Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Entanglements of Sin

What makes a person free and what makes him restricted?
   Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.
Doctrine & Covenants 88:86

Have you ever had the experience of sin and its consequences taking away your freedoms?  Sin will always eventually take away our freedoms.  Have you ever had the experience of being liberated from sin and all its entanglements?  With Christ’s help, we can become free from the chains of sin.

Those are such basic and simple doctrines. Yet sometimes we find ourselves moving back into the very sins that enslaved us in the first place.  The solution is to “abide” in the liberty the Lord gives us by abiding with God.  As we focus on the Savior and all He has given us to be engaged in, we will find we don’t have the time for sin.

Today’s Takeaway: Ask for the Lord to keep you from sin every day.  Engage yourself to be close to the Lord so that you will not get tangled up again.  If you are already entangled in sin, ask the Lord to free you and strengthen you to move away from those things. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Patriarchal Blessings

 91 And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto my servant Joseph, in the room of my servant Hyrum, that my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right;
 92 That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people,
Doctrine & Covenants 124:91-92

Thomas S. Monson taught, “Your patriarchal blessing is your passport to peace in this life. It is a Liahona of light to guide you unerringly to your heavenly home” (Oct. 1986 General Conference). We are so blessed to be able to have this personal guidance from God in our lives.

Today’s Takeaway: When is the last time you read your patriarchal blessing? Search it for the guidance it has for you, for the season of life you are in right now. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

What the Lord Loves

Look for something the Lord loves about Hyrum Smith.
  And again, verily I say unto you, blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord.
Doctrine & Covenants 124:15

The Lord loves it when a person has integrity. But what is integrity? David A. Bednar taught, “People of integrity and honesty not only practice what they preach, they are what they preach.”  For The Strength of Youth pamphlet teaches, “Integrity means thinking and doing what is right at all times, no matter what the consequences. When you have integrity, you are willing to live by your standards and beliefs even when no one is watching.”

Today’s Takeaway: Think about your level of integrity as an individual. Do you show the same level of integrity at home, work, school, and with friends? Are there times you show a lack of integrity? Decide how you can become better in this area. The Lord loves it when we are people of integrity and when we are loving what is right. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Always For Thy Good

Look for why God allows the challenges of life.
  7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
 8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
Doctrine & Covenants 122:7-8

Think back on the greatest times of learning and growing for you as an individual.  Were they connected to a time of trial and difficulty in your life? Challenges, even very painful ones, have a way of helping us to grow. In these verses there seems to be two reasons for the trials of life. In verse 7 it talks about how they give us experience and are for our good.  If we will love and trust God through our trials, they will be for our good and learning (see Romans 8:28). On the other hand, if we resent God and are angry, it does us no good.  There is a saying that “the difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter” -Author unknown.

The second reason for the trials of life are in verse 8. Through all that Joseph suffered, he came to know the Lord in a greater way. In trials we come to have “fellowship of his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10).  Joseph learned a lot about God in the Grove at fourteen years old, but I think Joseph came to know the Savior even more in his sufferings in Liberty Jail.  

Today’s Takeaway: Are you in a challenging time of your life right now? Are you doing all you can to stay close to the Lord and trust His goodness through the difficulties? If so, you will grow tremendously as an individual; so much so that you will one day feel it was all worth it. You will also come to know the Savior in a greater way than ever before. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Living Life with Purpose

Look for the purpose we are to have in life.
  12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
 13 Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—
Doctrine & Covenants 123:12-13

There are so many people in life who are stumbling around in the darkness of this world. They need you to share the light you have.  Whether member or non-member, active or inactive, we all need the light we can share with each other. This is a purpose that we should “waste and wear out our lives” with.  We have one shot at this life to make a difference for good.

Today’s Takeaway: Whose life does God want you to bless today with a bit of light? I know you are tired and worn out, but do it anyway. Do something today to help someone know God loves them. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Small Choices

What does a helm have to do with our lives?
  16 You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.
 17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
Doctrine & Covenants 123:16-17

No matter how large the ship, still the helm is quite small.  Yet small adjustments with the helm dramatically change where a ship will end up.  In a storm, the helm is critical to keeping the ship facing the right direction. So it is with choices in our lives.  Like the power of the helm, our choices decide our direction in life.  As President Thomas S. Monson often says, “Decisions determine destiny.”  Even small decisions can make huge impacts in life.

