Saturday, June 7, 2008

June 8th, Ch11 by Michelle

“Chapter 11: The Organization and Destiny of the True and Living Church,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),135–47

“You know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it. … This Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.”
From the Life of Joseph Smith

In June 1829, the Prophet Joseph Smith completed the translation of the Book of Mormon. “Our translation drawing to a close,” the Prophet stated, “we went to Palmyra, Wayne county, New York, secured the copyright, and agreed with Mr. Egbert B. Grandin to print five thousand copies for the sum of three thousand dollars.”1 Egbert B. Grandin was a young man, a year younger than Joseph Smith, who owned a printing shop in Palmyra. He had just purchased a new press with technology that made the printing process considerably faster. It was remarkable that the Prophet was able to find a printer in the rural town of Palmyra capable of printing so many copies of a lengthy volume like the Book of Mormon. Because printing the Book of Mormon was such a large and expensive project, Martin Harris mortgaged his farm to Mr. Grandin to ensure payment of the printing costs.

In the late summer of 1829, Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, and several others gathered at the print shop to inspect the proof of the title page of the Book of Mormon, the first page of the book to be printed. When the Prophet declared that he was pleased with the appearance of the page, the printing went forward as quickly as possible. The work took about seven months to complete, and copies of the Book of Mormon were made available to the public on March 26, 1830.

With the work of translating and publishing the Book of Mormon now completed, Joseph Smith moved forward to organize the Church. In the revelation now found in section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord revealed to the Prophet “the precise day upon which, according to His will and commandment, we should proceed to organize His Church once more here upon the earth.”2 The day specified was April 6, 1830.

“We … made known to our brethren,” the Prophet said, “that we had received a commandment to organize the Church; and accordingly we met together for that purpose, at the house of Mr. Peter Whitmer, Sen., (being six in number,) on Tuesday, the sixth day of April, a.d., one thousand eight hundred and thirty.”3 Approximately 60 people crowded into the Whitmer home in Fayette, New York, completely filling two rooms in the home. Six of the men present were identified as the incorporators of the new Church in order to fulfill the law of New York—the Prophet Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer Jr., Samuel Smith, and David Whitmer.4

Although the Church was very small in the beginning, Joseph Smith had a prophetic sense of its grand destiny. Wilford Woodruff recalled that during a priesthood meeting at Kirtland, Ohio, in April 1834, the Prophet tried to awaken the brethren to a realization of the future state of God’s kingdom on earth:

“The Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland. … When we got together the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work. … When they got through the Prophet said, ‘Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.’ I was rather surprised. He said, ‘It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.’ ”5
Teachings of Joseph Smith
The true Church of Jesus Christ was organized by Joseph Smith in the dispensation of the fulness of times.

Joseph Smith reported the events of the meeting held on April 6, 1830, to organize the Church: “Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father, we proceeded, according to previous commandment, to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the Kingdom of God, and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a Church according to said commandment which we had received. To these several propositions they consented by a unanimous vote.

“I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery, and ordained him an Elder of the ‘Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;’ after which, he ordained me also to the office of an Elder of said Church. We then took bread, blessed it, and brake it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them. We then laid our hands on each individual member of the Church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree—some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord, and rejoiced exceedingly. …

“We now proceeded to call out and ordain some others of the brethren to different offices of the Priesthood, according as the Spirit manifested unto us: and after a happy time spent in witnessing and feeling for ourselves the powers and blessings of the Holy Ghost, through the grace of God bestowed upon us, we dismissed with the pleasing knowledge that we were now individually members of, and acknowledged of God, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ,’ organized in accordance with commandments and revelations given by Him to ourselves in these last days, as well as according to the order of the Church as recorded in the New Testament.”6

At the first general conference of the Church, held in Fayette, New York, on June 9, 1830, the sacrament was administered, several people were confirmed members of the Church, otherswere ordained to offices in the priesthood, and the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded: “Such scenes as these were calculated to inspire our hearts with joy unspeakable, and fill us with awe and reverence for that Almighty Being, by whose grace we had been called to be instrumental in bringing about, for the children of men, the enjoyment of such glorious blessings as were now at this time poured out upon us. To find ourselves engaged in the very same order of things as observed by the holy Apostles of old; to realize the importance and solemnity of such proceedings; and to witness and feel with our own natural senses, the like glorious manifestations of the powers of the Priesthood, the gifts and blessings of the Holy Ghost, and the goodness and condescension of a merciful God unto such as obey the everlasting Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, combined to create within us sensations of rapturous gratitude, and inspire us with fresh zeal and energy in the cause of truth.”7
Christ’s Church is organized according to the order of God.

“Christ was the head of the Church, the chief cornerstone, the spiritual rock upon which the Church was built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it [see Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20]. He built up the Kingdom, chose Apostles and ordained them to the Melchizedek Priesthood, giving them power to administer in the ordinances of the gospel.”8

“ ‘Christ … gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers’ [Ephesians 4:11]. And how were Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists chosen? By prophecy (revelation) and by laying on of hands:—by a divine communication, and a divinely appointed ordinance—through the medium of the Priesthood, organized according to the order of God, by divine appointment.”9

“[The Book of Mormon] tells us that our Savior made His appearance upon this [the American] continent after His resurrection; that He planted the Gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessings, as were enjoyed on the eastern continent.”10

“An evangelist is a Patriarch. … Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints, as it was with Jacob in giving his patriarchal blessing unto his sons.”11

Articles of Faith 1:6: “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”12
The Church is led by the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Quorums of the Seventy.

“I firmly believe in the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone, and speak as one having authority among them, and not as the scribes.”13

“The Presidents or [First] Presidency are over the Church; and revelations of the mind and will of God to the Church, are to come through the Presidency. This is the order of heaven, and the power and privilege of [the Melchizedek] Priesthood.”14

“What importance is there attached to the calling of these Twelve Apostles, different from the other callings or officers of the Church? … They are the Twelve Apostles, who are called to the office of the Traveling High Council, who are to preside over the churches of the Saints. … They are to hold the keys of this ministry, to unlock the door of the Kingdom of heaven unto all nations, and to preach the Gospel to every creature. This is the power, authority, and virtue of their apostleship.”15

Orson Pratt, who served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, reported: “The Lord … directed that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles should be organized, whose business it would be to preach the Gospel to the nations, to the Gentiles first and then to the Jews. The Priesthood were called together after the building of the Kirtland Temple, and, in speaking of the Twelve Apostles, the Prophet Joseph said they had received the Apostleship with all the powers pertaining to the same, just as the ancient Apostles.”16

Wilford Woodruff, the fourth President of the Church, reported: “Joseph called twelve Apostles. Who were they? The Lord said to him: ‘The twelve are they who shall desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart; and if they desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart, they are called to go into all the world to preach my gospel unto every creature.’ [D&C 18:27–28.] … When the Prophet Joseph organized the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he taught [the] principle of union to them. He gave them to understand that they must be of one heart and one mind, and they must take upon themselves fully the name of Christ; that if God commanded them to do anything they must go and do it.”17

“The Seventies are to constitute traveling quorums, to go into all the earth, whithersoever the Twelve Apostles shall call them.”18

“The Seventies are not called to serve tables [see Acts 6:1–2], … but are to preach the Gospel and build [the churches] up, and set others, who do not belong to these quorums, to preside over [the churches], who are High Priests. The Twelve also are … to bear the keys of the Kingdom to all nations, and unlock the door of the Gospel to them, and call upon the Seventies to follow after them, and assist them.”19
Although the forces of evil may seek to destroy the Church, “no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.”

“Since the organization of the Church of Christ, … on the 6th of April, 1830, we have had the satisfaction of witnessing the spread of the truth into various parts of our land, notwithstanding its enemies have exerted their unceasing diligence to stop its course and prevent its progress; though evil and designing men have combined to destroy the innocent, … yet the glorious Gospel in its fullness is spreading and daily gaining converts; and our prayer to God is, that it may continue, and numbers be added of such as shall be eternally saved.”20

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”21

“And again, another parable put [the Savior] forth unto them, having an allusion to the Kingdom that should be set up just previous to or at the time of the harvest, which reads as follows—‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but, when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.’ [Matthew 13:31–32.] Now we can discover plainly that this figure is given to represent the Church as it shall come forth in the last days. Behold, the Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto it. Now, what is like unto it?

“Let us take the Book of Mormon, which a man took and hid in his field, securing it by his faith, to spring up in the last days, or in due time; let us behold it coming forth out of the ground, which is indeed accounted the least of all seeds, but behold it branching forth, yea, even towering with lofty branches and God-like majesty, until it, like the mustard seed, becomes the greatest of all herbs. And it is truth, and it has sprouted and come forth out of the earth, and righteousness begins to look down from heaven [see Psalm 85:11; Moses 7:62], and God is sending down His powers, gifts, and angels to lodge in the branches thereof.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a mustard seed. Behold, then, is not this the Kingdom of Heaven that is raising its head in the last days in the majesty of its God, even the Church of the Latter-day Saints, like an impenetrable, immovable rock in the midst of the mighty deep, exposed to the storms and tempests of Satan, that has, thus far, remained steadfast, and is still braving the mountain waves of opposition, which are driven by the tempestuous winds of sinking crafts, which have [dashed] and are still dashing with tremendous foam across its triumphant brow; urged onward with redoubled fury by the enemy of righteousness?”22

As part of his prayer at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, later recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 109:72–76, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth; that thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; and be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth; that when the trump shall sound for the dead, we shall be caught up in the cloud to meet thee, that we may ever be with the Lord; that our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings.”23
We each have the responsibility to strengthen the Church and do our part in building up the kingdom of God.

