Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011: Mormon Messages: Look to the Light

This video gives the best message for this Christmas season. i love one of the last statements made. The man said that Jesus Christ gives us a chance to become better. This is the true message of Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration

In honor of the birthday of the prophet Joseph Smith, I'm posting this video about his life. It is not the entire video, but shows the most important event in his life.

Videos of the Life of the Savior

Our church has a great website offering newly made online videos of the life of the Savior. You can watch clips in succession. There is also a free mobile app available. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Message About the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

I ran across this link on facebook, and was interested to see what was written about our church. It is purported to be written by Ford Motor Company for it's employees. I can't verify that, but whoever wrote it got the facts pretty much right! Check it out!

The Ford Interfaith group promotes unity by sharing information about all faiths and features these types of articles about various religions and faiths.

QUICK FACTS & INTERESTING TIDBITS about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Fleeing continued mob attacks 158 years ago, the first Mormon
pioneers desperately started their Westward trek from Illinois in the dead of winter. Of the 70,000 who began this 1300-mile journey, 6,000 were buried along the way, including many children. The following are quick facts and interesting tidbits about this now flourishing church.

OVERVIEW

* Named “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”; informal
nicknames are “LDS” or “Mormon” -named after the prophet-historian

* Believes it is the Lord’s restoration of original Christianity as
foretold to occur before Christ’s Second Coming.

* Core focus is that Christ and His teachings bring happiness in this
life and exaltation in the next.

HISTORY

* In 1820 14-yr-old Joseph Smith told of a vision of God and Christ
foretelling a church restoration.

* Organized in New York in 1830, the church moved to near Cleveland, then near Kansas City, then Illinois .

* Fleeing Illinois , Mormon pioneers founded Salt Lake City in Utah and over 600 other Western communities.

SALT LAKE CITY

* Temple Square in Salt Lake has over 5 million annual visitors, more
than the Grand Canyon .

* The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is the world’s most famous choir and has the world’s oldest radio program.

* The Salt Lake Temple is the most famous, but there are 128 other
temples built here and around the world while
others are under construction.

* Home of the world’s largest genealogy database; visit it online or
through 3,700 free branch libraries.

ACTIVE CONGREGATIONS

* Sunday services entail a three-hour block of three meetings; about
27,000 congregations exist worldwide.

* Highly vibrant programs exist for youth, children, singles, men, and women; very strong family focus.

* Everyone has a calling; some surveys show LDS have the highest U.S. attendance and service rates.

* Families receive personal fellowship visits at home from other members on a monthly basis.

FINANCES

* Members tithe 10 percent, plus donate generously to the needy the first Sunday of each month.

* Clergy and all other congregational positions are unpaid (however, much of the janitorial is paid).

* The church has no debt; all buildings are paid for in cash (average of two new congregations a day).

* The paid positions in Salt Lake are famously low-salaried; funds are frugally used and tightly audited.

HEALTH CODE

* With a health code from 1833, LDS avoid alcohol, tobacco, illegal
drugs, coffee, and tea (herbal tea is ok).

* This 1833 code also teaches grains (especially wheat), fresh fruits and vegetables, and sparing use of meat.

* A UCLA study showed that active LDS live longer than most Americans, men by 11 years, women by 8.

* Utah is 50th in smoking, alcohol consumption, drunk driving, heart disease, cancer, and sick days.

EDUCATION

* With four colleges, Utah ‘s BYU with 30,000 students is the largest
single-campus private college.

* BYU Independent Study with 130,000 students is North America (340 web courses, 530 via mail).

* Seminary, a daily class usually held around 6:00 A.M., serves 376,000 high school students.

* There are Institutes of Religion at 1,950 colleges worldwide that serve 367,000 college students.

* The church operates schools in parts of the Pacific Ocean and Mexico for 10,000 students.

* Utah is 50th in spending per pupil, but first in adults that graduated from high school and attended college.

WOMEN

* In 1842 the “Relief Society” was organized; it’s the largest women’s
organization in the world.

* Wyoming was first to allow women to vote; Utah was second, two months later, in 1870.

* Women preach from the pulpit and serve as organization presidents, teachers, committee chairs, etc.

