Understanding Virtue: A Scripture Chain

In my ward, we are doing a Book of Mormon Summer reading challenge. This will help the young women to complete their value project for virtue: to read the Book of Mormon. The challenge is to read the Book of Mormon in 70 days – during the summer. (It is roughly 7.5 pages a day).

I’m going to start my summer reading challenge tomorrow. Today, I wanted to figure out what to study as I read the Book of Mormon. So…I’m thinking about the Virtue value project. I’m struck by the following question:

“What did He and those who followed Him do to live virtuous lives?” – from Virtue, Personal Progress Value Experience

And I think that’s what I want to study/learn about

Virtue!!!

Virtue!!!

Personally, I feel like we have a pretty limited understanding of virtue. I think that many of us feel like virtue means chastity. If so, then why not simply call it chastity? Maybe then we’ll elaborate and say, “Purity.” Still. Virtue is not really interchangeable for either chastity or purity. Sure, virtue includes chastity and purity, but I really think that it is that and more.

Here is a quick scripture chain that might help to shed a little light on virtue.

Proverbs 31:10

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” – Proverbs 31:1

This is the “virtue” scripture that usually comes to mind. It seems nice. I don’t know. We might have some stereotypes or even wrong impressions about this scripture. This isn’t a scripture that describes a woman who is quiet and appeased by a bunch of gems. This isn’t a scripture that describes a woman who is property that can be bought.

The rest of 31 describes the many “virtues” of this virtuous woman. They include:

  • She is trustworthy.
  • She does good – especially within the context of her marriage.
  • She works with her hands.
  • She brings food. She physically nourishes her family.
  • She wakes up early and takes care of her stewardship.
  • She is a wise investor.
  • She is a gardener – or creator.
  • She is a hard worker.
  • She knows that her merchandise is good. She is confident.
  • She has many skills – she is knowledgable.
  • She is charitable to the poor.
  • She is not afraid or helpless.
  • She provides well for her household.
  • She is elegant.
  • She causes her household to be elegant as well.
  • She brings fame and honor to her husband because of her many strengths.
  • She is strong.
  • She is honorable.
  • She is wise.
  • She is kind.
  • She is not idle.
  • She is a mother.
  • She is prolific in good works (of all kinds).
  • She fears the Lord.
  • She is praised.

All of these items in this list are ways that this woman is virtuous. You could say it another way – she is powerful. Her purity and chastity are part of what makes her virtuous, but she is more than that, too. She gets stuff done. I want to be like her, you know?!

Really look through this list with an open heart and mind. Today, we’d call the virtuous woman a “super-woman,” perhaps. She has a lot going on, for sure, but these things are all achievable – not all at once, but over time. (That’s nearly always the way). We can become wise, elegant, chaste, charitable, honorable, and strong. We don’t have to throw all of the balls in the air and do them at once. We have a lifetime to develop these qualities. And, while we’re striving, I believe we can consider ourselves to be virtuous women.

Doctrine and Covenants 121:45

“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.” – Doctrine and Covenants 121:45

Now, lest you think that the charge to be virtuous only applies to women, here is an example where men are told to be virtuous, too.

Throughout verses 41-46, the Lord instructs Joseph Smith on the use of the Priesthood. In verse 39, the Lord warns Joseph of the nature of most men in regards to the Priesthood and to power, in general:

“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” – Doctrine and Covenants 121:39

So – the Lord then tutors Joseph Smith on how to be a man who righteously bears the Priesthood of God. Since we made a list for the ladies, we’ll make a list for the men.

  • Not power hungry
  • Long-suffering
  • gentle
  • meek
  • loving to others – unconditionally
  • kind
  • exhibiting pure knowledge
  • without hypocrisy
  • without guile
  • reproving – which means GENTLE CORRECTION
  • sharp – exact and quick – so the dude who reproves with sharpness will correct gently with exactness. He won’t do a “hack job” of it. “Reproving at times with sharpness” doesn’t mean being a bully. Quite the opposite.
  • guided by the Holy Ghost
  • loving, especially to those whom he has gently corrected
  • knows that “faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”
  • bowels are full of charity
  • virtue garnishes his thoughts at all times – his mind is pure and chaste which makes it poweful
  • confident in God
  • gains an understanding of the doctrine of the Priesthood
  • has the Holy Ghost as a constant companion
  • righteous
  • a father

So – men also have high standards. Both men and women are expected to be not only virtuous, but to strive to be the best people that they can be. We are all expected to be not only pure and chaste, but also motivated by faith and filled with charity. This enables us to be empowered by God.

