Posts Tagged 'Work of God'

1 Chronicles Chapter 6

A Family Tree

Levi was the third son of Jacob after Reuben and Simeon. He was the son of Leah, Jacob’s first wife. He and his brother Simeon had killed the Shechemites for the actions of Shechem against their sister Dinah. Because of this they were cursed to be divided and scattered in Israel. The family of Levi are listed in this chapter, beginning with the following:

1 The sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
2 And the sons of Kohath; Amram, Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel.
3 And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam. The sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

Levi had three sons named Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. (See also Genesis 46:11, Exodus 6:16, and Numbers 3:17) Levi’s son Kohath, was the father of Amram (Amramites), Izhar (Izeharites), Hebron (Hebronites) and Uzziel (Uzzielites). (See also Numbers 3:27) Amram, married Jochebed and became the father of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. (see also Exodus 6:20 and Numbers 26:59) Aaron was called to assist Moses and he became his spokesman. Moses was the prophet whom the Lord called to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt and lead them to the promised land. Miriam, their sister, was a prophetess who was humbled by the Lord when judged Moses for his choice in his wife. (see Exodus 3, 4, 15, and Numbers 12) Aaron was the father of Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Nadab and Abihu died without sons, because they offered strange fire against the commandment of the Lord. (see Leviticus 10:1-2) The line of Aaron, was then continued on through Eleazar and Ithamar. Eleazar was given the duties of Aaron after he died. (See also Numbers 3:2, 26:60-61, Deuteronomy 10:6, and 1 Chronicles 24:2)

4 Eleazar begat Phinehas, Phinehas begat Abishua,
5 And Abishua begat Bukki, and Bukki begat Uzzi,
6 And Uzzi begat Zerahiah, and Zerahiah begat Meraioth,
7 Meraioth begat Amariah, and Amariah begat Ahitub,
8 And Ahitub begat Zadok, and Zadok begat Ahimaaz,
9 And Ahimaaz begat Azariah, and Azariah begat Johanan,
10 And Johanan begat Azariah, (he it is that executed the priest’s office in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem:)
11 And Azariah begat Amariah, and Amariah begat Ahitub,
12 And Ahitub begat Zadok, and Zadok begat Shallum,
13 And Shallum begat Hilkiah, and Hilkiah begat Azariah,
14 And Azariah begat Seraiah, and Seraiah begat Jehozadak,
15 And Jehozadak went into captivity, when the Lord carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.

Eleazar was the father of Phinehas. He saved Israel from the curse of a plague, and was blessed with a covenant of peace and the priesthood for his posterity. (see Numbers 25 and Psalm 106) He became the high priest. Phinehas was the father of Abishua, who was the father of Bukki. Bukki was the father of Uzzi, who was the father of Zerahiah. Zerahiah was the father of Meraioth, who was the father of Amariah, who was the father of Ahitub. Ahitub was the father of Zadok, who was one of the priests for King David and later Solomon. He remained faithful to David during rebellion in Jerusalem. Zadok was the father of Ahimaaz. Ahimaaz was assigned to deliver messages to David during the rebellion, and at one point was even hidden in a well. (see 2 Samuel 17 and 18) He was the father of Azariah. Azaraiah was a prince in Solomon’s court. Azariah was the father of Johanan, who was the father of Azariah. Azariah was the priest at the time when Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem. He was serving when king Uzziah trespassed against the Lord by burning incense in the temple, and was then cursed with leprosy.

Azariah (possibly the same as already mentioned) was the father of Amariah, who was the father of Ahitub, who was the father of Zadok. Zadok was the father of Shallum, who was the father of Hilkiah. He was the priest who found the book of the law, which was given to Josiah, who then restored the knowledge of the law to the people of Judah and made covenants with the Lord. Hikliah was the father of Azariah, who was the father of Seraiah. Seraiah was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar’s captain of the guard, and slain by the king. He had been the father of Jehozadak. When Judah and Jerusalem was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, Jehozadak went into captivity. (see also 2 Samuel 8, 1 Kings 1, 2, 4:2, 2 Kings 22, 25, and 2 Chronicles 26)

16 The sons of Levi; Gershom, Kohath, and Merari.
17 And these be the names of the sons of Gershom; Libni, and Shimei.
18 And the sons of Kohath were, Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel.
19 The sons of Merari; Mahli, and Mushi. And these are the families of the Levites according to their fathers.

Again, Levi had three sons. Gershom became the father of Libni and Shimei. Kohath became the father of Amram, Izhar, Hebrom, and Uzziel (mentioned above). Merari became the father of Mahli and Mushi. These were the patriarchs of the tribe of Levi.

20 Of Gershom; Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son,
21 Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeaterai his son.

Libni was the father of Jahath, Zimmah, Joah, Iddo, Zerah, and Jeaterai.

22 The sons of Kohath; Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son,
23 Elkanah his son, and Ebiasaph his son, and Assir his son,
24 Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son.
25 And the sons of Elkanah; Amasai, and Ahimoth.

Kohath was the patriarch of Amminadab, Korah, Assir, Elkanah, Ebiasaph, Assir, Tahath, Uriel, Uzziah and Shaul. Korah rebelled against Moses and Aaron, believing they were not the leaders for them called by God, and he and his family were destroyed when the Lord opened up the ground beneath them. (see Numbers 16) Elkanah was the father of Amasai and Ahimoth by his wife Peninnah. Elkanah was also the husband of Hannah, who was barren and prayed to God for a child, while she was in the temple. Her prayers were answered and she bore Samuel, who was given to the Lord by Hannah. (See also 1 Samuel 1)

26 As for Elkanah: the sons of Elkanah; Zophai his son, and Nahath his son,
27 Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son.
28 And the sons of Samuel; the firstborn Vashni, and Abiah.

Elkanah was the patriarch of Zophai, Nahath, Eliab, Jeroham, and Elkanah. Samuel, the son of Elkanah mentioned above, was the father of Vashni (Joel) and Abiah. They became judges over Israel, but they were not righteous judges and so the people turned against the Lord, and asked for a king to be over them instead. (See also 1 Samuel 8)

29 The sons of Merari; Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzza his son,
30 Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, Asaiah his son.
31 And these are they whom David set over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after that the ark had rest.
32 And they ministered before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of the congregation with singing, until Solomon had built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem: and then they waited on their office according to their order.

