Jesus Christ

Scripture Sabbath – John 20:11-18

Scripture Sabbath Challenge

Throughout the scriptures, we find the command to study, to meditate, to teach, the words found in the scriptures.There is also a day set apart as a day to gather together and worship our God.

The Challenge

Once a week, on your day of worship, whenever it is, share a scripture with your fellow bloggers. It can be one you’ve been studying for a while, one you’ve just rediscovered, an old favorite, etc.

Include the tag and/or category “Scripture Sabbath” in your post, so we can all share in what has made an impact on your life this week.

And, if you’re willing, come back here and share your post link in the comments, either on this page or any of my Scripture Sabbath posts.

My Scripture – John 20:11-18

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But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

“And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

“And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

“And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

“Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

“Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.” ~ John 20:11-18, KJV

A morning that changed the world. A morning that fulfilled prophecy from the beginning of time.

It is the day when Jesus Christ broke the bands of death and made it possible for all of God’s children to be resurrected, to show that death is not the end of all things, but a doorway into eternity.

Because of the marvelous gift that Christ gave to us, from Gethsemane to resurrection morning, we are not cast off forever. We are blessed with gift of repentance, to ask God to apply Christ’s atoning blood to our sins that we might be washed clean and be able to come back into the presence of the Father.

Death is not the end. We will some day be blessed to see our loved ones who have gone beyond the veil. That day will be a day of joy and gladness.

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Categories: Jesus Christ, Scripture Sabbath, Scripture Study | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

General Conference Study: “Be an Example and a Light” by Pres. Thomas S. Monson

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During his own scripture study, President Monson has found that two specific passages have stayed with him.

The first from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

The second from one of Paul’s Epistles to Timothy:

“Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

He said that the second scripture came to him as he was pondering on the first one, and that this verse from 1 Timothy (“be thou an example of the believers”) helps explain how we can accomplish the first (“let your light so shine before men”). We need to live the gospel in order to be an example in all of the things Paul listed. As we follow Christ’s example, His light will burn in us and light the way for others.

President Monson discusses Paul’s 6 Attributes of being an example of the believers, “attributes that will allow our lights to shine.”

Word & Conversation – He addresses these together. By our own choices, our words can lift and inspire, or they can harm and demean. There is a “profusion of profanity” in the world today, and it’s so bad that it’s nearly impossible to go a single day without hearing the names of God and Christ used so casually and thoughtlessly. It’s unfortunately true. I grieve at the lack of respect the world shows to God and Christ.

There’s a song called “Words” by Christian artist Hawk Nelson, that has become one of my favorites and is an example of exactly what President Monson says here. (Lyrics found on the K-LOVE website.)

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king
They’ve lifted my heart to places I’ve never been
They’ve dragged me down back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart
Or put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
God, your voice is the only thing we need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I want to speak Your love
Not just another noise
I want to be Your life
I want to be Your voice

If you haven’t heard this song yet, I strongly encourage you to find it. Like I said before, it’s a wonderful example of what President Monson was talking about. Our words can be used for good or bad. The author of this song pleads for his words to be used to point the world back to Christ.

Charity – We’ve been told again and again that charity is the “pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47).  We have opportunities to help those in “our sphere of influence” to help them and lift their spirits as the Savior did during his ministry.

Spirit – We must strive to have kindness, gratitude, forgiveness and goodwill in our lives. As we strive to have these, they will provide a spirit to touch the lives of those around us. We will want to be around a person like this and follow their example. It is the Light of Christ that radiates from them.

Faith – I’ve heard faith defined in many ways, but as I studied this talk this past week, it is President Monson’s definition that really brings clarity:

“To be an example of faith means that we trust in the Lord and in His word.”

Our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can, and will, influence all we do. It can become an anchor in our lives.

“Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.”

But how do we keep our faith, and refresh it constantly?

“In order to gain and keep the faith we need, it is essential that we read and study and ponder the scriptures. Communication with our Heavenly Father through prayer is vital. We cannot afford to neglect these things, for the adversary and his hosts are relentlessly seeking for a chink in our armor, a lapse in our faithfulness.” (emphasis added)

We’ve heard this before, but President Monson’s emphasis on it during this past General Conference was a reminder that really hit home to me. I regret to say that I’ve allowed other things to get in the way of really studying and pondering my scriptures. That changes today.