Virtue figures into this greatly. I think that virtue is not only a commitment to be righteous (pure and chaste), but it becomes a well of power within us.

Luke 6:19

“And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.” – Luke 6:19

This scripture is about Christ – when He healed some people “vexed with unclean Spirits.” I find this use of the word “virtue” particularly interesting because it challenges our modern notion of virtue.

Here, we wouldn’t describe Christ’s virtue as “chastity.” It is something else. It is a power to heal others.

His healing power is described as virtue also when the woman touches His hem and is healed:

“And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” – Luke 8:46

Christ was traveling in a throng of people. Undoubtedly many were touching Him. But only one was healed, and when that healing took place, He could feel his power being physically transferred to this woman.

There is a connection between virtue and power.

We will study one final example like this.

Alma 31:5

“And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.” – Alma 31:5, emphasis added.

God’s word, as Alma knew, was virtuous. Not only does virtue, in this context, mean pure, righteous or chaste, we learn that virtue is a power that is stronger than the sword.

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Now that we have studied these verses, I think that we can make better sense of virtue. Virtue is power that is rooted in righteousness and purity. It’s power comes from our decision to be righteous, chaste, and made pure through the Atonement of Christ. So, virtue is definitely related to chastity and purity, but it is a little bit more than that!!! Virtue is a source of power.

Virtue is not a power of force. It is not a power of material wealth. It is a power that surpasses the understanding of this world. Virtue is a power that can enable us to heal, to nourish, to strengthen, and to provide. Virtue is a power that is rooted in our Savior and can only be accessed when we are doing what we can to be like Him.

Really, virtue is pretty awesome. So I will agree with the proverb. The price of a virtuous woman is far above rubies. The price of a virtuous man is far above titanium.

I want to develop this quality.

Okay, I’ll end with one last scripture – because it is applicable and might give us a hint on how to develop virtue for ourselves.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:38-40

“And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.

All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.

For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things. – Doctrine and Covenants 88:38-40

So – if we want to have virtue, then we have to identify that it is built upon laws and principles. Virtue is only built upon the very highest principles of righteousness.

Additionally, if we want to be virtuous, then we must learn to love virtue. I have a feeling it is one of those qualities that continues to add to itself as we continue to progress and apply the Atonement in our lives.

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What are your thoughts on virtue? Do you think it is an outdated stereotype or a source of strength and power? How can you work to develop virtue in your life?

Having an Eye of Faith – Scripture Chain

I’m intrigued by the concept of having an eye of faith. I think that it interests me so much because it has been hard for me to develop, yet I know that in many facets of our lives, visualizing ourselves accomplishing our goals will help us to see them through.

Can you imagine yourself reaching your goal – whether it is losing weight, getting a certain job, writing a novel, winning a golf tournament – do you see yourself obtaining that which you are working for? Chances are, if you can’t visualize it, then you won’t be able to accomplish it.

This concept holds true for obtaining eternal life. The Lord asks us to develop an eye of faith. Doing so will help us to achieve our ultimate goal of eternal life.

So – here’s the scripture chain.

Matthew 6:22 – Look to God

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” – Matthew 6:22
Notice, especially, the footnotes for the word “single”:
1. This is a Greek Idiom for healthy, sincere, without guile.
2. JST explains that the phrase “to the glory of God” should proceed included.

This scripture teaches us what we should be envisioning with our eye of faith: our eye needs to be single – to the glory of God, then our whole body will be full of light. This is the vision we must see with our eye of faith. Then we will be blessed.

The Lord doesn’t ask us to imagine ourselves keeping the commandments. He doesn’t ask us to imagine ourselves getting some kind of calling or even making a covenant. He tells us to envision His glory. It is the glory of God that will fill our souls with light and enable us to achieve our goal. Of course we need to keep the commandments and make covenants, but that should not be the focus of our eye of faith.

This makes sense to me. Sometimes, I forget to think of the glory of God. I forget about His power and mercy. I forget about His love and grace. Instead, I begin to focus too much on my flaws, then I get overwhelmed by the idea of perfection. I become discouraged and distracted. If we focus, instead, on the glory of the Lord, then our beings will be filled with light and hope. He will help us overcome our natural weakness and flaws. We will be able to see through to the time when our eye of faith is realized.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:68 – Be Sanctified

“Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.” – Doctrine and Covenants 88:68

Here we learn that in order to have our minds become single to God, then we need to sanctify ourselves. To be sanctified means to be made pure. This happens as we repent, are cleansed in the waters of baptism, and continually work to keep the commandments and renew our covenants. As we keep our eye on God and work to become more like Him by being sanctified, then there will be a time when we do see him.