“The cause of God is one common cause, in which the Saints are alike all interested; we are all members of the one common body, and all partake of the same spirit, and are baptized into one baptism and possess alike the same glorious hope. The advancement of the cause of God and the building up of Zion is as much one man’s business as another’s. The only difference is, that one is called to fulfill one duty, and another another duty; ‘but if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, and if one member is honored all the rest rejoice with it, and the eye cannot say to the ear, I have no need of thee, nor the head to the foot, I have no need of thee;’ party feelings, separate interests, exclusive designs should be lost sight of in the one common cause, in the interest of the whole [see 1 Corinthians 12:21, 26].”24

“Brethren and sisters, be faithful, be diligent, contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints [see Jude 1:3]; let every man, woman and child realize the importance of the work, and act as if success depended on his individual exertion alone; let all feel an interest in it, and then consider they live in a day, the contemplation of which animated the bosoms of kings, Prophets, and righteous men thousands of years ago—the prospect of which inspired their sweetest notes, and most exalted lays, and caused them to break out in such rapturous strains as are recorded in the Scriptures; and by and by we will have to exclaim, in the language of inspiration—

“ ‘The Lord has brought again Zion,
The Lord hath redeemed His people Israel.’ [D&C 84:99.]”25

As recalled by Wilford Woodruff, Joseph Smith made the following declaration to members of the Twelve who were leaving for a mission to Great Britain in 1839: “No matter what may come upon you, round up your shoulders and bear it, and always sustain and defend the interests of the Church and Kingdom of God.”26
Suggestions for Study and Teaching

Consider these ideas as you study the chapter or as you prepare to teach. For additional help, see pages vii–xii.

*

• Imagine what it was like to attend the priesthood meeting described on page 137. How do you think you would have felt if you had heard Joseph Smith prophesy that the Church would someday fill the world? Looking back now on that prophecy, what are your thoughts or feelings?
*

• Review pages 138–39, noting the actions taken at the organization of the Church and the first general conference. Joseph Smith said, “Such scenes as these were calculated to inspire our hearts with joy unspeakable, and fill us with awe and reverence for [God]” (page 139). When have you had the feelings Joseph Smith described?
*

• Review Joseph Smith’s teachings about the Church in Jesus’s day and in Book of Mormon times (pages 139–40). How does the Church follow the same pattern today?
*

• Why do you think we need leaders who preside over the worldwide Church? (For some examples, see pages 141–42.) How have you been blessed through the service of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Quorums of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric?
*

• What are your thoughts or feelings as you read Joseph Smith’s prophecies about the Church’s destiny? (See pages 142–44.) In what ways can we participate in this work? (For some examples, see pages 144–45.)
*

• Joseph Smith taught, “Let every man, woman and child realize the importance of the work, and act as if success depended on his individual exertion alone” (page 144). Think about particular ways in which you can apply this counsel in your life.
*

• If someone asked you why you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what would you say?

Related Scriptures:Daniel 2:31–45; Mosiah 18:17–29; D&C 20:1–4; 65:1–6; 115:4–5

[illustration] In the late summer of 1829, Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, and several others gathered with the printer of the Book of Mormon, Egbert B. Grandin, to inspect the proof of the Book of Mormon’s title page, the first page to be printed.

[illustration] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith on April 6, 1830, at the home of Peter Whitmer Sr. in Fayette, New York. The latter-day Church is organized in the same way as the Church in the Savior’s time, with “apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”

[photo] “The advancement of the cause of God and the building up of Zion is as much one man’s business as another’s. The only difference is, that one is called to fulfill one duty, and another another duty.”
Notes

1. History of the Church, 1:71; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book A-1, p. 34, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

2. History of the Church, 1:64; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book A-1, p. 29, Church Archives.

3. History of the Church, 1:75–77; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book A-1, p. 37, Church Archives.

4. New York law required from three to nine persons to organize or transact the business of a church. The Prophet chose to use six persons.

5. Wilford Woodruff, in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 57; punctuation and capitalization modernized.

6. History of the Church, 1:77–79; paragraph divisions altered; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book A-1, pp. 37–38, Church Archives.

7. History of the Church, 1:85–86; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book A-1, p. 42, Church Archives.

8. Discourse given by Joseph Smith on July 23, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; Joseph Smith, Collection, Addresses, July 23, 1843, Church Archives.

9. History of the Church, 4:574; from “Try the Spirits,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, Apr. 1, 1842, pp. 744–45; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical.

10. History of the Church, 4:538; from a letter from Joseph Smith written at the request of John Wentworth and George Barstow, Nauvoo, Illinois, published in Times and Seasons, Mar. 1, 1842, pp. 707–8.

11. History of the Church, 3:381; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on June 27, 1839, in Commerce, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards.

12. Articles of Faith 1:6.

13. Letter from Joseph Smith to Isaac Galland, Mar. 22, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri, published in Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, p. 53; punctuation and capitalization modernized.

14. History of the Church, 2:477; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 6, 1837, in Kirtland, Ohio; reported by Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1837, p. 487.

15. History of the Church, 2:200; paragraph divisions altered; from the minutes of a Church council meeting held on Feb. 27, 1835, in Kirtland, Ohio; reported by Oliver Cowdery.

16. Orson Pratt, Millennial Star, Nov. 10, 1869, p. 732.

17. Wilford Woodruff, Deseret Weekly, Aug. 30, 1890, p. 306; capitalization modernized.

18. History of the Church, 2:202; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book B-1, p. 577, Church Archives.

19. History of the Church, 2:431–32; from instructions given by Joseph Smith on Mar. 30, 1836, in Kirtland, Ohio.

20. History of the Church, 2:22; from “The Elders of the Church in Kirtland, to Their Brethren Abroad,” Jan. 22, 1834, published in Evening and Morning Star, Apr. 1834, p. 152.

21. History of the Church, 4:540; from a letter from Joseph Smith written at the request of John Wentworth and George Barstow, Nauvoo, Illinois, published in Times and Seasons, Mar. 1, 1842, p. 709.

22. History of the Church, 2:268; final bracketed word in original; punctuation, capitalization, and grammar modernized; from a letter from Joseph Smith to the elders of the Church, Dec. 1835, Kirtland, Ohio, published in Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1835, p. 227.

23. Doctrine and Covenants 109:72–76; prayer offered by Joseph Smith on Mar. 27, 1836, at the dedication of the temple in Kirtland, Ohio.

24. History of the Church, 4:609; from “The Temple,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, May 2, 1842, p. 776; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical.

25. History of the Church, 4:214; from a report from Joseph Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency, Oct. 4, 1840, Nauvoo, Illinois, published in Times and Seasons, Oct. 1840, p. 188.

26. Quoted by Wilford Woodruff, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Mar. 20, 1883, p. 1.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 1st, RS Presidency Lesson by Melissa

My Soul Delighteth in the Things of the Lord



Susan W. Tanner
Recently Released Young Women General President



Delight in the things of the Lord . . . will “lift” our hearts and give us cause to “rejoice.”

Susan W. TannerIn the Book of Mormon, Nephi speaks often of delight. He delights “in the things of the Lord,” “in the scriptures,” and “in the great and eternal plan” of our Father in Heaven (see 2 Nephi 4:15–16; 11:2–8). Notably, Nephi often remembers his sources of delight in the midst of affliction, serving to lift and focus his spirit on eternal blessings.

We too should delight in the things of the Lord for it will “lift” our hearts and give us cause to “rejoice” (2 Nephi 11:8). Let me mention a few of the things I delight in.

I delight in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Like Nephi, “I glory in my Jesus” (2 Nephi 33:6), in His ministering and saving roles upon the earth. He provides light and hope and has given us the Holy Ghost for further guidance and comfort along the pathway we should go. It is only through Him that we can return to our Father. “Salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ” (Mosiah 3:17).

I delight in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets with whom I have had the blessed opportunity to serve. I testify that President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet on the earth today. I delight that he is truly a Christlike minister to the one, reaching out in warmth and love to each individual.

I delight in priesthood keys and temples that dot the earth, making available to each of us eternal ordinances and covenants. Some of my most celestial days recently have been my own children’s temple marriages, with my father performing that holy ordinance.

I delight in the strength of youth as I see them throng the temples to do baptisms for the dead. I love their worthy adherence to the standards leading to the temple and their preparation to be faithful missionaries and righteous mothers and fathers.

I delight that I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, who loves me. I learned of my divine identity in my earliest years at my mother’s side. Just recently I saw my then three-year-old granddaughter learning her identity from her mother. Eliza had gone to bed distraught. She could be comforted only as her mother again told Eliza’s favorite true story about the special night when Heavenly Father distinctly and clearly whispered to her mommy’s heart that Eliza was a special spirit with a noble mission ahead.