Today’s Takeaway: At the helm of your life, are there some course corrections to make so that you will arrive at the destination you want? Consider where your current course in life will take you in 5 years, 10 or 15 years. Start working on making the changes now so that you will look back on your life with satisfaction and no regret. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Be a Great Leader

Have you known people who have exhibited these traits?
 41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
 42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
Doctrine & Covenants 121:41-42

We all have the opportunity to lead, whether in our homes, at work, or under the direction of a priesthood calling we have accepted. The question is if we are leading well.  There are at least nine characteristics of a great leader here. Characteristic that motivate, inspire and build confidence in others, rather than discourage, use coercion, and create fear.  God’s way to lead, rather than Satan’s way.

Today’s Takeaway: As you read the verses again, stop at each attribute and consider how you are doing with that particular trait. What could you do to be better?  Perhaps pick one characteristic to try harder with today. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Endure It Well

How should we “endure”?
   And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
Doctrine & Covenants 121 8

How is enduring well different that just enduring? One example is in Mosiah 24:15 when Alma’s people were put into slavery by wicked people.  But they prayed for God’s help and “they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” Incredible.  In the same letter Joseph is writing from Liberty Jail, he writes in D&C 123:17, “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” Joseph said this in the most horrible circumstances.

Today’s Takeaway: Despite any circumstances, we can choose to endure well by choosing to be cheerful. God is good and things will work out for good if we will just continue to love and trust the Lord (Romans 8:28). Choose to be happy.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Small Moment

Look for why Joseph should be at peace.
   My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
Doctrine & Covenants 121:7

Section 121 begins with Joseph asking “O God, where art thou?” and twice asking, “How long”?  The Lord answers Joseph’s question of “How long?” not by giving Joseph a date on the calendar, but rather by giving Joseph the eternal perspective in verse seven.  If we were to take a ten foot long piece of string, and stretched it out, and if we said this string represented all the time we ever lived, and ever would live in the future, then how big of a portion of the string could we say represents our time in this earthly life? An inch of that string? Smaller? This life is just a blink in time. And our time in the thick of trials is just a “small moment” in comparison.

Today’s Takeaway: Take a step back and look at your earth life with the perspective of the pre-earth life, and all that will happen after we die. With that perspective, thank the Lord for the experiences (even the painful ones) that will help you grow for eons. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Our Charge

What are the things we are to teach and preach?
 And let them journey from thence preaching the word by the way, saying none other things than that which the prophets and apostles have written, and that which is taught them by the Comforter through the prayer of faith.
Doctrine & Covenants 52:9

As teachers at home or church, it is easy to start teaching our thoughts and feelings. But we can’t let ourselves get side-tracked. We are to teach what the ancient and modern prophets have given us as the Lord has “taught them by the Comforter”. There is a saying that teaches this perfectly in my mind:
Teachers Teach
What Prophets Preach

Today’s Recharge: At home do you read the scriptures and talk about them together? Do you talk about what you heard and liked in General Conference.  Plan how you would like to do this in Family Home Evening and Family Scripture Study. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rise Again

Look for what made Oliver Granger a great man.
12 And again, I say unto you, I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord.
 13 Therefore, let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord.
Doctrine & Covenants 117:12-13

There are a few things that would make Oliver Granger a great man.  One is that he supported and sustained the First Presidency. But the part I wanted to focus on is that “when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice is more sacred unto me than his increase”.  A great person isn’t someone that never falls down. They are great because when they fall down, they get back up to try again. I love this great quote from Nelson Mandela, “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” Failing and falling down are just part of life in this world. God knows that.  But with the person who keeps on trying, God can make them into incredible instruments in His hands. To the Lord, the sacrifice we make each day to do His will (and keep trying) is more important than the level or measurement of success.

Today’s Recharge: Are you down right now?  Have you given up in some important area of your life?  Pray and then get up and try again. Albert Einstein is quoted as having said, “You never fail until you stop trying.”

