mount Carmel, along with all the priests of Baal. Ahab obliged and a gathering was called. Elijah asked the people how they could continue to try to follow after both God and Baal, saying if they believed God was their God, they should follow after Him, but if they believed Baal to be their god, they should follow him. There was no response from the people. This is an eternal principle. There is no way to be devoted to God completely, and then do likewise towards anything else, because God expects all who serve Him, to put Him first in their worship, trust and faith. The people must have known that choosing to worship anything else, was pinning themselves against God. Over time, it would grow harder to try to split allegiance between the two and one would have to give out.

Elijah called their attention to the fact that he was the lone prophet of God there, while there were hundreds of their prophets of Baal. So with that he challenged them, to choose two bulls for sacrifice. They could choose one for themselves and he would take the other. They would both prepare their sacrifice upon the altars, with the exception of any fire. Then both would call upon their respective gods, Elijah to the Lord and the priests to their gods, to answer with fire from heaven for the sacrifice. The people agreed to this challenge. The priests prepared their sacrifice and proceeded to call out to their gods for hours with no response. It says here that as a result, they leaped upon the altars themselves. Elijah mocked them saying things like, their god must have sleeping or on a journey somewhere. The priests cried and cut themselves, which was a custom forbidden by the Lord. They continued to do this and their prophesying all day, until the time of the evening sacrifice, and their was still no answer.

30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

So, Elijah gathered the people to him, repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been broken, by adding twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. He made a trench around it, prepared the sacrifice with wood, and then called for it to be covered in water. He had them pour water on the sacrifice and wood three times, and then cover the surrounding ground and fill the trench with water as well. Then, at the time of the evening sacrifice, he prayed to the Lord that he would be heard, so that the people would know that He was the God of this people. Elijah pleaded with the Lord, that there would be an opportunity for the hearts of the people to return to God. The Lord answered his prayer, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and all that was at the altar, including the water. The people witnessed this and fell down to worship the Lord. Elijah commanded that all the prophets of Baal be killed.

41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah told Ahab to go eat and drink, perhaps this was much like telling him to go about his day, and then the rain would come. As Ahab did just that, Elijah went to the top of mount Carmel and threw himself on the ground, much like a manner of worship. He told his servant to go look towards the sea, but the servant saw nothing. Elijah told him to return to look seven times. On the seventh time, the servant said that a little cloud of the sea arose. The servant was commanded to go to Ahab and tell him to prepare his chariot, go down and not to stop even because of the rain. While this was done, a great storm came. Ahab rode to Jezreel. Elijah started to run, and by the hand of Lord, reached the entrance of Jezreel before Ahab.

Ahab was in a position, where he would do anything possible to bring water to the land. He had hunted for Elijah to take the drought away. I think that the Lord’s timing was perfect and not only allowed for Ahab to be in a state of humility because of their troubles, but meant that Elijah’s life would be spared. I think that if the time had been any sooner, Elijah may have been killed as the prophets before him. However, just as Ahab was trying to save the last animals from starvation and thirst, he was able to find the man he felt had brought this upon him and his people. Then, Elijah was able to prove to Ahab and the people of Israel, that there is no other God save the Lord.

This was quite a miracle to witness. The priests of Baal were given every opportunity in a full day’s time to pray, but their answer did not come. Their worship of objects, could not provide relief to their suffering, because their gods were not real. Elijah on the other hand, did all that he could to show that the Lord was true. This was a much needed witness to the people of Israel. They had been in a spiritual drought and famine without seeing it for what it was. In recognizing that they were trusting in false gods, the people had the opportunity to have their spirits fed and renewed.

Likewise, opening the heavens was a miracle. It showed that the Lord was in fact able to take away and give to men, and that He would do great things through the voice of His prophets. This was a miracle that more of Israel would have recognized as a blessing, because their very lives depended on having water to drink and food to eat. The people of Israel were greatly blessed at this time, to have both their physical and spiritual beings saved by the Lord. Now would have been the time for them to repent and return to the Lord.

The miracles performed in this chapter, cause me to reflect on my own life experiences. I have not witnessed the fire of the Lord, or the heavens open quite so literally, but I know that I have experienced many small miracles from God. These small miracles should stand as a witness to me, that the Lord is the only true and living God. There is nothing in this life that should be placed before Him in my worship. The Lord is the source of all that I need to succeed and survive. I know that in my life, I have been sustained as Elijah was, and the heavens have opened to give me all that I have truly needed, when I have been willing to recognize God, listen to his chosen servants, and strive to keep His commandments.

1 Kings Chapter 10

Solomon was a king of great wisdom and reknown. His wisdom, riches and honor, were gifts from the Lord. This chapter begins:

1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.
2 And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
3 And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.
4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built,
5 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her.
6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.
7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.
8 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.
9 Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.
10 And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.
11 And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.
12 And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.
13 And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.

