Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Worldwide Sisterhood

We are beloved spirit daughters of God,
and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction.
As a worldwide sisterhood,
we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar.
We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.
Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.
Delight in service and good works.
Love life and learning.
Stand for truth and righteousness.
Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.
Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.
I love the Relief Society declaration. However, even though I have it hanging in my bedroom and use it as a bookmark in a couple of different places, I don't read it very often. Serving in Primary doesn't help either. So, I was excited to have the chance to visit the New Providence Branch Relief Society recently. It was quite an emotional experience to recite these uplifting words in a truly worldwide setting (there were other visitors also). I am thankful for my knowledge that I am truly a daughter of God and that life has great value and purpose. I love being a woman.

It would be nice to say they posed just for me, but I'm not that important. They had already made plans to send a group picture to a missionary, but I took advantage of having my camera in my bag to get my own picture!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

3 Nephi 26 - 4 Nephi

Scripture Study Insights

3 Nephi 26
In order to receive greater knowledge, we have to believe what we’ve already been given.

3 Nephi 27
If we want to stand spotless before God at the last day we need to repent and let the Holy Ghost sanctify us. We’ll be judged from the books that have been written. Be sure to record the nice things other people do in your journals.

3 Nephi 28
Our greatest joy comes from sharing the gospel message with others. Our questions are answered as we “inquire of the Lord.”

3 Nephi 29
We should treat others kindly and lovingly.

3 Nephi 30
The gospel is simple: Repent and turn from our wicked ways, come unto Christ and be baptized so that the Holy Ghost can lead and direct us.

4 Nephi
The companionship of the Holy Ghost is an amazing gift. The existence of righteousness and unity does not mean the absence of adversity. (In other words, bad things happen to good people.) It does mean the absence of contention and sin and strife. Allowing prideful thoughts is the first step towards losing unity and righteousness. Exceeding riches and hardened hearts hasten the process. Sacred things need to be kept hidden away from wicked people. Let the Holy Ghost guide you in this.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

3 Nephi 17-25

Scripture Study Insights - week 24

3 Nephi 17
cross-reference verse 9 to Matthew 4:23. To teach is to heal. According to Elder Holland (in an address given to CES personnel August 2000), teaching and healing are synonymous. Our faith makes the Savior’s joy full. Their children’s faith and righteous actions bring joy to parents. See 3 John 1:4. They have even greater joy to see their grandchildren choose the right. (Remember President Packard’s comments?)

3 Nephi 18
We are building on a sure foundation when we partake of the sacrament worthily. Watch and pray always to avoid temptation. See D&C 10:5.

“A few weeks before President Heber J. Grant passed away, one of the Brethren went to visit him in his home. Before the man left, President Grant prayed, “O God, bless me that I shall not lose my testimony and keep faithful to the end!” Can you imagine President Grant, one of the great prophets of the Restoration, the President of the Church for nearly 27 years, praying that he would keep faithful to the end? No one is immune from Satan’s influence and temptations. Do not be so proud to think that you are beyond the adversary’s influence. Be watchful that you do not fall prey to his deceptions. Stay close to the Lord through daily scripture study and daily prayer. We cannot afford to sit back and take our salvation for granted. We must be anxiously engaged our whole lives. These words of President Brigham Young motivate and remind us that we can never give up the fight to endure: ‘The men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day [for this sacred goal].’“ (Joseph B. Wirthlin)

Christ is our example. If we do what he does, we will be a light to others. Pray individually, as families, as a church. The commandment is to “come unto me.” When we break it we allow ourselves to be led into temptation.

3 Nephi 19
It is possible to pray without “multiplying many words” when we have the Spirit to guide us. See verse 24.

3 Nephi 20
Partaking of the sacrament together brings the Spirit and builds unity. As we search the scriptures, and particularly Isaiah, we see the wonderful blessings promised to the House of Israel. “The time cometh when the fullness of my gospel shall be preached unto them; and they shall believe in me.”

3 Nephi 21
Let Zion in her beauty rise; Her light begins to shine.
Ere long her King will rend the skies, Majestic and divine,
The gospel spreading thru the land, A people to prepare
To meet the Lord and Enoch’s band, Triumphant in the air.

Ye heralds, sound the golden trump To earth’s remotest bound.
Go spread the news from pole to pole In all the nations round:
That Jesus in the clouds above, With hosts of angels too,
Will soon appear, his Saints to save, His enemies subdue.