Mahli, the grandson of Levi through Merari, became the patriarch of Libni, Shimei, Uzza, Shimea, Haggiah, and Asaiah. These were the men of the Levites, who were assigned to be over the service of song in the tabernacle, once the ark was placed there. They served in front of the tabernacle of the congregation by singing. They did this until Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, where they served according to the order of their office.

33 And these are they that waited with their children. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman a singer, the son of Joel, the son of Shemuel,
34 The son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah,
35 The son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai,
36 The son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah,
37 The son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah,
38 The son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel.
39 And his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand, even Asaph the son of Berachiah, the
son of Shimea,
40 The son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malchiah,
41 The son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah,
42 The son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei,
43 The son of Jahath, the son of Gershom, the son of Levi.
44 And their brethren the sons of Merari stood on the left hand: Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch,
45 The son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah,
46 The son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shamer,
47 The son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi.
48 Their brethren also the Levites were appointed unto all manner of service of the tabernacle of the house of God.

Those that waited with their children, were Heman, a singer of the Kohathites, his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand, and the son of Merari, Ethan who stood on the left hand. They played the cymbals in David’s choir. (see 1 Chronicles 15) These were each descendants of Levi, the son of Israel. Heman’s descendancy included by parentage, Joel, Shemuel, Elkanah, Jeroham, Eliel, Toah, Zuph, Elkanah, Mahath, Amasai, Elkanah,Joel, Azariah, Zephaniah, Tahth, Assir, Ebiasaph, Korah (mentioned above), Izhar, Kohath (mentioned above), and then through Levi to Israel. Asaph’s descendancy included by parentage, Berachaih, Shimea, Michael, Baaseiah, Malchiah, Ethni, Zerah, Adaiah, Ethan, Zimmah, Shimei, Jahath, Gershom, Levi. Ethan’s descendancy included by parentage, Kishi, Abdi, Malluch, Hashabiah, Amaziah, Hilkiah, Amzi, Bani, Shamer,Mahli, Mushi, Merari (mentioned above), and also through Levi. The Levites were given all kinds of duties in and with the tabernacle.

49 But Aaron and his sons offered upon the altar of the burnt offering, and on the altar of incense, and were appointed for all the work of the place most holy, and to make an atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.
50 And these are the sons of Aaron; Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son,
51 Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son,
52 Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son,
53 Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son.

Aaron, who was ordained a priest by Moses, and his line, were annointed and specifically given the duty of performing offerings on the altar of burnt offerings and the altar of incense, and the responsibilities of the holy of holies, and the making of atonement for Israel, just as they were directed by Moses, under the direction of the Lord. As mentioned above, the line with these duites consisted of the Aaron, along with his sons and grandsons: Eleazar, who became chief over the chiefs of the Levites, Phinehas, Abishua, Bukki, Uzzi, Zerahiah, Meraioth, Amariah, Ahitub, Zadok, and Ahimaaz. (There is more family to the line mentioned in verses 9-15 above. See also Exodus 28, Leviticus 8 and Numbers 3)

54 Now these are their dwelling places throughout their castles in their coasts, of the sons of Aaron, of the families of the Kohathites: for theirs was the lot.

The sons of Aaron of the Kohathites lived in these designated areas of the different tribes of Israel, which were given to them by lot.

55 And they gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, and the suburbs thereof round about it.
56 But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
57 And to the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of Judah, namely, Hebron, the city of refuge, and Libnah with her suburbs, and Jattir, and Eshtemoa, with their suburbs,
58 And Hilen with her suburbs, Debir with her suburbs,
59 And Ashan with her suburbs, and Beth-shemesh with her suburbs:
60 And out of the tribe of Benjamin; Geba with her suburbs, and Alemeth with her suburbs, and Anathoth with her suburbs. All their cities throughout their families were thirteen cities.

From Judah, they were given the cities of Hebron (which was well-known because of Abraham and later became the location for David’s original reign over Judah), the city of refuge, Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Hilen, Debir, Ashan and Beth-shemesh (once the location of the ark) with all the land and suburbs, except for the fields and villages of Hebron, which were given to Caleb, the son of Jephunneh. Then, from Benjamin, they were given Geba, Alemeth, and Anathoth, which included thirteen cities. (see also 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Samuel 6)

61 And unto the sons of Kohath, which were left of the family of that tribe, were cities given out of the half tribe, namely, out of the half tribe of Manasseh, by lot, ten cities.

The rest of the family of Kohath, were given ten cities by lot, from half of the tribe of Manasseh.

62 And to the sons of Gershom throughout their families out of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.

The family of Gershom, were given thirteen cities by lot, from Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Manasseh.

63 Unto the sons of Merari were given by lot, throughout their families, out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.

The family of Merari, were given twelve cities by lot, from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun.

64 And the children of Israel gave to the Levites these cities with their suburbs.
65 And they gave by lot out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, and out of the tribe of the children of Benjamin, these cities, which are called by their names.
66 And the residue of the families of the sons of Kohath had cities of their coasts out of the tribe of Ephraim.
67 And they gave unto them, of the cities of refuge, Shechem in mount Ephraim with her suburbs; they gave also Gezer with her suburbs,
68 And Jokmeam with her suburbs, and Beth-horon with her suburbs,
69 And Aijalon with her suburbs, and Gath-rimmon with her suburbs:
70 And out of the half tribe of Manasseh; Aner with her suburbs, and Bileam with her suburbs, for the family of the remnant of the sons of Kohath.

All these cities and suburbs were given to the Levites. The tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, gave cities by lot. The rest of the family of Kohath, was given cities in the border of Ephraim, including the cities of refuge and Shechem (a portion of mount Ephraim was given to Phinehas, the son of Eleazar). Shechem was an ancient town, mentioned when Abram (Abraham) first went to the promised land. (see Genesis 12) They also were given Gezer, Jokmean, Beth-horon (where the lord had brought a deadly hailstorm down upon the Amorites), Aijalon, and Gath-rimmon. Then from the half of Manasseh, they were given the city of Aner and Bileam. (see also Joshua 10)

71 Unto the sons of Gershom were given out of the family of the half tribe of Manasseh, Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, and Ashtaroth with her suburbs:
72 And out of the tribe of Issachar; Kedesh with her suburbs, Daberath with her suburbs,
73 And Ramoth with her suburbs, and Anem with her suburbs:
74 And out of the tribe of Asher; Mashal with her suburbs, and Abdon with her suburbs,
75 And Hukok with her suburbs, and Rehob with her suburbs:
76 And out of the tribe of Naphtali; Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, and Hammon with her suburbs, and Kirjathaim with her suburbs.