Monday, April 6, 2015

Jesus at Conference

Look for how we should treat the messages of Conference.
  What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.
Doctrine & Covenants 1:38

If you heard that, at some time during General Conference, the Savior was going to be speaking, would you be sure not to miss any session?  Would you take notes?  Likewise, when you got the Conference issue of the Church magazine, would you read the Lord’s talk over again?
Well the truth is that the Lord has spoken in each Conference since God has placed prophets and apostles back on the earth. Robert D. Hales has taught, "I promise you in His name that if you pray with a sincere desire to hear your Heavenly Father’s voice in the messages of this conference, you will discover that He has spoken to you to help you, to strengthen you, and to lead you home into His presence" (General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony, Oct. 2013).

Today’s Takeaway: Listen to General Conference with the intent of hearing the Lord speaking to you.  Read, listen, or watch the Conference messages over again. I love that www.mormonchannel.org  or lds.org make this so easy. Decide a regular time to enjoy this nourishment each week.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Shine Forth

What are we to be a standard of?
   Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;
Doctrine & Covenants 115:5

As members of Christ’s Church, we should be very good examples of what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus Christ. We should be the gold standard of what it looks like to be a Christian. Do we live up to that standard? I’m sure we all fall short, but it doesn’t mean we should stop trying. People are going to hold us to a higher standard whether we like it or not. There is a saying I love, “Live in such a way that people who know you, but don’t know Christ, will want to know Christ, because they know you” (author unknown).

Today’s Takeaway: Arise and shine forth. Strive to be the man or woman of God He has called you to be. Don’t hide who you are or what you believe. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What’s in a Name?

Look for significance in each word of the name of the Church.
4 For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Doctrine & Covenants 115:4

Prior to this time the Church often went by “Church of Christ”.  Here the Lord gives the official name of the Church.  As others have done, let’s look at the significance of each word starting from the last word.
Saints: In the Bible, this has always referred to people who have been set apart and made holy by God.  Saints are special because God has made them special, and they have accepted the invitation, by ordinance, to be His people.
Latter-day: The Church today is just like the Church in the days of the Apostles. That was the former-day Church, and now we are Christ’s church in the latter-days. We are just the same.
Jesus Christ: The Lord has said this is His Church so it should bear his name (See 3 Nephi 27). Relatively few churches today bear the name of Jesus Christ in their titles. That is a big responsibility for us.
The Church: Not “A Church” but “The Church”. This is the one and only Church of and by Jesus Christ on the Earth (See also D&C 1:30). That claim is offensive to many, but the truth of it is glorious and why we invite all to come and become part of Christ’s own church on the earth today. For more, see “Thus Shall My Church Be Called” by Elder Russell M. Nelson, April 1990.

Today’s Takeaway: Consider what a great honor the Lord has given us to be part of His Church. Don’t take that for granted. Since this is the proper name, use the full name of the Church whenever possible. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lies of Satan

Look for the reassurance God is giving Joseph after he lost the 116 manuscript pages.
 9 Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall.
 10 But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work;
Doctrine & Covenants 3:9-10

Like Joseph Smith, sometimes we fail in spectacular ways. Here Joseph lost scripture that we still don’t have back today. When it happened, Joseph said, “All is lost!” and Martin Harris said, “I've lost my soul.”  When we fail, Satan will usually move right in and start his lies.  Have you ever heard Satan tell these kinds of lies: “Why try any more? It’s no use. After what you've done, you’re a lost cause. God wouldn't even want you after what you've done. You just aren't good enough. You are just a failure”?
But in these verses, the Lord is saying that he knows each of us by name, and he has given us special things to do with our lives. He also reminds us of His merciful nature, and He won’t give up on us.   Even Joseph had consequences he could not escape for his mistake, but it didn't end Joseph’s purposes in life.

Today’s Takeaway: Next time you mess up (because like the rest of us, you will), refuse to listen to the lies of Satan.  Remember that God knows you and He is merciful and will help you along no matter what.  God never gives up on us –EVER. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Character of God

What attributes of God are shown in this verse?
  Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.
Doctrine & Covenants 29:5

Sometimes our problem isn't knowing if God is real or not.  Our problem is who we think God is and the character of God.  I like what this verse shows about God.  First He tells us we can be glad and have happy hearts. The reason is that He is close by and watching over us.  Then He explains He is our advocate. That means He supports us and is on our side. The Lord naturally favors us and will do all He can for us to succeed.  It is His good will to give us His Kingdom.    