I take great delight in my role as a nurturer, which allows me to express my deepest identity as a woman. I never fail to be struck by the way that women, young women, and even little girls seem to have an instinctive interest and ability in nurturing. It is not only a mother’s primary responsibility but also part of our “individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). To nurture is to teach, to foster development, to promote growth, to feed, and to nourish. Who would not shout for joy at being given such a blessed role?

The scriptures use the word nurture only twice and in both cases speak of the responsibility of parents to raise their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4; Enos 1:1).

President Hinckley also admonished both men and women to be nurturers. He said, “How much more beautiful would be the . . . society in which we live if every father . . . and . . . mother regarded [their] children . . . as gifts from the God of heaven . . . and brought them up with true affection in the wisdom and admonition of the Lord” (“These, Our Little Ones,” Liahona, Dec. 2007, 7; Ensign, Dec. 2007, 9).

I delight in families. Recently I delighted in the birth of a new grandchild into a family that understands that parents have the solemn responsibility to rear their children in love and righteousness. The older siblings had a natural curiosity about their little sister’s entrance into this world. Their first lessons about this holy subject were taught by loving parents in a sacred family setting, in the celestial climate that accompanies a new soul’s birth into mortality, and in the context of our Father’s great eternal plan. By contrast, the next day upon returning home from kindergarten, our granddaughter reported that she had learned that day in class “a big new term called sexual abuse.” I felt concerned that at this early age children already have to be aware, for safety reasons, of the negative facets of the subject they had so beautifully talked of the night before. I delighted as never before in a nurturing family founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jacob taught that the Lord delights “in the chastity of women” (Jacob 2:28). I delight in the chastity and purity of all women and men. How it must grieve the Lord to see virtue violated and modesty mocked on every side in this wicked world. The Lord has provided for His children great joy through intimate, loving relationships, as my grandchildren were learning. I delight in the clarity of the proclamation to the world on the family, which warns that “individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”

I delight in the examples of those in the scriptures who walk by faith on their earthly journey. Each time I walk with Abraham and Isaac on the road to Mount Moriah, I weep, knowing that Abraham does not know that there will be an angel and a ram in the thicket at the end of the journey. We are each in the middle of our earthly path, and we don’t know the rest of our own stories. But we, as Abraham, are blessed with miracles.

I delight in the Lord’s mercies and miracles (see “Bless Our Fast, We Pray,” Hymns, no. 138). I know that His tender mercies and His miracles, large and small, are real. They come in His way and on His timetable. Sometimes it is not until we have reached our extremity. Jesus’s disciples on the Sea of Galilee had to toil in rowing against a contrary wind all through the night before Jesus finally came to their aid. He did not come until the “fourth watch,” meaning near dawn. Yet He did come. (See Mark 6:45–51.) My testimony is that miracles do come, though sometimes not until the fourth watch.

Right now I am exerting my faith and prayers and watching for miracles in behalf of loved ones who are physically sick, emotionally bereft, and spiritually astray. I delight in the Lord’s love for each of His children and in His wisdom to allow us individually tailored earthly experiences.

Finally, I delight in, more than I can express, the eternal love and constant help of my husband and the prayers and support of my children and parents during these years of my service as Young Women general president.

“My soul delighteth in the things of the Lord” (2 Nephi 4:16)—His law, His life, His love. To delight in Him is to acknowledge His hand in our lives. Our gospel duty is to do what is right and to love and delight in what is right. When we delight to serve Him, our Father in Heaven delights to bless us. “I, the Lord, . . . delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end” (D&C 76:5). I want to be worthy always of His delight. “I love the Lord, in Him my soul delights” (“I Love the Lord,” Jackman Music Corporation). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-851-27,00.html

May 25th Teaching for Our Time by Elissa

A Matter of a Few Degrees
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency



http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-851-21,00.html

The difference between happiness and misery . . . often comes down to an error of only a few degrees.

President Dieter F. UchtdorfMy dear brethren, I feel your strength and goodness as we assemble as the priesthood of God. I love you; I admire you. Thank you for your faith, your prayers, and your willingness to serve the Lord.

It is now two months since President Thomas S. Monson called me to serve as Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church. I am sure this came as a surprise to many, and it caught me off guard as well. In fact, I would say I may have been the second most surprised person on earth, the first being my wife.

On the day the Quorum of the Twelve met in the temple to sustain President Monson and ordain and set him apart as prophet, seer, and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I felt overjoyed to have the opportunity to raise my hand in support of my beloved friend and leader.

After President Monson was sustained, he announced his counselors.

President Eyring was no surprise. He is a man of stature and character—a wonderful choice as First Counselor. How I love and admire him.

Then President Monson announced his Second Counselor. It was a name that sounded strangely familiar. It was my name.

I looked around the room, not sure I had heard correctly. But the smiles from my brethren and the look of compassion from President Monson assured me that once again my life was about to change.

We all miss President Hinckley. He continues to bless our lives.

President Monson is the prophet of God for our days; I honor him and pledge my heart, might, mind, and strength to this great work.

In 1979 a large passenger jet with 257 people on board left New Zealand for a sightseeing flight to Antarctica and back. Unknown to the pilots, however, someone had modified the flight coordinates by a mere two degrees. This error placed the aircraft 28 miles (45 km) to the east of where the pilots assumed they were. As they approached Antarctica, the pilots descended to a lower altitude to give the passengers a better look at the landscape. Although both were experienced pilots, neither had made this particular flight before, and they had no way of knowing that the incorrect coordinates had placed them directly in the path of Mount Erebus, an active volcano that rises from the frozen landscape to a height of more than 12,000 feet (3,700 m).

As the pilots flew onward, the white of the snow and ice covering the volcano blended with the white of the clouds above, making it appear as though they were flying over flat ground. By the time the instruments sounded the warning that the ground was rising fast toward them, it was too late. The airplane crashed into the side of the volcano, killing everyone on board.

It was a terrible tragedy brought on by a minor error—a matter of only a few degrees.1

Through years of serving the Lord and in countless interviews, I have learned that the difference between happiness and misery in individuals, in marriages, and families often comes down to an error of only a few degrees.

Saul, the King of Israel

The story of Saul, the king of Israel, illustrates this point. Saul’s life began with great promise, but it had an unfortunate and tragic end. In the beginning, Saul was “a choice young man, . . . and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he.”2 Saul was personally chosen by God to be king.3 He had every advantage—he was physically imposing,4 and he came from an influential family.5

Of course, Saul had weaknesses, but the Lord promised to bless, uphold, and prosper him. The scriptures tell us that God promised to always be with him,6 give him another heart,7 and turn him into another man.8

When he had the Lord’s help, Saul was a magnificent king. He united Israel and defeated the Ammonites, who had invaded their land.9 Soon a much greater problem faced him—the Philistines, who had a terrible army with chariots and horsemen “and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude.”10 The Israelites were so terrified of the Philistines that they hid “themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks.”11

The young king needed help. The prophet Samuel sent word for him to wait and that he, the prophet, would come and offer sacrifice and seek counsel from the Lord. Saul waited seven days, and still the prophet Samuel had not arrived. Finally, Saul felt he could wait no longer. He gathered the people together and did something he had no priesthood authority to do—he offered the sacrifice himself.

When Samuel arrived, he was brokenhearted. “Thou hast done foolishly,” he said. If only the new king had endured a little longer and not deviated from the course of the Lord, if only he had followed the revealed order of the priesthood, the Lord would have established his kingdom forever. “But now,” Samuel said, “thy kingdom shall not continue.”12

On that day, the prophet Samuel recognized a critical weakness in Saul’s character. When pressured by outside influences, Saul did not have the self-discipline to stay on course, trust the Lord and His prophet, and follow the pattern God had established.

Small Errors Can Have a Large Impact on Our Lives

The difference of a few degrees, as with the Antarctica flight or Saul’s failure to hold fast to the counsel of the prophet just a little longer, may seem minor. But even small errors over time can make a dramatic difference in our lives.

Let me share with you how I taught the same principle to young pilots.

Suppose you were to take off from an airport at the equator, intending to circumnavigate the globe, but your course was off by just one degree. By the time you returned to the same longitude, how far off course would you be? A few miles? A hundred miles? The answer might surprise you. An error of only one degree would put you almost 500 miles (800 km) off course, or one hour of flight for a jet.

No one wants his life to end in tragedy. But all too often, like the pilots and passengers of the sightseeing flight, we set out on what we hope will be an exciting journey only to realize too late that an error of a few degrees has set us on a course for spiritual disaster.

Is There a Lesson for Our Lives in These Examples?

Small errors and minor drifts away from the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring sorrowful consequences into our lives. It is therefore of critical importance that we become self-disciplined enough to make early and decisive corrections to get back on the right track and not wait or hope that errors will somehow correct themselves.

The longer we delay corrective action, the larger the needed changes become, and the longer it takes to get back on the correct course—even to the point where a disaster might be looming.

You men of the priesthood have been entrusted with a great responsibility. Just think of it: our Heavenly Father trusts you young deacons, teachers, and priests with the “key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel.”13 You men of the Melchizedek Priesthood have received an oath and a covenant in which you have been promised all the Father has if you magnify your priesthood.14

The Lord reminds us that “unto whom much is given much is required.”15 Those who bear the priesthood of God have a great responsibility to be examples of goodness to the world. We live up to these expectations when we quickly recognize the dangers and influences that tempt us to drift from the Lord’s way and when we courageously follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost to make decisive corrections that will bring us back on course.

