Friday, August 26, 2016

Brief Vacation

Dear Friends,

Since November 2010, I have been sharing a morning thought every day and have not missed a day. I have decided to award myself a brief vacation.  The thoughts will return next Thursday, September 1. Until then, browse the archive if you'd like!

Thanks for your interest and encouragement, David Kenison

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Neil L. Andersen on dealing with trials of faith

Elder Neil L. Andersen (b. August 9, 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"The Apostle Peter identified something he called a 'trial of your faith' (1 Peter 1:7). He had experienced it....
"Peter later encouraged others: 'Think it not strange,' he said, 'concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you' (1 Peter 4:12, emphasis added).
"These fiery trials are designed to make you stronger, but they have the potential to diminish or even destroy your trust in the Son of God and to weaken your resolve to keep your promises to Him. These trials are often camouflaged, making them difficult to identify. They take root in our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our sensitivities, or in those things that matter most to us. A real but manageable test for one can be a fiery trial for another.
"How do you remain 'steadfast and immovable' (Alma 1:25) during a trial of faith? You immerse yourself in the very things that helped build your core of faith: you exercise faith in Christ, you pray, you ponder the scriptures, you repent, you keep the commandments, and you serve others....
"By definition, trials will be trying. There may be anguish, confusion, sleepless nights, and pillows wet with tears. But our trials need not be spiritually fatal. They need not take us from our covenants or from the household of God....
"Like the intense fire that transforms iron into steel, as we remain faithful during the fiery trial of our faith, we are spiritually refined and strengthened."
- Neil L. Andersen, "Trial of Your Faith," Ensign, November 2012, pp. 39-42
Click here to read the full article

Some things in life are trials of faith; some things are fiery trials. A measure of intensity can be felt in some of those most difficult periods. Remaining strong and faithful through those trials requires "immersing" ourselves in the things that created faith in the first place: "you exercise faith in Christ, you pray, you ponder the scriptures, you repent, you keep the commandments, and you serve others."

The beautiful promise to the faithful disciple always is that through the trials we become "spiritually refined and strengthened." It's the process that can remove impurities to make us a more pure element, a more useful tool in the hands of the Master.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Robert D. Hales on following Christ through service to others

Elder Robert D. Hales (b. August 24, 1932- 84 years ago today!) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"As our desires to learn and live the gospel increase, we naturally seek to serve one another. The Savior said to Peter, 'When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren' (Luke 22:32). I am impressed that today's youth have deep desires to serve and bless others—to make a difference in this world. They also crave the joy that their service brings....
"Whether we are young or old, what we do today determines the service we will be able to render and enjoy tomorrow. As the poet reminds us, 'Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: "It might have been!"' (John Greenleaf Whittier). Let us not live our lives in regret of what we did or did not do!"
- Robert D. Hales, "Coming to Ourselves: The Sacrament, the Temple, and Sacrifice in Service," Ensign, May 2012, pp. 34-36
Click here to read the full talk

I thought the claim of the opening sentence of this excerpt was interesting. A greater desire to serve one another is a natural result of increased desire to learn and live the gospel. That makes sense, since the essence of the Lord's message was to love God first, but then to love one another. Once a Christian truly understands that vision, he will be consumed with the desire to serve and bless those around him.

And Elder Hales believes that the youth of today have a natural tendency to serve others and "make a difference in the world" as they seek the joy those actions bring.

The call, then, is to not miss the opportunities to serve; to be "anxiously engaged" in doing all we can to help and encourage others, and bless as the Savior would.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

D. Todd Christofferson on creating and confirming faith

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (b. January 24, 1945) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"The word of God, as Alma said, is like a seed planted in our hearts that produces faith as it begins to grow within us (see Alma 32:27-43; see also Romans 10:13-17). Faith will not come from the study of ancient texts as a purely academic pursuit. It will not come from archaeological digs and discoveries. It will not come from scientific experiments. It will not even come from witnessing miracles. These things may serve to confirm faith, or at times to challenge it, but they do not create faith. Faith comes by the witness of the Holy Spirit to our souls, Spirit to spirit, as we hear or read the word of God. And faith matures as we continue to feast upon the word.
"Scriptural accounts of the faith of others serve to strengthen our own....
"Because they expound the doctrine of Christ, the scriptures are accompanied by the Holy Spirit, whose role it is to bear witness of the Father and the Son (see 3 Nephi 11:32). Therefore, being in the scriptures is one way we receive the Holy Ghost. Of course, scripture is given through the Holy Ghost in the first place (see 2 Peter 1:21; D&C 20:26-27; 68:4), and that same Spirit can attest its truth to you and me. Study the scriptures carefully, deliberately. Ponder and pray over them. Scriptures are revelation, and they will bring added revelation."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "The Blessing of Scripture," Ensign, May 2010, pp. 32-35
Click here to read the full talk