Today’s Takeaway: God is good. He is pulling for us.  Consider today how loving and good the Lord is, even when we don’t understand the difficulties around us.  In the end, we will see how everything in life was for everyone’s eventual good, if we will trust in the Lord (Romans 8:28). 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Americans’ Idols

Look for the characteristic of Idolatry today.
  They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.
Doctrine & Covenants 1:16

Do you have a problem with idolatry? I used to think I didn't have a problem with it until I read scriptures like this. Consider what Spencer W. Kimball taught about idolatry today.

“Modern idols or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path to godhood… Intangible things make just as ready gods. Degrees and letters and titles can become idols. … Many people build and furnish a home and buy the automobile first—and then find they “cannot afford” to pay tithing. Whom do they worship? Certainly not the Lord of heaven and earth. … Many worship the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, the weekend picnics and outings. Others have as their idols the games of sport, baseball, football, the bullfight, or golf. … Still another image men worship is that of power and prestige. … These gods of power, wealth, and influence are most demanding and are quite as real as the golden calves of the children of Israel in the wilderness. (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 40, 41–42).

Today’s Takeaway: Consider what things grab your attention when you don’t have to think about anything at all. Think about the list above. Are any of those things an idol in your life? Do they get precedence over God and the things of God? Perhaps the big lesson is to make priorities of the things that matter most. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Led by God’s Hand

Does this verse remind you of a particular hymn?
10 Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.
Doctrine & Covenants 112:10

Can you think of what Hymn comes from that verse? Hymn 130, “Be Thou Humble”.  What a beautiful image where we learn how we can have God lead us “by the hand”. So what is the connection between humility, and receiving God’s guiding hand in our lives?  Consider a when a child is being prideful and obstinate.  He doesn’t want is parent’s hand or guidance.  The child wants to do his own will rather than what his parents want. So God will often let us older children see what our stubbornness and rebellion leads to.  This humbles us to the point that we are willing again to seek God’s hand in our lives, and His will for us.

The biggest insight I have had in learning to be humble is to realize that I am no better than anyone else.  In God’s eyes, there are people who have never committed a sin (Christ only), and the rest of us who desperately need His goodness and grace to make it back.  So we are no better than anyone else.  Our failures, successes, sins and good attributes may be different, but we are all in the same boat trying to make it back to the Lord’s presence.

Today’s Takeaway: Our own way leads to disaster and unhappiness. May we humble ourselves and realize how desperately we need God’s hand in our lives.  Ask for his help, acknowledging how much you need Him, and He will be there for you and help guide you. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Coming Before God

Look for one of the purposes of Temples in this Dedicatory Prayer.
  For thou knowest that we have done this work through great tribulation; and out of our poverty we have given of our substance to build a house to thy name, that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people.
Doctrine & Covenants 109:5

Although the Lord can manifest Himself anywhere He chooses, the Temple is a special and unique place where we can feel the Lord close. We go there to serve others. People often go to the Temple to receive specific direction and enlightenment on a concern. But people also go just to partake and renew themselves in His presence.  The Temple helps us know God better and receive the nourishment and perspective we need.

Today’s Recharge: If possible, figure out a time in the near future to go to the temple and renew yourself.  Open yourself up and seek to feel His Presence there.  You will if you are seeking it. Seek and you shall find.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Strengthening Exercises

Four ways to strengthen those around us.
  Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.
Doctrine & Covenants 108:7

Have you ever been strengthened by another person.  Some people just know how to empower others.  We can be those people.  In that verse, we are commanded to strengthen others and are given four ways to do it.
Conversations: When you are talking to someone, can they tell you care about them? Do they know you are listening? How often do you give a specific compliments and reinforce the good you see?
Prayers: Sometimes we think that if God is going to bless someone, He is going to do it, so what difference do our prayers make? But that is just not how the economy of Heaven works. All over in scripture we are shown how prayers make a huge difference in the outcome of things and people. Prayer changes things! Our prayers should not be a last resort; they should be a first resort.
Exhortations: Do you encourage and kindly challenge those around you for good?
Doings: There are so many ways that we can bless and strengthen those around us by doing things for them, verbal and nonverbal.