That glorious rest will then commence Which prophets did foretell,
When Saints will reign with Christ on earth, And in his presence dwell
A thousand years, oh, glorious day! Dear Lord, prepare my heart
To stand with thee on Zion’s mount And nevermore to part.
by Edward Partridge, hymn #41

3 Nephi 22
Develop kindness and mercy – two important Christ-like attributes. When we’re truly serving God, we’re promised “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” What a glorious promise!

3 Nephi 23
Although it’s better to do so immediately, it’s still okay to record important events long after they’ve transpired. The important thing is to get them recorded.

3 Nephi 24
Adversity and challenges help us prepare to be ready to meet the Lord. One way to show we love him is to pay tithing. And the blessings that come from doing so are unimaginable. Those who say it’s not profitable to serve God are liars.

3 Nephi 25
Those that fear God will be treated as “calves in the stall.” We had a stake conference speaker (I want to say it was Elder Gillespie) explain that calves in the stall were considered more special than calves in the field. They were sheltered from the storm and fed the very best hay. Wouldn’t you rather be inside than outside? And all we have to do is keep the commandments.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

3 Nephi 9-16

Week 23
3 Nephi 9
Come unto the Savior as a little child. Observe how children act – observe their honesty, candor, willingness to please, humility, eagerness to learn, etc. – and emulate those attributes.

3 Nephi 10
We have a Savior who loves us. He has gathered and nourished us, he would have many times more if we had only let him, and he will gather us in the future if we repent and come unto him.

3 Nephi 11
Note that the destruction and darkness came at the beginning of the 34th year (3 Nephi 8:5) and that Christ appears at the end of the 34th year (3 Nephi 10:18). This gave the people time to gather at the temple. How often do we meet at the temple to “converse about Jesus Christ”? God has a small voice that is not harsh, yet it can pierce us to our souls. In order to understand this voice, we must focus our attention: open our ears and look steadfastly towards the voice. Christ’s doctrine is really quite simple: repent and be baptized. He repeats this message four times and then promises us that if we center our lives on him “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [us].” He then urges us to share this message with others. Remember James 1:22 – “Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only.”

3 Nephi 12
It’s not enough to just not kill, we’re supposed to not even get angry. It’s not enough to love just our friends, we need to love our enemies as well. Just doing the minimum isn’t enough, we need to go beyond that, always striving for improvement and excellence. I’m not sure why I was reminded of this story, particularly since it has more to do with avoiding temptation (originally found in the Aaronic Priesthood manual 1 “temptation” lesson) than with striving for excellence, but I was, so read it here.

We are commanded to let others see our good works so that they may glorify God. We shouldn’t worry about being thought of as “goody-goody” by others, we should only be concerned with what God thinks of us.

Christ invites all to “come unto him” – which reminds me of a favorite song “Come Unto Christ.”

3 Nephi 13
Charity is something that we do, not just give away. Pray for the Father’s will to be done. Pray for forgiveness, and then forgive others. Pray for strength to overcome temptation. Work towards building up treasure in heaven, not on earth. When we are focused on giving glory to God, our whole beings can be filled with light, and we are able to comprehend and understand everything we need to. (See D&C 88:67.) Seek God first.

“If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.” (Howard W. Hunter, “Fear Not, Little Flock,” 14 March 1989 BYU devotional)

3 Nephi 14
Heavenly Father wants to give us good things. We need to have faith and ask. We also need to build strong foundations. Remember “The Wise Man and The Foolish Man.” “We do not live in a world where we experience nothing but the spiritual, but we can fortify our foundations of faith, our testimonies of truth, so that we will not falter, we will not fail. How, you may ask, can we most effectively gain and maintain the foundation needed to survive spiritually in the world in which we live? May I offer three guidelines to help us in our quest. Fortify your foundation through prayer, [study the scriptures and serve others].” Thomas S. Monson

3 Nephi 15
Jesus Christ is the law and the light. If we look unto him, and endure to the end, we will live.

3 Nephi 16
We gain testimonies of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father through the witness of the Holy Ghost. See D&C 42:17.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Come Unto Christ

Come unto Christ ye penitent and meek
Seek this Jesus of whom the prophets speak
Seek this Jesus whose mercies never cease
Come unto Christ, and find in him eternal peace

Come unto Christ, who bore our griefs alone
Who will carry our burdens as his own
Seek this Jesus, and by his love be blessed
Come unto Christ, and find in him eternal rest

Come unto Christ ye sorrowful and frail
Seek this Jesus whose comfort cannot fail
Seek this Jesus and triumph in his might
Come unto Christ
Come unto Christ!