The final attribute is Purity. To be pure is to be “clean in body, mind and spirit.” We are taught that the body is a temple (see, for example, 1 Cor. 6:19), to be treated with reverence and respect. President Monson encourages us to fill our minds with “uplifting and ennobling thoughts” to keep from allowing other, unclean thoughts to pollute our minds. “Purity,” Pres. Monson said, “will bring us peace of mind and will qualify us to receive the Savior’s promises.”

What did the Savior promise?

Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

What a wonderful promise.

“As we prove to be examples in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity we will qualify to be lights to the world.”

And as the world moves further away from the things of God, we will stand out more and more because we are different. We dress modestly, our language is clean, we don’t partake of harmful substances. We will choose not to have things in our homes that are demeaning and drive away the Spirit.

The Lord is our strength in all things, if we look to Him in all we do. We are not perfect. We will make mistakes. But we need not give up. With help from the Lord, and support from others, we can regain and strengthen the light we need to illuminate our own path “and provide the light others may need.”

Shine on, in whatever circumstances you find yourself. Don’t be afraid to relight your own lamp from someone else’s light. Christ is the Light of the World, and may we share His Light with the whole world.

 

Categories: Christlike attributes, General Conference Study, October 2015, Scripture Study | Leave a comment

The Book of Mormon – A Blessing to the World

I was surfing Facebook just now and saw an image announcing that the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ was published in Palmyra, New York, 185 years ago TODAY! Wow!

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185 years ago the world was blessed with an amazing book, written by prophets of God in the Ancient Americas, whose words would come forth “as the voice of one crying from the dust” (2 Nephi 33:13) to Jew and Gentile. Working together with the Holy Bible, it testifies to the whole world that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, “who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20), to atone for each child of God, to become, in great love and mercy, as the intercessor in satisfying the demands of justice on the sins of the world.

I love this book. I read it again and again. I have several copies scattered throughout my bedroom and my school locker.

At the end of the book, the final author, Moroni, extends a challenge to his readers:

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how amerciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and bponder it in your chearts.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest the gtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may aknow thebtruth of all things. (Moroni 10:3-5)

I’ve taken this challenge and have learned for myself that these things are true. But you don’t have to believe my words. Find out for yourself.

To request a free copy for yourself, head this-a-way. Or read it online here. Or find a copy for your device.

Categories: Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A Lesson from Nephi and King Lamoni’s Father

As I read in 1 Nephi 3 last Friday, I had a surprising revelation.

Nephi and his brothers have failed in their first attempt to retrieve the brass plates, and now Nephi has made what was probably a shocking suggestion to his brothers (in verses 16, 22-24):

Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; therefore let us go down to the land of our father’s inheritance, for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches. And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord. …

And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things. And after we had gathered these things together, we went up again unto the house of Laban.

And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban, and desired of him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold, and our silver, and all our precious things.

Keep in mind what was on the brass plates – a genealogy of Lehi’s family, the five books of Moses, “a record of the Jews from the beginning” to the reign of Zedekiah, and all the prophecies from Adam to Jeremiah.

They were willing to give up all their wealth for the word of God.

That reminded me of King Lamoni’s father, who was willing to give up all he possessed – his sins, even his kingdom – to have the promised joy and companionship of the Spirit.

And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.

But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying:

O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.

That got me thinking. What are we willing to give up for the word of God? I mentioned this to my mother, and she helped me discover more. I’ve been blessed to have the word of God in my life. So, what am I willing to give up for a greater spiritual connection to Heavenly Father? To improve my relationship with Him?

As a beginning, our family has gotten back into the habit of daily family scripture and prayer. We’ve started over in the Book of Mormon, and have managed to do it for three days. We also pray every day for my youngest brother as he studies Spanish and… whatever it is that missionaries learn in the MTC. We pray that he’ll be protected and strengthened as he serves Heavenly Father, that he can be an instrument in bringing more of our Father’s children to the light of the gospel of Christ.

Do you have something you’d like to give up in order to have a stronger relationship with God?

Edited later: After some thought, I’ve come to realize that one of the things I would like to give up is procrastination. I keep putting off so many things – scripture study, planning my Sunday School lessons, homework for school. I’m going to improve on that during 2015.