The sons of Gershom were also given cities from half of the tribe of Manasseh. They were Golan and Ashtaroth. From Issachar, they were given Kedesh, Daberath, Ramoth, and Anem. From Asher, they were given Mashal, Abdon, Hukok and Rehob. From Naphtali, they were given Kedesh in Galilee, Hammon, and Kirjathaim.

77 Unto the rest of the children of Merari were given out of the tribe of Zebulun, Rimmon with her suburbs, Tabor with her suburbs:
78 And on the other side Jordan by Jericho, on the east side of Jordan, were given them out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer in the wilderness with her suburbs, and Jahzah with her suburbs,
79 Kedemoth also with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs:
80 And out of the tribe of Gad; Ramoth in Gilead with her suburbs, and Mahanaim with her suburbs,
81 And Heshbon with her suburbs, and Jazer with her suburbs.

The remainder of the family of Merari, were given the cities of Rimmon and Tabor from the tribe of Zebulon. From Rueben, on the Eastern side of the Jordan, they were given the cities of Bezer, Jahzah, Kedemoth, and Mephaath. From Gad, they were given Ramoth in Gilead (a very important Israelite city of refuge, where Ahab fought against Syria and died), Mahanaim, Heshbon and Jazer. (see also 1 Kings 22)

This chapter includes a record of the family who was responsible for the discharge of the duties relating to the tabernacle, and later to the temple of the Lord built by Solomon. Some did the work of the priesthood, while the remainder of the tribe of Levi, were called upon to serve the priests and care for the tabernacle. I think it would have been such a privilege to serve the Lord in this way. They were not perfect men, and they were not even all worthy to hold their office or do their duties, as seen in some of the stories of those who served the Israelites in the temple, but those who did their best to serve the Lord, would have had great opportunities in their work. I think that we can grow by leaps and bounds, when we are given ways or called to serve the Lord. (see more about the blessings of priesthood service in Doctrine and Covenants 84:18-34) Their lives were not the easiest of the tribes of Israel, especially seeing as they had no inheritance in the land, and were sustained by the tithes and some of the offerings given by the children of Israel. Additionally, because they were given cities out of all the other tribes, in which to live, they were spread out among all of Israel and never living gathered together the way each of the other tribes were gathered geographically. However, one of the significant blessings of the tribe of Levi, is that they had and continue to have an important role to play in the work of the Lord, all the way to the end the mortal world. In Doctrine and Covenants 13, the prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained to the priesthood. The words of the ordination were, “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” It is an honor and privilege to be ordained to the priesthood of Aaron, and those of the children of Levi who honored their priesthood or even those related duties done by those who served the priests, were surely blessed.

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Exodus Chapter 7

Moses and Aaron have been called by the Lord, to deliver the children of Israel out of bondage. Pharaoh has already refused the request once and increased the workload for his slaves. The Lord told Moses that he would show his power and Pharaoh would eventually let them go. The story of the deliverance of the Israelites continues as follows:

1 And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.
3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.
6 And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them, so did they.
7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

The Lord told Moses (according to the Joseph Smith Translation) that he had made Moses as God, or a prophet to Pharaoh, and Aaron was his spokesman. I think that the Lord was reminding Moses that this was His work, and He had done what He said He would do. He reminded them that they would be given the words by God and therefore given God’s authority to do this work. The words here say that the Lord would harden the heart of Pharaoh, but the Joseph Smith Translation corrects this to say that Pharaoh would harden his heart, just as the Lord has said he would. The Lord continued to promise that He would show his mighty works and wonders in the land of Egypt, if Pharaoh would not allow them to go free by their request alone. The Egyptians would come to see that the God of Moses and Aaron, or of the Israelites, was indeed the Lord who had made all things. The Egyptians worshipped many false Gods and gave them credit for the things that the Lord had made and done for them. They would have a witness of who God really was, and I am sure that witness would stand against them if they denied it. Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord. I love that they continue to go forward in faith that the Lord will provide they way for them.

8 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.

The Lord knew that Pharaoh would want a sign, and so he would give them a sign to show they acted with the power and authority of God. He told Moses to have Aaron throw his rod and that it would become a serpent in front of Pharaoh.

10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.
12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.
13 And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

Aaron’s rod was thrown before Pharaoh and his servants, just as the Lord had commanded, and it became a serpent. Pharaoh’s magicians were able to do the same thing with the rods of every other man. These men were false priests who did many things by the powers of men and I am sure with the help of Satan. There tricks kept Pharaoh from recognizing the power of God where it truly was, but they were no match to the miracles of God. Aaron’s rod swallowed the serpents created from the other rods. Pharaoh remained unchanged and did not listen to them, just as the Lord had said he would.

14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.
15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.
16 And thou shalt say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.
17 Thus saith the Lord, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.
18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river.

Moses was commanded to go again to meet Pharaoh as he went down to the water, and Moses would again tell Pharaoh to let the people go so they could worship God. Knowing he would not listen, the Lord commanded that Moses take the rod and smite the Nile river with a curse. It would turn to blood and all the fish would die and make the river smell. This was one of the plagues that would be brought upon the people of Egypt. I think it’s interesting that Pharaoh said Moses and Aaron had brought the burdens on their people by asking for them to be let go, and then Pharaoh is treated likewise. It was the pride and stubborn attitude of Pharaoh, which brought the plagues upon the people of Egypt.

19 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.
20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
21 And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said.
23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.
24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.
25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that the Lord had smitten the river.

I find it interesting that the Lord shows his power through the rod in the hand of Moses. His rod became a tool for great miracles of the priesthood. Today, the priesthood power is used through the laying on of hands, which is the way God has established it for man’s use. I am sure the power was in Moses and not in the rod itself, but the use of the rod was a tool of faith in action for Moses. Moses and Aaron obeyed and the water was cursed throughout the land, and was turned to blood. Pharaoh’s magicians did something like it as well, so Pharaoh again was not willing to listen to them. This curse of the water continued for seven days and the Egyptians had to find other ways to have something to drink.