The Queen of Sheba learned of Solomon and his fame, she went to visit him and ask him questions. She told him all that was in her heart. Solomon, in his wisdom, spoke to her of all the things that were on her mind, even those she had not said herself. After seeing his wisdom and the many great things he had, she told him that the things she had heard of him were true. She couldn’t believe it until she saw it with her own eyes, and then she realized that she had not heard of half of his wisdom and prosperity. She noted that even his men and servants, were happy. She recognized that his greatness was a blessing from the God of Israel, and that Solomon was a blessing from God to Israel, because God loved them. The Queen of Sheba, gave Solomon gifts and treasures. Additionally, Hiram’s navy brought gold, the best Almua timber and treasures to Solomon. Solomon gave Sheba gifts as well, and all that she desired, then she returned home with her servants.

It seems that this story is included in the scriptures, to show an additional witness to the wisdom and prosperity of Solomon, and therefore another witness of the goodness of God.

14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,
15 Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.

A great amount of gold and spices were brought to Solomon, which again shows of his prosperity.

16 And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.
17 And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.

Solomon made breastplates and shields of gold, and kept them in his house.

18 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.
19 The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays.
20 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom.

He made a great throne of ivory and gold, that was like no other on earth.

21 And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.
22 For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
23 So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.

All of Solomon’s cups and dishes were made of gold. Every three years, the navy of Hiram and Tharshish would bring Solomon treasures. Solomon was the richest and wisest king of all the earth.

24 And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.
25 And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.

People from all over the earth, sought out the wisdom of Solomon, and brought him the treasures of the world.

26 And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.
27 And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance.

Solomon had chariots and horsemen that were in the cities set a side for chariots, while he was in Jerusalem. He had much and the best things were had in abundance, so he gave them to be used in Jerusalem and in the valley.

28 And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price.
29 And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means.

Solomon had some of the best horses and chariots brought from Egypt. Many were bought for the Hittite and Syrian kings.

Solomon’s experience with the Queen of Sheba, was a testament to how great a man he had become. The Lord had blessed Solomon with these things, so that the world would have a witness that Israel was blessed by the true and living God. I am sure that this same experience and knowledge occurred with many of those who sought him from all over the earth. The Lord continues to give great blessings to those who follow Him, so that the world can know that He is the God of this earth.

Numbers Chapter 17

The Israelites struggled with understanding the order of the priesthood and the pattern for being ordained to the priesthood. The Lord had chosen Moses as His prophet. Aaron and his sons were chosen by the Lord, to hold the Melchizedek priesthood and serve in the tabernacle of the congregation. In addition, the Levites were set apart and ordained to the Aaronic priesthood, to assist the sons of Aaron and to bear the tabernacle when they traveled. These men did not choose this of themselves, but followed the plan that the Lord instructed them to follow. There were many thousands more in the host of Israel and some did not have a testimony of this pattern for themselves. Some who had rebelled against God, were destroyed for it. The book of Numbers continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod.
3 And thou shalt write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.
4 And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.
5 And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.

The patriarch of each family was commanded to take a rod of their father, or of their tribe and to write their name upon the rod. There would be twelve rods for the twelve houses of Israel. Aaron, who was Moses’ elder brother, was to have his name on the rod of the Levites. The rods were then to be placed in the tabernacle of the congregation, where the presence of the Lord would meet them. The chosen rod would blossom as a sign to the Israelites of who was the chosen family to serve with the Lord’s authority and priesthood. This test and sign were to be given to put a stop to the murmurings of the Israelites.

6 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.
7 And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness.
8 And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.
9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.

Moses told the people what God asked of them, and each prince of the twelve tribes, or patriarch, gave their rod to Moses to be put in the tabernacle of congregation. Here it is called the tabernacle of witness, I think because this was going to be a witness to the people of the will of the Lord. The rod of Aaron budded, blossomed and brought forth almonds. Moses brought the rods out to the people, who took their rods and witnessed the rod of Aaron had been chosen.

10 And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.
11 And Moses did so: as the Lord commanded him, so did he.
12 And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish.
13 Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the Lord shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?

Moses was told to keep the rod of Aaron as a token against those rebels among them. This proof to those rebels would stop the murmuring and stay the hand of the Lord against them. Moses placed the rod in front of the testimony, as he was commanded. Those who were not authorized to hold the priesthood of the Lord, would die if they attempted to claim the priesthood and it duties for themselves by trying to enter the tabernacle of the congregation. I think that these questions of the children of Israel, were their way of recognizing the will of the Lord.

This witness to the people, was a blessing of mercy. The wrath of God was upon the rebellious host of Israel, but in His mercy, God gave them a sign to understand His will. They had not had the faith to believe upon the words of the prophet, and for this God had every right to destroy them, but He did not. Instead, the Lord helped them to know His will and gave them a warning and a token as a reminder of it. We are required now to be a people of faith. We are asked to believe upon the words of the scriptures and the prophets, both ancient and modern. These stories from the scriptures are a reminder for us, of the will of God. We each need to take it upon ourselves to seek for a testimony of these things and allow the spirit to be our own personal witness. I am grateful for the desire I have to gain a testimony of these things. The scriptures are a real treasure in my life. The spirit has taught me truth as I have been studying and trying to understand what God wants for me.