This conference is being translated into 92 languages and broadcast to 96 countries by the miracle of modern technology. Many of you brethren attend general conference by means of the Internet. New technologies such as this make it possible for the gospel message to be spread throughout the world. The Church Web sites are good examples of how you can use this technology as a wonderful resource of inspiration, help, and learning. They can be a blessing for you priesthood holders, your families, and the Church.

But be cautious. These same technologies can allow evil influences to cross the threshold of your homes. These dangerous traps are only a mouse click away. Pornography, violence, intolerance, and ungodliness destroy families, marriages, and individual lives. These dangers are distributed through many media, including magazines, books, television, movies, and music, as well as the Internet. The Lord will help you to recognize and avoid those evils. It is the early recognition of danger and a clear course correction that will keep you in the light of the gospel. Minor decisions can lead to major consequences.

Entering a strange and risky chat room on the Internet could lead you into the center of a raging storm. Putting a computer in a private room that the rest of the family cannot access could be the starting point for a deceitful and dangerous journey.

But the Lord requires not only outward acts but also your inner thoughts and feelings to be close to the spirit of the law.16 God “require[s] the heart and a willing mind.”17

We, the priesthood of God, have the responsibility and the power of self-direction: “It is not meet that I should command in all things,” saith the Lord. “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.”18

Our Heavenly Father knew before we came to this mortal existence that negative forces would tempt us to drift from our course, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”19 That is why He prepared a way for us to make corrections. Through the merciful process of true repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our sins can be forgiven and we will “not perish, but have everlasting life.”20

Our willingness to repent shows our gratitude for God’s gift and for the Savior’s love and sacrifice on our behalf. Commandments and priesthood covenants provide a test of faith, obedience, and love for God and Jesus Christ, but even more importantly, they offer an opportunity to experience love from God and to receive a full measure of joy both in this life and in the life to come.

These commandments and covenants of God are like navigational instructions from celestial heights and will lead us safely to our eternal destination. It is one of beauty and glory beyond understanding. It is worth the effort. It is worth making decisive corrections now and then staying on course.

Remember: the heavens will not be filled with those who never made mistakes but with those who recognized that they were off course and who corrected their ways to get back in the light of gospel truth.

The more we treasure the words of the prophets and apply them, the better we will recognize when we are drifting off course—even if only by a matter of a few degrees.

What If We Have Drifted Far off Course?

Now, brethren, there are those who have neglected to make appropriate course corrections and now believe that they are too far from the Lord’s way to ever make it back. To them we proclaim the good news that is the gospel of redemption and salvation. No matter how terribly off course you are, no matter how far you have strayed, the way back is certain and clear. Come, learn of the Father; offer up a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Have faith, and believe in the cleansing power of the infinite Atonement of Jesus the Christ. If we confess and repent of our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.21 “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be [made] as white as snow.”22

It may not be an easy path, and it requires self-discipline and determination, but its end is glorious beyond description. You are not doomed to a tragic end. Many are eager to assist you—your family, bishops and stake presidents, your quorum leaders, and home teachers. Of course, your greatest friend is the all-powerful Creator of the universe. It is His priesthood you bear. He understands your sorrow. He knows your grief. He and our Father in Heaven will bless, comfort, and strengthen you; They will walk beside you and carry you as you strive to right your course.

My dear brethren, you are truly choice and precious sons of Heavenly Father. He has entrusted you with the sacred power of the priesthood. Please do not drift off course, not even a few degrees. Hearken unto the Lord your God, and He will do for you what He promised to do for Saul: He will give you a new heart, make of you a new man, and always be with you.

I testify of our Heavenly Father, who knows and loves you. I bear witness of Jesus Christ our Savior, who is the head of this Church. President Thomas S. Monson is the prophet of God today. I express my love and gratitude for you, my dear friends and brethren of the priesthood. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


NOTES
1. See Arthur Marcel, “Mount Erebus Plane Crash,” www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/stories/2007/1814952.htm.
2. 1 Samuel 9:2.
3. See 1 Samuel 9:17.
4. See 1 Samuel 10:23.
5. See 1 Samuel 9:1.
6. See 1 Samuel 10:7.
7. See 1 Samuel 10:9.
8. See 1 Samuel 10:6.
9. See 1 Samuel 11:11.
10. 1 Samuel 13:5.
11. 1 Samuel 13:6.
12. 1 Samuel 13:13–14.
13. D&C 84:26.
14. See D&C 84:38–39.
15. D&C 82:3.
16. See Alma 12:12–14; D&C 88:109.
17. D&C 64:34.
18. D&C 58:26–28.
19. Romans 3:23.
20. John 3:16.
21. See 1 John 1:9.
22. Isaiah 1:18.

We discussed how we could apply this talk to our daily life as sisters.

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 18th, Ch 10 "Prayer and Personal Revelation" by Abi

“Chapter 10: Prayer and Personal Revelation,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),125–34

“It is the privilege of the children of God to come to God and get revelation.”
From the Life of Joseph Smith

By June 1829, many important events in the unfolding restoration of the gospel had already occurred. The heavens had been opened at the time of the First Vision and God had again spoken to men on earth. The Prophet Joseph Smith had received the Book of Mormon plates and was translating their sacred message. The holy priesthood had been restored, and the ordinance of baptism had been made available to God’s children. Each of these events had occurred in answer to prayer as the Prophet sought guidance from the Lord.

As the work of translation drew to a close, the Prophet once again sought direction from the Lord. Because Moroni had instructed Joseph not to show the plates to anyone unless he was commanded to do so, Joseph had felt very much alone and heavily burdened with his responsibility as he translated the plates. However, he had discovered from the record itself that the Lord would provide three special witnesses who would testify to the world that the Book of Mormon was true (see 2 Nephi 11:3; Ether 5:2–4).

“Almost immediately after we had made this discovery,” Joseph Smith recalled, “it occurred to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and … Martin Harris (who had come to inquire after our progress in the work) that they would have me inquire of the Lord to know if they might not obtain of him the privilege to be these three special witnesses.”1 The Prophet prayed for direction and received a revelation declaring that the three men would be permitted to see the plates, as well as the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, and the Liahona (see D&C 17).

A few days later, the Prophet and the three men went into the woods near the Whitmer home in Fayette, New York, and began to pray for this great privilege to be granted to them. Martin withdrew, feeling unworthy. The Prophet recorded what then occurred: “We … had not been many minutes engaged in prayer, when presently we beheld a light above us in the air, of exceeding brightness; and behold, an angel [Moroni] stood before us. In his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to have a view of. He turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly.”2 The men also heard the voice of God testifying of the truthfulness of the translation and commanding them to bear record of what they had seen and heard. Joseph then went to find Martin, who was praying elsewhere in the woods. They prayed together and saw the same vision and heard the same voice.

Joseph Smith’s mother, who was visiting the Prophet in Fayette at this time, recalled her son’s joy and relief after this manifestation: “When Joseph came in [to the Whitmer home], he threw himself down beside me. ‘Father! Mother!’ said he, ‘you do not know how happy I am. The Lord has caused the plates to be shown to three more besides me, who have also seen an angel and will have to testify to the truth of what I have said, for they know for themselves that I do not go about to deceive the people. And I do feel as though I was relieved of a dreadful burden which was almost too much for me to endure. But they will now have to bear a part, and it does rejoice my soul that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.’ ”3

Throughout his life, Joseph Smith would turn to God in prayer to seek the help and guidance he needed. A Church member recalled hearing him pray in Kirtland, Ohio, at a time of great personal difficulty: “Never until then had I heard a man address his Maker as though He was present listening as a kind father would listen to the sorrows of a dutiful child. … There was no ostentation, no raising of the voice as by enthusiasm, but a plain conversational tone, as a man would address a present friend. It appeared to me as though, in case the veil were taken away, I could see the Lord standing facing His humblest of all servants I had ever seen.”4
Teachings of Joseph Smith
God will hear our prayers and speak to us today, just as He spoke to the ancient Saints.

“Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to understand by anything heretofore revealed that he had ceased forever to speak to his creatures when sought unto in a proper manner, why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation?

“Perhaps you may be surprised at this assertion, that I should say for the salvation of his creatures in these last days, since we have already in our possession a vast volume of his word which he has previously given. But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not sufficient for Abraham, or it was not required of Abraham to leave the land of his nativity and seek an inheritance in a strange country upon the word spoken to Noah, but for himself he obtained promises at the hand of the Lord and walked in that perfection that he was called the friend of God. Isaac, the promised seed, was not required to rest his hope upon the promises made to his father, Abraham, but was privileged with the assurance of his approbation in the sight of heaven by the direct voice of the Lord to him.

“If one man can live upon the revelations given to another, might not I with propriety ask, why the necessity, then, of the Lord speaking to Isaac as he did, as is recorded in the 26th chapter of Genesis? For the Lord there repeats, or rather promises again, to perform the oath which he had previously sworn unto Abraham. And why this repetition to Isaac? Why was not the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham? Was not Isaac Abraham’s son? And could he not place implicit confidence in the word of his father as being a man of God? Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man and different from men in these last days; consequently, the Lord favored him with blessings peculiar and different, as he was different from men in this age. I admit that he was a peculiar man and was not only peculiarly blessed, but greatly blessed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the man, or all the difference between him and men in this age, is that he was more holy and more perfect before God and came to him with a purer heart and more faith than men in this day.