SHARING CHRIST’S GOOD NEWS

* 61,000 missionaries serve in 165 countries; 93 percent are college-age; 22 percent are female.

* Unpaid and paying their own way, most work 65 hours a week for two years, often in a new language.

MEMBERSHIP DISTRIBUTION

* LDS are 70 percent of Utah, 30 percent of Idaho; after Catholics, LDS are the largest sect in 10 states.

* The church has 5.5 million members in the U.S., making it the fourth largest individual U.S. denomination.

* Some memberships: New Zealand 95k, Japan 115k, UK 175k, Philippines 500k, Brazil 900k, Mexico 925k.

* Worldwide 51 percent are female; about 55 percent are not Caucasian; about 70 percent are converts.

MEMBERSHIP GROWTH

* For the last 15 years, every day an average of 800+ people worldwide joined the LDS church.

* Half of the growth is in Latin America, but the rate of growth is
highest in Africa and the former Soviet bloc.

* Worldwide membership just passed 12 million, a tenfold increase in 50 years.

* In 1984 a non-LDS professor estimated 265 million members by 2080; so far growth has been faster.

* As this growth has been steady, it will be the next major world religion since Islam.”

CHARITY/SERVICE

* Members in need obtain welfare from the LDS Church (thus Utah
government welfare spending is very low).

* LDS donate time at 220 welfare storehouses or canneries and about 400 farms.

* There are 210 employment centers placing over 175,000 people annually, and 64 family service centers.

* The church operates 46 thrift stores, in part to provide employment for the disadvantaged.

* The 61,000 missionaries spend half a day each week doing

HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE

* Over 200 million pounds of food, clothing, and medicine were donated in the last 20 years in 147 countries.

* Almost all of this help is to non-LDS; LDS charities also work with and donate to many non-LDS charities.

* Very rapid disaster relief has been given in 144 major disasters since 1986.

* Almost 3,000 welfare “missionaries” work without pay in 55 countries (farm instructors, doctors, teachers, etc…).

* LDS charities fund a wide variety of projects like drilling water wells or funding small business startup loans.

* New in 2001, members in poor areas can get low-rate college loans;
10,000 loans have been made to date.

GRAB BAG

* Utah is first in: charitable giving, producing scientists, household computers, children with two parents, and birth rate.

* Noted LDS included five senators, and other famous dignitaries
(click on link)
the Osmonds, Gladys Knight, Steve
Young, and the inventor of TV -Philo T. Farnsworth.

* LDS played a key role in the 2002 Winter Olympics; the chair was the former governor of Massachusetts .

* Hawaii ‘s #1 tourist site is the LDS Polynesian Cultural Center ( Tonga and the Samoas are one-third LDS).

* LDS have sponsored Boy Scout troops since 1913; 23 percent of all Scout troops are LDS.

* The BYU Women’s Cross Country were national champions or in second place each of the last seven years.

DETROIT AREA

* The Detroit metro area has 30 congregations; the Dearborn chapel is on Rotunda by Ford’s Building #5.

* Detroit has a temple, storehouse, cannery, employment and family
service office, and family history libraries.

* LDS include former Governor Romney, three former Lions quarterbacks,
and hundreds of Ford employees.

A member of Ford’s Interfaith Network,
the author of this note sends out monthly interfaith notes to thousands of Ford employees who have asked to receive them.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pres. Monson's Christmas Address

Pres. Monson gives us a good reminder to not get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, but to focus on celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Mormon Messages: A Gift to the World

I love this wonderful new video portraying the birth of our Savior! This was shown at the recent "First Presidency Christmas Devotional".