Challenge: Is there a principle of the gospel that you do not understand, as the Israelites did not understand the order of the priesthood? Have you studied it out? Take the time now, to study, pray and ponder about these things. If you truly desire for understanding and truth, the spirit can teach you. God blesses those who faithfully seek for these things.

A Testimony of Me

Earlier this week, I read the following in Alma, chapter 17:

39 And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king, and then went in unto the king, bearing the arms which had been smitten off by the sword of Ammon, of those who sought to slay him; and they were carried in unto the king for a testimony of the things which they had done.

This verse caused me to ponder on a question. What acts do I do which are a testimony of me? The things that people see us do in this life, will stand as a witness of the type of person we are. We can imagine what people might say about us after we leave this life, based on our actions and deeds. Ammon was strong and faithful in his actions, which the servants saw and bore record of to the king. Will others see who I truly am or want to be in the things I do? What do I need to change to improve what others witness of me? This is what I hope to think about more in the next couple of weeks, so that I can be a better person and stand as a witness of Christ more in my life. What is their testimony of me?

Joseph Smith-History (Part 1)

This portion of The Pearl of Great Price is part of the History of Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith was the first modern day prophet, and the instrument through which the church and gospel were restored to the earth. I am so glad to have the opportunity to study this history, because it is one of the most important things that has ever occurred in the history of the world. These things can be found also in the History of the Church (Volume 1, Chapters 1 through 5). I believe that these are the words of the prophet, but they may have been partially recorded by some others who were there to assist him in his work. The record starts with the following:

1 Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the world—I have been induced to write this history, to disabuse the public mind, and put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts, as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and the Church, so far as I have such facts in my possession.
2 In this history I shall present the various events in relation to this Church, in truth and righteousness, as they have transpired, or as they at present exist, being now [1838] the eighth year since the organization of the said Church.

The prophet begins this record, by giving an explanation for it. Apparently there were people who were putting out false statements or reports to make the church look bad. This doesn’t surprise me at all. Whenever good things are happening, Satan does his best to persuade people to bring it down. There were so many things pushing against the church and its members. Joseph Smith took on this project to help to get rid of some of the wild stories and rumors that were going around. This record was written and I think reviewed and edited a number of times before it came to be a part of The Pearl of Great Price pamphlet, and eventually part of The Pearl of Great Price we have now. This record stands as a witness and a testimony of how the restoration of the church began.

3 I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty-third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont … My father, Joseph Smith, Sen., left the State of Vermont, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the State of New York, when I was in my tenth year, or thereabouts. In about four years after my father’s arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario—
4 His family consisting of eleven souls, namely, my father, Joseph Smith; my mother, Lucy Smith (whose name, previous to her marriage, was Mack, daughter of Solomon Mack); my brothers, Alvin (who died November 19th, 1823, in the 26th year of his age), Hyrum, myself, Samuel Harrison, William, Don Carlos; and my sisters, Sophronia, Catherine, and Lucy.

Joseph Smith Jr., and his family (parents, 5 brothers, 3 sisters, and himself) had relocated from Sharon, Vermont, to Palmyra, New York. I’ve learned over the years, that Joseph Smith Jr. was a good young man. He was raised to care for his family and with a good religious background. His parents were God-fearing people, who read the bible with their family. He was raised working on the family farm and helping to provide for those he loved. He had high standards from pretty young. I remember hearing the story of when he was in need of leg surgery and he refused any alcohol to take away or dull the pain. He was not able to have much in the way of schooling because of his circumstances, so he was not an extremely knowledgable young man.

5 Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.
6 For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.
7 I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My father’s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.
8 During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.

The different churches were experiences what is now called the second great awakening. There were camp meetings and revivals which were full of excitement and emotions. All the churches in the area were trying to persuade those who had not found religion, to join their sect. The young Joseph Smith, noticed that there was a lot of confusion and contention between the different churches and their leaders. Some of his family members had decided to join one of the churches. Joseph went to several different meetings, but he could not decide who he thought had the true gospel. When he says that they were “more pretended than real”, I think that the churches members and leaders were not living as they preached, and so there was a lot of confusion about what they truly believed. This goes to show the character that Joseph had even as a teenage boy. He did not want to join a church unless he could believe the teachings to be true.

9 My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.
10 In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?

The question that was on Joseph’s mind had to do with the fact that all the churches were claiming to be right, while saying that the others were wrong. Joseph wanted to know which was the right church, or which one was teaching the truth. I think that a key to what was to follow for him, was that he had a sincere desire to know. Sometimes, I am a little interested in knowing something, but I don’t think that the desire is quite so great. Answers will not come if we are only mildly interested in understanding them. The Lord knows the intentions of our hearts, and this was a sincere and great desire for Joseph.

