Tag Archives: Priesthood

#BOMTC 2 Nephi 32-Jacob 1: From Nephi to Jacob

These pages mark a major transition in the Book of Mormon. Nephi’s final words are found in 2 Nephi 32-33, and once again we find his great anxiety for our welfare and his pattern for plainness (see 2 Nephi 32:8; 33:3-9). His final words are an invitation to “hearken unto these words and believe in Christ” (2 Nephi 33:10-15). A more simple, yet perfectly suited ending could not have been better for Nephi’s writings:

“for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey” (2 Nephi 33:15).

No wonder Nephi’s name seems to spring from our lips so effortlessly when illustrating examples of obedience!

#BOMTC Day 20, April 26~2 Nephi 32-Jacob 1 or Pages 115-120 FEAST Upon the Words of Christ

At this point Jacob inherits Nephi’s Small Plates and is given instruction on what should be recorded on them (see Jacob 1:1-4). Jacob is not at all new to the Book of Mormon. In fact, much of 2 Nephi is actually Nephi recording Jacob’s teaching and preaching. Many of our favorite teachings from 2 Nephi came from Jacob (2 Nephi 9 is just one example). As Nephi dies, Jacob takes ecclesiastical responsibility for the Nephite society. Unfortunately, the Nephites are struggling with quite a few spiritual problems (Jacob 1:15-16).

Reminiscent of many prophets before, and others yet to come, Jacob uses the Temple as his stage and the setting for calling the people to repentance. Nephi’s “plainness” seems to have had an effect on Jacob’s preaching (see Jacob 2:11). Jacob must now help the people overcome their love of riches (see v. 12), their pride (see vv. 13-21), and their immorality (see vv. 23-35). It’s a tough job, but Jacob has been called of God and is capable of the task at hand (Jacob 1:17-19; 2:1-7)!

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#BOMTC 3 Nephi 6-7: Satan’s Strategy

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Satan's Strategy

Is it possible for someone to be …

  • Rich and humble?
  • Poor and prideful?
  • Educated and humble?
  • Uneducated and prideful?

As we read in these chapters, we learn that it takes a conscious effort to prevent pride and to seek to be humble no matter what our circumstances may be.

Something else that we can learn from these chapters is that blessings can be LOST in the LAST hour IF we do not ENDURE TO THE END.

Following their miraculous deliverance from the Gadianton robbers, the Nephites enjoyed peace for about three years. But pride, class distinctions, and persecutions arose among the people. While some remained faithful to the Lord, many entered into secret combinations. Because of the secret combinations, the chief judge was murdered and the Nephite government was overthrown. The people divided into tribes and appointed their own leaders. Nephi continued to minister unto the people with power and great authority. As recorded in 3 Nephi 6–7, some of the Nephites experienced the tragic results of rejecting the prophets, while others experienced the blessings that come from repenting and hearkening to the Lord’s chosen servants.

strategy

It seems that there are two great strategies at play in our lives: UNITY & DIVISION

You may see it differently, but to me, God’s strategy is to strengthen His children through UNITY. Unity in covenants, unity within family, unity with the priesthood, unity in our communities, etc. There is great STRENGTH in UNITY!

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Unity

Satan’s strategy is to DIVIDE. Division WEAKENS, hence the saying, “Divide and conquer!”

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Divide and Conquer (2)

To understand this next part, we need to define the difference between a strategy and tactics. A strategy is the large, overall plan that can comprise several tactics, which are smaller, focused, procedures that are part of the overall plan/strategy.  God uses several tactics (procedures) to unify: sealed in families, gathered as Saints, worship meetings, temple ordinances, missionary work, caring for the poor and the needy, priesthood quorums, Relief Society, ministering, service, etc. All of these tactic help to STRENGTHEN us, in part, because of the UNITY that they create among ourselves and with our God. God is our greatest strength, so if we are unified with Him then His grace (strength) is sufficient.

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Don't Panic, Organize

However, Satan has many tactics that he employs to “divide and conquer” and destroy the “strength in unity” that we seek to create with God and His children. Several such tactic are found in these chapters as Satan makes his final attempt to divide as many people as he can from the blessing of receiving the Savior’s impending visit after His resurrection (see 3 Nephi 11). His tactics in these chapters are not much different from the tactics that he is implementing today: pride, love of riches, class distinction, contention, dissension, rebellion, violence, and secret combinations.

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Calvin and Hobbs Divide and Conquer

Take a moment to consider how many things God asks you to do every day and each week to STRENGTHEN you, as you UNIFY with Him and His children. Consider the STRENGTH that you feel in your life when you faithfully fulfill those daily and weekly duties. Now, contrast that with the WEAKNESS that you feel as you neglect to unify with God and His children and instead allow Satan to DIVIDE you from God’s unity and strength with his tenacious tactics.