In the time of Moses, the life of every individual relied heavily on the waters where they lived. Today, at least where I live, we have so many conveniences with water coming from other places, which they would not have dreamed of in ancient times. To put a plague on the water must have been a great curse to the people. The manual I am using along with this study, mentions that each plague was an attack on the false gods of Egypt. This first, being an attack on the god of the Nile. God will not take lightly the worship of others before Him. Anyone who knows the ten commandments, knows that this is one of the things that God values most. We have a duty to worship Him and none else. The higher law for us today, is that we must not worship any thing before God. Our lives must center around the Lord first and all other things will have their proper place. The world would have us put God last, or at least become so busy and active with things of this world (entertainment, media, recreation, addictions and so on) that we give less attention to Him who is most important. We could easily make the things of the world, the gods we worship. This is something that we must fight against each and every day of our lives. I think the most important thing to combat this, would be to remember Him. We need to say our prayers and keep the Lord in the front of our mind continually. This is not easy and takes a lot of work and effort on our part, but I am sure that in the bigger picture, we will receive the greatest blessings of all, if we do this.

Conference Questions – Following Christ

Recently, I watched the 182nd Semi Annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I watch conference, I am always filled with the spirit and a desire to be a better person and draw closer to the Savior. I love to take notes. When I first started being a note taker for learning in church settings, I would write everything I possibly could down. Including what the speakers said, as well as the little lessons the spirit would teach me during the talks. Once that became a habit, I learned that I should really be focused on writing down the things that I am personally taught by the spirit. So, with that as my focus for note taking, I found myself writing down questions that I should be able to answer. The thought then came to me that these are questions that I could attempt to study on this blog. To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

My final question in this series, comes from a talk given by Robert D. Hales during the Sunday afternoon session of conference. His talk was called, “Being a More Christian Christian“. As the title suggests, his talk discussed what it is to be a Christian and how we can do it more in our lives. My question was posed by Elder Hales during this talk, and it is what kind of Christian am I? Likewise, how am I doing in my quest to follow Christ?

What is a Christian? A Christian is one who follows Christ. It was a title given to those who believed in Jesus Christ both in the New Testament times as well as in the times of the Book of Mormon. In Acts 11:26 we read, “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Likewise in Alma 46:15 we read, “And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come.” Elder Hales described a Christian as one who took upon themselves the name of Christ.

I love that his second question uses the word quest. A quest is a long and difficult search for something. To seek after Jesus Christ is a quest. Having the faith to continue hoping for something that cannot be scientifically proven is difficult. Maintaining a hope in the atonement when none of us were there to witness the events for ourselves, is not easy. If it was easier, there would be more people willing to believe in Jesus Christ.

How do we take upon ourselves the name of Christ, and then take the steps necessary to seek for him through the difficult and long journey of our lives? We do this by first making the covenants that we have been commanded to make. We start the quest with baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is the first steps the Savior took in his ministry and must be the first we take as well. Then, we continue in that quest, by following his example and living as he lived.

A true Christian strives daily to become more converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This means looking at ourselves to see what things we need to change in us to become more like our Savior. This requires quite a bit of humility on our part. The Savior taught us the value of humility in Matthew 18:4 which says, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” We need to recognize that we are far from perfect. We need to gain a desire to change our natural ways and become better. Conversion comes in repenting and returning to the Savior whenever we find we have lost our way, even in the slightest. The quest to follow Christ is full of moments of reflection and repentance and we should check ourselves to see if we are doing this often enough to be truly converted to Christ.

Elder Hale’s talk caused me to question if I am one who responds right away. I would hope that I am now. I have had many times in my past, when I have been asked to do something that would show my discipleship to Christ, but I have hesitated to heed the call. Not that I did not respond, but I did hesitate. The more I learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more willing I am to listen and follow immediately. I have struggled internally when it has come to changing a habit I know to be wrong, but I have eventually followed through with feelings to change. I think that the parable of the ten virgins is applicable to this situation. We have to respond now and avoid procrastination. This applies to changes in our lives as well as to calls of duty assigned to us, or even simple inspirations. In Matthew 25:10 we read, “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” We miss out on the blessings now, when we hesitate to respond. Being a more Christian Christian means responding right away to those things that the Lord would have us do. I hope to be able to become the kind of person who can react immediately in all things that Christ would have me do. A true Christian, will act upon direction and inspiration immediately

A Christian Christian will do the work of the Lord. That work is to “bring to pass the immorality and eternal life of man” (see Moses 1:39). We do this by sharing the gospel with others. We do this by behaving as Christ would, and bring others to him by sharing his light. We do not have to share the gospel with words in order to this, but we do need to be living the gospel so that others can see by our example, the better way. In 3 Nephi 12, the Savior taught a portion of the sermon at the temple (see also the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5)

14 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
15 Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;
16 Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

We can do the work of the Lord at all times, in all things, and in all places. We start in our homes, with ourselves and then our families. Then we can do His work at church, at work, in the community and so on. The Lord will provide the opportunities for us, if we will look faithfully for them. As a seeking Christian, I must ask myself if I am standing as an example of the Savior’s light in each area of my life. Am I patient at home? Am I loving at church? Am I kind at the grocery store? Am I caring and considerate in my neighborhood? What can I work on today to be a better light to the world? Elder Hales proposed several areas for us to consider how we are doing. These areas are love, faith, sacrifice, caring, service, patience, peace, forgiveness, conversion, and endurance. These things will bring us closer to Christ. We should take a look at where we are, study how Christ was in that thing, make a plan or goal for ourselves, and then seek for the way to become more like Him. It truly is a quest and we cannot expect to become the perfect Christians overnight. It will be something that we spend our whole lives working on. The faithful Christian is one who recognizes this, doesn’t find failure in not being perfect right away, and strives each day to do more than the day before.

I am grateful to have the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I have faith in Him. I believe Him. I want to be like Him. I know that if I reflect on how I am showing my faithfulness as a Christian, the Lord will help me to see ways that I can improve and become more converted to Him. I am grateful for my weaknesses and the opportunities that I have to learn and grow. I am so glad that I have a Lord who is patient with me and allows me the opportunity to make mistakes, repent of my shortcomings and try harder each day. I know that it is a blessing to be a Christian and I hope to become more of a Christian throughout my life.