“The same might be said on the subject of Jacob’s history. Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same promise after he had made it once to Abraham and renewed it to Isaac? Why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word spoken to his fathers?

“When the time of the promise drew nigh for the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, why was it necessary that the Lord should begin to speak to them? The promise or word to Abraham was that his seed should serve in bondage and be afflicted four hundred years, and after that they should come out with great substance. Why did they not rely upon this promise and, when they had remained in Egypt in bondage four hundred years, come out without waiting for further revelation, but act entirely upon the promise given to Abraham that they should come out? …

“… I may believe that Enoch walked with God. I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels. I may believe that Isaac obtained a renewal of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of the Lord. I may believe that Jacob conversed with holy angels and heard the word of his Maker, that he wrestled with the angel until he prevailed and obtained a blessing. I may believe that Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire with fiery horses. I may believe that the saints saw the Lord and conversed with him face to face after his resurrection. I may believe that the Hebrew church came to Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into eternity and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant.

“But will all this purchase an assurance for me, or waft me to the regions of eternal day with my garments spotless, pure, and white? Or, must I not rather obtain for myself, by my own faith and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself? And have I not an equal privilege with the ancient saints? And will not the Lord hear my prayers and listen to my cries as soon as he ever did to theirs if I come to him in the manner they did?”5
We can make everything we undertake a subject of prayer.

Sarah Granger Kimball reported: “In the School of the Prophets … , when Joseph Smith was giving instruction to the brethren, he told them to make everything they undertook a subject of prayer.”6

“Seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess [see Alma 34:18–27]; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and everything that you engage in.”7

“Slack not your duties in your families, but call upon God for his blessings upon you, and your families, upon your flocks and herds, and all that pertains to you—that you may have peace and prosperity—and while you are doing this, ‘pray for the peace of Zion, for they shall prosper that love her.’ [See Psalm 122:6.]”8

A prayer the Prophet recorded in August 1842 shows his desire for wisdom from God: “O Thou, who seest and knowest the hearts of all men … , look down upon Thy servant Joseph at this time; and let faith on the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ, to a greater degree than Thy servant ever yet has enjoyed, be conferred upon him, even the faith of Elijah; and let the lamp of eternal life be lit up in his heart, never to be taken away; and let the words of eternal life be poured upon the soul of Thy servant, that he may know Thy will, Thy statutes, and Thy commandments, and Thy judgments, to do them. As the dews upon Mount Hermon, may the distillations of Thy divine grace, glory, and honor, in the plenitude of Thy mercy, and power, and goodness, be poured down upon the head of Thy servant.”9
When we pray in faith and simplicity, we receive the blessings God sees fit to bestow upon us.

“Supplicate at the throne of grace, that the Spirit of the Lord may always rest upon you. Remember that without asking we can receive nothing; therefore, ask in faith, and ye shall receive such blessings as God sees fit to bestow upon you. Pray not with covetous hearts that ye may consume it upon your lusts, but pray earnestly for the best gifts [see D&C 46:8–9].”10

“Virtue is one of the most prominent principles that enables us to have confidence in approaching our Father who is in heaven in order to ask wisdom at his hand. Therefore, if thou wilt cherish this principle in thine heart, thou mayest ask with all confidence before him and it shall be poured out upon thine head [see D&C 121:45–46].”11

“Let the prayers of the Saints to heaven appear, that they may enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, for the effectual prayers of the righteous avail much [see James 5:16].”12

Henry W. Bigler recalled: “Speaking about praying to our Father in heaven, I once heard Joseph Smith remark, ‘Be plain and simple and ask for what you want, just like you would go to a neighbor and say, I want to borrow your horse to go to [the] mill.’ ”13
We can receive personal revelation through the Holy Ghost.

“It is the privilege of the children of God to come to God and get revelation. … God is not a respecter of persons; we all have the same privilege.”14

“We believe that we have a right to revelations, visions, and dreams from God, our heavenly Father; and light and intelligence, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, in the name of Jesus Christ, on all subjects pertaining to our spiritual welfare; if it so be that we keep his commandments, so as to render ourselves worthy in his sight.”15

“A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.”16

“I have an old edition of the New Testament in the Latin, Hebrew, German and Greek languages. … I thank God that I have got this old book; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. … The Holy Ghost … is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him.”17

“No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator.”18

John Taylor, while serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve, reported: “I well remember a remark that Joseph Smith made to me upwards of forty years ago. Said he, ‘Elder Taylor, you have been baptized, you have had hands laid upon your head for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and you have been ordained to the holy priesthood. Now, if you will continue to follow the leadings of that spirit, it will always lead you right. Sometimes it might be contrary to your judgment; never mind that, follow its dictates; and if you be true to its whisperings it will in time become in you a principle of revelation so that you will know all things.’ ”19
Suggestions for Study and Teaching

Consider these ideas as you study the chapter or as you prepare to teach. For additional help, see pages vii–xii.

*

• Note the importance of prayer in the experience of Joseph Smith and the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon (pages 125–27). How has prayer influenced your own experiences with the Book of Mormon? What other aspects of your life are influenced by prayer?
*

• What are your thoughts as you read the paragraph at the bottom of page 127? As you ponder this statement, consider what you might do to improve the way you “address [your] Maker.”
*

• Why can’t we rely solely on revelations from the past? (For some examples, see pages 128–30.) Why do we need continuing, personal revelation?
*

• Review the section that begins on page 130. Identify the Prophet’s teachings concerning when we should pray and what we should pray about. How might these teachings help you in your personal prayers? How might they help families with family prayer?
*

• Study the Prophet’s teachings on pages 131–32 about how we should pray. What is the value of using “plain and simple” language when we pray? How does living righteously give us confidence in approaching our Heavenly Father in prayer? What has helped you gain a testimony that God hears and answers prayers?
*

• Read the third full paragraph on page 132. When have you profited from noticing “the first intimation” of the Spirit prompting you? How can we learn to immediately recognize the whisperings of the Spirit when they come?

Related Scriptures: 1 Kings 19:11–12; James 1:5–6; Helaman 5:30; 3 Nephi 18:18–21; D&C 6:22–23; 8:2–3; 88:63–65

[illustration] In June 1829, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Joseph Smith were privileged to see Moroni and the gold plates. A short time later on the same day, Martin Harris also saw the angel and the plates.

[photo] “Slack not your duties in your families, but call upon God for his blessings upon you, and your families.”
Notes

1. History of the Church, 1:52–53; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book A-1, p. 23, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

2. History of the Church, 1:54; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book A-1, pp. 24–25, Church Archives.

3. Lucy Mack Smith, “The History of Lucy Smith, Mother of the Prophet,” 1844–45 manuscript, book 8, p. 11, Church Archives.

4. Daniel Tyler, in “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, Feb. 15, 1892, p. 127.

5. Letter from Joseph Smith to his uncle Silas Smith, Sept. 26, 1833, Kirtland, Ohio; in Lucy Mack Smith, “The History of Lucy Smith, Mother of the Prophet,” 1845 manuscript, pp. 229–32, Church Archives.

6. Sarah Granger Kimball, in “R. S. Report,” Woman’s Exponent, Aug. 15, 1892, p. 30.

7. History of the Church, 5:31; from “Gift of the Holy Ghost,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, June 15, 1842, p. 825; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical.

8. “To the Saints of God,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, Oct. 15, 1842, p. 952; punctuation modernized; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical.

9. History of the Church, 5:127–28; paragraph divisions altered; from a Joseph Smith journal entry, Aug. 23, 1842, near Nauvoo, Illinois; this entry is incorrectly dated Aug. 22, 1842, in History of the Church.

10. Letter from Joseph Smith and John Whitmer to the Saints in Colesville, New York, Aug. 20, 1830, Harmony, Pennsylvania; in Newel Knight, Autobiography and Journal, ca. 1846–47, p. 129, Church Archives.

11. Statement written by Joseph Smith in Feb. 1840 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; original in private possession.

12. History of the Church, 6:303; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 7, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, Thomas Bullock, and William Clayton.

13. Henry W. Bigler, in “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, Mar. 1, 1892, pp. 151–52.

14. Discourse given by Joseph Smith about July 1839 in Commerce, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards, in Willard Richards, Pocket Companion, pp. 75, 78–79, Church Archives.

15. Letter from Joseph Smith to Isaac Galland, Mar. 22, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri, published in Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, p. 54.

16. History of the Church, 3:381; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on June 27, 1839, in Commerce, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards.

17. History of the Church, 6:307–8; paragraph divisions altered; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 7, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, Thomas Bullock, and William Clayton.

18. History of the Church, 6:58; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Oct. 15, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards.

19. John Taylor, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Jan. 15, 1878, p. 1.

Friday, May 9, 2008

May 11th, Ch 9 "Gifts of the Spirit" by Michelle

“Chapter 9: Gifts of the Spirit,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),114–24

“If you will obey the Gospel with honest hearts, I promise you in the name of the Lord, that the gifts as promised by our Saviour will follow you.”
From the Life of Joseph Smith

The title page of the Book of Mormon explains how this remarkable book of scripture would be made available to the world. In ancient times, the gold plates were “written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed.” In the latter days, they were “to come forth by the gift and power of God” and be interpreted “by the gift of God.” In fulfillment of these prophecies, God chose Joseph Smith to translate the sacred records. Clearly, Joseph’s ability to translate the ancient characters did not come through education: he had only a grammar school knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic. His ability to translate records written centuries before in a language of which he had no knowledge came as a gift from God Himself.