If we think of this scripture on very practical terms – as far as having an eye of faith concerning other goals – then I think that we apply this scripture to mean that we need to do what it takes to achieve our goal. If the goal is to run a marathon, for example, we can’t simply imagine ourselves crossing the finish line. We must also “sanctify” ourselves, by waking up early, running, eating right, signing up for the marathon, and logging in the miles. As we do this, not only are we are better able to keep our eyes on the ultimate prize: of crossing the finish line, but we will actually do it, too!

Acts 7:55-56 – Look Steadfastly

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” – Acts 7:55-56

This scripture is part of the account of Saint Stephen. Notice the phrase in the quoted verses, “[he] looked up steadfastly into heaven.” Stephen was steadfast in his vision. I have a feeling that Stephen spent his entire life looking to Heaven. He didn’t happen to finally have an eye of faith at the end of His life. Stephen had looked to heaven, steadfastly, for a long time and eventually saw – literally – what he had seen with his spiritual eyes for so long.

Not only do we have to look, and be sanctified, but we have to be steadfast. We have to maintain an eye of faith even when the vision we have seems completely impossible.

Doctrine and Covenants 101:38 – Seek the Lord

“And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.” – Doctrine and Covenants 101:38

Here we learn that sometimes we’ll have to seek the face of the Lord, and we may even need to be patient.

I forget this so much. It isn’t that the Lord’s face is hard to find, but it can be when I’m not being spiritually tuned into Him. When I really think about it, the Face of the Lord can be seen in everything around me. Have I ever mentioned how beautiful it is where I live?

This is where I live!

A few nights ago, I was busy in my house, getting ready for dinner, etc, when I happened to notice the sunset. Sunsets in Arizona are pretty much amazing. I decided to turn off the stove for a minute so I could go outside and enjoy the winds, the oncoming monsoon, and the amazing sunset.

I realized how often I go without taking much notice of the world around me – because I’m so focused on what is happening before my eyes. I don’t always seek the beauty of the world around me. I don’t always seek the face of the Lord in His creations and my blessings. So often, my little pathetic life is getting in the way of the bigger picture I need to have.

We may know that we need to have an eye of faith and look to the Glory of God, but there are times when this “vision” isn’t so apparent. We may need to seek His glory. Often, seeking Him isn’t so difficult – it is just a matter of turning down the distractions. No matter how you do it, we need to seek. If we do, we will find Him.

Alma 36:22, 28 – Reaching our Goal

“Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.

And I know that he will raise me up at the last day, to dwell with him in glory; yea, and I will praise him forever,…” – Alma 36:22, 28

In this final scripture, Alma (the younger) is teaching his son shortly before His departure from mortality. He relates the experience of his conversion to his son, Helaman. He had endured the pains of his own sins, then he felt the joy of repentance. After repenting, Alma caught a glimpse – of God sitting on his throne, the beauty of the angels praising and singing. Alma longed to be there.

This vision became the picture Alma saw in his eye of faith.

We can study Alma’s life after his conversion. He spent his time devoted to the Lord. He was sanctified through keeping the commandments and making and keeping covenants. He was steadfast and didn’t waver once he had covenanted with God. He sought the Lord diligently and with patience through prayer and fasting. Because of Alma’s eye of faith, he was, eventually, able to know that he would be able to go where his soul longed to be.

How do you keep an eye of faith? How has having an eye of faith helped you to get through trials and difficulties in life? What are your favorite scriptures that teach us about having an eye of faith?

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Read this blog post for more information on marking scripture chains in your scriptures.
or
Check out my free eBook Getting More from the Scriptures: Techniques and Projects for Effective Scripture Study.

Easter Scripture Study – Gethsemane (A Scripture Chain)

For today’s scripture study assignment, I thought that it would be nice to do something a little different. Instead of studying only the scriptures recounting Christ’s experience at Gethsemane, I thought it would also be cool to read a few other scriptures of the prophecies and testimonies of Christ’s time in Gethsemane. It really helps us to understand the magnitude and mercy of this event.