Conference Questions – Purpose for Serving

Recently, I watched the 182nd Semi Annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I watch conference, I am always filled with the spirit and a desire to be a better person and draw closer to the Savior. I love to take notes. When I first started being a note taker for learning in church settings, I would write everything I possibly could down. Including what the speakers said, as well as the little lessons the spirit would teach me during the talks. Once that became a habit, I learned that I should really be focused on writing down the things that I am personally taught by the spirit. So, with that as my focus for note taking, I found myself writing down questions that I should be able to answer. The thought then came to me that these are questions that I could attempt to study on this blog. To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

On Sunday morning of conference weekend, Sister Linda K. Burton, the new General Relief Society President, gave a great talk entitled, “First Observe, Then Serve”. It focused on seeing the needs of those around us and serving in Christ-like ways to fill those needs. It reminded me a lot of one of the cartoons that I have watched many times with my kids. In the movie Robots, there is a phrase that is used throughout and is a main point for the film. It is, “See a need, fill a need.” Ever since I first saw that movie, that thought has often come to mind as I have tried to serve others. Anyway, the thought is along the same line as the message of Sister Burton’s talk. In her talk she said the following:

Sometimes we are tempted to serve in a way that we want to serve and not necessarily in the way that is needed at the moment. When Elder Robert D. Hales taught the principle of provident living, he shared the example of buying a gift for his wife. She asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?” If we adapt that question to ourselves as we serve and ask, “Am I doing this for the Savior, or am I doing this for me?” our service will more likely resemble the ministry of the Savior. The Savior asked, and so should we, “What will ye that I shall do unto you?”

My next question in this series is do I serve for the Savior or myself? I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into this question before hearing this. Then I was talking to a friend afterwards and she said that she had been feeling selfish in her service, because she wanted to serve to make herself feel better. I had never thought one way or the other about it, but I know now that it is a great question to ask ourselves. True Christ-like service is not done to help us with our own issues. It is true that we can be greatly blessed because of our service and the blessings may be that our own problems seem easier to bear, but we cannot choose to do service with that as the goal. Rather the goal of service, should be to help another without expecting anything in return.

I love the scripture found in Mosiah 2:17, which reads, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” When we choose to do service for God, our entire perspective changes. We will begin to ask ourselves if this thing we are doing is something that God would do if He were standing there in that moment. We will open our hearts to greater direction from the spirit as well. When we do this, we will learn to have charity, or the pure love of Christ, for those we choose to serve. That is because we cannot serve as God would serve, without becoming more like God.

As I pondered this question, I was reminded of Matthew 6:24 when it says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” Usually when I think of this scripture, I am focused on serving the Lord or Satan. However, I think it applies here as well. If we are serving to get something out of it for ourselves, we are serving ourselves. We are the master then. This verse teaches us that we cannot be serving God as well as another master, even if it is us. If our focus is doing good so that we can get something out of it, we leave no room for service to or for God. It’s in moments like these that I feel the Savior would say to us what he taught his disciples many times during his ministry. It would sound something like, “You wanted this to be the outcome, well then, you have your reward.” If only we would recognize the greatness of the blessings that the Lord will give us for serving for Him instead of for us. If we truly knew what could come as a result of serving for the right reason, I am sure there would not be this desire to do things for ourselves.

I know that sometimes we get caught up in life and as we repent we desire to do the things that God has asked of us. It can be difficult to jump right in with the perfect perspective on service to others. At times like these, we need to leave ourselves out of it, and make our service a matter of acting in faith to God. In Mosiah 7:33 we read, “But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.” We need to be diligent and do our best, then the Lord will provide for our needs.

Our service to God, is how we show Him that we love him. In Doctrine and Covenants 42:29 we read, “If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me. . .”. This thought is found all throughout the scriptures. In John 21:17 we read, “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” I know that I will be serving for the right reasons if I am doing it out of love for the Lord. In Deuteronomy 10 we read the following:

12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (emphasis added)

We worship God, when we love and serve Him. I know that as we strive to serve and love God, the desire to serve others will come naturally to us. I am far from great at this, but I know that even service to those in our own homes is of great importance and should not be overlooked. This is where most of my service happens on a daily basis. I know now that I should really think about the reasons I choose to serve those in my home. If I am doing it to make myself feel better, then it is not being done for the right reasons. If we can be more mindful of the real needs of those around us, we will do better to serve them the way the Lord would have us serve. I hope that more of us can find a way to take the natural selfishness out of our daily acts of service, so that we can truly make this world a better place.

Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 9

(To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

One of the all-encompassing attributes of God for us to strive towards, is perfection. God is a perfect being. His plan for us is perfect. 2 Samuel 22:31 says, “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.” Likewise, in Proverbs 30:5 we read, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” There is purity in everything He has ever spoken. As we learn in Deutornomy 32:4, God is right and true to perfection. “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” We can fully depend on what He has said, to protect us. In 1 John 1:5 it reads, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” God is the creator of light and the source of all light. In his perfect light, he is the dispeller of all darkness. He is perfectly good and perfectly whole. We have been given a charge by the Savior in Matthew 5:48 which says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” While to some this verse may seem daunting, to me, this verse gives me great hope in the person that I can become. I can be perfect, otherwise why would the Savior have said this. The key is remembering that our perfection will come over time and through eternity. In Doctrine and Covenants 67:13 we are taught, “Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.” This life is just a life of preparation, we cannot become perfect now. We can however, strive towards perfection, by working on our shortcomings with patience in ourselves and with God. We have the example of Jesus Christ to look towards and we have been given the laws to follow, which help us to perfection. Christ’s love, charity, is pure. Colossians 3:14 reads, “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” We need to have the love of Christ in our hearts, in order to become more perfect. Just as God’s words are pure and we can trust in Him, we should strive for all that we say to be pure, right and completely true. We can strive to live in the light each day and do our best to dispel the darkness of our lives. This means, that we need to put ourselves in the best situations to have light, and avoid those things that we know are evil and wrong. As imperfect beings in mortality, God knows we are going to make mistakes, so in order for us to reach the potential of perfection, we have been given repentance through the power of the atonement. Doctrine and Covenants 76:69 teaches us about those who are a part of the first resurrection, when it says, “These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.” If we want to strive to be like God, we need to make use of repentance and the atonement every day of our lives.

God is a worker. We cannot number the works of God because they are so many. In Job 37:14 we read, “Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.” He started the work of our earthly existence, with the creation of our world. I am amazed every time I ponder on one of the amazing creations and works of God. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;”. His work is beautiful and leaves me with feelings of great reverence and awe. His work has continued throughout time and goes on today. We are a part of his work. The purpose of His work for us is learned in Moses 1:39, which reads, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” We live in an amazing era in the work of God. The prophecies of old are being fulfilled, such as that said in Isaiah 29:14. “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” Likewise, in 3 Nephi 21:9 we read, “For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.” The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is God’s marvelous work. God’s work is without end. God is not a being of idleness. If we are to work towards our potential to be like Him, we cannot be idle. Instead, we need to be an active part of the work of God. We need to be looking for ways to serve others. We need to be creating things of value in our lives. We need to further the work of God through building our testimonies, sharing the gospel, and doing work in the temple, so that all people can have the opportunity to choose eternal life.