Emma Smith, an early scribe in her husband’s work, testified of this divine gift: “No man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when [I was] acting as his scribe, [Joseph] would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him.”1

The Lord gave the Prophet vital temporal help that allowed him to go forward with the work of translation. Joseph Knight Sr., a friend of the Prophet, gave Joseph money and food on several occasions. At a particularly desperate time, Brother Knight traveled to the Prophet’s home to give Joseph and Oliver “a barrel of mackerel and some lined paper for writing,” along with “nine or ten bushels of grain and five or six bushels of taters [potatoes].” Brother Knight recalled, “Joseph and Oliver … returned home and found me there with provisions, and they were glad, for they were out.”2

During April and May 1829, persecution increasingly interrupted the Prophet’s work of translating at his home in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Oliver Cowdery wrote to a friend, David Whitmer, telling him about the sacred work and asking him to allow the work to continue in the Whitmer home in Fayette, New York. In late May or early June 1829, the Prophet and Oliver traveled with David Whitmer in his one-horse wagon to the farm home of David’s father, Peter Whitmer Sr. During the month of June, in an upstairs room of the Whitmer home, the translation was completed by the gift and power of God.

Oliver Cowdery described the marvelous experience of serving as the Prophet’s scribe: “These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim … the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.’ ”3

During this time, Joseph Smith learned that the divine gift was with him only when he was worthy to be guided by the Spirit. David Whitmer recounted: “One morning when [Joseph Smith] was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went up stairs, and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour—came back to the house, asked Emma’s forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were and the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful.”4

Humbly and faithfully using the gift God gave him, the young Prophet accomplished the seemingly impossible task of translating almost the entire Book of Mormon between early April and the end of June 1829.
Teachings of Joseph Smith
We are each given gifts of the Spirit; each person’s gifts are necessary in the Church.

Articles of Faith 1:7: “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.”5

“We … believe in prophecy, in tongues, in visions, and in revelations, in gifts, and in healings; and that these things cannot be enjoyed without the gift of the Holy Ghost.”6

Amasa Potter recalled: “I remember the Prophet arising to preach to a large congregation in the grove west of the Temple in Nauvoo. He stated that he would preach on spiritual gifts. … Joseph stated that every Latter-day Saint had a gift, and by living a righteous life, and asking for it, the Holy Spirit would reveal it to him or her.”7

“Paul says, ‘To one is given the gift of tongues, to another the gift of prophecy, and to another the gift of healing;’ and again: ‘Do all prophesy? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?’ evidently showing that all did not possess these several gifts; but that one received one gift, and another received another gift—all did not prophesy, all did not speak in tongues, all did not work miracles; but all did receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; sometimes they spake in tongues and prophesied in the Apostles’ days, and sometimes they did not. …

“The Church is a compact body composed of different members, and is strictly analogous to the human system, and Paul, after speaking of the different gifts, says, ‘Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular; and God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, thirdly Teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all Teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?’ It is evident that they do not; yet are they all members of one body. All members of the natural body are not the eye, the ear, the head or the hand—yet the eye cannot say to the ear I have no need of thee, nor the head to the foot, I have no need of thee; they are all so many component parts in the perfect machine—the one body; and if one member suffer, the whole of the members suffer with it: and if one member rejoice, all the rest are honored with it. [See 1 Corinthians 12:9–10, 18–21, 26–30.]

“These, then, are all gifts; they come from God; they are of God; they are all the gifts of the Holy Ghost.”8
We receive gifts of the Spirit through obedience and faith.

“Because faith is wanting, the fruits are. No man since the world was had faith without having something along with it. The ancients quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, women received their dead, etc. By faith the worlds were made. [See Hebrews 11:3, 34–35.] A man who has none of the gifts has no faith; and he deceives himself, if he supposes he has. Faith has been wanting, not only among the heathen, but in professed Christendom also, so that tongues, healings, prophecy, and prophets and apostles, and all the gifts and blessings have been wanting.”9

“This winter [1832–33] was spent in translating the Scriptures; in the School of the Prophets; and sitting in conferences. I had many glorious seasons of refreshing. The gifts which follow them that believe and obey the Gospel, as tokens that the Lord is ever the same in His dealings with the humble lovers and followers of truth, began to be poured out among us, as in ancient days.”10

Edward Stevenson was present when Joseph Smith preached in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1834. He recalled these words of the Prophet: “If you will obey the Gospel with honest hearts, I promise you in the name of the Lord, that the gifts as promised by our Saviour will follow you, and by this you may prove me to be a true servant of God.”11
Gifts of the Spirit are usually received quietly and privately, without outward manifestations.

“Various and conflicting are the opinions of men in regard to the gift of the Holy Ghost. Some people have been in the habit of calling every supernatural manifestation the effects of the Spirit of God, whilst there are others that think there is no manifestation connected with it at all; and that it is nothing but a mere impulse of the mind, or an inward feeling, impression, or secret testimony or evidence, which men possess, and that there is no such a thing as an outward manifestation.

“It is not to be wondered at that men should be ignorant, in a great measure, of the principles of salvation, and more especially of the nature, office, power, influence, gifts, and blessings of the gift of the Holy Ghost; when we consider that the human family have been enveloped in gross darkness and ignorance for many centuries past, without revelation, or any just criterion [by which] to arrive at a knowledge of the things of God, which can only be known by the Spirit of God. Hence it not infrequently occurs, that when the Elders of this Church preach to the inhabitants of the world, that if they obey the Gospel they shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, that the people expect to see some wonderful manifestation, some great display of power, or some extraordinary miracle performed. …

“The human family are very apt to run to extremes, especially in religious matters, and hence people in general either want some miraculous display, or they will not believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost at all. If an Elder lays his hands upon a person, it is thought by many that the person must immediately rise and speak in tongues and prophesy; this idea is gathered from the circumstance of Paul laying his hands upon certain individuals who had been previously (as they stated) baptized unto John’s baptism; which when he had done, they ‘spake in tongues and prophesied.’ [See Acts 19:1–6.] …

“We believe that the Holy Ghost is imparted by the laying on of hands of those in authority, and that the gift of tongues, and also the gift of prophecy are gifts of the Spirit, and are obtained through that medium; but then to say that men always prophesied and spoke in tongues when they had the imposition of hands, would be to state that which is untrue, contrary to the practice of the Apostles, and at variance with holy writ. …

“… All the gifts of the Spirit are not visible to the natural vision, or understanding of man; indeed very few of them are. … Few of them could be known by the generality of men. Peter and John were Apostles, yet the Jewish court scourged them as impostors. Paul was both an Apostle and Prophet, yet they stoned him and put him into prison. The people knew nothing about it, although he had in his possession the gift of the Holy Ghost. Our Savior was ‘anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows’ [Hebrews 1:9], yet so far from the people knowing Him, they said He was Beelzebub, and crucified Him as an impostor. Who could point out a Pastor, a Teacher, or an Evangelist by their appearance, yet had they the gift of the Holy Ghost?

“But to come to the other members of the Church, and examine the gifts as spoken of by Paul, we shall find that the world can in general know nothing about them, and that there are but one or two that could be immediately known, if they were all poured out immediately upon the imposition of hands. In [1 Corinthians 12:4–11], Paul says, ‘There are diversities of gifts yet the same spirit, and there are differences of administrations but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given unto every man to profit withal. For to one is given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self same spirit, dividing to each man severally as he will.’

“There are several gifts mentioned here, yet which of them all could be known by an observer at the imposition of hands? The word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge, are as much gifts as any other, yet if a person possessed both of these gifts, or received them by the imposition of hands, who would know it? Another might receive the gift of faith, and they would be as ignorant of it. Or suppose a man had the gift of healing or power to work miracles, that would not then be known; it would require time and circumstances to call these gifts into operation. Suppose a man had the discerning of spirits, who would be the wiser for it? Or if he had the interpretation of tongues, unless someone spoke in an unknown tongue, he of course would have to be silent; there are only two gifts that could be made visible—the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy. These are things that are the most talked about, and yet if a person spoke in an unknown tongue, according to Paul’s testimony, he would be a barbarian to those present [see 1 Corinthians 14:11]. They would say that it was gibberish; and if he prophesied they would call it nonsense. The gift of tongues is the smallest gift perhaps of the whole, and yet it is one that is the most sought after.

“So that according to the testimony of Scripture and the manifestations of the Spirit in ancient days, very little could be known about it by the surrounding multitude, except on some extraordinary occasion, as on the day of Pentecost. The greatest, the best, and the most useful gifts would be known nothing about by an observer. …

“The manifestations of the gift of the Holy Ghost, the ministering of angels, or the development of the power, majesty or glory of God were very seldom manifested publicly, and that generally to the people of God, as to the Israelites; but most generally when angels have come, or God has revealed Himself, it has been to individuals in private, in their chamber; in the wilderness or fields, and that generally without noise or tumult. The angel delivered Peter out of prison in the dead of night; came to Paul unobserved by the rest of the crew; appeared to Mary and Elizabeth without the knowledge of others; spoke to John the Baptist whilst the people around were ignorant of it.

