My Testimony

Come Unto Christ

My Testimony - Come Unto Christ

Burdens

Connie and I were reading tonight and came across this scripture:

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I think many times, most of us ask God to get rid of burdens or obstacles… sometimes running from them, for whatever reason, generally because we don’t see the beauty or joy in the added responsibility, or the inconvenience, or the discomfort of circumstances. There are some situations, wherein the safety of your family has been compromised and your gut screams “RUN!” But, then there are those opportunities to strengthen our individual characters by embracing those uncomfortable circumstances.

Over the past couple of months, I have exposed a plethora of criminal activity, outed a purportedly grieving widow, helped a friend be admitted into the care of a psychiatric unit, exposed a massive evasion of tax liability and eliminated one of the closest friendships I’ve ever had because of the liability he presented for my wife and kids (even though he lives over 1,000 miles away). There are actually quite a few more things that have gone on these last couple of months and while my behavior might seem erratic to most, even those close to me… I have a very supportive wife who knows I allow my feelings to dictate our direction in life.

The other day, I had a conversation with a person who knows my brother Michael. And while this person was complimenting me, they noted a few things that they did not agree with my brother’s current path in life. I really don’t know how to reference their remarks more delicately, but I interrupted them and said, “You can’t possibly comprehend the childhood that my brother had. For the simple fact that my brother is not some sick twisted serial killer, he should be awarded a Nobel Prize in Humanity.”

We all face struggles. Some struggles might seem greater than our ability to cope. But, I’ve no doubt that God looks after everyone of us and He knows the limits of our abilities better than we do. That being said, I want to share my testimony of this scripture Mosiah 24:15, if we ask God for the strength, energy and endurance to forge with happiness through seemingly unconquerable circumstances, He will deliver! And, in the instant you believe in and hope for such strength, your burdens will become lighter. Like exercising/weight-lifting, the more valiant our effort, the stronger we get… a two mile run evolves into a warm-up, curling 45pound dumbells become 110 pound dumbells, your 42 inch waist becomes a 36 inch waist and hastily taking your family into the ‘wilderness’ becomes a relocation where you never would have otherwise considered.

Obstacles make life interesting, embrace the opportunities to really shine… and if a truck-load of cow crap falls on your doorstep, grow some potatoes!

First Presidency Message October 2014

First Presidency Message

The Prayer of Faith


 Henry B. Eyring

 

young woman praying

Prayer is more than words we speak to God. It is a two-way communication between God and His children.

When prayer works as it should, we express the feelings of our hearts in simple words. Heavenly Father typically answers by putting thoughts in our minds accompanied by feelings. He always hears the sincere prayer we offer when we pray with a commitment to obey Him, whatever His answer and whenever it comes.

The Lord makes this promise to all who read and pray about the Book of Mormon:

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:4–5).

That promise is sure. Millions of people have tested and proved that wonderful promise about prayer by receiving a blessing that has filled their lives with joy and lasting happiness. That promise applies to all our prayers to know the mind and will of God for us. We can apply it whenever we receive counsel from a servant of God who is authorized to give us direction. For instance, we can depend on it when we have listened to a sermon in general conference. We can apply it when we are taught by humble missionaries called of God by the living prophet. It applies as well to the counsel we receive from our bishop or branch president.

For prayer to work in our lives, the rules are simple. We must ask to know what is true by praying to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. We must ask with a sincere heart, which means we must have an honest intent to do whatever God’s answer requires of us. And our real intent must spring from our faith in Jesus Christ.

The investigator who reads the Book of Mormon before being baptized and confirmed may receive both an assurance that the book is true and a witness that Joseph Smith translated it by the power of God. After being confirmed a member of the Church, we can have the Holy Ghost as our companion to confirm other truths. Then, whenever we pray in faith, we can expect that the Holy Ghost will testify to us that Jesus is the Christ, that God the Father lives, and that They love us and all of Heavenly Father’s children.

That is one reason there is a promise in the Book of Mormon that we will have charity in our hearts as the Holy Ghost bears witness to us that Jesus is the Christ: “If a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity” (Moroni 7:44).

There is a great opportunity to grow spiritually every fast Sunday. Fast Sunday can help us approach the experiences of Alma and the sons of Mosiah, who prayed and fasted to know eternal truth so that they could teach the Lamanites with power, authority, and love (see Alma 17:3, 9).

On fast Sunday we combine prayer and fasting. For the blessing of the poor, we give a generous fast offering to the bishop or the branch president that equals at least the value of the two meals we forego. Our thoughts and our prayers are turned to the Savior and to those He would have us serve by addressing their spiritual and temporal needs.

Our prayers and desires thus come closer to being like the prayers and desires of the Savior as we fast to become more meek, teachable, and loving. And as He did, we pray to know the Father’s will for us and to do it.