I liked Elder Christofferson's discussion about the difference between actions that create faith and those that confirm it. This are "confirmation" activities:

  • academic study of ancient texts
  • archaeological discoveries
  • scientific experiments
  • witnessing miracles

He notes that these kinds of things can both confirm and challenge faith, and so must be kept in proper perspective. But it's in scripture study, being exposed to sacred writings, that we can create faith as we are immersed in activities that bring spiritual experiences to us:

The challenge to us is to "Study the scriptures carefully, deliberately. Ponder and pray over them." Then we will find the promised blessings of faith and strength.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Quentin L. Cook on finding peace in the Savior

Elder Quentin L. Cook (b. 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"Agency is essential to the plan of happiness. It allows for the love, sacrifice, personal growth, and experience necessary for our eternal progression. This agency also allows for all the pain and suffering we experience in mortality, even when caused by things we do not understand and the devastating evil choices of others....
"We all long for peace. Peace is not just safety or lack of war, violence, conflict, and contention. Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life's devastating trials and tragedies....
"How do we stay close to the Savior? Humbling ourselves before God, praying always, repenting of sins, entering the waters of baptism with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ are profound examples of the righteousness that is rewarded by abiding peace....
"The Savior is the source of true peace. Even with the trials of life, because of the Savior's Atonement and His grace, righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace. In the intimate setting of the Passover chamber, the Savior promised His Apostles that they would be blessed with the 'Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost' and then uttered these important words: 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you' (John 14:26-27). Then just before His Intercessory Prayer: 'These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world' (John 16:33)."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness," Ensign, May 2013, pp. 32-35
Click here to read the full talk

"We all long for peace." Why does it seem elusive? Elder Cook explains that true peace is not dependent on external conditions, but "comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are"—a fascinating concept.

In order to maintain peace in our lives, we must "stay close to the Savior" by living humble, repentant, faithful lives. It's a wonderful promise that "righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace" regardless of the challenges of life.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thomas S. Monson on caring for one another

President Thomas S. Monson (born August 21 1927 - 89 years ago today!) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963.  He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley until becoming Church president in 2008.
"I am confident it is the intention of each member of the Church to serve and to help those in need. At baptism we covenanted to 'bear one another's burdens, that they may be light' (Mosiah 18:8). How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and you've left it for others to help, feeling that 'oh, surely someone will take care of that need.'
"We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we're doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the 'thick of thin things.' In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes....
"My brothers and sisters, we are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness—be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lord's hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us."
- Thomas S. Monson, "What Have I Done for Someone Today?", Ensign, Nov 2009, pp. 84-87
Click here to read the full talk

How easy it is in "the busyness of our lives" to forget "the things that matter most" as we're caught up in the "things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things." The things that seem so important and urgent in short-term perspective, often disappear in the broader long-term view.

President Monson reminds us of a principle that has been core to his life: the importance of loving one another, and showing that love through our acts of service and caring. The needs, the opportunities, are all around us!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Elder David A. Bednar on personal interactions in the Church

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"As described by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, the Church is not 'a well-provisioned rest home for the already perfected' ('A Brother Offended,' Ensign, May 1982, 38). Rather, the Church is a learning laboratory and a workshop in which we gain experience as we practice on each other in the ongoing process of 'perfecting the Saints'....
"Understanding that the Church is a learning laboratory helps us to prepare for an inevitable reality. In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless.
"You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended."
- David A. Bednar, "And Nothing Shall Offend Them," Ensign, Nov 2006, p. 89
Click here to read the full talk

It's an important foundational principle to remember that the Church exists as a "learning laboratory" where imperfect people are growing and developing. Elder Bednar reminds us that we often "practice on each other" in that process of learning and growing. And that we make mistakes along the way. We sometimes say or do things in our interactions with each other that are less than perfect, and that are even "considered offensive." Elder Bednar expects that will happen to every one of us, more than once, during this time of training.