In the aftermath of World War II, trust had vanished between Latter-day Saint survivors in the Netherlands. Mission president Cornelius Zappey searched for a way to heal the wounds left by the war and restore UNITY among the Dutch members. He set the members to work planting potatoes, restoring their sense of belonging and solidarity. After learning of the extremely harsh conditions in which German Church members were living, President Zappey set about convincing the Dutch Saints to love their brothers and sisters in Germany. They sent their hard-earned potato harvest to Germany, looking past the actions committed by the German regime. A few years later when the North Sea flooded and those same Dutch members were in need, the German Saints showed their gratitude by sending welfare supplies to the Netherlands. They learned that Christlike love heals the wounds caused by human actions.

Here is a little video about those World War II Latter-day Saints that were DIVIDED by war and then UNIFIED by the Lord:

That We Might Be One:

The Story of the Dutch Potato Project

Don’t LOSE your blessings in the LAST hour by falling prey to Satan’s WEAKENING tactics like many of the people did in these chapters. Rather, ENDURE to the END and use your agency to apply God’s tactics of STRENGTH that will bring UNITY with God and His children (3 Nephi 7:21-22). You have the ability to choose which strategy will have power in your life–“Divide and Conquer” or “Strength in Unity”. Choose wisely!

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#BOMTC Mosiah 22-25: Divine Daily Deliverance

“And now it came to pass that [their] burdens … were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” —Mosiah 24:15

#BOMTC Day 32, May 8~Mosiah 22-25 or Pages 189-195

Limhi’s people came into Lamanite bondage as a result of their wickedness (see Mosiah 20:21) and were humbled and turned to God as a result of their bondage. By studying the trials and deliverance of Limhi’s group, we can see the Lord will answer our prayers in His own way and time as we humble ourselves (see Mosiah 22:1–9, 13–14). In contrast, Alma’s people were brought into bondage as a trial of their faith (see Mosiah 23:21). By studying the trials and deliverance of Alma’s people, we can learn how to rely on the Lord for strength amid our own struggles and challenges (see Mosiah 24:17–25). Both groups prayed mightily to be released from bondage. While both groups of people were eventually delivered and arrived in Zarahemla, the Lord helped each group in different ways. (See also Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, (2012), 131–33)

Nephites carrying log

To be delivered usually means to be set free, helped, or brought through something. Studying these two accounts of divine deliverance can help us increase our faith to call upon the Lord for daily divine deliverance from whatever afflictions you are experiencing.

Elder Richard G. Scott“No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1995).

#BOMTC Day 32, May 8~Mosiah 22-25 or Pages 189-195 (3)

By comparing Limhi’s experience in Mosiah 21:16 with Alma’s experience in Mosiah 24:15 we can identify common ways that the Lord prepares His children for divine deliverance.

LIMHI’S PEOPLE ALMA’S PEOPLE
They were placed in bondage after much bloodshed (see Mosiah 21:5–13). They were placed in bondage with no bloodshed (see Mosiah 23:35–38).
The Lord was slow to hear their cries because of their iniquities (see Mosiah 21:15). The Lord answered their prayers quickly (see Mosiah 23:10–13).
Their burdens were eased because the Lord softened the hearts of the Lamanites (see Mosiah 21:15). The Lord strengthened them so they could bear their burdens with ease (see Mosiah 24:14–15).
Gideon conceived a plan of escape (see Mosiah 21:36;22:1–9). The Lord told them, “Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage” (Mosiah 24:16).
They got the guards drunk (see Mosiah 22:10). The Lord caused the guards to sleep (see Mosiah 24:19).

DFU, Your Reaction to Adversity

Instead of taking the time to read my thoughts on all of this, I feel it will be much more useful for you to use your time reviewing, “Trust in the Lord”, by Elder Scott.

Trust in the Lord

It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result.

No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different.

If you are suffering the disheartening effects of transgression, please recognize that the only path to permanent relief from sadness is sincere repentance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Realize your full dependence upon the Lord and your need to align your life with His teachings. There is really no other way to get lasting healing and peace. Postponing humble repentance will delay or prevent your receiving relief. Admit to yourself your mistakes and seek help now. Your bishop is a friend with keys of authority to help you find peace of mind and contentment. The way will be opened for you to have strength to repent and be forgiven.

Now may I share some suggestions with you who face the second source of adversity, the testing that a wise Heavenly Father determines is needed even when you are living a worthy, righteous life and are obedient to His commandments.

Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.

When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.

This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy Spirit to obey those teachings for happiness now and for a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Prov. 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience.

To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all. When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.

As in all things, the Master is our perfect example. Who could have asked with more perfect faith, greater obedience, or more complete understanding than did He when He asked His Father in Gethsemane: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). Later He pled twice again: “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42; see also Matt. 26:44).

How grateful I am personally that our Savior taught we should conclude our most urgent, deeply felt prayers, when we ask for that which is of utmost importance to us, with “Thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42). Your willingness to accept the will of the Father will not change what in His wisdom He has chosen to do. However, it will certainly change the effect of those decisions on you personally. That evidence of the proper exercise of agency allows His decisions to produce far greater blessings in your life. I have found that because of our Father’s desire for us to grow, He may give us gentle, almost imperceptible promptings that, if we are willing to accept without complaint, He will enlarge to become a very clear indication of His will. This enlightenment comes because of our faith and our willingness to do what He asks even though we would desire something else.