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quote of the Day: Elder Robert D. Hales


Elder Robert D. Hales, of the Quorum of the twelve apostles:

“In some quiet way, the expression and feelings of gratitude have a wonderful cleansing or healing nature. Gratitude brings warmth to the giver and the receiver alike. Gratitude, expressed to our Heavenly Father in prayer for what we have, brings a calming peace, a peace which allows us to not canker our souls for what we don’t have. Gratitude brings a peace that helps us overcome the pain of adversity and failure. Gratitude on a daily basis means we express appreciation for what we have now without qualification for what we had in the past or desire in the future.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Conference Messages: Redemption


by LEGRAND R. CURTIS JR., of the seventy

"There are various names by which reference is made to the Lord Jesus Christ. These names give us insight into different aspects of the Lord’s atoning mission. Take, for example, the title “Savior.” We all have a sense of what it means to be saved because each of us has been saved at some time from something. As children, my sister and I were playing in a river in a small boat when we unwisely left the safe area of play and found ourselves being propelled by the current to unknown perils downstream. In response to our cries, our father ran to the rescue, saving us from the dangers of the river. When I think of saving, I think of that experience.

The title “Redeemer” provides similar insights. “To redeem” is to buy or to buy back. As a legal matter, property is redeemed by paying off the mortgages or other liens on it. In Old Testament times, the law of Moses provided different ways that servants and property could be freed, or redeemed, by the payment of money (see Leviticus 25:29–32, 48–55).

A prominent scriptural use of the word redeem concerns the delivery of the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt. After that deliverance, Moses told them, “Because the Lord loved you, … hath [He] brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:8).

The theme of Jehovah redeeming the people of Israel from bondage is repeated many times in the scriptures. Often this is done to remind the people of the Lord’s goodness in delivering the children of Israel from the Egyptians. But it is also done to teach them that there would be another, more important, redemption for Israel. Lehi taught, “And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall” (2 Nephi 2:26).

The Psalmist wrote, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave” (Psalm 49:15).

The Lord declared through Isaiah, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:22).

The redemption referred to in these three scriptures, of course, is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is the “plenteous redemption” provided by our loving God (Psalm 130:7). Unlike the redemptions under the law of Moses or in modern legal arrangements, this redemption does not come by “corruptible things, as silver and gold” (1 Peter 1:18). “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). President John Taylor taught that because of the Redeemer’s sacrifice, “the debt is paid, the redemption made, the covenant fulfilled, justice satisfied, the will of God done, and all power is … given into the hands of the Son of God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor [2001], 44).

The effects of this redemption include the overcoming of physical death for all of God’s children. That is, temporal death is overcome, and all will be resurrected. Another aspect of this redemption by Christ is the victory over spiritual death. Through His suffering and death, Christ paid for the sins of all mankind on condition of individual repentance.

Thus, if we repent, we can be forgiven of our sins, the price having been paid by our Redeemer. This is good news for all of us, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Those who have strayed significantly from the paths of righteousness desperately need this redemption, and if they fully repent, it is theirs to claim. But those who have worked hard to live good lives also desperately need this redemption, for none can get to the presence of the Father without Christ’s help. Thus, this loving redemption allows the laws of justice and mercy to be satisfied in the lives of all who repent and follow Christ.

How great, how glorious, how complete,
Redemption’s grand design,
Where justice, love, and mercy meet
In harmony divine!
(“How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Hymns, no. 195)
President Boyd K. Packer taught, “There is a Redeemer, a Mediator, who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent” (“The Mediator,” Ensign, May 1977, 56).

The scriptures, literature, and the experiences of life are filled with stories of redemption. Through Christ, people can and do change their lives and obtain redemption. I love stories of redemption.

I have a friend who did not follow the teachings of the Church in his youth. When he was a young adult, he realized what he had been missing by not living the gospel. He repented, changed his life, and devoted himself to righteous living. One day, years after our youthful association, I met him in the temple. The gospel light shone in his eyes, and I sensed that he was a devoted member of the Church trying to fully live the gospel. His is a story of redemption.

I once interviewed a woman for baptism who had been guilty of a very grievous sin. During the interview I asked if she understood that she could never repeat that sin. With deep emotion in her eyes and in her voice, she said, “Oh President, I could never do that sin again. That is the reason I want to be baptized—to cleanse me from the effects of that terrible sin.” Hers is a story of redemption.

As I have visited stake conferences and other meetings in recent years, I have carried President Thomas S. Monson’s call to rescue the less-active members of the Church. At one stake conference I told a story of a less-active member who returned to full activity after his bishop and other leaders visited him in his home, told him he was needed, and called him to serve in the ward. The man in the story not only accepted the call but also changed his life and habits and became fully active in the Church.