These recent posts about our potential, are just a sprinkling of all that God is and all that we can become as His spirit children. I am grateful to have the opportunity to improve upon the person that I am and to become more like Him. It is so important for us to spend time learning the attributes of God and reflecting on our own lives to see where we are. We have been given the great opportunity to make the most of our time on earth. God did not send us here to idle away our days, or to wander aimlessly. He has shown us the way. He has given us the gospel and most especially His Son, Jesus the Christ, so that we might learn how we could live to be the best we can be. God as given us a glimpse of our eternal potential and just how amazing we can be. There are so many times in life, when I get down on myself for who I am or how I am behaving. I am so glad for the gospel and the ability to study the scriptures, which gives me a greater hope of who I will become someday if I am willing to try a little harder. I truly hope that more people will see their potential and turn to God where they can find hope, peace, love and joy.

To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn

A Family Tree

I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting, on the topic of the hearts of the children shall turn, based on the talk given by Elder David A. Bednar in the most recent general conference. We hear this phrase often in the church, and today I’m going to talk about what this means to me.

The work of God is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind (see Moses 1:39). This is brought about by our making and keeping sacred covenants with God. This work, is centered around families. Elder Russel M. Nelson said, “The earth was created and this church restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally. [Whenever scriptures warn that the “earth would be utterly wasted,” the warning is connected to the need for priesthood authority to seal families together in holy temples.]” (Russell M. Nelson, “Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Nov. 2008, 92-95.) As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to have a knowledge of the gospel and the blessings that come from the priesthood power and authority being available on the earth today. There are many who have gone before us without this knowledge and, at times, without the priesthood. If they do not have the same opportunity as we do, than the work of God would fall short. I cannot imagine this as a possibility and therefore, I believe in the priesthood authority and power to do work for the dead. This authority of the priesthood is on the earth today because of the work of Elijah, the prophet. In Joseph Smith History 1:38-39 we read the words of Malachi as spoken by the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith. “. . . Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (v. 38). . . . And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming (v. 39).” Elijah did come to the prophet, Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery, and he restored the sealing power to them. We read about that in Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-15. “After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said (v. 13): Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come (v. 14)—To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse (v. 15)—”. Now is the time when the promises of the ancient prophets have been planted in our hearts and our hearts need to turn to our fathers.

How do we turn our hearts to our fathers? The prophet Joseph Smith explained that “. . . the word turn, here should be translated bind, or seal.” In other words, how do we bind or seal our hearts to our fathers? In his talk, Elder Bednar uses the words of Joseph Smith in telling how we, the saints, do this. He said, “By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah . . . .” (History of the Church, 4:569; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Mar. 27, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff).

Both Joseph Smith and Elder Bednar spoke of the chain that binds us to our ancestors. This image stuck out to me. When I think of it, I picture the master blacksmith, working hard with his hammer, to forge every link of our eternal chain, which binds our eternal family together forever. A strong chain needs each individual link to be shaped and bonded to the one before it. Likewise, in our eternal family chain, each individual must be prepared and forged to those who have come before them and then attached to those who come after, through the work of the master. This preparation for those who have gone before us, is family history work. We are blessed with the opportunity to assist the Master in His work, by doing family history work. President Brigham Young said: “We have a work to do just as important in its sphere as the Savior’s work was in its sphere. Our fathers cannot be made perfect without us; we cannot be made perfect without them. They have done their work and now sleep. We are now called upon to do ours; which is to be the greatest work man ever performed on the earth” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 406).

Family history work is for all of us. There is nothing in the scriptures or teachings of the prophets, which qualifies when we should be doing this work. In Elder Bednar’s talk he directed a lot of his words to the youth of the church and I think that those of us who are parents, leaders, and teachers of the youth, can do a lot to help the younger generation realize all that they can do to further this work. Doing family history work is something that I have enjoyed for years. I can remember as a young primary child, having the strong desire to find out about my own ancestors. I have been blessed to have a great-grandmother who was a world-renowned genealogist. She published many books during her lifetime. My parents had one of these books, which was a history of my family on my maternal grandfather’s side. I enjoyed reading through the stories in that book and learning about the things my family had experienced. Her example to me, gave me a strong desire to seek out my family for myself. I know that because family is central to God’s plan, there can be a desire in each and every one of His children, no matter the age we are, to be bound to their family eternally.

The incredible work that my great-grandmother did for our family, required hours of searching through physical records, countless trips to the libraries, frequent trips to other states and even to Washington D.C. to look through records in the national archives. But, just as new tools have replaced the blacksmith’s hammer in making chains, new tools have been provided for us to do family history work. The advances in computers have made this work so much easier for us to do. There is no longer the need to spend all our time traveling, digging through books, or scanning the micro-fiche for records. We have amazing tools, including newfamilysearch and familysearch. There are other great tools available online from the comfort of our own homes or at the family history library.

Before listening to Elder Bednar’s talk, I had not thought about getting my daughters involved in family history or on new familysearch, but after hearing what he said, I decided to go to lds.org to see what the church leaders had there for the youth and primary. The youth section of the site, has several videos which explain how to use new family search. There are sweet testimonies of young men and women who have started their own work. These examples are inspiring and motivating. I also looked on the primary section of lds.org, and they have a section titled “Family History 1-2-3“, which links directly to new family search. It is clear that the leaders of the church feel that children should be using newfamilysearch as well. Those of us who are older, should take the time to learn for ourselves how to do our own family history work, so that we can teach and guide our children in this work. Elder Bednar said, “It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord— not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.”

The Lord has blessed us with these tools, so that we can further His work. There are four things that we can and should be doing. First, we need to gather our family history. The least we should do, that has been suggested by church leaders, is four generations of our ancestors, but I think that you’ll find that as you do this work, you will gain the desire to go back even further. Find the records in your home. Ask your family for information. Go to newfamilysearch.org and start your family tree. Use the old family search site to find records of your family members. There are many other resources that can be helpful in this work as well. My parents and grandparents have done a great deal of family history work. I was struggling with where to begin, so I decided to compile the work that they have been doing. It’s been a fun thing to do. Last year, my grandfather passed away and I had the opportunity to gather information from several family members and to create a record of his life from their thoughts on him. It is something that I hold dear and I am so happy to be able to pass that on to my children.