Our Father in Heaven has invited you to express your needs, hopes, and desires unto Him. That should not be done in a spirit of negotiation, but rather as a willingness to obey His will no matter what direction that takes. His invitation, “Ask, and ye shall receive” (3 Ne. 27:29) does not assure that you will get what you want. It does guarantee that, if worthy, you will get what you need, as judged by a Father that loves you perfectly, who wants your eternal happiness even more than do you.

I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith. He will place in your path packets of spiritual sunlight to brighten your way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest, as evidence of the compassion and love of an all-knowing Father. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and strengthen your determination to accept and be obedient to His will.

It is a singularly marvelous blessing to have faith in the Savior and a testimony of His teachings. So few in the world have that brilliant light to guide them. The fulness of the restored gospel gives perspective, purpose, and understanding. It allows us to face what otherwise appear to be unjust, unfair, unreasonable challenges in life. Learn those helpful truths by pondering the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. Try to understand those teachings not only with your mind but also with your heart.

True enduring happiness with the accompanying strength, courage, and capacity to overcome the most challenging difficulties comes from a life centered in Jesus Christ. Obedience to His teachings provides a sure foundation upon which to build. That takes effort. There is no guarantee of overnight results, but there is absolute assurance that, in the Lord’s time, solutions will come, peace will prevail, and emptiness will be filled.

Recently a great leader, suffering from physical handicaps that come with advancing age, said, “I am glad I have what I have.” It is wisdom to open the windows of happiness by recognizing your abundant blessings.

Don’t let the workings of adversity totally absorb your life. Try to understand what you can. Act where you are able; then let the matter rest with the Lord for a period while you give to others in worthy ways before you take on appropriate concern again.

Please learn that as you wrestle with a challenge and feel sadness because of it, you can simultaneously have peace and rejoicing. Yes, pain, disappointment, frustration, and anguish can be temporary scenes played out on the stage of life. Behind them there can be a background of peace and the positive assurance that a loving Father will keep His promises. You can qualify for those promises by a determination to accept His will, by understanding the plan of happiness, by receiving all of the ordinances, and by keeping the covenants made to assure their fulfillment.

The Lord’s plan is to exalt you to live with Him and be greatly blessed. The rate at which you qualify is generally set by your capacity to mature, to grow, to love, and to give of yourself. He is preparing you to be a god. You cannot understand fully what that means, yet, He knows. As you trust Him, seek and follow His will, you will receive blessings that your finite mind cannot understand here on earth. Your Father in Heaven and His Holy Son know better than you what brings happiness. They have given you the plan of happiness. As you understand and follow it, happiness will be your blessing. As you willingly obey, receive, and honor the ordinances and covenants of that holy plan, you can have the greatest measure of satisfaction in this life. Yes, even times of overpowering happiness. You will prepare yourself for an eternity of glorious life with your loved ones who qualify for that kingdom.

I know the principles that we have discussed are true. They have been tested in the crucible of personal experience. To recognize the hand of the Lord in your life and to accept His will without complaint is a beginning. That decision does not immediately eliminate the struggles that will come for your growth. But I witness that it is the best way there is for you to find strength and understanding. It will free you from the dead ends of your own reasoning. It will allow your life to become a productive, meaningful experience, when otherwise you may not know how to go on (see D&C 24:8).

I testify that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you. I witness that the Savior gave His life for your happiness. I know Him. He understands your every need. I positively know that as you accept Their will without complaint, They will bless and sustain you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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#BOMTC Mosiah 18-21: Count the Ripples!

It is difficult to determine the effect that one person can have, but with time the results can be seen. You may never know how the decisions you make will affect others. Abinadi may have died without knowing if anyone believed his teachings, but Alma was converted because of Abinadi’s efforts, and he and his descendants had a great influence on the Nephites for many generations.

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave the following example:

“You don’t know how much good you can do; you can’t foresee the results of the effort you put in. Years ago, President Charles A. Callis, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, but who previously was president of the Southern States Mission for twenty-five years, told me this story. He said that he had a missionary in the southern [United States] who came in to get his release at the conclusion of his mission. His mission president said to him, ‘Have you had a good mission?’

“He said, ‘No.’

“‘How is that?’

“‘Well, I haven’t had any results from my work. I have wasted my time and my father’s money. It’s been a waste of time.’

“Brother Callis said, ‘Haven’t you baptized anyone?’

“He said, ‘I baptized only one person during the two years that I have been here. That was a twelve-year-old boy up in the back hollows of Tennessee.’

“He went home with a sense of failure. Brother Callis said, ‘I decided to follow that boy who had been baptized. I wanted to know what became of him. …

“… ‘I followed him through the years. He became the Sunday School Superintendent, and he eventually became the branch president. He married. He moved off the little tenant farm on which he and his parents before him had lived and got a piece of ground of his own and made it fruitful. He became the district president. He sold that piece of ground in Tennessee and moved to Idaho and bought a farm along the Snake River and prospered there. His children grew. They went on missions. They came home. They had children of their own who went on missions.’