“When Elisha saw the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof, it was unknown to others. When the Lord appeared to Abraham it was at his tent door; when the angels went to Lot, no person knew them but himself, which was the case probably with Abraham and his wife; when the Lord appeared to Moses, it was in the burning bush, in the tabernacle, or in the mountain top; when Elijah was taken in a chariot of fire, it was unobserved by the world; and when he was in a cleft of a rock, there was loud thunder, but the Lord was not in the thunder; there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and then there was a still small voice, which was the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘What doest thou here, Elijah?’ [See 1 Kings 19:11–13.]

“The Lord cannot always be known by the thunder of His voice, by the display of His glory or by the manifestation of His power; and those that are the most anxious to see these things, are the least prepared to meet them, and were the Lord to manifest His power as He did to the children of Israel, such characters would be the first to say, ‘Let not the Lord speak any more, lest we His people die.’ [See Exodus 20:19.]”12
Suggestions for Study and Teaching

Consider these ideas as you study the chapter or as you prepare to teach. For additional help, see pages vii–xii.

*

• The Lord gave the Prophet Joseph Smith a gift to be able to translate the gold plates (pages 115–16). When has the Lord given you gifts to help you participate in His work?
*

• What can we learn from the story told by David Whitmer on page 116? What experiences in your own life have taught you that you must be worthy in order to use your spiritual gifts?
*

• Review the section that begins on page 117. In what ways does the Church benefit from having members with different gifts of the Spirit? How have you benefited from the spiritual gifts of others? When have you seen people with different gifts work together to help one another?
*

• Study the section on page 118. Think about some spiritual gifts that would strengthen you personally or help you serve the Lord and others. Determine what you will do to “seek … earnestly the best gifts” (D&C 46:8).
*

• Review the section that begins at the bottom of page 118. Think about or discuss the specific counsel you find about how spiritual gifts are manifested. Why is it important to remember that spiritual gifts are “very seldom manifested publicly”? (page 121). Why do you think that many spiritual gifts come quietly and privately? Why is it important to remember that many gifts require “time and circumstances to call [them] into operation”? (page 121).
*

• After reading this chapter, what would you say are some of the purposes of spiritual gifts?

Related Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 12:1–31; 3 Nephi 29:6; Moroni 10:6–23; D&C 46:8–33

[photo] A portion of a page from the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon. The words shown are part of Lehi’s account of his vision of the tree of life, as found in 1 Nephi 8:11–23.

[illustration] “The power, majesty or glory of God [are] very seldom manifested publicly. … When the Lord appeared to Abraham it was at his tent door [see Genesis 18:1].”
Notes

1. Emma Smith, interview by Joseph Smith III, Feb. 1879, Saints’ Herald (periodical published by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now called Community of Christ), Oct. 1, 1879, p. 290.

2. Joseph Knight, Reminiscences, p. 6, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

3. Oliver Cowdery, quoted in Joseph Smith—History 1:71, footnote; from a letter from Oliver Cowdery to William W. Phelps, Sept. 7, 1834, Norton, Ohio, published in Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, p. 14.

4. David Whitmer, interview by William H. Kelley and George A. Blakeslee, Sept. 15, 1881, Saints’ Herald, Mar. 1, 1882, p. 68.

5. Articles of Faith 1:7.

6. History of the Church, 5:27; from “Gift of the Holy Ghost,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, June 15, 1842, p. 823; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical.

7. Amasa Potter, “A Reminiscence of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, Feb. 15, 1894, p. 132.

8. History of the Church, 5:28–29; from “Gift of the Holy Ghost,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, June 15, 1842, pp. 823–24; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical.

9. History of the Church, 5:218; from instructions given by Joseph Smith on Jan. 2, 1843, in Springfield, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards.

10. History of the Church, 1:322; bracketed dates in original; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book A-1, p. 270, Church Archives.

11. Quoted by Edward Stevenson, Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet, and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon (1893), p. 4.

12. History of the Church, 5:26–31; bracketed words in second paragraph in original; punctuation and grammar modernized; paragraph divisions altered; from “Gift of the Holy Ghost,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, June 15, 1842, pp. 823–25; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

May 4th, "Daughters of God" Elder Ballard by Eria

Daughters of God

Elder M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood.

Elder M. Russell BallardBrothers and sisters, recently my wife, Barbara, had back surgery and could not lift, twist, or bend. Consequently, I have done more lifting, twisting, and bending than ever before—and it has made me more appreciative of what women, and especially you mothers, do every day in our homes.

While women live in homes under many different circumstances—married, single, widowed, or divorced, some with children and some without—all are beloved of God, and He has a plan for His righteous daughters to receive the highest blessings of eternity.

This afternoon I want to focus my remarks primarily on mothers, particularly on young mothers.

As a young father, I learned the demanding role of motherhood. I served as a counselor and then as bishop for a period of 10 years. During that time we were blessed with six of our seven children. Barbara was often worn-out by the time I got home Sunday evening. She tried to explain what it was like to sit on the back row in sacrament meeting with our young family. Then the day came that I was released. After sitting on the stand for 10 years, I was now sitting with my family on the back row.

The ward’s singing mothers’ chorus was providing the music, and I found myself sitting alone with our six children. I have never been so busy in my whole life. I had the hand puppets going on both hands, and that wasn’t working too well. The Cheerios got away from me, and that was embarrassing. The coloring books didn’t seem to entertain as well as they should.

As I struggled with the children through the meeting, I looked up at Barbara, and she was watching me and smiling. I learned for myself to more fully appreciate what all of you dear mothers do so well and so faithfully!

A generation later, as a grandfather, I have watched the sacrifices my daughters have made in rearing their children. And now, still another generation later, I am watching with awe the pressures on my granddaughters as they guide their children in this busy and demanding world.

After observing and empathizing with three generations of mothers and thinking of my own dear mother, I surely know that there is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood.

There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part- or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.

I am impressed by countless mothers who have learned how important it is to focus on the things that can only be done in a particular season of life. If a child lives with parents for 18 or 19 years, that span is only one-fourth of a parent’s life. And the most formative time of all, the early years in a child’s life, represents less than one-tenth of a parent’s normal life. It is crucial to focus on our children for the short time we have them with us and to seek, with the help of the Lord, to teach them all we can before they leave our homes. This eternally important work falls to mothers and fathers as equal partners. I am grateful that today many fathers are more involved in the lives of their children. But I believe that the instincts and the intense nurturing involvement of mothers with their children will always be a major key to their well-being. In the words of the proclamation on the family, “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

We need to remember that the full commitment of motherhood and of putting children first can be difficult. Through my own four-generation experience in our family, and through discussions with mothers of young children throughout the Church, I know something of a mother’s emotions that accompany her commitment to be at home with young children. There are moments of great joy and incredible fulfillment, but there are also moments of a sense of inadequacy, monotony, and frustration. Mothers may feel they receive little or no appreciation for the choice they have made. Sometimes even husbands seem to have no idea of the demands upon their wives.

As a Church, we have enormous respect and gratitude to you mothers of young children. We want you to be happy and successful in your families and to have the validation and support you need and deserve. So today, let me ask and briefly answer four questions. While my answers may seem extremely simple, if the simple things are being tended to, a mother’s life can be most rewarding.

The first question: What can you do, as a young mother, to reduce the pressure and enjoy your family more?

First, recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction.

Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to rush past the fleeting moments. She said: “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less”(Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11).

Second, don’t overschedule yourselves or your children. We live in a world that is filled with options. If we are not careful, we will find every minute jammed with social events, classes, exercise time, book clubs, scrapbooking, Church callings, music, sports, the Internet, and our favorite TV shows. One mother told me of a time that her children had 29 scheduled commitments every week: music lessons, Scouts, dance, Little League, day camps, soccer, art, and so forth. She felt like a taxi driver. Finally, she called a family meeting and announced, “Something has to go; we have no time to ourselves and no time for each other.” Families need unstructured time when relationships can deepen and real parenting can take place. Take time to listen, to laugh, and to play together.

Third, even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children. Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it.

Fourth, pray, study, and teach the gospel. Pray deeply about your children and about your role as a mother. Parents can offer a unique and wonderful kind of prayer because they are praying to the Eternal Parent of us all. There is great power in a prayer that essentially says, “We are steward-parents over Thy children, Father; please help us to raise them as Thou wouldst want them raised.”

The second question: What more can a husband do to support his wife, the mother of their children?

First, show extra appreciation and give more validation for what your wife does every day. Notice things and say thank you—often. Schedule some evenings together, just the two of you.

Second, have a regular time to talk with your wife about each child’s needs and what you can do to help.

Third, give your wife a “day away” now and then. Just take over the household and give your wife a break from her daily responsibilities. Taking over for a while will greatly enhance your appreciation of what your wife does. You may do a lot of lifting, twisting, and bending!

Fourth, come home from work and take an active role with your family. Don’t put work, friends, or sports ahead of listening to, playing with, and teaching your children.

The third question: What can children, even young children, do? Now, you children, please listen to me because there are some simple things you can do to help your mother.

You can pick up your toys when you are finished playing with them, and when you get a little older, you can make your bed, help with the dishes, and do other chores—without being asked.