A friend of mine was in the congregation to which I told that story. His countenance visibly changed as the story was told. He sent me an e-mail the next day telling me that his emotional reaction to the story was because his father-in-law’s story of returning to activity in the Church was very similar to the one that I had told. He told me that as a result of a similar visit by a bishop and an invitation to serve in the Church, his father-in-law reevaluated his life and his testimony, made major changes in his life, and accepted the call. That reactivated man now has 88 descendants who are active members of the Church.

At a meeting a few days later, I told both stories. The next day I received another e-mail which began, “That’s my father’s story too.” That e-mail, from a stake president, told how his father was invited to serve in the Church even though he had not been active and had some habits that needed changing. He accepted the invitation and, in the process, repented, eventually served as a stake president and then a mission president, and laid the foundation for his posterity to be faithful members of the Church.

A few weeks later I told all three stories in another stake conference. After the meeting a man came to me and told me that that was not his father’s story. It was his story. He told me of the events that led him to repent and come back to full involvement in the Church. And so it went. As I carried the call to rescue the less active, I saw and heard story after story of people who responded to invitations to come back and change their lives. I heard story after story of redemption.

Although we can never repay the Redeemer what He paid on our behalf, the plan of redemption calls for our best efforts to fully repent and do the will of God. The Apostle Orson F. Whitney wrote:

Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.
Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.
(“Savior, Redeemer of My Soul,” Hymns, no. 112)
I bear my testimony of the power of Christ’s Atonement. When we repent and come to Him, we can receive all of the blessings of eternal life. That we may do so, receiving our own story of redemption, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mormon Messages: Men's Hearts Shall Fail Them

What a wonderful peace that comes from this message!

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On the Right Hand of God

Throughout the scriptures, we often hear the term "sitting on the right hand of God". Besides the obvious location, what does this phrase mean? Why would someone wish to be on the right hand of God, as opposed to the left hand?

First let's look at several instances where this phrase is used. I'm going to list several accounts:

STEPHEN
This account takes place just before Stephen was stoned to death:

"But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the righthand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Acts 7:55,56

THE TWELVE APOSTLES
We have this account as witnessed by the twelve apostles, that happened after the resurrected Christ appeared to the twelve:

"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." Mark 16:19

JESUS CHRIST

"When the Chief priests and scribes had Jesus brought before them, before having him crucified, Jesus testified to them:

"Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God." Luke 22;69

So what special significance does the "right hand of God" hold? We get a clue in Matt. 25:31-33

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left."

As we read here, those who have found favor with God will find a place of honor on His right side, while those who have not, will be found on the left. The "righthand" is a place of honor. The Book of Mormon gives more explanation about this:

"...I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ." Mosiah 5:8,9

I hope that I can live so that I will be found on the right hand of God in the hereafter. That is the place where the Savior will be. That is the place, as pointed out in Alma 28:12, where we will find happiness.

"While many thousands of others truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Fulness of the Gospel

In a church meeting last evening, the speaker told about a conversation he had with a minister of another church. They were traveling by plane to the East coast, and had several hours to talk before their plane landed. This speaker told about some of the gospel doctrine they discussed during their flight.

I was struck by one particular part of their conversation. This speaker said that the minister asked him if he believed in the "Trinity". He said, "Well, I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I believe they are three distinct personages. Does that qualify me to believe in the "Trinity"?" The Minister explained that he believed that those three were one being. As they talked, our church member said something like, "Well now, you must admit that the doctrine of three in one is not supported by the New Testament." The Minister said, "That is true, but it is a teaching set forth in the Nicene creed, and it is accepted doctrine in the Christian world today. It is the accepted interpretation of the scriptures."