Categories: Book of Mormon, Come unto Christ, Faith | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hope

The Sunday before Christmas, I spoke in Sacrament meeting. My topic was hope, one of the Christ-like attributes included in Preach My Gospel. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share what I learned.

There’s a poem that my mom loves, and shares every so often, called Walking With Two Sisters, written by Larry Hiller:

Faith walks before me,
Holding up her lamp
As I try not to stumble in the ink-dark hours before the dawn.
Her light illuminates
One step and then another.
Beside me, Hope, arm linked with mine, encourages and steadies.
Sometimes in the tedium,
Distracted by the pain,
My mind begins to wander, then my feet. I hesitate.
Unsure, I look to Hope.
Her hand takes mine.
The touch reminds me of another hand held out to me,
One pierced and scarred
Yet oh so tender
Lifting me and blessing me when I had fallen and despaired.
Remembering,
I move ahead
Buoyed up by Hope, who sees the end with perfect clarity.
(Ensign, June 2009)

Preach My Gospel says, “Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement. The scriptures often describe hope in Jesus Christ as the assurance that you will inherit eternal life in the celestial kingdom.”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell called it the “ultimate hope”: “It is tied to Jesus and the blessings of the great Atonement, blessings resulting in the universal resurrection and the precious opportunity provided hereby for us to practice emancipating repentance, making possible what the scriptures call ‘a perfect brightness of hope’. … Such ultimate hope constitutes the ‘anchor of the soul’ and is retained through the gift of the Holy Ghost and faith in Christ.”

We have a hope of eternal life, and during the season of Christmas, especially, we are reminded of it. Jesus Christ is that hope. In premortality, long before this world was formed, Heavenly Father presented his plan of salvation, which would “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”. He knew that, because we had been given our agency, we would eventually make mistakes and need a mediator between us, to help us return to the path back to Heavenly Father. We would need a Savior. Jehovah, God’s firstborn in the spirit, was chosen, and he came to earth, to Mary of Nazareth and her espoused husband Joseph, to “take upon Him the sins of the world”.

President James E. Faust said, “The unfailing source of our hope is that we are sons and daughters of God and that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved us from death’ (“Hope, an Anchor of the soul,” Ensign, Nov. 1999)

During his ministry, Jesus taught, “I am the Way, The truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” ~ John 14:6. In the Garden of Gethsemane, “he offered himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (2 Nephi 2:7)”

Hope, then, springs from faith in Jesus Christ, in the gift of His Atonement that encourages all of us to come to Him, to let Him take our sins and cleanse us that we can be pure and whole again, moving closer and closer to returning to Heavenly Father.

Elder David A. Bednar said, “Coming unto Christ is not a single event with a fixed point of beginning or ending; rather, it is a process that develops and deepens during a lifetime. As an initial step in the process, we certainly must obtain knowledge and learn about Jesus and His life, teachings, and ministry. But truly coming unto Him also requires consistent obedience and striving to become like Jesus in our thoughts, motives, communications, and actions. As we ‘press forward’ on the pathway of discipleship, we can draw near unto the Savior with the expectation that he will draw near unto us; we can seek Him diligently with the hope that we shall find Him; we can ask with confidence that we shall receive; and we can knock anticipating that the door shall be opened unto us (see D&C 88:63)” (“Because we Have Them before Our Eyes” New Era, April 2006).

The prophets had “a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming” (Jacob 4:4). From the time of Adam, they were all blessed with the knowledge of this magnificent gift of God’s Only Begotten Son and his great and last sacrifice for the souls of mankind. In the Book of Mormon, we are promised that “whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” Ether 12:4

In one of Mormon’s letters to his son Moroni, he wrote about hope. – “And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope? And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.” (Moroni 7:40-43)

In 1918, Joseph F. Smith had a vision of the spirit world in answer to pondering over a scripture. He said, “As I pondered over these things which are written, they eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great. And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality; and who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer’s name. All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.”

Aaron taught the king of the Lamanites, who asked what he must do to “have this eternal life… [to] be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of [his] breast, and receive his Spirit” (Alma 22:15). He was willing to give up all of his sins, everything he possessed, even his kingdom, to have that joy. But all he had to do, Aaron said, was to “repent of all [his] sins, and… bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that [he would] receive” and he would “receive the hope” that he desired. Once that hope was his, the king sent a proclamation throughout the land, giving Aaron and his brothers and missionary companions the freedom to preach the gospel of Christ to the Lamanites, to build synagogues that the people might worship Christ once they came to know Him and have hope in Him.