11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

Joseph had been raised with the Bible as scripture, in his life. When he had a question, he turned to what he trusted to be the word of God. In searching the scriptures, he found James 1:5, which after much pondering, taught him that he should ask God. He was touched powerfully by the spirit of God, as he read this verse. This inspiration led him to decide to ask God to get his answer. Joseph was truly an example of how answers to prayers may come to us as well. If we are struggling with understanding, we too can find inspiration in the scriptures. We have plenty of men willing to teach us what the scriptures mean, and it can still be rather confusing. Only the spirit can testify to us of the truth of the gospel. It is important for us to search, ponder and pray about our own questions. If we do these things in faith, our answers will come. Our faith is an important factor in this understanding. If we do not believe the answers will come, there is no promise that the Lord will answer us. Or rather, the answer may come still, but we will not be in the right frame of mind to receive it.

14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

He picked a quiet place to be alone for this prayer. I imagine that he knew he wanted to devote all his attention to this prayer and the answer he would receive, so he did not want to be in a place where he might be interrupted. I think that Joseph was probably also following the example from the scriptures. Throughout the Bible, there are examples of prophets, and even the Savior, going away to the mountains to pray where they could be alone. It would be wise for us to find a quiet place where we can offer up the concerns of our own hearts. This was his first time praying out loud. In my own experience of personal prayers, I find that when I do not pray vocally, my mind wanders and I loose focus. Sometimes, depending on the time of day, I find myself drifting off into sleep. This always results in my apologizing to my Father in Heaven and trying again to pray. However, when I pray vocally, even in a quiet whisper, I am more focused on what I say and I can often feel the spirit stronger.

As a member of the LDS faith, I believe that Joseph was foreordained to bring about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The prophets of old knew about him, and some had prophesied of what he would do, going so far as to know his name. Satan has known the plan, because he was there in that grand council in heaven. He would do anything in his power to stop the work of God from moving forward. Here, Satan tried to stop Joseph from his prayer, with darkness and stopping him from being able to speak. Had his hold been successful, Satan would have been able to keep the light of the gospel from the world for a time, but this was not the case.

16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

Joseph actually felt himself physically being destroyed by the powers of Satan. I cannot say that I recall feeling anything quite like that, but I know how it feels to have a dark feeling around you, which to me felt like something I could not get myself out from under it. Just like Joseph, I had to rely on God to release me from that dark feeling. When Joseph felt like all was lost, he saw a glorious vision.

A great light came down upon him and that light took away the darkness. Darkness cannot continue when there is light. Satan’s powers cannot continue in the presence of the light of the Lord. Joseph was freed from the powers of Satan. It makes perfect sense that the light of heaven would be brighter than the sun. In studying Abraham, I have learned that things become greater, more glorious and brighter when they are nearer to God. Therefore, God is in the brightest light that exists.

I believe that at this point, as soon as the light was upon Joseph, he was transfigured to be able to have this vision. Joseph saw God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, in the air above him. This is a testimony to me that God and Jesus Christ are two separate beings, one in purpose, but not in physical body. God called Joseph by name, which teaches us that God knows us individually and personally. God introduced the Savior to Joseph as His Beloved Son. This is a testimony of the divinity of the Savior, by God himself, and that the Savior has been chosen since the beginning for the greatest purposes. Finally, Joseph was told to listen to Him, the Son of God. I think that this teaches me that God knew His Son would deliver the message just as He had intended it to be. It shows that God is one who delegates His work and allows others to grow from doing things themselves. God would have been able to bring His message to Joseph Himself, but just as all things in the gospel, there is a witness of two or three to establish all things. God and His Son were both there to witness to the young Joseph of the divinity of the Savior, and of the truth of His gospel.

18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
20 He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?

As soon as he was able, Joseph got right to asking the question on his mind. The answer he received was that he should not join any of the existing churches, because they were all wrong. The leaders of those churches preached some of the gospel, but they did not live the gospel. They may have had the word of the gospel, but they did not have the power of the gospel, which I think is the priesthood power and authority of God. The churches of this time had been in an apostasy from the true church of God. This is because they had lost the rights to the priesthood and precious truths had been lost or altered to fit the ways of the world. This is not to say that all people were bad. There were many who were living as righteously as they knew how, and they would and will be blessed for their own choices. We can only be judged according to our own individual knowledge. But there were people who had chosen to corrupt righteous things, and they had done a very good job of leading many people astray with false doctrine.

After receiving this vision, Joseph was left drained of energy, lying on the ground. I know that things of the spirit can drain us emotionally, mentally and physically. I am most tired after attending the temple and going to specially conferences where I can feel the spirit very strong. I think that this is a lesson to me that I need to have my body physically prepared with rest and good food when I want to be spiritually fed. Otherwise, I may wear myself down and be unable to function properly, which does not promote acting on the things we learn. After he got his energy back, Joseph returned home and told his mother that he learned her church was not true. I love that he had the kind of relationship with his mother, where he could openly tell her things that touched him spiritually. We do not all have that kind of relationship. I love coming home from church and being able to share the things I have learned with my own husband and children. It has been such a blessing to me and has strengthened my testimony even more. Joseph also came to the realization that he knew he was going to do work for the Lord, because that would explain why Satan and other things in opposition would fight against him so hard. When we are trying to do what is right, life does not get easier. There will be great opposition and trials when we are standing up for truth and righteousness, but at the same time, the Lord can give us strength to endure all of it.