I have thought a lot about this statement in the hours that followed the meeting. My mind was taken back to the account of Joseph Smith's first vision. Joseph Smith, a mere 14 year old boy, went to a grove of trees to pray and ask God which church he should join. In response to his prayer, God the Father, and Jesus Christ appeared to him. Joseph was told that he should join none of the churches. In his account of this experience Joseph related, "My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History 1:18,19)

This passage has come to me many times over the past hours, and it has struck me that so many churches base their beliefs upon those creeds set forth in years past. Those creeds were made by mortal men, who discussed the Bible, and then came up with their interpretations of it. In ancient Bible times, men would have turned to the prophet for these kinds of interpretations. The Prophet would have, in turn, prayed to God for understanding and revelation. But we don't usually see prophets in the world today. Instead, much of the Christian world relies upon the opinion of those men, as well as that of the ancient philosophers. Most clergy who study theology in college today must study the writings of philosophers in order to be accepted in to the ministry. But as Joseph Smith learned, these are the "precepts of men", having a "form of godliness", but they deny the power thereof.

How could these creeds deny the power of God? I think one of the basic ways they deny the power of God is that these creeds do not allow for modern revelation. They do not allow for living prophets. Surely, these are ways that the power of God is manifest in modern times. To deny the existence of revelation, and the validity of it, is to deny God's power.

They say that revelation no longer exists. They say that there is no more need for prophets. They believe that there is no more need for apostles. But this is not the doctrine taught in the New Testament. In Ephesians chapter two we read, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" (Ephesians 2:19,20) The New Testament clearly speaks about the need for a foundation in the church built upon apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone, but when we in our church teach that we have those apostles and prophets, and that Jesus Christ leads this church, they tell us that these things no longer exist in the world.

Joseph Smith died as a martyr for his testimony. He testified to the world that he indeed had spoken with God. He translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. He sealed that testimony with his blood. He never became rich from his preaching. He suffered persecution continually. He was tarred and feathered, and he and his family were driven from their homes. Many times he was unlawfully arrested and imprisoned. Through him the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth in fulfillment of the prophecies of old. In Acts we read about that restoration of the gospel:
"And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts: 3:20,21) This scripture is telling us that Jesus Christ was received back in to heaven until the time of the restitution of all things. What would need to be restored? Joseph Smith testified that the fulness of the gospel needed to be restored, and it was through him, a prophet of God, that this was accomplished. The time when the gospel would be restored in it's fulness was referred to in the Bible as the "dispensation of the fulness of times". "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:" (Eph. 1:10)

We are blessed to live in that fullness of times. The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. Truths that were omitted from the Bible during it's translation, and doctrine which was misunderstood when forming creeds, have been restored today. There is a living prophet, with twelve apostles to assist him guiding the church in these latter days. Jesus Christ is leading this church, and is that chief cornerstone. The church continues to grow, and will do so until it fills the earth. We need not rely on the philosphies of men, but can learn truth from a living prophet of God.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Conference Messages: The Power of Scriptures

“Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life… only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation.” Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson:

Quote of the Day: Orson F. Whitney

Elder Orson F. Whitney:
“You parents of the wilful and the wayward! Don’t give them up. Don’t cast them off. They are not utterly lost. The Shepherd will find his sheep. They were his before they were yours—long before he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as he loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right, [but] God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fulness of knowledge brings the fulness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, p. 110).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book of Mormon Sampler: Alma 33:3-11

I love this passage that not only teaches us that we can pray to God wherever we may be, and for all our needs, but also is a great thanksgiving scripture that shows the goodness of God in answering our prayers.

3 Do ye remember to have read what Zenos, the prophet of old, has said concerning prayer or worship?

4 For he said: Thou art merciful, O God, for thou hast heard my prayer, even when I was in the wilderness; yea, thou wast merciful when I prayed concerning those who were mine enemies, and thou didst turn them to me.

5 Yea, O God, and thou wast merciful unto me when I did cry unto thee in my field; when I did cry unto thee in my prayer, and thou didst hear me.

6 And again, O God, when I did turn to my house thou didst hear me in my prayer.

7 And when I did turn unto my closet, O Lord, and prayed unto thee, thou didst hear me.

8 Yea, thou art merciful unto thy children when they cry unto thee, to be heard of thee and not of men, and thou wilt hear them.

9 Yea, O God, thou hast been merciful unto me, and heard my cries in the midst of thy congregations.

10 Yea, and thou hast also heard me when I have been cast out and have been despised by mine enemies; yea, thou didst hear my cries, and wast angry with mine enemies, and thou didst visit them in thine anger with speedy destruction.