If we remember that we're all in the process of learning and developing, it helps us to not over-react when those events occur. The Savior set the perfect example for us with his words, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) The real key to the whole concept lies in Elder Bednar's closing statement: we are all "agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Jeffrey R. Holland on finding peace and refuge in Christ

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (b. 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"My desire for you is to have more straightforward experience with the Savior’s life and teachings. Perhaps sometimes we come to Christ too obliquely, focusing on structure or methods or elements of Church administration. Those are important and, like the tithes of mint and anise and cummin Christ spoke of (see Matt. 23:23), should be observed—but not without attention to the weightier matters of the kingdom, first and foremost of which is a personal spiritual relationship with Deity, including the Savior, whose kingdom this is....
"This reliance upon the forgiving, long-suffering, merciful nature of God was taught from before the very foundation of the world. It was always to give us hope and help, a reason to progress and improve, an incentive to lay down our burdens and take up our salvation. May I be bold enough to suggest that it is impossible for anyone who really knows God to doubt his willingness to receive us with open arms in a divine embrace if we will but 'come unto him.' There certainly can and will be plenty of external difficulties in life; nevertheless, the soul that comes unto Christ dwells within a personal fortress, a veritable palace of perfect peace. 'Whoso hearkeneth unto me,' Jehovah says, 'shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil' (Prov. 1:33)."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Come unto Me," CES fireside given on 2 March 1997 at BYU; see Ensign, Apr. 1998, p. 19
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Holland often speaks with such warmth and gentleness; but this fireside address to young adults was particularly personal and tender but yet deeply thought-provoking. He talks about the invitation to come to Christ, the obstacles that prevent us from doing that, and then the blessings that come as we make the right efforts.

This phrase was inspiring to me: we need to "have more straightforward experience with the Savior's life and teachings." It is profitable to ponder how to do that in our personal lives.

The beautiful promises of refuge, safety, and peace offered by the Savior and re-emphasized by Elder Holland should echo in our hearts. We can have "a personal fortress, a veritable palace of perfect peace" in spite of all the difficulties we will certainly encounter in life, if we only learn to come to Christ.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Robert D. Hales on building faith in Jesus Christ

Elder Robert D. Hales (1932- ) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"We cannot find Enos-like faith without our own wrestle before God in prayer. I testify that the reward is worth the effort. Remember the pattern: (1) hear the word of God, spoken and written by His servants; (2) let that word sink deep into your heart; (3) hunger in your soul for righteousness; (4) obediently follow gospel laws, ordinances, and covenants; and (5) raise your voice in mighty prayer and supplication, asking in faith to know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I promise that if you do these things sincerely and unceasingly, the words Christ spoke to His disciples will be fulfilled in your life: 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you' (Matt. 7:7).
"Once we find the beginnings of our faith in Jesus, our Heavenly Father allows our faith to be strengthened. This occurs in many ways, including through the experience of adversity....
"When the challenges of mortality come, and they come for all of us, it may seem hard to have faith and hard to believe. At these times only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement can bring us peace, hope, and understanding. Only faith that He suffered for our sakes will give us the strength to endure to the end. When we gain this faith, we experience a mighty change of heart, and like Enos, we become stronger and begin to feel a desire for the welfare of our brothers and sisters. We pray for them, that they too will be lifted and strengthened through faith on the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ."
- Robert D. Hales, "Finding Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," Ensign, Nov. 2004, pp. 70-73
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Hales teaches that sometimes we have to put in the right efforts to get the right results. The blessings that came to Enos were not a coincidence; he had done the things to be in position to receive them. If we want similar blessings, we must do similar actions:

Then Elder Hales reminds us that faith, once started, grows through experiences that may include adversity and challenges. Those times may be difficult, but the Savior and the Atonement are great keys to obtaining the strength to endure; and then to go on to bless others around us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

M. Russell Ballard on Satan's tactic of blinding our eternal perspective

Elder M. Russell Ballard (1928- ) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985.
"One of Satan's clever tactics is to tempt us to concentrate on the present and ignore the future. The Lord warned Joseph Smith that 'Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them.' (D&C 78:10.) The 'things which are prepared for them' are the promised rewards of eternal life, which come as a result of obedience. The devil attempts to blind us to these rewards.
"President Heber J. Grant said that 'if we are faithful in keeping the commandments of God His promises will be fulfilled to the very letter.... The trouble is, the adversary of men's souls blinds their minds. He throws dust, so to speak, in their eyes, and they are blinded with the things of this world.' (Gospel Standards, pp. 44-45.) He tempts us with the transitory pleasures of the world so that we will not focus our minds and efforts on the things that bring eternal joy. The devil is a dirty fighter, and we must be aware of his tactics."
- M. Russell Ballard, "Purity Precedes Power," Ensign, Nov 1990, p. 35
Click here to read the full talk

In a battle or conflict, it's helpful to identify enemy tactics so you can recognize them and respond to them. Elder Ballard mentions some of the "clever tactics" Satan uses against us. He tempts us to "concentrate on the present and ignore the future"—seeing only the immediate challenges and not the future success and peace.

