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.