Second, we need to record our own personal and family histories. This one is a big one for me. I’ve attended several family history workshops in the past ten years, and one of the things that has stuck with me the most is that each of us will most likely be forgotten after three generations. How many of us can say that we know all about our great-great-grandparents? What do you want your great-great-grandchildren to know about you? What can you do today, to make their work easier? How much easier would it be for you to have information from your life compiled for them? Keep a journal. Keep your physical records safe. Teach your children to keep journals as well. Keeping records of your living family as well as those who have passed away, is so important. If you question that statement, than I’d ask you to look to the example of Lehi’s family in the Book of Mormon. Lehi was commanded to send his sons back to Jerusalem to gather his family records. In 1 Nephi 3:2-4, we read, “And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem (v. 2). For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass (v. 3). Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness (v. 4).” Then in 1 Nephi 5:21 we read, “And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.” Royden G. Derrick, formerly of the Seventy said, “A personal history becomes a family treasure that enables children to emulate the virtues and personal characteristics of their forebears. Their forefathers become the David, the Samson, the Moses, and the Abraham of their lineage. Writing family and personal histories is becoming the popular thing to do. More and more people throughout the world are becoming interested in this exciting pastime to them, but sacred responsibility to us. The hearts of the children are indeed turning to the fathers.” (“The Heritage of Royal Families,” Ensign, May 1979, 26.) Preserve your own records, so that your life can be an example to those who come after you.

Third, we need to perform temple ordinances for our family members. We need to do this often. We need to do this now. I love serving in the temple, but nothing has ever been quite as meaningful and spiritual as doing work for family members. I’d like to share a very special experience for me. In fall of 2009 I prepared several names for a Stake Relief Society night of baptisms. One of these names was Maria Schmidlin. I performed the baptism for her as planned and then held on to the paperwork so that I could follow-up with more of her work. I had several names to do and this one kept going to the bottom of my stack. Finally, in February of this year, I felt the strong impression that I needed to go do a session. For 2 weeks, it seemed like everything I heard at church, from my visiting teachers, and so on, was pushing me to go do a session, so we made plans to go. I planned to do the work for Maria that night. Our drive was worst then usual, causing us to be a bit later than expected, so we started talking about just doing initiatories. Then, I had the impression that we needed to do a session, even if we had to wait longer. We decided to side with the feeling to do the session, and I know now why that feeling was so strong. As I prepared myself for the session, I said a silent prayer to Heavenly Father and I immediately felt the presence of Maria with me. I felt her joy throughout the entire session. I know she was there with me and I know that because I was willing, she was able to accept and receive the necessary ordinances to progress. I feel so privileged to have been able to do that for her. There are temples being built all around the world, which will are here specifically for this purpose. We need to be preparing ourselves for the work that we can do in the temples.

Fourth, we should help others to do this work. If you know how to do family history, take time to show others in your family, in the ward, or even friends who may not be members of the church. I had a great experience with this last year. I had a less-active family in our ward (a father, daughter and grand-daughter) who had heard me talk about family history work. We had a ward Relief Society temple night scheduled and had asked the sisters to prepare names to take for baptisms and confirmations. I was approached by this family to help them prepare to do the work for the father’s wife who had passed away, so that she could be baptized and confirmed. Helping them prepare the name was fairly simple and it gave me the opportunity to share my testimony of this great work. However, the best part of the entire experience, was helping the grand-daughter when she went to the temple the night of our temple trip. It was amazing to watch this young sister do work for her grandmother, and witness her own testimony grow through the process.

You can help others by locating records and other information for them or with them. This is a job that I think the younger generation would be great at. There are a lot of us, who may not be very savvy with the computer. Last year I went to my Mom’s family history library with her. She was serving as the assistant in the library at the time and was really excited to show me how to use the record search pilot, which was a tool to find ancestry documents that has since been added to family search. I’ve been blessed to marry a computer nerd, and he has helped me to learn a lot, so this was pretty simple for me. She got me started on the site and within less then a minute I had located a birth record for a family member that my Mom had not been able to find before. I helped our family by finding this one record. The record was made available because of volunteers giving their time. I know that we don’t all have a lot of extra time in our busy lives to be working on a lot of family history work. The church has a truly inspired way for the busiest of us to actively help others. It is called indexing. Indexing is what made my family record easy to find. Indexing is for anyone who knows how to read and enter data into a computer. You can spend as little as five minutes working on it at a time. In short, indexing is downloading a batch of records that have been scanned and prepared and then using the data entry form to type what you think the record says. Two different people with do the indexing for one record and then an arbitrator looks to see if things match and if their are any questions. Then that information will be made available for searching, and the records can be more easily found by family members. If you have any free moments in your days, I would highly suggest participating in indexing.

In closing, I’d like to quote Elder Bednar again. In addressing the youth he said, “As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.” I know that this promise can apply to all of us no matter what our age. I am so grateful for the desire in my own life, to do family history work. I love that we can learn about the lives of those who have gone before, and I love knowing that I have the ability to leave a legacy for my own posterity. I am grateful for the blessings of the temple and for the love of a Father in Heaven who wants each and every one of us to be sealed forever as a part of His eternal Family chain.

Built After the Manner of the Lord

Nephi was commanded of the Lord to build a boat. In 1 Nephi 18, he tells of the process of workmanship on the boat.

2 Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.
3 And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.
4 And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship, according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord.

As I read this today, I was brought to reflecting on the things we are commanded to build in our own lives. We are told to build our own testimony, so that we can be found immovable in our faith. We are to build a family that can be eternal. And we are taught to build a home that can be our own temple in this world and a refuge from the filth and hardships of the outside world. We are given the tools to build these things, just as Nephi was given the tools to build the boat. He was not directly handed some perfect tool, but he was told by the Lord how to make the tool that would be perfect for him to use. We are not simply handed the tools, but it requires work and study on our part to find the perfect tools. These tools are found in the scriptures. With these perfect tools, we can build ourselves, our families, and our homes. When we use the tools the Lord has given us, and with the guidance of the Lord, which Nephi also relied on heavily, we can make these things with exceedingly fine workmanship, just as Nephi did. More importantly, these things will not be after the manner of men, because they would fail us, but rather they would be after the manner of the Lord. With the products of fine workmanship, inspired by the Lord, we can weather any storm towards our own promised land.