Today’s Takeaway: Think of those you will interact with today at home and away. Look at the four ways we can strengthen others and decide some small thing you can do to build someone up on their way through life. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Resisting God

Look for what Lyman was resisting.
  Therefore, let your soul be at rest concerning your spiritual standing, and resist no more my voice.
Doctrine & Covenants 108:2

God had been speaking to Lyman. Through the gentle promptings of the Spirit, the Lord had been telling Lyman to go seek counsel from Joseph Smith. But apparently, Lyman has been resisting.  Why would anyone resist God’s voice?  Doesn't everyone want God to speak to them more? Often not, because when the Lord speaks to us, He is may be asking us to do things that are out of our comfort zone. So here the Lord tells all of us to “resist no more my voice.”

What would happen if every single time the Lord prompted you to do something, no matter what, you did it?  Would promptings become more frequent?  I am sure you would have the Lord speaking to you and directing you more in life.  On the other hand, what if every time the Lord nudged you, you ignored the prompting? Would the rate of how often you got promptings go up or down?  I think they would go down. Why would the Lord speak to someone who refuses to listen and act?  I think our living Prophet is a perfect example of this.  By being resolute in always following even the least promptings of the Spirit, President Monson has learned to easily recognize God’s voice, and the Lord knows he can count on His directions being followed. This has made him a much used instrument in God’s hands.

Today’s Recharge: Be listening today. I am almost sure that today, each one of us will receive a prompting to help someone or do something good. If you follow that prompting (even if you are not 100% positive it is the Lord speaking to you) you will learn to recognize and hear God’s voice better.  Soon we will become the kind of disciple the Lord goes to when He wants something to get done.  And that is an unspeakable honor. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Decide Once, Decide Now

Look for why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom
4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
Doctrine & Covenants 89:4

Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs and other substances are not only harmful to our bodies, they cause great amounts of misery to the users, and people around them.  But if that wasn’t enough, it seems there is conspiracy and evil behind how these things are marketed. Tobacco and alcohol companies have been repeatedly sued for advertising to youth and manipulating their products to produce greater dependence. Perhaps it is motivated by greed, but these things are not by accident.

So when is the best time to decide not to ever touch these products? At the moment when you are tempted?  How often should you decided?  Every time there is a new temptation? President Spencer W Kimball taught, “Develop discipline of self so that, more and more, you do not have to decide and redecide what you will do when you are confronted with the same temptation time and time again.  You need only to decide some things once.  How great a blessing it is to be free of agonizing over and over again regarding a temptation” (President Kimball Speaks Out, Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 94). 

Today’s Takeaway: You might want to write in your scriptures by D&C 89:4, “Decide Once, Decide Now”.  Decide today how you will live the Word of Wisdom.  If the common aspects of the Word of Wisdom are not a temptation for you, think of ways that you can eat and live more healthy.   

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Disturber & Annoyer

Look for if it is okay to be a disturber and annoyer.
   He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?
Joseph Smith-History 1:20

So is it okay? Joseph labeled himself here as a disturber and annoyer –to Satan and his kingdom. How would you like that?  How would you like to be one of those people who make Satan so angry he says, “Oh that man (or woman) annoys me so bad! He disturbs all my great plans for the misery and sorrow of everyone around him!” Followed by the sound of his usually wailing and of teeth gnashing.

If you want to be one of those people who really make Satan so mad, just be a firm follower of Christ.  You will end up doing so much good for so many around you that Satan will despise you.  But don’t worry, God has you in His hands. 

Today’s Takeaway: Live life on the edge. Decide today to be a disturber and annoyer of Satan’s kingdom.  Be a completely dedicated follower of Christ and you will have countless opportunities to help and heal and bless other’s lives. You will help save many from so much sorrow and misery. And that will be incredibly annoying and disturbing to Satan.    

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Engaged Parenting

Look for a lesson about good parenting.
   He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?
Joseph Smith-History 1:20

There are at least two great lessons here about parenting. First is about being in the right place at the right time.  Lucy Smith was there for her son Joseph. I bet she was doing some kind of work at the time when Joseph got back from the grove, but she was still aware of each member of the family. She saw that something was up with Joseph without him having to say anything. The family members knew she was available for them. 