“Brother Callis continued, ‘I’ve just spent a week up in Idaho looking up every member of that family that I could find and talking to them about their missionary service. I discovered that, as the result of the baptism of that one little boy in the back hollows of Tennessee by a missionary who thought he had failed, more than 1,100 people have come into the Church.’

“You never can foretell the consequences of your work, my beloved brethren and sisters, when you serve as missionaries” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 360–61). (Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Manual, Lesson 18: God Himself Shall Redeem His People)

Now, why would Elder Callis be so concerned about ONE boy from Tennessee? Well, if you don’t know about Elder Callis, the following story may help you understand his concern:

“Many years ago an elder who served a mission in the British Isles said at the end of his labors, ‘I think my mission has been a failure. I have labored all my days as a missionary here and I have only baptized one dirty little Irish kid. That is all I baptized.’

“Years later, after his return to his home in Montana, he had a visitor come to his home who asked, ‘Are you the elder who served a mission in the British Isles in 1873?’

“‘Yes.’

“Then the man went on, ‘And do you remember having said that you thought your mission was a failure because you had only baptized one dirty little Irish kid?’

“He said, ‘Yes.’

“The visitor put out his hand and said, ‘I would like to shake hands with you. My name is Charles A. Callis, of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am that dirty little Irish kid that you baptized on your mission.’” (President James E. Faust, “Them that Honour Me I will Hounour”, Ensign, May 2001; See also, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 602–3.)

Abinadi before King Noah

The story of Abinadi (see Mosiah 11–18) is an example of how doing what’s right, even when it’s hard, can affect many lives for good. When Abinadi chose to be the one, his choice led Alma to be the one as well—the only one of King Noah’s priests to accept the gospel, which influenced an entire nation.

Track the RIPPLE EFFECT that Abinadi had:

Abinadi: Abinadi’s testimony to wicked King Noah cost him his life (see Mosiah 17:20), but changed the life of one of the king’s priests, Alma the Elder (see Mosiah 18:1), who at the time was “a young man” (Mosiah 17:2).

#BOMTC Day 30, May 6~Mosiah 14-17 or Pages 175-181 (5)

Alma the Elder: Alma helped bring into the Church about 450 of King Noah’s people (see Mosiah 18:35). They joined the Nephites at Zarahemla, where Alma became the high priest of the Church and baptized many more (see Mosiah 25:18). His son was Alma the Younger (see Mosiah 27:14).

Alma the Younger: Alma was the Nephites’ first chief judge and high priest of the Church (see Mosiah 29:42). He helped convert more than 3,500 people and converted many more during later missions to Nephite cities. Alma’s sons served missions as well. His oldest son was Helaman.

#BOMTC Day 31, May 7~Mosiah 18-21 or Pages 182-188 (10)

Helaman, Son of Alma: Helaman kept the records and was one of the high priests of the Church (see Alma 46:6). At about 73 B.C. and again about 54 B.C., he reestablished the Church after years of war (see Alma 45:22Alma 62:46). He led the 2,000 stripling warriors. His son was also named Helaman.

Helaman, Son of Helaman: Helaman kept the records of the people as well. He became chief judge of the Nephites. During his righteous rule, “tens of thousands” joined the Church (Hel. 3:26). He had two righteous sons, Nephi and Lehi.

#BOMTC Day 31, May 7~Mosiah 18-21 or Pages 182-188 (9)

Nephi and Lehi, Sons of Helaman: Nephi was chief judge before leaving to preach the gospel with Lehi. These brothers were such powerful missionaries that most of the Lamanites were converted to the gospel (see Hel. 5:50). Nephi turned the records over to his son, Nephi.

Nephi, Son of Nephi: Nephi became a great prophet. He taught and baptized many in the wicked days before Christ’s coming, even raising his brother from the dead (see 3 Ne. 7:15–26). He was chosen as one of Christ’s 12 disciples when the Savior appeared (see 3 Ne. 12:1). The disciples helped convert all the Nephites and Lamanites after Christ’s coming (see 4 Ne. 1:2).

Abinadi’s teachings and example affected countless lives over the years, from Alma the Elder to Nephi, the disciple of Christ. These men didn’t just affect the lives of their converts. Those people likely affected others, including their own children and their children’s children, who also affected others. You never know how many people will be affected by what you choose to do. So make sure you choose the right. (see Count the Ripples, New Era, Feb. 2005)

young woman in a crowd

Will you be the one? Are you the one? The one who refuses to participate in gossip? The one who stands up for the Church? The one who chooses the right—whatever the circumstances—even when nobody else does? (Be the One, New Era, May 2013)

Make Waves

What kind of waves will you make?

In a general conference address, Elder Harold G. Hillam shared the following two RIPPLE EFFECT stories:

When we see the effect one person can have . . . , it perhaps is no wonder that the Lord reminded us, “Remember the worth of souls.”