Elder Nelson – “Hope emanates from the Lord, and it transcends the bounds of this mortal sphere. Paul noted that ‘if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.’ Only with an eternal perspective of God’s great plan of happiness can we ever find a more excellent hope. ‘What is it that ye shall hope for?’ asked Mormon. He then answered his own question: ‘Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ.’ Have you heard the old statement that ‘hope springs eternal’? It can only be true if that hope springs from him who is eternal.”

He goes on to say that “each of us is special, valued, and needed in building the kingdom of God. The adversary is also aware of our worth and will surely taunt us. When Satan’s temptations come our way, we need to remember this counsel from Alma: ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, … Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts.’
“A more excellent hope is mightier than a wistful wish. Hope, fortified by faith and charity, forges a force as strong as steel. Hope becomes an anchor to the soul. To this anchor, the faithful can cling, securely tethered to the Lord. Satan, on the other hand, would have us cast away that anchor and drift with the ebb tide of despair. If we will cling to the anchor of hope, it will be our safeguard forever.”

As we cling to this safeguard of hope, we’re also encouraged to take the opportunity, wherever we might find it, to share that hope with others. Elder Maxwell said, “Our opportunities for helping others who have lost hope may be no further away than in our own extended families, a discouraged neighbor next door, or someone just around the corner. By helping a child learn to read, visiting a lonely patient in a nursing home, or by simply running an errand for a busy but overwhelmed parent, so much can be imparted to others. Likewise, a simple gospel conversation can impart hope. … Therefore, being blessed with hope ourselves, let us, as disciples, … reach out, including to those who, for whatever reason, have ‘moved away from the hope of the gospel’ (Col. 1:23).”

“Hope maketh not ashamed,” Paul said to the Romans, “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost with is given unto us.” When he wrote to the Ephesians about the armor of God, he told us to take the “helmet of salvation.” To the Thessalonians, he called it the “helmet of the hope of salvation”.

The world needs to be reminded of this hope. There is so much chaos, so much wickedness, so much sorrow. The world desperately needs this “ultimate hope” found in Jesus Christ.

We have over 88,000 missionaries serving around the world. Patrick will soon be one of that number. For the next two years, he will be serving as a representative of Jesus Christ, bringing the message of eternal salvation, of hope in Jesus Christ, to the people of the Carlsbad California mission.

Elder Ballard once shared a letter from a man who had spent many years lost in drugs and alcohol and had lost sight of that hope, save for a “small flicker of testimony… that Heavenly Father could still love [him],” that eventually led him to repentance. “If there is one thing I have learned,” this man wrote, “it is that no matter how lost you feel, no matter how low you may have sunk, there can be forgiveness and peace. I learned that the further one drifts from the Lord, the harder it is to return to Him and His teachings. But once I opened my heart and called out in prayer to Heavenly Father to help me in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, I came to know the power of repentance and the blessings of obedience to God’s commandments.”

Near the end of his ministry, Jesus offered a special gift: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)” With that peace, given through the gift of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, He offers eternal hope to us all. Peace in times of trouble, of discouragement, in times of good. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. (Jer. 17:7)”

As we continue in this Christmas season, our focus comes more and more on Christ and His gift of eternal salvation, of “ultimate hope,” to all who believe. May we carry that hope to our brothers and sisters who need this same hope, not just during Christmas, but year round. Hope springs from faith, and helps us walk by faith, no matter the outcome. Hope, as Hiller said, walks arm in arm with us, “encourages and steadies… [and] sees the end with perfect clarity.”

I know that Jesus was the promised Messiah. I know that He suffered for all, so we wouldn’t have to if we repent and accept His Atonement. I know that we can have that ultimate hope and that promised peace.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Categories: Christlike attributes, Hope | Leave a comment

Faith Really is Powerful

These past few weeks, my personal scripture study has primarily been out of the Personal Progress program.

Faith is the first value listed in the Young Women theme. I don’t know if there is a reason for the order in which the values are listed, but after starting the value project for Virtue – to read the Book of Mormon (a project which can begin anytime) – I decided to begin with the first value experience in Faith, which encourages us to learn about faith from the scriptures and from General Conference talks.