You can say thank you more often when you finish a nice meal, when a story is read to you at bedtime, or when clean clothes are put in your drawers.

Most of all, you can put your arms around your mother often and tell her you love her.

The last question: What can the Church do?

There are many things the Church offers to mothers and families, but for my purpose today may I suggest that the bishopric and the ward council members be especially watchful and considerate of the time and resource demands on young mothers and their families. Know them and be wise in what you ask them to do at this time in their lives. Alma’s counsel to his son Helaman applies to us today: “Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

I hope all of you dear sisters, married or single, never wonder if you have worth in the sight of the Lord and to the leaders of the Church. We love you. We respect you and appreciate your influence in preserving the family and assisting with the growth and the spiritual vitality of the Church. Let us remember that “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). The scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and apostles help all family members to prepare together now to be together through all eternity. I pray that God will continually bless the women of the Church to find joy and happiness in their sacred roles as daughters of God.

Now, in closing, I want to add my witness of President Monson’s prophetic call. I have known him since he was 22 and I was 21. That’s 58 years. I have watched the hand of the Lord prepare him for this day to preside over the Church as the prophet and President. And I add my testimony, along with all of the other testimonies that have been borne through this conference, of his special calling as President of the Church, and add my testimony, along with all of the others, that Jesus is the Christ and this is His Church. We are doing His work, to which I testify in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

April 27th, "Testimony" Elder Oaks by Stacey

Testimony

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Knowledge encourages obedience, and obedience enhances knowledge.

Elder Dallin H. OaksA testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true. Such facts include the nature of the Godhead and our relationship to its three members, the effectiveness of the Atonement, and the reality of the Restoration.

A testimony of the gospel is not a travelogue, a health log, or an expression of love for family members. It is not a sermon. President Kimball taught that the moment we begin preaching to others, our testimony is ended.1

I.

Various questions arise as we hear others bear testimony or as we consider bearing testimony ourselves.

1. In a testimony meeting a member says, “I know that the Father and the Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith.” A visitor wonders, “What does he mean when he says he knows that?”
2. A young man preparing for a mission wonders whether his testimony is strong enough that he can serve as a missionary.
3. A young person hears the testimony of a parent or teacher. How does such a testimony help a person who hears it?

II.

What do we mean when we testify and say that we know the gospel is true? Contrast that kind of knowledge with “I know it is cold outside” or “I know I love my wife.” These are three different kinds of knowledge, each learned in a different way. Knowledge of outside temperature can be verified by scientific proof. Knowledge that we love our spouse is personal and subjective. While not capable of scientific proof, it is still important. The idea that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence is simply untrue.

While there are some “evidences” for gospel truths (for example, see Psalm 19:1; Helaman 8:24), scientific methods will not yield spiritual knowledge. This is what Jesus taught in response to Simon Peter’s testimony that He was the Christ: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). The Apostle Paul explained this. In a letter to the Corinthian Saints, he said, “The things of God knoweth no man, but [by] the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11; see also John 14:17).

In contrast, we know the things of man by the ways of man, but “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The Book of Mormon teaches that God will manifest the truth of spiritual things unto us by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10:4–5). In modern revelation God promises us that we will receive “knowledge” by His telling us in our mind and in our heart “by the Holy Ghost” (D&C 8:1–2).

One of the greatest things about our Heavenly Father’s plan for His children is that each of us can know the truth of that plan for ourselves. That revealed knowledge does not come from books, from scientific proof, or from intellectual pondering. As with the Apostle Peter, we can receive that knowledge directly from our Heavenly Father through the witness of the Holy Ghost.

When we know spiritual truths by spiritual means, we can be just as sure of that knowledge as scholars and scientists are of the different kinds of knowledge they have acquired by different methods.

The Prophet Joseph Smith provided a wonderful example of this. When he was persecuted for telling people about his vision, he likened his circumstance to the Apostle Paul, who was ridiculed and reviled as he made his defense before King Agrippa (see Acts 26). “But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision,” Joseph said. “He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise. . . . So it was with me,” Joseph continued. “I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me. . . . I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I” (Joseph Smith—History 1:24–25).

III.

That was Joseph Smith’s testimony. What about ours? How can we come to know and testify that what he said was true? How does one gain what we call a testimony?

The first step in gaining any kind of knowledge is to really desire to know. In the case of spiritual knowledge, the next step is to ask God in sincere prayer. As we read in modern revelation,

“If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal” (D&C 42:61).

Here is what Alma wrote about what he did: “Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit” (Alma 5:46).

As we desire and seek, we should remember that acquiring a testimony is not a passive thing but a process in which we are expected to do something. Jesus taught, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

Another way to seek a testimony seems astonishing when compared with the methods of obtaining other knowledge. We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. Someone even suggested that some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them.

A personal testimony is fundamental to our faith. Consequently, the things we must do to acquire, strengthen, and retain a testimony are vital to our spiritual life. In addition to those already stated, we need to partake of the sacrament each week (see D&C 59:9) to qualify for the precious promise that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (D&C 20:77). Of course, that Spirit is the source of our testimonies.

IV.

Those who have a testimony of the restored gospel also have a duty to share it. The Book of Mormon teaches that we should “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in” (Mosiah 18:9).

One of the most impressive teachings on the relationship between the gift of a testimony and the duty to bear it is in the 46th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. In describing different kinds of spiritual gifts, this revelation states:

“To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

“To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful” (vv. 13–14; see also John 20:29).

Those who have the gift to know have an obvious duty to bear their witness so that those who have the gift to believe on their words might also have eternal life.

There has never been a greater need for us to profess our faith, privately and publicly (see D&C 60:2). Though some profess atheism, there are many who are open to additional truths about God. To these sincere seekers, we need to affirm the existence of God the Eternal Father, the divine mission of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the reality of the Restoration. We must be valiant in our testimony of Jesus. Each of us has many opportunities to proclaim our spiritual convictions to friends and neighbors, to fellow workers, and to casual acquaintances. We should use these opportunities to express our love for our Savior, our witness of His divine mission, and our determination to serve Him.2 Our children should also hear us bear our testimonies frequently. We should also strengthen our children by encouraging them to define themselves by their growing testimonies, not just by their recognitions in scholarship, sports, or other school activities.

V.

We live in a time when some misrepresent the beliefs of those they call Mormons and even revile us because of them. When we encounter such misrepresentations, we have a duty to speak out to clarify our doctrine and what we believe. We should be the ones to state our beliefs rather than allowing others the final word in misrepresenting them. This calls for testimony, which can be expressed privately to an acquaintance or publicly in a small or large meeting. As we testify of the truth we know, we should faithfully follow the caution to speak “in mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:41). We should never be overbearing, shrill, or reviling. As the Apostle Paul taught, we should speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15). Anyone can disagree with our personal testimony, but no one can refute it.

VI.

In closing, I refer to the relationship between obedience and knowledge. Members who have a testimony and who act upon it under the direction of their Church leaders are sometimes accused of blind obedience.

Of course, we have leaders, and of course, we are subject to their decisions and directions in the operation of the Church and in the performance of needed priesthood ordinances. But when it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel—our personal testimonies—we each have a direct relationship with God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, through the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost. This is what our critics fail to understand. It puzzles them that we can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves.

Perhaps the puzzle some feel can be explained by the reality that each of us has two different channels to God. We have a channel of governance through our prophet and other leaders. This channel, which has to do with doctrine, ordinances, and commandments, results in obedience. We also have a channel of personal testimony, which is direct to God. This has to do with His existence, our relationship to Him, and the truth of His restored gospel. This channel results in knowledge. These two channels are mutually reinforcing: knowledge encourages obedience (see Deuteronomy 5:27; Moses 5:11), and obedience enhances knowledge (see John 7:17; D&C 93:1).

We all act upon or give obedience to knowledge. Whether in science or religion, our obedience is not blind when we act upon knowledge suited to the subject of our action. A scientist receives and acts upon a trusted certification of the content or conditions of a particular experiment. In matters of religion, a believer’s source of knowledge is spiritual, but the principle is the same. In the case of Latter-day Saints, when the Holy Ghost gives our souls a witness of the truth of the restored gospel and the calling of a modern prophet, our choice to follow those teachings is not blind obedience.

In all of our testifying we must avoid arrogance and pride. We should remember the Book of Mormon rebuke to a people who had such pride in the greater things God had given them that they afflicted their neighbors (see Jacob 2:20). Jacob said this was “abominable unto him who created all flesh” because “the one being is as precious in his sight as the other” (Jacob 2:21). Later, Alma cautioned that “ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another” (Mosiah 23:7).

I close with my testimony. I know that we have a Heavenly Father, whose plan brings us to earth and provides the conditions and destiny of our eternal journey. I know that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, whose teachings define the plan and whose Atonement gives the assurance of immortality and the opportunity for eternal life. I know that the Father and the Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore the fulness of the gospel in these latter days. And I know that we are led today by a prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, who holds the keys to authorize priesthood holders to perform the ordinances prescribed for our progress toward eternal life. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


NOTES
1. See The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 138.
2. For example, see Jeanne Newman, “With the Sound of a Trump,” Tambuli, Aug.–Sept. 1985, 21–23; New Era, Aug. 1985, 9–11.