One of the talks that has had an everlasting impression on me is one given in a Saturday evening session of a stake conference years ago. The talk was given by a young mother. Here’s what she said: “I have been doing the genealogy of my great-grandfather. He and his large family of sons and daughters were members of the Church.

“My great-grandfather,” she said, “left church one Sunday with his family, and they never returned—no indication why.”

She then said, “In my research, I have found that my great-grandfather has over 1,000 descendants.”

And then she said, and this is the part I have not been able to forget, “Of those 1,000 descendants, I am the only one active in the Church today.”

As she said these words, I found myself thinking, “Is it only 1,000, or could it be more?”

The answer is apparent. The spiritual influence that family might have had on their neighbors and friends did not happen. None of his sons nor any of his daughters served as missionaries, and those they would have touched with their testimonies were not baptized, and those who were not baptized did not go on missions. Yes, there are probably many thousands who are not in the Church today, and not in this very meeting, because of that great-grandfather’s decision.

As I heard her talk I found myself thinking, “What a tragedy! Perhaps if I had been there at that time, I could have said something to the father, to the family, to the priesthood leaders that might have helped to prevent such a calamity to their family and to so many in the future generations that would follow.”

Well, that opportunity of the past is lost. But we can now look to the present and to the future. I would say to those who find themselves in the same position as that great-grandfather: Would you consider what you might be doing to your family and to all those who come after you? Would you ponder the effects of your thoughts and your actions?

… I would like to tell you of a stake conference I was assigned to attend. It was a reorganization; the stake president and his counselors would be released, and a new presidency would be called. The stake president was young and had served wonderfully for almost 10 years. He was a spiritual giant, but he was also an administrative giant. In my personal interview with him, he told me how he had delegated much of the responsibility for the stake functions to his counselors and to the high council and had thus freed himself to interview those who needed encouragement. Individuals and couples were invited to come to his office. There he got to know them, counseled with them, and invited them to do better, to put their lives in order, and to receive the blessings available to those who follow the Lord. He helped them by putting them in the care of a capable leader, a teacher who helped them to understand the beauties of the doctrine. Then he told me that in these interviews he would often ask if they would like a blessing. “I have placed my hands on the heads of many members of the stake,” he said.

The next day in the general session of the stake conference, I doubt I have ever seen so many tears—not because they felt the president should not be released, but for the deep love of a young stake president who had blessed their lives. I felt prompted to ask, “How many of you have had the hands of the president on your heads?” I was amazed at the number of people who raised their hands. I thought to myself at the time, “How many of these people will bless the name of this great man, not only now but throughout the eternities?” Yes, these will be the great-grandfathers who will, because of this loving leader, leave a legacy of generations of thousands who will call him blessed.

When we see the effect one person can have on the lives of so many, it perhaps is no wonder that the Lord reminded us, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10). (The Worth of Souls“, Ensign, May 2005)

#BOMTC Day 30, May 6~Mosiah 14-17 or Pages 175-181 (10)

This chart shows the lineage of Alma and approximate life spans of him and his descendants mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Alma’s conversion while listening to Abinadi (see Mosiah 18:1) and Alma’s baptism at the Waters of Mormon (see Mosiah 18:14) were important events for himself and for the Nephite civilization. Not only were Alma’s descendants able to receive the blessings of the gospel, but for over four hundred years many of them were key prophets and principal keepers of the plates of Nephi who in turn spread the gospel to the general population. (View PDF)

A final story, shared by Ryan Squire, will probably suffice for illustrating our point today. His grandfather believe that on his mission he had never brought anyone into the Church. Here is the rest of the story:

I served in the São Paulo Brazil Mission. While I was there, I met an elderly Japanese couple who served in various capacities in the mission. Brother and Sister Tsuya were well known for two things. First was the haircuts Brother Tsuya would give the missionaries.

The other thing the Tsuyas were known for was their incredible love and mission spirit. They spoke no Portuguese and spoke English with a thick accent. But they would take a box of copies of the Book of Mormon they bought with their own money to the fruit fair on the street each week and would always come back empty-handed. Their spirit was incredibly powerful.

One transfer day I had the chance to talk to Brother Tsuya. I found out that he had joined the Church in Hawaii. I told him that my grandfather had served a mission in Hawaii and was there during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Brother Tsuya was very surprised and said he had joined the Church then but didn’t remember an Elder Squire. I told him that it was my mom’s father, Elder Thurgood, who had served in Hawaii.

Brother Tsuya almost fell out of his chair and yelled out “Elder Thurgood is your grandpa?” He related the story of their meeting. He said while he was eating a meal in the Hawaiian community style, he was being inappropriate and was taking the Lord’s name in vain among other things. A missionary, my grandfather, had spoken up and asked him to stop. Brother Tsuya said he took the name of the Lord in vain again. He said that my grandpa had come over to him, hit him on the shoulder, and lectured him about how little he knew about life, how he wasn’t as smart as he thought, how he needed to quit smoking and do a bunch of things differently or he wouldn’t ever amount to anything.