The Garden of Gethsemane (from lds.org)

Find the Easter Scripture Study Series here.

Scripture One – Mark 14:32-39

“And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.

And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;

And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.

And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.” – Mark 14:32-39

Here, the Lord begins His work at Gethsemane. He takes Peter, James, and John. It seems like everyone is feeling a little bit heavy and depressed. Some of the apostles are doubting Christ’s Messiahship. I can understand why…they probably thought he was going to save them physically – not in the way that He did. Even though we have the advantage of seeing the Atonement from hindsight – with all of the teachings of the prophets – it is still really hard to comprehend.

Jesus is burdened by the pains of our sins, sicknesses, weaknesses, and infirmities. He was downtrodden by the mortal experience while in the Garden. I can’t imagine it. While Christ suffers, He asks that His cup be taken away from Him – that He wouldn’t have to continue on suffering and going through with the atonement.
Two things: 1. The difficulty of this event was so horrible that even Christ, the Literal Son of God didn’t want to do it.
2. It is okay to ask to be relieved from our trials. Christ asked. Of course, he added the caveat: nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt. So – He had faith to go through with what the Father’s will was. I like this because it is important to know that it is okay for me to pray to be relieved from difficulty and trial. Even the Savior did.

Scripture Two – Luke 22:41-46

“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,

And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” – Luke 22:41-46

Again, a record of the Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane. In this account, we also learned that Christ was suffering so much that His sweat was like drops of blood…horrible. Yet, as we know, He sought help. The Savior, the Son of God, the One who could control the elements, The Creator of This earth prayed. When completing the atonement, Christ didn’t walk on water or turn water into wine. He simply prayed. His prayer enabled Him to finish this work. Oh, How praying rests the weary!I usually underestimate the power of prayer.

Scripture Three – Mosiah 3:7

And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.” – Mosiah 3:7

The Lord is acquainted with our temptations, pain, hunger, thirst, and fatigue. In some ways, this is the most comforting knowledge that I have about the Savior. What kind of Savior would He be if He didn’t understand what it was like to be tempted, hurt, or hungry? I can’t imagine trusting a Lord that didn’t know what it was like to be tired.

As sad as it is to see the Savior suffer in this way, I’m so grateful that He did.
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Scripture Four – Doctrine and Covenants 19:18

“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—” – Doctrine and Covenants 19:18

This is just such a good scripture. It is Christ recounting what His experience was like. This scripture is one of the reasons I always feel inspired to repent – even when repentance is hard, I know that it is nothing in compared to suffering for a committed sin.

Scripture Five – Isaiah 53:4-5

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:4-5

Instead of writing something, I encourage you to listen to this:

Scripture Six – Alma 7:11-12

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” – Alma 7:11-12

This is one of my favorite scriptures about the Savior, His suffering in Gethsemane, and the way we benefit from It.

We see what he went through, and then Alma teaches us why: “…that He may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

Succor = to run to support.

I have experienced this support from my Savior. Even if I haven’t been relieved of some of the pains that I have had to experience, I have been comforted by Christ. And He is able to succor us perfectly because he understands us perfectly. I know that Jesus Christ loves each of us. It is difficult for me to imagine the atonement. It hurts my brain. For me, thinking about the power of the atonement is not unlike thinking about space…I’m overwhelmed by how amazing it is and how small I am. Yet I know that Jesus Christ truly suffered for me and all of us. I don’t understand how, but I know that He did it. I know that He loves me. I know that Heavenly Father loves me. If you do not know that God loves you and the the Savior loves you, I encourage you to seek Him and open your eyes to His love.

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Service and The Book of Mormon – Scripture Chain

I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I love studying it because I learn so many truths of the gospel. One of the principles we learn about in the book of Mormon is Service.

Service - Our Gift

So…Here’s a good Book of Mormon Service Scripture Chain…study it and enjoy!

“And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.” – Alma 42:4

I have started with this scripture because it is a reminder of why we are on earth – living in this mortal state. We are supposed to repent and serve God. I have actually noticed that most of the time service is mentioned in the Book of Mormon it refers to serving God. Really, is there anything better for us to do?

“And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.

And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.

And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.” – Mosiah 4:11-13, 16

I love this scripture. It teaches us the progression of service and commitment to God.