I was intrigued by the interesting phrase used by Heber J. Grant to describe the tactic: our adversary throws dust in our eyes to blind us from seeing clearly; we see only the things of this world and not the eternal perspective. Tempted greatly with "the transitory pleasures of the world" we lose the ability to "focus our minds and efforts on the things that bring eternal joy." How important it is to know that tactic, so we can recognize when it is employed against us and strive to resist it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Russell M. Nelson on the trials and tests of life

President Russell M. Nelson (b. Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He was set apart as president of the Quorum of Twelve on July 15, 2015.
"We came to be tried, to be tested, and to choose. Our decisions determine our destiny. We are 'free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator..., or to choose captivity and death' (2 Ne. 2:27).... Those who prove faithful 'shall inherit the kingdom of God, ...and their joy shall be full forever' (2 Ne. 9:18)....
"Trials and tests apply to rich and poor alike. Years ago, I was asked to perform an operation upon a very wealthy man. A surgical biopsy confirmed that he had an advanced cancer that had spread throughout his body. As I reported this news, his immediate response was to rely upon his wealth. He would go anywhere or do anything to treat his condition. He thought he could buy his way back to health. But he soon passed away. Someone asked, 'How much wealth did he leave?' The answer, of course, was, 'All of it!'
"His priorities were set upon things of the world. His ladder of success had been leaning against the wrong wall. I think of him when I read this scripture: 'Behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is... too late.' (Hel. 13:38)"
- Russell M. Nelson, "Now Is the Time to Prepare," General Conference, April 2005; Ensign, May 2005, pp. 16-18
Click here to read the full talk

This if fundamental counsel from President Nelson. Life will have trials and tests! That is one of its purposes, and we understood that part of the plan when we chose to accept it. It is easy to lose the eternal perspective in the midst of trials. And while it seems that some are exempt from many of those tests in this life, in truth we all have them.

And so we must take care to focus our priorities on the things that matter most, and not on the "things of the world." Truly, now is the time to prepare.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dieter F. Uchtdorf on diligence in times of challenge

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (1940- ) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He has served as second counselor in the First Presidency since 2008.
"There may be times when we may feel overwhelmed, hurt, or on the edge of discouragement as we are trying so hard to be perfect members of the Church. Be assured, there is balm in Gilead. Let us listen to the prophets of our days as they help us to focus on the things that are central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The Lord knows us, He loves us, He wants us to succeed, and He encourages us by saying: 'And see that all... things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that [men or women] should run faster than [they have] strength.... [But] it is expedient that [they] should be diligent' (Mosiah 4:27).
"Are we diligent in living the commandments of God, without running beyond our strength? Or are we just leisurely strolling along? Are we using our time, talents, and means wisely? Are we focused on the things which matter most? Are we following the inspired counsel of the prophets?"
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Global Church Blessed by the Voice of the Prophets," Ensign, Nov. 2002, p. 10
Click here to read the full talk

Sometimes we bring on ourselves the feelings of "overwhelmed, hurt, or on the edge of discouragement" by our own unrealistic expectations of attaining perfection. President Uchtdorf reminds us to "listen to the prophets of our day" to help us focus on the things that matter most in our quest for improvement. Maintaining the right perspective is a key to maintaining momentum in our progress.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Gordon B. Hinckley on the blessing of sacrament meetings

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"Sacrament meeting ought to be a time of spiritual refreshment for our people, when, on Sunday, they gather to partake of the sacrament and renew their covenants with the Lord. They should rethink the contract which exists between them and the Lord, under which we take upon ourselves His name and agree to keep His commandments and He, in turn, promises that His Spirit will be with us. If we could bring about the consummation of that covenant in the lives of our people with a renewal each week, what a marvelous thing it would be.
"Let us encourage a spirit of reverence in sacrament meeting.... It should be a time when together we meet to renew our faith, our covenants, our obligations, our loyalty, our love, our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and keep His commandments."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, regional conference, 27 Apr. 1996; see Ensign, July 1997, p. 73
Click here to read the full article

This is a wonderful reminder from President Hinckley about how we ought to view our Sabbath Day experience, and the sacrament as the central focus of meetings and worship. If we would understand what we are doing and why, and take full advantage of the opportunity to renew commitment, it could help lead to "the consummation of that covenant" in our lives.