Teaching from This Message

President Eyring teaches that prayer and fasting can help us “know eternal truth.” Consider where the testimonies of those you visit may need strengthening and prepare a lesson on that topic. For example, if a person you visit lost a close friend or family member, consider discussing eternal families and life after death. You could offer to fast with those you visit in order to help them gain a testimony of that principle.

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Prepare before You Pray

President Eyring reminds us that prayer “is a two-way communication between God and His children.” Taking the time to prepare for our prayers can make that two-way communication possible. You could use your journal to spend a few minutes preparing to pray each day. You could make lists of blessings you want to thank Heavenly Father for, people who need your prayers, and questions you may need answered. Then invite the Spirit by singing a hymn or reading a few verses of scripture. As you pray, pay attention to how the Holy Ghost guides what you should say, and pay attention to your feelings and thoughts (see D&C 8:2–3). Consider recording your experiences in your journal and reviewing answers you receive. You could also use the activities on pages 95–97 of Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service to help you evaluate your prayers and learn to recognize the Holy Ghost.

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Prayer Sandwich

How do you know what to say when you pray? You can begin your prayers by saying, “Dear Heavenly Father,” and end them by saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” What you say in the middle is your choice, just like choosing what goes in a sandwich.

Choose the pieces you would like in your sandwich. Write the things you would like to pray for next to them. You can say “I thank Thee” for blessings, talk about your worries, ask for blessings, or pray about questions.

You can cut this sandwich out or make another. Hang it in your home to help you remember the things you can say in your prayers.

First Presidency Message September 2014

First Presidency Message

Are We Prepared?


Thomas S. Monson

In the vicinity where I once lived and served, the Church operated a poultry project, staffed primarily by volunteers from the local wards. Most of the time it was an efficiently operated project, supplying to the bishops’ storehouse thousands of fresh eggs and hundreds of pounds of dressed poultry. On a few occasions, however, being volunteer city farmers meant not only blisters on the hands but also frustration of heart and mind.

For instance, I shall ever remember the time we gathered the Aaronic Priesthood young men to give the project a spring-cleaning. Our enthusiastic and energetic throng assembled at the project and in a speedy fashion uprooted, gathered, and burned large quantities of weeds and debris. By the light of the glowing bonfires, we ate hot dogs and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.

However, there was just one disastrous problem. The noise and the fires so disturbed the fragile population of 5,000 laying hens that most of them went into a sudden molt and ceased laying. Thereafter we tolerated a few weeds so that we might produce more eggs.

No member of the Church who has helped provide for those in need ever forgets or regrets the experience. Industry, thrift, self-reliance, and sharing with others are not new to us.

We should remember that the best storehouse system would be for every family in the Church to have a supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, other necessities of life.

Of course there may be times when our members are in need of help from the Church. The Lord’s storehouse includes the time, talents, skills, compassion, consecrated material, and financial means of faithful Church members. These resources are available to the bishop in assisting those in need.

We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt. Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had a supply of food and clothing and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have a supply of debt and are food-free.

I repeat what the First Presidency declared a few years ago:

“Latter-day Saints have been counseled for many years to prepare for adversity by having a little money set aside. Doing so adds immeasurably to security and well-being. Every family has a responsibility to provide for its own needs to the extent possible.

“We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from this bondage. Save a little money regularly to gradually build a financial reserve.”1

Are we prepared for the emergencies in our lives? Are our skills perfected? Do we live providently? Do we have our reserve supply on hand? Are we obedient to the commandments of God? Are we responsive to the teachings of prophets? Are we prepared to give of our substance to the poor, the needy? Are we square with the Lord?

We live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.

family in kitchen

We Were Sealed Tuesday

Connie, Colt and I were Eternally Sealed on Tuesday August 12, 2014, at 11:40 a.m. in the Salt Lake City, Temple.

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We invited a few key people, who we felt played an instrumental part in our fellowshipping, from our local Ward (congregation). On occasion the Relief Society President, Sister Sacco, would invite my wife to church or Homemaking night. She was very nice, but we had no intention of attending church in Utah. Her persistence was appreciated. My son’s first Sunday School teacher, who continuously asked us if he could go to her class each Sunday. Eventually, we gave in, but we weren’t going to allow him to go alone. In the adult Sunday School class on that first Sunday, Brother Russell led the discussion and was so entertaining, I thought ‘I am willing to go again next week.’ The following week Brother Harward led the discussion and I enjoyed it so much that I figured ‘maybe this won’t be so boring,’ and I kept attending. I was given a Home Teaching Companion who was willing to Home Teach and this made the associated responsibilities more enjoyable. My HT Companion James’s wife, Jami, eventually became my wife’s Visiting Teaching Partner. James and I were given families who actually allowed us to visit them. We really grew to love the Cannons, the Petersens and the Saccos.

Understanding what I do of the role of a witness for our Sealing, I was very selective in my first choice of a witness, given my Calling. I could think of no one better qualified or suited, so I asked my wife’s brother to fill that role and he accepted. My father-in-law wanted to be a witness as well, I cautioned him against it, but he still wanted to, so I allowed it.