I am so grateful for Joseph Smith. I believe that he truly did see God and Jesus Christ, and that they told him not to join any church at the time. I believe that Joseph was called to be a prophet of God, and that he restored the gospel of Christ to the earth once more. I am so grateful for his righteous service, and that he had the desire to know what was true, because it led eventually to me having this truth in my own life. I am so grateful that the gospel has been restored to the earth, and that I have the privilege of being a member of the true church of God. I encourage anyone who is not sure if this is true, to sincerely ponder over these scriptures, and to ask God for themselves. I have received my own witness of the spirit and I know that anyone else can as well.

D&C Section 67

Historical Background

During one of several special conferences that were held by the Saints late in 1831, this revelation was received. It was given through the prophet, Joseph Smith, after the decision to publish the Book of Commandments had been made. The Book of Commandments was to be a book of the revelations to the early saints. (Before they were able to be finished, a mob destroyed the printing press and eventually the finished publication would be known as the Doctrine and Covenants.) Along with many testimonies of the saints about the truth in these revelations, there was a question from some of the elders that the wording that was used. This revelation was given in response.

What Blessing Was Not Received?

“Behold and hearken, O ye elders of my church, who have assembled yourselves together, whose prayers I have heard, and whose hearts I know, and whose desires have come up before me (v. 1). Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you, and the heavens and the earth are in mine hands, and the riches of eternity are mine to give (v. 2). Ye endeavored to believe that ye should receive the blessing which was offered unto you; but behold, verily I say unto you there were fears in your hearts, and verily this is the reason that ye did not receive (v. 3). . . . Let not your minds turn back; and when ye are worthy, in mine own due time, ye shall see and know that which was conferred upon you by the hands of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun. Amen (v. 14).”

We do not know what blessing had been specifically promised that the Lord was referring to here, but whatever it was, they did not receive it as they had been expecting. The reason they did not receive it, was because they had fear and not faith. I believe that the fear they had was that these revelations were not true, because they thought they were plainly written by the prophet, Joseph Smith. I have learned through scripture study and lesson at church that fear and faith cannot coexist. You either have one or the other. The saints of God try to be a faithful people, but when we allow fear to creep into our hearts, we begin to doubt the Lord in some way. When we have faith, we receive promised blessings through our worthiness.

Challenge from the Lord

“And now I, the Lord, give unto you a testimony of the truth of these commandments which are lying before you (v. 4). Your eyes have been upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and his language you have known, and his imperfections you have known; and you have sought in your hearts knowledge that you might express beyond his language; this you also know (v. 5). Now, seek ye out of the Book of Commandments, even the least that is among them, and appoint him that is the most wise among you (v. 6); Or, if there be any among you that shall make one like unto it, then ye are justified in saying that ye do not know that they are true (v. 7); But if ye cannot make one like unto it, ye are under condemnation if ye do not bear record that they are true (v. 8 ).”

The Lord extended a challenge that one of these elders attempt to write one of these revelations or commandments better than what was already there. The challenge was accepted and one of the elders, William E. McLellin, who had doubted the writings, made an attempt to rewrite the commandment or revelation. The manual I am studying says that the attempt was a failure, even though he was a very learned man. His failure came because he did not have the spirit’s inspiration in his writing. I find it very interesting that the Lord allowed these men to test their doubt in this way. He tells them that if they failed, they had to know that these revelations were truly inspired by God and bear witness to that, or they would be under condemnation.

What Is the Significance of the Term Father of Lights?

“For ye know that there is no unrighteousness in them, and that which is righteous cometh down from above, from the Father of lights (v. 9).” In James 1:17 we read, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Our Father in Heaven is the source of all that is good and light. There is nothing of darkness that can be found in God. Because he is the source of all that is good, he is known as the Father of all that is good and therefore the Father of lights.

“You Shall See Me and Know That I Am”

“And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual (v. 10). For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God (v. 11). Neither can any natural man abide the presence of God, neither after the carnal mind (v. 12). Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected (v. 13).”

We are capable and promised that if we work to become more righteous and humble ourselves in all things, we can be a witness of God in our spirits. As we humbly exercise our faith in the Lord, we will be blessed to know many things. This is a wonderful promise and it is not strictly for those who are called to lead the church, it is for all the saints who have been obedient in making covenants and are worthy of the spirit continually.

What Is the Natural, or Carnal, Mind?

The natural or carnal mind is the mind that is natural to us in this world we live in. The natural mind is part of the natural man, who is susceptible to all the temptations and errors of men. It is contrary to the spiritual mind, which is in harmony with God. Mosiah 3:19 reads, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” We all have the ability to put off the natural man and become more spiritual, through repentance and striving to become more like the Savior.