The proper spirit of reverence in our worship meetings contributes greatly to how we are blessed by those opportunities.  That's a good key to focus on as we strive to improve the weekly experience in our personal lives.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Henry B. Eyring on the choices of life

President Henry B. Eyring (born May 31, 1933) served in the Presiding Bishopric from 1985-1992, as a Seventy from 1992-1995, then was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He has served in the First Presidency since 2007.
"Our choosing the right consistently whenever the choice is placed before us creates the solid ground under our faith. It can begin in childhood since every soul is born with the free gift of the Spirit of Christ. With that Spirit we can know when we have done what is right before God and when we have done wrong in His sight.
"Those choices, hundreds in most days, prepare the solid ground on which our edifice of faith is built. The metal framework around which the substance of our faith is poured is the gospel of Jesus Christ, with all its covenants, ordinances, and principles.
"One of the keys to an enduring faith is to judge correctly the curing time required.... That curing does not come automatically through the passage of time, but it does take time. Getting older does not do it alone. It is serving God and others persistently with full heart and soul that turns testimony of truth into unbreakable spiritual strength."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Mountains to Climb," Ensign, May 2012, pp. 23-26
Click here to read the full talk

It's easy for us to forget how much the seemingly small and inconsequential choices we make ("hundreds in most days") accumulate to create the foundation of all that we are and do in life. President Eyring reminds us of the importance of "choosing the right consistently" through those opportunities in order to "prepare the solid ground" for the "edifice of faith" that we will build upon it. Without the foundation, the edifice can not stand.

The concept of "curing time" is also a very important one. President Eyring makes an analogy in his talk to the curing of cement, from a soft and moldable substance into the hard, rock-like material that sustains a building. "It does take time" for our faith, based on choices and experiences, to cure into the solid strength that will sustain us. And the curing requires more than the passage of time. It requires passing time in the right way, including "serving God and others persistently."

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dallin H. Oaks on the blessings and importance of daily scripture study

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (b. August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"Just as continuing revelation enlarges and illuminates the scriptures, so also a study of the scriptures enables men and women to receive revelations. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, 'I sometimes think that one of the best-kept secrets of the kingdom is that the scriptures open the door to the receipt of revelation' (Doctrines of the Restoration, ed. Mark L. McConkie, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989, p. 243). This happens because scripture reading puts us in tune with the Spirit of the Lord.
"The idea that scripture reading can lead to inspiration and revelation opens the door to the truth that a scripture is not limited to what it meant when it was written but may also include what that scripture means to a reader today. Even more, scripture reading may also lead to current revelation on whatever else the Lord wishes to communicate to the reader at that time. We do not overstate the point when we say that the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to assist each of us to receive personal revelation.
"Because we believe that scripture reading can help us receive revelation, we are encouraged to read the scriptures again and again. By this means, we obtain access to what our Heavenly Father would have us know and do in our personal lives today. That is one reason Latter-day Saints believe in daily scripture study."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Scripture Reading and Revelation," Ensign, Jan 1995, p. 7
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Oaks describes an interesting inter-relationship: revelation enhances understanding of the scriptures, and scripture study enhances our ability to receive revelation. Reading the scriptures "puts us in tune with the Spirit of the Lord." And through that Spirit, we discover new meaning and application to the words of the past as we are open and prepared for new personal revelation. It's a relatively simple formula with a marvelous promised reward!

Since we have daily needs for divine help and inspiration, we should have a desire for the daily scripture study that can invite the blessings we seek.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thomas S. Monson on serving as the Savior did

President Thomas S. Monson (b. 1927) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963.  He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley until becoming Church president in 2008.
"The Master frequently spoke of hand and heart. In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Hiram, Ohio, in March 1832, he counseled: ' faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.
"'And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality, and eternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father.' (D&C 81:5-6.)
"As I ponder his words, I can almost hear the shuffle of sandaled feet, the murmurs of astonishment from listeners as they echo from Capernaum's peaceful scene. Here multitudes crowded around Jesus, bringing the sick to be healed. A palsied man picked up his bed and walked, and a Roman centurion's faith restored his servant's health.
"Not only by precept did Jesus teach, but also by example. He was faithful to his divine mission. He stretched forth his hand that others might be lifted toward God....
"The beloved apostles noted well his example. He lived not so to be ministered unto, but to minister; not to receive, but to give; not to save his life, but to pour it out for others.
"If they would see the star that should at once direct their feet and influence their destiny, they must look for it, not in the changing skies or outward circumstance, but each in the depth of his own heart and after the pattern provided by the Master."
- Thomas S. Monson, "With Hand and Heart," General Conference, October 1971; see Ensign, Dec 1971, p. 131
Click here to read the full talk