Know God → Receive a Remission of Sins → Feel Joy and God’s Love → Remember His Greatness → Pray Always → Stand Steadfast in Faith → Rejoice → Always be filled with His love → Grow in Knowledge of God and that Which is Just and True → Live peaceably → Succor those who Stand in Need of It

I guess I love noticing this pattern because it teaches me how best to serve others – Service to others is more than something we do once or twice. It is a way of being. It comes as we know God and experience His pure love. We aren’t expected to be charitable in and of ourselves. The Lord knows that we are imperfect people. Instead, we can come unto Him, know Him, and then a natural outpouring of the love we feel from Him will be a love for Him and all of our brothers and sisters.

“Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” – Mosiah 18:10

Once we have decided that we want the pattern to apply in our lives – of knowing God, being filled with His love, and then sharing it with others, then we ought to be baptized. We can stand as a witness that we have covenanted with Him.

Our part of the covenant: serve Him and keep His commandments.

His part of the covenant: We receive more of His Spirit.

I love this! And think about this in terms of service – if we are filled with the Spirit of the Lord, then we can be better Servants. We can be guided on whom, how, and when we should serve others.

Has this ever happened to you? I have experienced the receiving end of this. One of my best friends began as my visiting teacher. She wanted to do what is right, but was bound by a husband in school, a young boy, one car, etc. I know that it was hard to serve.

When I had a baby she wasn’t able to come by, neither was she able to cook a meal or serve in any way. To be honest, I didn’t even notice it. My mom was in town for about 3 weeks, so I had all the help I really needed.

About a month and a half after having the baby, I was trying to get back into the swing of things. I had two children 17 months apart. I felt a little overwhelmed. Plus, my husband (at that time) was in school and working full time. He was home for maybe fifteen minutes a day. It was a difficult and lonely time for me.

One particularly lonely and difficult day, I heard a knock on my door. I wasn’t expecting anyone, but was surprised to see my visiting teacher – Kara. She had a meal, and was apologizing profusely. She had meant to bring it earlier, and then had the thought she should bring it that day.

I told her not to apologize. The timing was perfect. I know that the Spirit whispered to her that day, to come by, bring a meal, and be a friendly face during a time when I was lonely and struggling. I know that the Spirit can best guide our efforts to both serve God and others.

“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” – Mosiah 2:17

This is probably the most famous and classic scripture on service. For good reason, too. In some ways, it is difficult to serve God. I mean, He’s God. For example, it was my dad’s birthday last week, and I had the toughest time thinking of what I could get him for his birthday. He doesn’t really want much, and I don’t think that there is anything I can get him that he doesn’t already have. There is no service I can offer him that he can’t do himself. And there is nothing I can do to make up for the lifetime of sacrifices and blessings he has given me. So, I feel like the best way to “repay” my dad is to be grateful and to be the kind of parent to my children that he was to me.

I feel like this is the same with Heavenly Father. There is nothing that we can really do for Him. So, instead of trying to serve Him exclusively, we serve others. We serve His children. We bear testimony of His love to others through our actions.

Back to the example I gave about Kara. When I think of what she did for me, not only was I grateful to her, but still – even now – I am grateful to Heavenly Father. It is through her love for me that I feel the Love of God. I sincerely hope that when I serve others they realize that God loves them.

” And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.” – Mosiah 4:26-27

A last scripture on service. When we serve, we need to do all we can – but we do it in wisdom and in order. It is good to have this reminder. The Lord doesn’t expect us to bankrupt ourselves in order to serve others. We still need to be self-sufficient. We need to be able to finish the race. We need to be smart and diligent.

I love this scripture – especially as a mother. There are times when I feel like I’m running ragged. It is good to remember that if I don’t pace myself then there will be a point when I can’t serve at all. What good will I be if I can no longer serve – physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It is important to follow the Spirit. I feel like there are times when we must sacrifice to serve. When we do, the Spirit seems to strengthen and nourish us. There are other times when the sacrifice is not wise. Those experiences leave us feeling exhausted and we become useless. We need to be wise.

***
How does the Book of Mormon teach you to serve? What are ways that you are able to apply these teachings to your life?

See more posts on the Book of Mormon at Jocelyn’s Blog

Joy and Thanksgiving: Scripture Chain – Happiness

So…we’re halfway through the Joy and Thanksgiving scripture study series. I hope people like it – if you are doing it. If not, no big deal – I like it. 🙂

Today, we are doing a scripture chain. I really like scripture chains. They are a cool way to study and mark the scriptures. I like having a series of related scriptures referenced to one another – in my scriptures. If you want more information on finding/marking scripture chains, click here.

“Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:” – Job 5:17

Have you ever been corrected by the Lord? I have. In fact, I’m corrected by the Lord a lot. I’ve been corrected while I read my scriptures, when I’m praying, I’ve been corrected in priesthood blessings that I’ve received. I’m corrected in so many situations.

It is a little hard at first, but I have found that if you are living your life worthy of the spirit, then the correction isn’t always too bad. The Spirit manages to comfort while correcting.

That is where happiness comes in. Any time I’ve received correction, as soon as I commit to making the change, my perspective is filled with hope, and I know that I’m on the right track. I am filled with the Love of the Lord, and that is a happy place to be.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” – Psalms 127:3-5

So much happiness!

I truly have a “quiver” full of these little ones. And it is exciting. True to everything we’ve learned about happiness, there are times when I experience a lot of pain and frustration as a mother. Childbearing, in and of itself, is extremely painful. And teaching children can be difficult. They are discovering the world around them, they have many needs, and there is little time leftover for yourself. Yet, this sacrifice brings so much happiness. I’m amazed at how my children have grown over the years. Every time they experience something difficult, my heart aches for them. And when they accomplish something good, I feel great.

And, we can fill our quivers with children that we haven’t birthed ourselves. There are children all around us in our lives – grandchildren, step-children, nieces, nephews, children we teach and serve. They can all bring us joy!

“Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.” – Psalms 144:15

We are happy when the Lord is our God. In some ways, that seems obvious, but I know that there are times I have to ask myself, who is my God? Is there something I spend time doing that competes with my ability to worship? Is there something that I prioritize over my covenants and relationship with God?

Sometimes it seems like we’ll be happier when we give in to our natural desires, but according to the Psalmist, If our god is the Lord, then we’ll be happy.

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” – Proverbs 3:13

This reminds me of the need for opposition. We are happy when we obtain knowledge. Part of the “knowledge” experience includes misery, pain, and affliction. Despite the difficulty of such opposition, if we go to the Lord, we can gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Understanding and applying knowledge will bring us happiness.

“He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.” – Proverbs 14:21

This scripture reminds me of what we learned about the good fruit: it is the love of God and of all men.

When we have mercy on others, and love others, then we can be happy. Happiness is very closely related to charity. Judgment, contention, hatred, are not fruits of the Spirit. They are not Christ-like attributes. And they will not bring happiness.

***

I have really liked studying various scriptures that have had to do with happiness. I think that it has helped me to shape my understanding of what happiness is. I feel like we are happiest when we are most like Christ. This is achieved both through our good choices in keeping the commandments and through taking on His name in the waters of baptism (and renewing that covenant).

Christ makes our happiness possible. We have so much to be thankful for…

What have you learned about happiness? Is there any idea that has helped to you be happier or understand more of what happiness, as the Lord defines it, is?

***
For tomorrow’s assignment, please click here.

Glorification of Christ

“Yea, thus saith the Spirit: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand; yea, the Son of God cometh in his glory, in his might, majesty, power, and dominion. Yea, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, that the Spirit saith: Behold the glory of the King of all the earth; and also the King of heaven shall very soon shine forth among all the children of men.” – Alma 5:50

“Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!” – D&C 128:23

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to finally post this. I should have had this series done weeks ago. But at least I’m finishing!

Throughout these scriptures, we’ve studied a lot about Christ – what naturally comes when we study Him is a deepened sense of love and gratitude for Him. As our relationship with Him grows, we become more aware of our dependence on Him.

I have a testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior. Though I don’t totally understand how deeply the atonement affects me, I have seen many blessings in my life. I know that the Lord has blessed me, personally. I have felt His mercy and love. It is overwhelming.

I feel like praising him. I feel like Nephi who said, “I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.” – 2 Nephi 33:6. I have felt these blessings in my life. I have seen miracles take place in my life, and I know that the only explanation is the grace and mercy of Christ – and His atonement.

As I’ve felt this love for my Savior grow, I want to join the choruses that praise Christ. I’m grateful to know that, despite His rejection during His life on earth, He will be glorified. He will be our King forever.

***
To see the rest of the If Handel had been a Mormon please click here.

Victory over Death and Sin

“And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men—

Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.” – Mosiah 15:8-9

“And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.

But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.” – Mosiah 16:7-8

“O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.” – 2 Nephi 9:10

This is what it is all about. Christ is victorious over death – both physically and spiritually. Because of His victory, we all have the chance to be victorious. He stands as our advocate, and Savior.