One of the scriptures that first experience sends us to is Hebrews 11. I am extremely grateful for footnotes that can help us understand when we read.

Hebrews 11:1-2 – Now faith is the substance (JST assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence (GR proof) of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report (GR – received witness, testimony).

The Oxford English Dictionary, one of the dictionaries on my Kindle, defines assurance as a “positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise; certainty about something: ex. assurance of faith depends on our trust in God.” It also defines proof as “n. evidence or argument establishing fact or truth of a statement; adj. able to withstand something damaging; resistant: the marine battle armor was proof against most weapons.”

Looking at those two definitions, then, that first verse says “faith is the assurance/promise of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen.” Just because we don’t see something or know something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or won’t happen.

Now, the third verse really struck me.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

In all the times I had read this chapter, these verses about faith, I had never noticed this verse. I decided to turn to the New Testament institute manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ.  In that book, Joseph Smith is quoted from the first Lecture on Faith. He says:

By this we understand that the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth exist by reason of faith as it existed in Him. 

Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute – for it is an attribute – from the Deity, and he would cease to exist.

“Wait a minute,” I thought, “everything that exist, exists because of faith?” I don’t know why that had never occurred to me before. Faith is so powerful, worlds can be created. After I thought about it a while, it made sense to me. I’ve heard that it is by priesthood power that worlds were created. (And I can’t recall where I’ve heard that.) But a man needs faith to be able to use that priesthood power, doesn’t he? Otherwise, what’s the point of using it?

Faith really is that powerful. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “And as God created all things by faith, even so his created handiwork can be known and understood only by the same power, the power which is faith.” (emphasis added)

I look forward to more study about faith, that I can understand and increase my own faith.

 

If you have studied this chapter of Hebrews, or even this Young Women’s Faith experience, what have you learned about faith?

Categories: Christlike attributes, Faith, Personal Progress, Scripture Study | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Attribute Study: Virtue–Week One–“A Return to Virtue”

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Welcome to 2014! It’s a brand new year full of possibilities. My hope is that one such possibility in my life will be an improved relationship with my Savior and our Heavenly Father. As I begin my scripture study this year, I’ve chosen to also focus on studying Christlike attributes and learning how to improve them in my own life.

Virtue is one of the many attributes of Christ. It is mentioned in my patriarchal blessing as one of the Lord’s standards where I should keep my footsteps. (To learn more about a patriarchal blessing, visit here.) So virtue is the first Christlike attribute I have chosen to study in the new year.

I was in my branch’s Young Women’s presidency when the First washington-templ1366x768Presidency and General Young Women Presidency felt inspired to add the Godly attribute Virtue to the young women’s theme and program. In the October 2008 General Conference, newly-called Young Women General President Elaine S. Dalton spoke on a return to virtue. She reminded us that “virtue is a prerequisite to entering the Lord’s holy temples and to receiving the Spirit’s guidance. … It encompasses chastity and moral purity.” During temple recommend interviews with a bishop or branch president, we are always asked if we live the law of chastity.

According to Sister Dalton, the way to return to virtue is “unique to each individual.” She shared her personal training program “from instructions found in the scriptures:”

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” “Cleave unto [your] covenants.” “Stand … in holy places.” “Lay aside the things of [the]world.” “Believe that ye must repent.” “Always remember him and keep his commandments.” And “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, … seek after these things.” Now more than ever before, it is time to respond to Moroni’s call to “awake, and arise” and to “lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.”

The first phrase she mentions is from Doctrine & Covenants 121:45 – “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” We’ve heard that phrase many times throughout our lives. But what does it really mean? Perhaps the answer is obvious, but I decided to take the phrase apart and look up the definitions of some of the words.

Preach My Gospel says that virtue is “a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.”

Merriam-Webster.com defines “garnish” as: “1 a. decorate, embellish; b. to add decorative or savory touches to. 2. to equip with accessories, furnish.” Its origin is Middle English, from the Anglo-French garniss-, stem of garnir – to warn, equip, garnish, of Germanic origin; akin to the Old High German warnōn, to take heed. Some synonyms for the word are adorn, ornament, dress, embellish, etc.