D&C Section 14

Historical Background

Joseph Smith had been dealing with a lot of persecution, while performing the translation of the Book of Mormon at his farm. Oliver Cowdery worked out a way for he and Joseph to stay at the home of Peter Witmer, Sr., to complete the work. The Witmer family was very interested in the restoration and the work of the translation. The prophet wrote, “. . . David, John and Peter Whitmer, Jun., became our zealous friends and assistants in the work; and being anxious to know their respective duties, and having desired with much earstness that I should inquire of the Lord concerning them, I did so, through the means of the Urim and Thummim, and obtained for them in succession the following revelations: [D&C 14-16].” (History of the Church, 1:49.)

This was revelation given to David Whitmer regarding his calling at this time.

“A Great and Marvelous Work Is about to Come Forth”

Again we repeat the same things as earlier sections (v. 1-7). The restoration of the gospel and organization of the church would move forward, he should listen to the word of the Lord, the people are ready for the gospel and missionary work to begin, he should work hard for the Lord, he should search for himself (ask and knock) to receive knowledge and a testimony, and he should strive to keep the commandments. These are things that we should strive to be doing today. We will receive the same great reward if we do these things.

Keep the Commandments and Endure to the End

“And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God (v. 7).” Enduring to the end is a key part of our duty to receive exaltation. We will have many trials and temptations. Each day will bring struggles that could shake our testimony and test our commitment to the will of the Lord. Our responsibility is to stand strong, and endure in faith. We need to be reminded of this often, because it is a life long lesson. We will have set-backs. We all do at times, and we must pick ourselves us, repent of our sins, and get back to work.

“You May Stand As a Witness”

“And it shall come to pass, that if you shall ask the Father in my name, in faith believing, you shall receive the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance, that you may stand as a witness of the things of which you shall both hear and see, and also that you may declare repentance unto this generation (v. 8 ).” David Whitmer was promised that he would receive a witness of the Holy Ghost, if he would pray and ask the Lord in “faith believing”. His witness would later be of great importance to the work moving forward. He had the faith and became one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon. We can each of great witnesses from the Holy Ghost, if we ask in faith. I am grateful for the personal revelation that I have received because of putting my trust and faith in prayers.

Who Are the Gentiles Referred to Here?

“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, a light which cannot be hid in darkness (v. 9); Wherefore, I must bring forth the fulness of my gospel from the Gentiles unto the house of Israel (v. 10). And behold, thou art David, and thou art called to assist; which thing if ye do, and are faithful, ye shall be blessed both spiritually and temporally, and great shall be your reward. Amen (v. 11).”

It was revealed long before Joseph Smith, that the gospel would come from the Gentiles to the Jews. In 1 Nephi 15:13 we read, “And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—”. I am among those Gentiles. It is my duty to help to bring the gospel back to the remnant of the house of Israel, through sharing my testimony. The work of David Whitmer, has helped to bring the gospel to the gentiles, and his testimony will continue to help the work move forward.

7 The Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost Came to Adam and Eve

Why did Adam and Eve need the guidance of the Holy Ghost?

We learn in Chapter 6, that a consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve, was that they were separated from God’s presence.  When they were in the Garden of Eden, they were able to talk face-to-face with God.  Once they were cast out, they could no longer speak with Him like this.  They had a veil placed over their minds, just as we do when we are born.  Without the guidance of the Holy Ghost, they would have been left alone.  Adam and Eve had visits from angels, to teach them the gospel, but the gift of the Spirit was a blessing from God to help them and their families to know it was true.

In Moses, chapter 6, we learn that God told Adam that he and his family needed to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost after they were baptized.  “Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment (Moses 6:61).” In verse 65 we read, “And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.”

How is our need for guidance from the Holy Ghost similar to that of Adam and Eve?

I have never had some miraculous visitation by an angel to teach me gospel principles.  We today, are separated from God as well and we do not have anything to help us build our testimonies without the guidance of the Holy Ghost.  God’s plan is that we all return to live with Him again and without inspiration we would not realize what is truth.  I know that without the Holy Ghost, the temptations of Satan would be too difficult to avoid completely.  I also know that without the Holy Ghost, we would not have the confirming feelings of truth, which build our faith and give us the hope to endure.

Attributes of the Holy Ghost

How does the Holy Ghost differ from the Father and the Son?  Why is that difference important to us?

As a member of this gospel, I believe that the Holy Ghost, or the spirit of God, is a member of the godhead.  I believe that he is a separate being from God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.  I believe that the Holy Ghost is the only member of the Godhead that is a spirit and does not have a physical body.  In D&C 130:22 we read, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”  This difference is important to us, because he has the ability to influence all people in their hearts and minds.  When we feel his revelations so personally, there is no way to deny the truth.  In order for us to be able to witness the Father and Jesus Christ, we would have to have our mortal bodies changed.  The Holy Ghost can dwell in all men as long as we are living worthy of it.

The Mission of the Holy Ghost

What are some of the truths that the Holy Ghost reveals to us?