Brother Tsuya told me that when he went home that night, he knew my grandpa was right. He thought about it and decided he wanted to make some changes. He ran into two similarly dressed missionaries a couple of weeks later and listened to the discussions with a sincere desire to change. Brother Tsuya gave much of the credit for his decision to listen to the missionaries to my grandpa.

I quickly wrote home telling my family I had huge news and that Grandpa Thurgood needed to be there when I made my telephone call at Christmas. When I called home, I finally told him that I had met somebody he brought into the Church. I will always remember how quiet he became as he said, “Ryan, you are mistaken. I never brought anybody into the Church on my mission.”

I asked him if he remembered hitting a smart-aleck Japanese kid at dinner in Hawaii and then lecturing him on how much he needed to change his life. He became instantly curious and said that he did remember the incident well. He was transferred away shortly after that and hadn’t heard more.

I told him that two weeks later that boy had decided to listen to the discussions because of what you said to him that night. He had later married in the temple in Hawaii. He had served in various callings in the Church and blessed many, many lives. He served as a mission president in Japan for three years. He also served as president of the MTC in Japan. He had served multiple missions with his wife.

My Grandpa Thurgood was in tears and couldn’t talk to me after that. He had spent over 50 years thinking his mission hadn’t made a difference to anybody. When the Tsuyas completed their mission in Brazil, my grandpa and his wife went to the temple with them and had a tearful reunion.

My grandfather’s experience reminded me of Abinadi, my favorite Book of Mormon prophet. Abinadi had come before the wicked priests of King Noah and shared the gospel with great power and authority. He testified boldly and was burned to death because of what he taught. The only fruit he had the chance to see was one of the priests, whose name he may not have even known, who asked the king to let Abinadi go and then was chased out of the court. That priest (Alma the Elder) then became a great prophet himself.

We never know the effect our testimony will have on those around us. How could my grandpa have known the difference his testimony at dinner would have on a young man?

We learn that it is not ours to judge those around us when sharing the gospel. It is so easy to look at others and assume they are not interested in the gospel. We think the soil is rocky and that nothing would grow if we tried. Our responsibility is to cast seeds. We are called to share. We are called to invite. We are called to include. The gospel is a gospel of repentance, a gospel of change. In Christ is the power to change. Christ has the power to heal. There is nothing so exquisitely sweet as seeing a soul come unto Christ.

Because of the seed my grandfather planted, Brother Tsuya was baptized, married in the temple, and served as a mission president. He blessed many lives. (Not a Single Baptism, New Era, Feb. 2011)

You can print this up as an easy glue-in for future reference

You can print this up as an easy glue-in for future reference. Click here for original.

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#BOMTC 2 Nephi 32-Jacob 1: From Nephi to Jacob

These pages mark a major transition in the Book of Mormon. Nephi’s final words are found in 2 Nephi 32-33, and once again we find his great anxiety for our welfare and his pattern for plainness (2 Nephi 32:8; 33:3-9). His final words are an invitation to “hearken unto these words and believe in Christ” (2 Nephi 33:10-15). A more simple, yet perfectly suited ending could not have been better for Nephi’s writings:

“for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey” (2 Nephi 33:15).

No wonder Nephi’s name seems to spring from our lips so effortlessly when illustrating examples of obedience!

#BOMTC Day 20, April 26~2 Nephi 32-Jacob 1 or Pages 115-120 FEAST Upon the Words of Christ

Jacob inherits Nephi’s Small Plates and is given instruction on what should be recorded on them (Jacob 1:1-4). Jacob is not at all new to the Book of Mormon. In fact, much of 2 Nephi is actually Nephi recording Jacob’s teaching and preaching. Many of our favorite teachings from 2 Nephi came from Jacob (2 Nephi 9 is just one example). As Nephi dies, Jacob takes ecclesiastical responsibility for the Nephite society. Unfortunately, the Nephites are struggling with quite a few spiritual problems (Jacob 1:15-16).

Reminiscent of many prophets before, and others yet to come, Jacob uses the Temple as his stage for calling the people to repentance. Nephi’s “plainness” seems to have had an effect on Jacob’s preaching (Jacob 2:11). Jacob must now help the people overcome their love of riches (v. 12), their pride (vv. 13-21), and their immorality (vv. 23-35). It’s a tough job, but Jacob has been called of God and is capable of the task at hand (Jacob 1:17-19; 2:1-7)!

Want to know more? Check out these links:

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#BOMTC 3 Nephi 6-7: Satan’s Strategy

Is it possible for someone to be …

  • Rich and humble?
  • Poor and prideful?
  • Educated and humble?
  • Uneducated and prideful?

As we read in these chapters, we learn that it takes a conscious effort to prevent pride and to seek to be humble no matter what our circumstances may be.

Something else that we can learn from these chapters is that IF we do not ENDURE TO THE END blessings can be LOST in the LAST hour.