The word “unceasingly” is fairly self-explanatory; it means to never stop.

Put simply then, the Lord wants us to always let high moral standards guide our actions and thoughts. Much of the world seems to have lost sight of and become so desensitized against them. We have been told many times that we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are an ensign to the world. Paul’s words to Timothy to “be thou an example of the believers,” are probably some of the best advice ever given. As an ensign to the world, we can be an example by living the high moral standards that our Father has taught and asked of us. And where can we find those high moral standards? In the teachings of Christ.

Who can forget the thirteenth article of faith? “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, … seek after these things.” Knowing that we are children of Heavenly Father, and joint-heirs with His Son, Jesus Christ, should we not desire to seek after the things that remind us of them and that will assist in our ability to return to live with them? How do we know when something is virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy? As I pondered this question, I was reminded of the words of Mormon to his son Moroni in Moroni 7:12-13, 16-17.

“Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

“But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God…

“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

“But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.”

When we come upon something, we ought to ask ourselves, “Does it inspire me to do good? Does it bring a good spirit? Is it in agreement with the teachings of Christ?”

Sister Dalton shared something I found interesting: the Latin root word for virtue is virtus and means “strength.” She then said, “Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength. They are confident because they are worthy to receive and be guided by the Holy Ghost.” They are also able to reject the worldly temptations Satan seeks to destroy us with. After all, he is unable to have a physical body of his own. So he is trying even harder now to destroy that which should be held most sacred to both men and women.

But what can I do to “let virtue garnish [my] thoughts”? I can pray for Heavenly Father’s help, to be the virtuous daughter He wants me to be. I can seek out that which “inviteth and enticeth to do good continually,” anything that is of good report or praiseworthy. I have the words of Christ, found in the scriptures and in modern day Church leaders, as a guide. But just having them isn’t enough. I need to know them well enough to recognize when something is enticing me away from right.

I’m still working out my own “Return to Virtue” training program, but I think I’ll start with Sister Dalton’s and see where else the Spirit leads me.

Becoming Christlike is a lifelong pursuit, and I am just getting started. I definitely have more to learn about virtue, so I will be back next week with more of what I’ve learned. In the meantime, I’ll close with the words of President Monson:

“You be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow. There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience, your own moral cleanliness – and what a glorious feeling it is to know that you stand in your appointed place clean and with the confidence that you are worthy to do so.”

Categories: Christlike attributes, Come unto Christ, Virtue | Leave a comment

2014: New Year, New Name, New Design, Similar Purpose

I first started this blog, originally called “Feast Upon the Word,” for fellow students of my Institute of Religion Class in Conway, Arkansas, back in Fall 2009. The intention was to share with those who may have wanted a summary of the week’s lesson, whether they attended that week’s class or not. There were very few comments, so my diligence weakened. I believe I only managed a few posts in 2011 before giving up on it entirely.

But I’ve learned so much in these last few years that I want to try again, but this time using this blog as a personal scripture study blog. Hence, it now carries the name “My Feast Upon the Word.” Thanks to devoted seminary teachers during my high school years, I learned to love the scriptures – though I confess to not being nearly as dedicated to feasting on them as I ought to be. With a new year comes a new resolution and a plan, something I did not have before beyond posting a lesson summary once a week.

My intention now is to share what I learn during this year’s scripture study, in hopes that others will join me in feasting upon the words of Christ, “for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:3)

My spiritual goals for 2014:

  • To read the entire standard works in one year, using Motivated Mamas’ reading schedule.
  • To study different Christlike attributes and begin improving on them in my life.
  • To study at least one General Conference/General Relief Society address each week

And most important:

  • To draw closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father.

It is my intention to post twice a week, on Sunday and Wednesday. Sunday posts will be dedicated to what I’ve learned in my scripture study that week, whether from the standard works study or from what I learn in studying my lessons for teaching the younger youth Sunday School class. Wednesday posts will be dedicated to my study of Christlike attributes, beginning with virtue, the newest Young Women’s value and an attribute mentioned in my patriarchal blessing. I expect post lengths to vary, especially since almost two weeks into the new year I will start my sophomore year of college.

May God guide you and I in our spiritual pursuits.

Categories: Christlike attributes, Jesus Christ, Scripture Study, scriptures | Leave a comment

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