I believe that we really know all that we did before coming to this earth, but that the veil placed over our minds is stopping us from remembering it.  As the Holy Ghost gives us impressions, we are being reminded of what we already know to be true.  In John 14:26 we read, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

The Holy Ghost also reveals truths of greater knowledge to us as we become ready to receive them.  We have truths revealed to us as we study and search for answers.  Truths such as the nature of God and the Godhead, the plan of salvation, the life and mission of the Savior, and so much more.  In John 16:13 we read, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”  The spirit can reveal truths of what will be in the future to us.  These truths can be inspirations of things that may happen in our lives on this earth, but they can also be witnesses to the truths of the plan of salvation.  We can have a greater hope in the blessings of exaltation, because of the witness of the Holy Ghost.

***

I know that the Holy Ghost has been given to me by my Father in Heaven.  I am grateful for the inspiration that the Spirit gives me.  I know that the more I listen to the promptings and follow them, I am given more inspiration.  I have felt the Holy Ghost open my mind to a greater understanding of the principles of the gospel.  I have felt the spirit leave in times when I have followed temptation and it is not a good feeling.  I hope to continue to become better and be worthy to continually have this gift with me at all times.

Gospel Principles Chapter 7 – The Holy Ghost

Moroni, Chapter 10

Moroni’s exhortations

The word exhort means “a strong urging or warning; an urgent appeal for action or change.”  This is the last chapter of the Book of Mormon.  Moroni explains what this chapter is by saying, “Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ (v. 1).  And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you (v. 2).”  Moroni writes an exhortation to us all.

“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts (v. 3).”  He urges us to remember and ponder on the tender mercies of the Lord.  Time and time again, the Lord saved the Nephites and Lamanites.  They did not always deserve this by their actions, but He did it anyway.  The Book of Mormon shows us his tender mercy towards Lehi and his family by safely bringing them to the promised land after sparing Lehi’s life.  We see his tender mercy to the Lamanites who were able to witness great miracles through the missionary work of Alma and the sons of Mosiah.  And mostly we see his tender mercy to the Nephites, when he allowed his Son, Jesus Christ, to visit and bless the people after his death.  God continues to show us tender mercy today and pondering the examples in the Book of Mormon, will allow us to see these things in our own lives.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost (v. 4).  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things (v. 5).  And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is (v. 6).”  Moroni urges us to pray for ourselves, and ask God if these things are true.  The Book of Mormon is full of testimonies of the truth of the gospel and of the Savior, but we are expected to gain a testimony for ourselves.  The only way we can gain a testimony is to experience the confirming power of the Holy Ghost.  Moroni tells us to go to our Father in Heaven with faith and a sincere heart.  We should go intending with all of our faith, to receive a witness for ourselves.  To have faith in Christ, we must be willing to follow the his teachings.  If we do this, we will feel the Holy Ghost manifest the truth of the Book of Moron to us.  If we faithfully follow the commandments and pray continually, we will be constantly worthy of the Holy Ghost and the witness we can receive from it.

Recently I had a great experience with this.  I have never doubted that the modern prophet was called of God to lead us.  But in studying the Book of Mormon, I realized I had never asked for a witness that this was the truth.  I decided to put this to the test.  I started praying for the knowledge that Thomas S. Monson was truly the prophet of God, called to lead us today.  I did not receive an immediate answer.  I continued to pray for the prophet in my personal prayers.  As I did, I felt a greater love for him, but still no witness in answer to my prayers.  Then as I was watching conference last week, he stood in the first Saturday session, to address us.  Immediately I was overcome by the spirit and I felt that witness that I was looking for.  I now know, by the witness of the Holy Ghost, that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet of the Lord.  He has been called to speak on behalf of God, to all of His children today.  I am so grateful for this witness.

“And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever (v. 7).”  Moroni strongly urges us not to deny the power of God.  The power of God is a force that is in our lives constantly.  When we have faith, this power can influence us greatly.  When we choose not to listen to the promptings of the spirit, the words of the prophets and other church leaders, and so on; we choose to deny this power.  When we do not follow His words, we choose to follow our own way instead.  When we follow our own path, instead of the one that God would want us to follow, we are telling God that we think we know better for ourselves than He does.  We are lying to ourselves, if we believe that this could be the truth.

“And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them (v. 8 ).”  Moroni tells us not to deny the gifts of God.  We are given spiritual gifts to profit from them.  Not to profit in the sense that the world would want us to believe, but to profit spiritually from them.

“For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom (v. 9); And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit (v. 10); And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit (v. 11); And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles (v. 12); And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things (v. 13); And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits (v. 14); And again, to another, all kinds of tongues (v. 15); And again, to another, the interpretation of alanguages and of divers kinds of tongues (v. 16).  And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will (v. 17).”  There are many more spiritual gifts given to man.  Some may be given many of these at different times in their life.  We are given these gifts by the will of God and we are expected to use them to do his will.  We have been told by the prophets, to seek for spiritual gifts.  We should want to use these things, to become more like Christ and to help others to see the light of Christ within us.