President Monson is wonderfully sensitive to the message of the Savior's life. Joy and blessings come as we serve one another; the Savior not only taught, but demonstrated that truth. The call to each of us is to follow Him in that eternal work. Each of us can find the true desire to be like Him "in the depth of his own heart" and thus mold our life as He showed the way.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Richard G. Scott on the power of the love of God

Elder Richard G. Scott (1928-2015) served as a Seventy from 1977-1988, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He passed away in September 2015 at the age of 86.
"Love is a potent healer. Realizing that, Satan would separate you from the power of the love of God, kindred, and friends, who want to help. He would lead you to feel that the walls are pressing in around you and there is no escape or relief. He wants you to believe you lack the capacity to help yourself and that no one else is really interested. If he succeeds, you will be driven to further despair and heartache. His strategy is to have you think you are not appreciated, loved, or wanted so that you in despair will turn to self-criticism, and in the extreme even to despising yourself and feeling evil when you are not. Remember the wisdom of the Lord 'is greater than the cunning of the devil' (D&C 10:43). If you have such thoughts, break through those helpless feelings by reaching out in love to another in need. That may sound cruel and unfeeling when you long so much for healing, but it is based upon truth. Paul taught, 'Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ' (Gal. 6:2).
"Love comes by learning how to give it to another in a spirit of trust. If you feel deprived of love, that is difficult. Yet sustained concern and support of others will engender their interest and love. You will feel needed. You become an instrument through which the Lord can bless another. The Spirit will let you feel the Savior's concern and interest, then the warmth and strength of His love."
- Richard G. Scott, "To Be Healed," Ensign, May 1994, p. 9
Click here to read the full talk

This is an interesting message from Elder Scott. There are times in life when we need a "potent healer" to help repair wounds or overcome challenges. Satan's technique is to increase pain and suffering, to add to the discouragement and take away hope, leaving only heartache, loneliness, and despair.

But the "power of the love of God, kindred, and friends" can overcome that force. We must not let Satan's discouragement drag us down. Elder Scott suggests that when we start to feel that way, one of the great keys to overcoming is "reaching out to another in need." As we lift the burdens of others in a spirit of true love, we will feel the Savior's love expressed in our own life in wonderful ways.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Neil L. Andersen on teaching for perilous times

Elder Neil L. Andersen (b. August 9, 1951 - 65 years ago today) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"Ours is a day long foreseen. We live in the perilous times spoken of by the Apostle Paul. 'For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy' (2 Tim. 3:2). The Lord described the condition this way: 'They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world' (D&C 1:16).
"The world of our teenage children is far different from my teenage life of thirty years ago. Profanity, dishonesty, immorality, and irreverence all tower around them. The influences of the media and a world set on a course we cannot follow push against them. Much of the innocence so precious to youth has been lost.
"And yet, we should not be intimidated or overly alarmed. These events have all been foreseen. In this deteriorating situation, the kingdom of God will strengthen.... Nephi saw that the latter-day members of the Church 'were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory' (1 Ne. 14:14).
"Our challenge as parents is to prepare our homes so that our children might be 'armed with righteousness.' In the future, a discernable distinction of the true followers of Christ will be the heed and attention they give to the living prophets and Apostles. As our children listen to these men, they will find their way."
- Neil L. Andersen, "Teaching Our Children to Love the Prophets," Ensign, April 1996, pp. 44-47
Click here to read the full article

The scriptures have long warned about "perilous times" to come in latter days, and we sense the growing reality of that label. There is peril or danger of all kinds of negative influences that can impact our families, and ourselves.

In times of danger, doing things that help us avoid peril is critical; it's possible for us to be "armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory" even in this time, especially in this time.

Elder Andersen gives one great key: giving heed and attention to the living prophets and apostles. Those words are key: attention (listening as they speak, seeking out opportunities to listen and review instruction); and heed (carefully following the counsel).

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