11 And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Conference Messages: The Power of Scriptures

Elder Richard G. Scott
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Those of us who come to this pulpit during conference feel the power of your prayers. We need them, and we thank you for them.Our Father in Heaven understood that for us to make desired progress during our mortal probation, we would need to face difficult challenges. Some of these would be almost overpowering. He provided tools to help us be successful in our mortal probation. One set of those tools is the scriptures.Throughout the ages, Father in Heaven has inspired select men and women to find, through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, solutions to life’s most perplexing problems. He has inspired those authorized servants to record those solutions as a type of handbook for those of His children who have faith in His plan of happiness and in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. We have ready access to this guidance through the treasure we call the standard works—that is, the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.Because scriptures are generated from inspired communication through the Holy Ghost, they are pure truth. We need not be concerned about the validity of concepts contained in the standard works since the Holy Ghost has been the instrument which has motivated and inspired those individuals who have recorded the scriptures.Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high. They can become the key to open the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.The scriptures provide the strength of authority to our declarations when they are cited correctly. They can become stalwart friends that are not limited by geography or calendar. They are always available when needed. Their use provides a foundation of truth that can be awakened by the Holy Ghost. Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world.Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change. For example, committing to memory this psalm has been for me a source of power and understanding:“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.“For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.“He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalm 24:1–5).Pondering a scripture like that gives great direction to life. The scriptures can form a foundation of support. They can provide an incredibly large resource of willing friends who can help us. A memorized scripture becomes an enduring friend that is not weakened with the passage of time.Pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate physical healing.Scriptures can communicate different meanings at different times in our life, according to our needs. A scripture that we may have read many times can take on nuances of meaning that are refreshing and insightful when we face a new challenge in life.How do you personally use the scriptures? Do you mark your copy? Do you put notes in the margin to remember a moment of spiritual guidance or an experience that has taught you a profound lesson? Do you use all of the standard works, including the Old Testament? I have found precious truths in the pages of the Old Testament that are key ingredients to the platform of truth that guides my life and acts as a resource when I try to share a gospel message with others. For that reason, I love the Old Testament. I find precious jewels of truth spread throughout its pages. For example:“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. …“My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:“For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” (Proverbs 3:5–7, 11–13).The New Testament is also a source of diamond truth:“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.“This is the first and great commandment.“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37–40).“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.“And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.“And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. …“But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.“And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.“And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.“And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.“And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.“And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:31–34, 56–62).How my heart aches for what happened to Peter on that occasion.This scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants has blessed my life richly: “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men” (D&C 11:21).In my judgment, the Book of Mormon teaches truth with unique clarity and power. For example:“And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.“And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works” (Alma 7:23–24).And another:“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure” (Moroni 7:45–48).My precious wife, Jeanene, loved the Book of Mormon. In her youth, as a teenager, it became the foundation of her life. It was a source of testimony and teaching during her full-time missionary service in the northwest United States. When we served in the mission field in C√≥rdoba, Argentina, she strongly encouraged the use of the Book of Mormon in our proselytizing efforts. Jeanene confirmed early in her life that those who consistently read the Book of Mormon are blessed with an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a greater resolve to obey His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the divinity of the Son of God.1 For I don’t know how many years, as the end of the year approached, I would see her sitting quietly, carefully finishing the entire Book of Mormon yet another time before year’s end.In 1991 I wanted to give a special Christmas gift to my family. In recording the fulfillment of that desire, my personal journal states: “It is 12:38 p.m., Wednesday, December 18, 1991. I’ve just concluded an audio recording of the Book of Mormon for my family. This has been an experience that has increased my testimony of this divine work and strengthened in me a desire to be more familiar with its pages to distill from these scriptures truths to be used in my service to the Lord. I love this book. I testify with my soul that it is true, that it was prepared for the blessing of the House of Israel, and all of its component parts spread throughout the world. All who will study its message in humility, in faith believing in Jesus Christ, will know of its truthfulness and will find a treasure to lead them to greater happiness, peace, and attainment in this life. I testify by all that is sacred, this book is true.”May each of us avail ourselves of the wealth of blessings that result from scripture study, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.