Moses Chapter 1 (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of the previous post (Moses Chapter 1 Part 1)

At this point, Moses has seen God face-to-face by the power and glory of God. He has witnessed the many creations of God and knows that he is called to do the work of God. He has also seen Satan and after being tempted by him, has commanded him to leave. The chapter continues:

24 And it came to pass that when Satan had departed from the presence of Moses, that Moses lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son;
25 And calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God.
26 And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days; for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel my chosen.

Moses gives us another good example here in these verses. The Lord has just helped him to have the strength to withstand temptations of the devil, and he immediately returns to prayer. Sometimes we pray for help to accomplish something, then after we are able to do it, we go on with our lives as if we were the ones who did all the work to make it happen. Our hearts should always be grateful to the Lord, especially when our prayers are answered. We show this gratitude by communicating with Him.

God tells Moses part of what his mission was to be. Moses was going to save Israel and he would command the waters by the power and authority of God.

27 And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the Spirit of God.
28 And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore.
29 And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof.
30 And it came to pass that Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?
31 And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face. And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.
32 And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.
34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.
35 But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

Moses was then shown all of the earth, all the people on the earth, and every land on the earth. Then, Moses was again transfigured and spoke directly with the Lord. He learned from God that all these things were created by God, through His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who did all these things by the power of God. The answer to the ultimate question of why are we here, is answered by the Lord. We are here for the wise purposes of God. We are here to live His plan and to do His will.

Moses was taught here that all people on the earth came from the first man and father on the earth, who was Adam. He was also taught that this earth is one world of many that God has created. There are so many that we cannot number them or we cannot understand the number with our mortal minds, but God who has created them, knows each and every one. It is hard to even grasp this idea, that there are worlds without number, and that God not only knows each world, but also every soul that has ever lived on all of those worlds. I can hardly even imagine the experience of seeing every soul upon this earth. I am sure that this revelation changed Moses and prepared him for what was to come.

36 And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content.
37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Moses had the desire to know more about the things which he had witnesses. God told him that His purpose is to allow man the blessings of immortality and eternal life. His work does not end with the passing of the earth that we know, but continues on for eternity. In the book of Genesis, we are given a finite “beginning”, which was when the earth was created. Genisis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The truth is that this is only an explanation that works for the understanding of man, because in truth there is no beginning to all things. I think that many read this and feel that nothing existed before this “beginning”. Moses was taught here that there have been many worlds before ours and many will come after it. This gives me a greater sense of humility. I am one in an vast number of people on this earth, among a vast number of worlds, across the span of time that I cannot understand because it is eternal. And even with all that, the work of God Himself, is to bring to pass immortality and eternal life for me.

Our immortality has already been prepared for us, through the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He has made it possible for us to have power over death and be resurrected. All mankind will have this opportunity, no matter how we lived our lives. Our eternal life is based upon the things we do in this life. John 17:3 says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” We will have eternal life, which is a life like that of God, if we choose to do those things that will bring us closer to Christ.

40 And now, Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest; and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak.
41 And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men—among as many as shall believe.
42 (These words were spoken unto Moses in the mount, the name of which shall not be known among the children of men. And now they are spoken unto you. Show them not unto any except them that believe. Even so. Amen.)

These words were truly left out of the common scriptures known to man. Moses went on to teach what he learned, which make up the rest of this book of scripture. In fulfillment of these words, the Lord raised up another prophet, Joseph Smith. Through his work, the translation of these things was done and now we have the teachings of Moses again, which we are here for those who are willing to believe them.

D&C Section 129

This section includes instructions that were given to the saints by the prophet, Joseph Smith. I can imagine that the topic of angels and other heavenly beings was discussed quite a bit at the time of the early saints, because there had been several witnessed accounts of appearances to the prophet and other leading men of the church. This section is regarding heavenly messengers.

1 There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones—
2 For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
3 Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.

Not every messenger from heaven is literally an angel. In the scriptures, the word angel is often used to speak of any heavenly messenger. This section teaches us that they are either angels or spirits. Angels are those that can physically minister to the living, because they have a body. We learn from the scriptures that the resurrection did not begin until after the resurrection of the Savior, who made it possible. This means that all “angels” who came before His resurrection, were angels of spirit not body. Even the savior himself, appeared in spirit to men before His own life. Spirits have not yet been resurrected and therefore do not have a body of flesh and bones. Those messengers who are spirits, have lived good righteous lives, they know how to make full use of the atonement in their lives, and they are worthy of being made perfected through Jesus Christ.

4 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.
5 If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.
6 If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear—
7 Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.
8 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.
9 These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.

This is the pattern that we may use to determine if any messenger is either of God or of the devil. And if it is of God, we will know whether they are a spirit messenger, or an angel. I don’t imagine myself being one of the few who actually get to have this kind of amazing experience, but it is always best to be prepared and to know if a message should be accepted as truly from God or not. I think it interesting that a spirit of the devil would think so much of themselves, to offer their hand even when they know they cannot be felt. It sounds like a very prideful act to me and it seems like it is intended to deceive the person. No being on the Lord’s errand would be either prideful or deceitful.

D&C Section 126

This section is a revelation given through the prophet, Joseph Smith, regarding Brigham Young. President Young, was the Presiding member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He had been serving a mission in Europe along with several other members of the Twelve.

1 Dear and well-beloved brother, Brigham Young, verily thus saith the Lord unto you: My servant Brigham, it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me.
2 I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name.
3 I therefore command you to send my word abroad, and take especial care of your family from this time, henceforth and forever. Amen.

Brigham was told that he was no longer required to leave his family for distant missions, as he had been. He was told that the offering he had made, or that the mission he had faithfully served, was acceptable to the Lord. He was to continue to serve in the Twelve, but at home and closer to the prophet. This gave him the opportunity to learn and serve closely with Joseph, which prepared him for his calling as the next prophet and president of the church.

The mission that Brigham had been serving was not all easy-going. The Lord notes that he toiled, which to me sounds a lot more demanding than work or service. He did this laboring and toiling for the Lord, and in His name. Now it was the time for him to take care of his family and to send others on missions with the gospel. He did his duty with full faith and love of the Lord. Brigham Young was a great man and another wonderful example of selfless service to further the work of the Lord.


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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