Following their miraculous deliverance from the Gadianton robbers, the Nephites enjoyed peace for about three years. But pride, class distinctions, and persecutions arose among the people. While some remained faithful to the Lord, many entered into secret combinations. Because of the secret combinations, the chief judge was murdered and the Nephite government was overthrown. The people divided into tribes and appointed their own leaders. Nephi continued to minister unto the people with power and great authority. As recorded in 3 Nephi 6–7, some of the Nephites experienced the tragic results of rejecting the prophets, while others experienced the blessings that come from repenting and hearkening to the Lord’s chosen servants.

strategy

It seems that there are two great strategies at play in our lives: UNITY & DIVISION

You may see it differently, but to me, God’s strategy is to strengthen His children through UNITY. Unity in covenants, unity within family, unity with the priesthood, unity in our communities, etc. There is great STRENGTH in UNITY!

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Unity

Satan’s strategy is to DIVIDE. Division WEAKENS, hence the saying, “Divide and conquer!”

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Divide and Conquer (2)

To understand this next part, we need to define the difference between a strategy and tactics. A strategy is the large, overall plan that can comprise several tactics, which are smaller, focused, procedures that are part of the overall plan/strategy.  God uses several tactics (procedures) to unify: sealed in families, gathered as Saints, worship meetings, temple ordinances, missionary work, caring for the poor and the needy, priesthood quorums, Relief Society, visiting teaching, home teaching, service, etc. All of these tactic help to STRENGTHEN us, in part, because of the UNITY that they create among ourselves and with our God. God is our greatest strength, so if we are unified with Him then His grace (strength) is sufficient.

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Don't Panic, Organize

However, Satan has many tactics that he employs to “divide and conquer” and destroy the “strength in unity” that we seek to create with God and His children. Several such tactic are found in these chapters as Satan makes his final attempt to divide as many people as he can from the blessing of receiving the Savior’s impending visit after His resurrection (see 3 Nephi 11). His tactics in these chapters are not much different from the tactics that he is implementing today: pride, love of riches, class distinction, contention, dissension, rebellion, violence, and secret combinations.

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Calvin and Hobbs Divide and Conquer

Take a moment to consider how many things God asks you to do every day and each week to STRENGTHEN you, as you UNIFY with Him and His children. Consider the STRENGTH that you feel in your life when you faithfully fulfill those daily and weekly duties. Then contrast that with the WEAKNESS that you feel as you neglect to unify with God and His children and instead allow Satan to DIVIDE you from God’s unity and strength with his tenacious tactics.

Don’t LOSE your blessings in the LAST hour by falling prey to Satan’s WEAKENING tactics, like many of the people did in these chapters. Rather, ENDURE to the END and use your agency to comply with God’s tactics of STRENGTH that will bring UNITY with God and His children (3 Nephi 7:21-22). You have the ability to choose which strategy will have power in your life–“Divide and Conquer” or “Strength in Unity”. Choose wisely!

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#BOMTC Mosiah 22-25: Divine Daily Deliverance

Limhi’s people came into Lamanite bondage as a result of their wickedness (see Mosiah 20:21) and were humbled and turned to God as a result of their bondage. Alma’s people were brought into bondage as a trial of their faith (see Mosiah 23:21). Both groups prayed mightily to be released from bondage. While both groups of people were eventually delivered and arrived in Zarahemla, the Lord helped each group in different ways.

By studying the trials and deliverance of Limhi’s group, we can see the Lord will answer our prayers in His own way and time as we humble ourselves (see Mosiah 22:1–9, 13–14). By studying the trials and deliverance of Alma’s people, we can learn how to rely on the Lord for strength amid our own struggles and challenges (see Mosiah 24:17–25). (See also Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, (2012), 131–33)

Nephites carrying log

To be delivered usually means to be set free, helped, or brought through something. Studying these two accounts of divine deliverance can help us increase our faith to call upon the Lord for daily divine deliverance from whatever afflictions you are experiencing.

Elder Richard G. Scott“No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1995).

#BOMTC Day 32, May 8~Mosiah 22-25 or Pages 189-195 (3)

By comparing Limhi’s experience in Mosiah 21:16 with Alma’s experience in Mosiah 24:15 we can identify common ways that the Lord prepares His children for divine deliverance.

LIMHI’S PEOPLE ALMA’S PEOPLE
They were placed in bondage after much bloodshed (see Mosiah 21:5–13). They were placed in bondage with no bloodshed (see Mosiah 23:35–38).
The Lord was slow to hear their cries because of their iniquities (see Mosiah 21:15). The Lord answered their prayers quickly (see Mosiah 23:10–13).
Their burdens were eased because the Lord softened the hearts of the Lamanites (see Mosiah 21:15). The Lord strengthened them so they could bear their burdens with ease (see Mosiah 24:14–15).
Gideon conceived a plan of escape (see Mosiah 21:36;22:1–9). The Lord told them, “Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage” (Mosiah 24:16).
They got the guards drunk (see Mosiah 22:10). The Lord caused the guards to sleep (see Mosiah 24:19).

DFU, Your Reaction to Adversity

Instead of taking the time to read my thoughts on all of this, I feel it will be much more useful for you to use your time reviewing, “Trust in the Lord”, by Elder Scott.

Trust in the Lord

It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result.

No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different.