Come unto Christ, abide in him and live
He will bless you with every perfect gift
Seek this Jesus amid a world of strife
Come unto Christ and find in him eternal life.

Words and music by Sally DeFord (click on MP3 link to hear the song)
Church Music Contest: Relief Society division--Award of Distinction 1995 (SSA version)

Looking for a Driver

There was a man who was looking for a stagecoach driver that could transfer his belongings quite a distance. The man had three drivers approach him for the job. He asked only one question of each of the drivers:

“How close can you drive your stagecoach to the edge of a ravine without going over?”

The first man answered confidently, “I can bring the wagon wheel within one foot of the edge, and you will be safe.”

The man let the second driver in.

“How close can you drive your stagecoach to the edge of a ravine without going over?”

The second driver answered confidently, “I can bring the wagon wheel within six inches of the edge, and you will be safe.”

The man let the third driver in.

“How close can you drive your stagecoach to the edge of a ravine without going over?”

The third driver answered confidently, “I don’t know. Whenever I drive a stagecoach, I stay as far from the edge as possible.”

Guess who got the job?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

3 Nephi 1-8

3 Nephi 1
Sometimes people talk themselves into thinking they don’t believe, when deep inside they really do. That causes problems later on!

3 Nephi 2
Forgetfulness leads to becoming less astonished at God’s miracles which then leads to hard hearts and blind minds and unbelief. That’s how Satan gets us on his side. Remember, remember!

3 Nephi 3
Gathering together is an important defense against Satan and his wicked plots.

3 Nephi 4
When we repent and pray in humility we can confidently ask God to preserve us from destruction.

3 Nephi 5
We have great knowledge given to us by God. Our responsibility is to diligently share that knowledge with others.

3 Nephi 6
Another example showing how quickly we can turn from righteousness to wickedness if we don’t make the time to remember the Lord.

3 Nephi 7
Nephi had such a strong testimony that when he shared it people had to believe him, whether they wanted to or not. What do I need to do to make my own testimony that strong?

3 Nephi 8
Darkness comes when there is no light. Our Savior provides light to the whole world.

This is Week 22 of my Book of Mormon study. As I find time I'll move the other weeks' entries to this blog. Right now they're here, with 1 Nephi 1 starting in August 2008.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gaining a Testimony

I had a hard time deciding how to start this blog. For some reason the very first post just seemed like it needed to be profound or something! So, I was very grateful when I received Brad's Christmas gift this week, because he writes the perfect "first post."

For Christmas this year, I would like to write you a story that I remember, although you probably don’t. It is the earliest memory I have of developing my own testimony of reading the scriptures daily.

I always knew it was important, because ever since I can remember we had family scripture study. I still remember reciting the books of the Bible and Book of Mormon. I also remember the technique you used to keep us quiet as Dad read every night – you would pick a word (like Jerusalem or family) and we would have to count how many times it was repeated in the chapter. That was genius!

Anyway, those are experiences I had to understand the importance of reading the scriptures. My testimony came sometime during that period of my life.

When I was eight or nine, I had to abide by several rules. (Thank you for making rules.) One rule that I remember was that I needed to be in bed with the lights off at 8:30. Another rule was that I had to read the scriptures every night before going to sleep.

One day I found myself lying in my bed with the lights off at 8:30 trying to go to sleep. I was very restless, and it wasn’t until 8:45 that I figured out why – I had forgotten to read my scriptures!!!

I was trapped! I couldn’t go to sleep because I hadn’t read my scriptures, and I couldn’t read my scriptures because I had to be in bed with the lights off. Luckily for me, the bed-time rule had 3 exceptions:
1) go to the bathroom
2) play “spy” (ask Weston and David about “Spy”)
3) ask Mom a question

So, I got out of bed, crept down the hall, and knocked on your door to explain my plight. You seemed to be very concerned and interested in my problem, and then you probably made one of the best decisions of my life. You gave me permission to read one verse from the scriptures using the bathroom light.

I ran back to my room, grabbed my triple, and went to the bathroom. I still remember what verse I read so many years ago: Article of Faith 1:1. (I chose that one because I could read it super fast, seeing as I already had it memorized.)

I turned off the bathroom light, put my scriptures in their place, and fell right to sleep, but even before my head hit the pillow, I had my very own testimony of reading the scriptures.

He's right, I don't really remember these experiences, although now they seem familiar. That's the way the Spirit works. Part of his job is to help us remember what we knew before we came to earth. And the purpose of this blog is to help me remember those thoughts that he whispers to me.