“And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ (v. 18 ).”  Moroni reminds us that all that is good, comes from Christ.  This was a point made in the last chapter I read (see Moroni, chapter 9).  These spiritual gifts are good, or righteous, and they come to us from Christ.  The Lord gives us these things, because he loves us and wants us to become like him so that we can return to live with him.

“And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men (v. 19).”  Moroni wants us to understand that God never changes, and these wonderful gifts that were available to men from Adam’s time, through the time of Moroni, will always be available to us.

“Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity (v. 20).  And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope (v. 21).  And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity (v. 22).  And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me (v. 23).  And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief (v. 24).”  The only way that the gifts of the spirit will not be available to us, is if we are unbelieving.  This is not to say that they are taken away from the earth as a possibility.  I think that this means that we, with our agency, would only have then unavailable if we chose to deny that they were there gifts from God for his purposes.  I think then it would just be a matter of us no longer recognizing righteous things for what they are.  When we are given a gift, we need to recognize it and use it, or it will be removed from us.

We, as faithful followers of Christ, are expected to ask for these gifts.  In my own life, I am feeling less than perfect in patience.  Patience is a gift of the spirit.  I have had this gift in my past and it has blessed me greatly, but I lost it somewhere along the way.  I am aware of it.  I am expected, therefore, to pray that I will have this gift again.  And when I receive this gift, I am expected to faithfully use it and learn from it.

“And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God (v. 25).  And wo unto them who shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God; and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not (v. 26).  And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust (v. 27)?”  He warns us that we need to remember the things he has said and do good works.  If we do not, we cannot be saved.

“I declare these things unto the fulfilling of the prophecies. And behold, they shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the everlasting God; and his word shall hiss forth from generation to generation (v. 28 ).  And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true (v. 29).  And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing (v. 30).  And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled (v. 31). Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God (v. 32).  And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (v. 33).”  Moroni strongly urges us to come unto Christ.  We can do this by asking for gifts of the spirit to use in righteousness, spreading the gospel, avoiding all unrighteous things, and showing our love for Christ by our actions.

There are so many things in the world today that tempt us to deny the power of God.  Many do not want to believe that God exists, or even that there are righteous or unrighteous things.  They try to blur the lines or even completely twist them to make bad things good and vice versa.  We must not listen to these influences of the world.  We need to cling to the scriptures and the spirit, so that we can find the strength that will come as we grow closer to the Lord.

There are many times in my life, where it seemed that it would be too difficult to achieve the perfection necessary to return to live with God again.  I’ve made too many mistakes and have felt very far from perfect.  Moroni teaches us that as long as we do all that we can to “love God with all [our] heart, mind and strength”, than the Lord will make up the difference for us through His atonement.  That is how we become perfected through Christ.  His atonement has given us the way to be perfected.  We must truly be striving to be the best we can and do all that we can, and then we will be made clean and whole.

A final testimony

When I die, I would like to see Joseph Smith and talk to him about the great blessings of the restoration that were brought about through him.  I would like to see the prophets and leaders of the Book of Mormon, like king Benjamin and Captain Moroni.  There really are many that I would love to meet and hear the stories of the their lives and more.  In 2 Nephi 33:11, Nephi tells us that he will stand before us at the bar of judgement.  We will all have the opportunity to meet Nephi, the first writer of the Book of Mormon.  In Ether 12:38, Moroni also tells us that he we stand before us at the judgement seat.  All men will have the chance to meet Moroni, the last write of the Book of Mormon.  There testimonies are two which will hold us accountable in that day.  I think meeting them will be amazing.  I cannot wait to thank them for their testimonies and teachings, because they have helped greatly to strengthen me and my testimony.

Moroni ends the Book of Mormon by saying, “And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen (v. 34).”

I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon.  I have learned so much in the last year and a half, and I hope and pray to keep these things in my memory.  I want to emulate the examples found in it.  Reading the Book of Mormon has helped to strengthen my faith.  I find it so much easier to stand against temptation, than I would have ever thought possible.  I know that it is a true book.  I have felt the amazing confirmation of the Holy Ghost time and time again as I have studied the words of the prophets.  I have a greater understanding of the atonement of Christ.  I am a much happier person, as I work hard to become more like my Savior.  I find myself thinking of the stories from the scriptures often in my daily life.  When I am faced with a challenge, it is easier to think of how I should handle it, because of the examples from the scriptures. I can see much more clearly, the things around me that are not righteous things.  And I am finding so much more strength to do the things that we have been asked to do.  I am so glad that reading and studying the scriptures has become part of my daily routine.  I have felt as if a literal suit of armor has been covering me as I enter the world.  I am so grateful for the blessings that I have received as I have made this goal and have seen it through.  I hope and pray that my example and teaching will help my loved ones to see the need for the scriptures in their own lives.  I love my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.  I know that they love me more than I could imagine.  I know that as I choose the right and do my best to endure with faith and hope, I will one day be able to return to live with them again.


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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