If you are suffering the disheartening effects of transgression, please recognize that the only path to permanent relief from sadness is sincere repentance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Realize your full dependence upon the Lord and your need to align your life with His teachings. There is really no other way to get lasting healing and peace. Postponing humble repentance will delay or prevent your receiving relief. Admit to yourself your mistakes and seek help now. Your bishop is a friend with keys of authority to help you find peace of mind and contentment. The way will be opened for you to have strength to repent and be forgiven.

Now may I share some suggestions with you who face the second source of adversity, the testing that a wise Heavenly Father determines is needed even when you are living a worthy, righteous life and are obedient to His commandments.

Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.

When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.

This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy Spirit to obey those teachings for happiness now and for a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Prov. 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience.

To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all. When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.

As in all things, the Master is our perfect example. Who could have asked with more perfect faith, greater obedience, or more complete understanding than did He when He asked His Father in Gethsemane: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). Later He pled twice again: “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42; see also Matt. 26:44).

How grateful I am personally that our Savior taught we should conclude our most urgent, deeply felt prayers, when we ask for that which is of utmost importance to us, with “Thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42). Your willingness to accept the will of the Father will not change what in His wisdom He has chosen to do. However, it will certainly change the effect of those decisions on you personally. That evidence of the proper exercise of agency allows His decisions to produce far greater blessings in your life. I have found that because of our Father’s desire for us to grow, He may give us gentle, almost imperceptible promptings that, if we are willing to accept without complaint, He will enlarge to become a very clear indication of His will. This enlightenment comes because of our faith and our willingness to do what He asks even though we would desire something else.

Our Father in Heaven has invited you to express your needs, hopes, and desires unto Him. That should not be done in a spirit of negotiation, but rather as a willingness to obey His will no matter what direction that takes. His invitation, “Ask, and ye shall receive” (3 Ne. 27:29) does not assure that you will get what you want. It does guarantee that, if worthy, you will get what you need, as judged by a Father that loves you perfectly, who wants your eternal happiness even more than do you.

I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith. He will place in your path packets of spiritual sunlight to brighten your way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest, as evidence of the compassion and love of an all-knowing Father. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and strengthen your determination to accept and be obedient to His will.

It is a singularly marvelous blessing to have faith in the Savior and a testimony of His teachings. So few in the world have that brilliant light to guide them. The fulness of the restored gospel gives perspective, purpose, and understanding. It allows us to face what otherwise appear to be unjust, unfair, unreasonable challenges in life. Learn those helpful truths by pondering the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. Try to understand those teachings not only with your mind but also with your heart.

True enduring happiness with the accompanying strength, courage, and capacity to overcome the most challenging difficulties comes from a life centered in Jesus Christ. Obedience to His teachings provides a sure foundation upon which to build. That takes effort. There is no guarantee of overnight results, but there is absolute assurance that, in the Lord’s time, solutions will come, peace will prevail, and emptiness will be filled.

Recently a great leader, suffering from physical handicaps that come with advancing age, said, “I am glad I have what I have.” It is wisdom to open the windows of happiness by recognizing your abundant blessings.

Don’t let the workings of adversity totally absorb your life. Try to understand what you can. Act where you are able; then let the matter rest with the Lord for a period while you give to others in worthy ways before you take on appropriate concern again.

Please learn that as you wrestle with a challenge and feel sadness because of it, you can simultaneously have peace and rejoicing. Yes, pain, disappointment, frustration, and anguish can be temporary scenes played out on the stage of life. Behind them there can be a background of peace and the positive assurance that a loving Father will keep His promises. You can qualify for those promises by a determination to accept His will, by understanding the plan of happiness, by receiving all of the ordinances, and by keeping the covenants made to assure their fulfillment.

The Lord’s plan is to exalt you to live with Him and be greatly blessed. The rate at which you qualify is generally set by your capacity to mature, to grow, to love, and to give of yourself. He is preparing you to be a god. You cannot understand fully what that means, yet, He knows. As you trust Him, seek and follow His will, you will receive blessings that your finite mind cannot understand here on earth. Your Father in Heaven and His Holy Son know better than you what brings happiness. They have given you the plan of happiness. As you understand and follow it, happiness will be your blessing. As you willingly obey, receive, and honor the ordinances and covenants of that holy plan, you can have the greatest measure of satisfaction in this life. Yes, even times of overpowering happiness. You will prepare yourself for an eternity of glorious life with your loved ones who qualify for that kingdom.

I know the principles that we have discussed are true. They have been tested in the crucible of personal experience. To recognize the hand of the Lord in your life and to accept His will without complaint is a beginning. That decision does not immediately eliminate the struggles that will come for your growth. But I witness that it is the best way there is for you to find strength and understanding. It will free you from the dead ends of your own reasoning. It will allow your life to become a productive, meaningful experience, when otherwise you may not know how to go on (see D&C 24:8).

I testify that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you. I witness that the Savior gave His life for your happiness. I know Him. He understands your every need. I positively know that as you accept Their will without complaint, They will bless and sustain you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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