Second is that she “inquired what the matter was”.  She was observant and asked questions to engage in each family member’s lives. As parents, it is easy to be so engrossed in our own doings that we overlook others.  

Today’s Takeaway: If you are a parent, take time each day to see how everyone is doing.  Take time to ask questions and engage. Look for those nonverbal clues.  If you aren't a parent yet, decide now to be involved and look out for each family member. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Knowing For Yourself

What words show a change in Joseph’s Testimony?
   He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?
Joseph Smith-History 1:20

I love those words of Joseph’s “I have learned for myself”. For a long time Joseph had paid the price.  Verses 8-20 show the great struggle to get the testimony he needed.  He had studied it out in great detail, pondered, prayed, studied scripture, and more.  And finally he got the answer he needed from God. At 14 he could have just gone along with what other family members were doing and joined their religions (see verse 7).  But instead, he knew he had to find out for himself. 

Heber C Kimball taught, "The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light.  Each will have to be guided by the light within himself." Thank goodness for the borrowed light parents, teachers, and others have shared with us.  But eventually we must know for ourselves from God, that we are aligned with His will.

Today’s Recharge: Through God’s Spirit, have you learned for yourself? If you have already gained that testimony, reflect back on how you gained it and how to strengthen it and share it.  If you haven’t found out for yourself yet, study and follow the pattern in Joseph Smith-History 1:8-20. You have to know for yourself. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Bound Tongue

Look for what Satan’s technique is.
  After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
Joseph Smith-History 1:15

This is not unique Joseph. Satan tries to bind our tongues all the time.  He tries to get us to not say the things we should.  For instance, have you ever felt this binding when you should introduce yourself to a new person?  Has your tongue ever stopped working when you needed to say, “I’m sorry”, “I love you”, or when trying to give a heartfelt compliment? Have you experienced paralysis of the tongue when you needed to stand up for what is right, or share your feelings about the Lord with someone? How about when you were going to invite someone to a Church activity?  If you have had these moments, the answer is found in what young Joseph did.  He exerted all his powers and then God freed Joseph’s tongue.   

Today’s Takeaway: Don’t let Satan Bind your tongue. If you will fight the fear and temptation, God will help loose your tongue.  Think of things you need to say to a family member, friend, or acquaintance. Take that leap of faith and start talking. God will give you the strength beyond your own strength to say what needs to be said.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Easy to Pollute

Look for what kinds of things pollute what God wants to give us.
  Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.
Doctrine & Covenants 101:6

Imagine a glass with the world’s purest water. How much pollution would it take to make it something you would not want to drink?  How many parts per million of pollution would make it undrinkable?  If I coughed really hard into the water, would you consider it polluted and no longer want to drink it?

The lesson is no matter how good and pure something is, a little bad pollutes a lot. Notice the little things the Lord listed that were polluting their homes and their lives as followers of Christ; a little lust, strife, some coveting.  “Don’t get upset, I’m just kidding.”  Sometimes the things we might consider to be no big deal, are the things that are keeping our homes from having God’s Spirit there.

Today’s Takeaway: Consider if there are any little indiscretions that are polluting you and where you live. Often the things we think are “no big deal” get in the way of having the most important things. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Making a Deal with God

Look for what comes first.
  All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith.
Doctrine & Covenants 103:36

Have you ever tried to make a deal with God?  Usually that pleading prayer goes something like this: “Lord, if you will just…, then in return, I will ….”  Usually that deal with God is to give us some kind of victory; passing the test; having that person’s affections; get that job.  But what is wrong with this idea is not necessarily what we are asking for, it is the order.  We want God to first do something, and then we promise to do something in return. But with God, almost always He wants us to do something first. The Lord wants us to move forward in faith first.  We want to say, “Lord, if you get me that job, I’ll become a full tithe payer.” But God works the other way around. What works is us saying, “I am now committed and will do all I can to be a full tithe payer. Will you help me get that job?”   As the scripture says, the Lord wants us first to be diligent, faithful and praying with faith, and then He will bring the victory and success.

Today’s Takeaway: Is there some blessing you are desiring from God?  Pledge your faithfulness, and start acting, in some related area first.  Then you will see God blessing you in that area.  He might even bless you in a way far greater than your plans detailed.