In the book of Moses, The Lord explains, ” For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” – Moses 1:39. The whole work and glory of God would have been frustrated if Jesus Christ wouldn’t have offered his very life as a sacrifice for sin. Christ has prepared the way for each of us to receive both immortality and eternal life. We simply need to choose to be perfected in Him.

I am so grateful to know of the Savior. I’m grateful for the everlasting message of Hope he brings. I have experienced His mercy and love in this life, and I know that it is only a small measure of the love and mercy that He has for me. I know that Christ was victorious over death and sin, and because of His sacrifice, I will be able to overcome them, too.

***
To see the rest of the “If Handel had been a Mormon” scripture chain, please click here.

Judgment

“And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.
· · ·
For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
· · ·
And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.” – Mosiah 3:10, 18, 24

“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—” – 3 Nephi 27:14

So far, we’ve been reading a lot of scriptures on the Messiah’s life. In part three (starting with the last post), the scriptures are all about what Christ’s atonement means for us. Obviously, the sacrifice of the Lord redeems us all from death. However, Christ’s atonement also has a conditional aspect – and it is based on what we do.

There will be a time appointed when we are judged by Christ. Our judgment will be based on our works in this life. Christ is the righteous judge, which is why the judgment must come from Him.

As I think about the role of the Messiah, the judgment is not always obvious to me. I usually spend time thinking about things like his miraculous birth, his ministry, his excruciating death, and His resurrection. I think about His appearance to the Nephites, Joseph Smith, and to us in the future. I don’t often think about the judgment, but it is just as important as everything else Christ does, and the judgmnt has everything to do with the atonement.

I came across the following scripture in my study recently: “Know ye not that if ye will do these things, that the power of the redemption and the resurrection, which is in Christ, will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God?” – Jacob 6:9. I have to admit that when I think of the power of the redemption of Christ, I usually think of resurrection and exaltation, I don’t remember the fact that the power of the redemption and resurrection is what will also bring us shame and guilt when we stand before God.

I don’t want to sound depressing. It is just a fact. The atonement is a two edged sword – and we all must make a choice about it. We cannot be neutral. On the one edge – we can face the Lord at the judgment having used the atonement wisely – and it will bring us peace and salvation. On the other hand, when we stand at the judgment, if we haven’t used the atonement wisely, it is what will cut us off from God.

I’m grateful for the judgement. It means I at least have the chance to make it. Without Christ, there would be no hope. I’m grateful to know that there is a Savior, and that because of Him, I have the potential to enjoy an eternity of peace and joy.

***
To read the rest of the “If Handel were a Mormon” scripture chain, click here.

Redemption from Adam’s Fall

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.” – 2 Nephi 2:25-26

So, I really think that this is probably one of the best scriptures that teaches us the purpose of this life – Adam fell. This was not necessarily a bad thing. Lehi teaches, “that men might be.” We would not have been brought into existence if Adam and Eve had not partaken of the fruit. They needed to make that choice in order to bring all of humankind into existence. We ought to be eternally grateful for the profound choice that both Adam and Eve made.

Of course, the fall of Adam had a severe consequence – he, and his posterity, were cut off from the presence of God. Just as they had realized their physical nakedness before God, they also realized that spiritually, they were exposed.

In order to be made holy – so that we could return to the presence of the Lord, we would need a Mediator or a Redeemer. Lehi teaches that this is the role that Christ played. He is our advocate, he creates the bridge between us and our father. He covers our nakedness. He has redeemed all of us from the fall.

***
To see the rest of the “If Handel had been a Mormon” scripture chain, click here.

Prophecies of Christ’s Second Coming

“And not many days hence the Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers.” – Alma 9:26

“I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple. Even so. Amen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 36:8

I decided that I should include another point in this part of the scripture chain – prophecies of Christ’s second coming. This is an important part of Christ’s mission. He will come again – and He will come in His glory.

There are sooo many scriptures I could have included, but I decided on these two. I like the one in Alma because it lists all of Christ’s qualities. His glory is not that of the world – it is that of God – it is full of mercy, kindness, and meekness.

I also liked the reference from the Doctrine and Covenants because it is a declaration by the Savior, Himself. He will come again, and it will be sudden. We need to be ready.

***
To see more of the “If Handel had been a Mormon” scripture chain, click here.

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