It was amazing to watch my son enter the Sealing room, almost like a slow moving bowling ball, dancing and floating through the air, surveying the room with wonderment, beyond magnificent.

I asked three friends I knew from my youth to attend, Kari who was my high school girlfriend’s best friend and got to know how loyal I was during my first somewhat real relationship, and I felt she served a symbolic role for me, as my fierce loyalty has evolved well beyond that of my youth. She wasn’t able to make it to the Sealing.

Ryan, a guy who I doubt any other mortal can be given more credit for helping to save my soul, and his wife Annie. She and I were on Dance Company and did some pretty cool lifts. As a couple they are quite inspiring, they have been together since high school and one of the cutest couples I have ever known. Ryan could not get away from work, but as our guests were leaving, I saw Annie’s face just outside of the Sealing room. I didn’t realize how enthused I was, but I kind of yelled “YES, YOU MADE IT! IT DOESN’T MATTER, SOON OR LATE, YOU CAME! THANK YOU!” It really did my heart good that she showed up, I can’t express how much I appreciated the effort she made to represent her and Ryan.

My youngest brother, Richard, whom I told Sunday night, came all the way from the Porland, Oregon area. Tuesday just happened to be the one day he could get away. That was just incredible, he and his wife came at the drop of a hat and that it worked with his schedule.

My mother came as well.

Brother and Sister Sacco. James and Jami. Brother Harward. And the balance from Connie’s family.

It was such an incredible experience, with several stories too personal to share on here.

Our Sealing

Every night, or early morning, I am blessed with a moment that I embrace the opportunity to earn each day. It doesn’t matter what the day throws at me, I can go through hell in a metaphorical sense, with a smile on my face, knowing that I get to have that one moment. Sometimes the moment last just a few seconds, because I am so tired, or simply that I do not want to wake my beautiful wife.

The moment, is being next to her, knowing that with God at the helm of our family, she is mine and I am hers and our Universe is complete and perfect, even if for just a moment as I hold her hand. There is almost nothing I won’t do for that moment. I am willing to work hard, be beaten, be humiliated, ripped to shreds and if I had to– lie, cheat, manipulate, steal and kill for those few seconds, or minutes, however long until I fall to sleep.

I have put this off for 20 and a half years, because I did not feel ready for what comes next. I know I have made the right choices to delay it until this time. There is so much more to the Sealing, or the New and Everlasting Covenant of Eternal Marriage, than seems to be commonly understood and I have taken this choice/step very seriously and prepared myself accordingly. The marital blessings associated with the sealing, only affect the eternities and not mortality. We have to remain true and faithful to our covenants in order to continue being married after we die and only when we (as husbands) have been given permission to call our wife. She (our wives) holds all of the keys to our Eternal bliss, because it is our wife who chooses to answer that call or not.

Knowing that the House of God is a house of order. There is no confusion. The Patriarchal order seals upon us and our lineage a direct line with our Father in Heaven. The Matriarchal lines give us the beauty, personal connections of freewill and map to exaltation. Like scripture, they guide us through an enlightened understanding of God’s plan. We are free to choose that which exists within our Eternal relationships, our ties to those people who edify our souls towards perfection.

My wife was sealed, being born to parents who were sealed, if they remain true and faithful, to her parents, until the day comes when she has my lineage sealed upon her.

My life has been filled with the most amazing experiences I could ever hope for, and then some. As I embrace the Spirit of Elijah, and the opportunity to honor my parents, I find myself learning more about this magnificent road map.

I have been moved by the Spirit to do things, I cannot comprehend, and I am grateful for choices to follow those promptings MOST of the time. I see a portion of the Eternal impact for not doing as I am instructed, on the occasions wherein I have not been so diligent.

While I am not proud of my poor choices I am grateful for everything which has brought me to this point of my mortality. I am nervous for what lies beyond performing this ordinance, I am excited knowing that all things endeavored through obedience have universal rewards.

From the moment I first saw my wife’s face, I knew I wanted no one else forever. And now, as I look at her while she sleeps, she is even more beautiful and cannot comprehend how any man could exist thinking it is okay to look upon the beauty of another woman with admiration. I am so very grateful that I do not have that problem. There is nothing in all the world, no woman has ever melted my heart the way that Connie does, everyday! No words will ever give justice to the way I feel about my wife, and the opportunity to compliment each other as we seek to do God’s will, forever!

First Presidency Message August 2014

First Presidency Message

God’s Harvest


Dieter F. Uchtdorf

vegetables and tools

Illustration by Andrew Banneker

A woman named Christa once worked for a small seed company. She loved her job. It was a source of immense wonder that each tiny seed she sold had the capacity to transform itself into something quite miraculous—a carrot, a cabbage, or even a mighty oak tree.

Christa loved sitting at her computer taking orders and answering questions. But one day she received a complaint that puzzled her.

“The seeds don’t work,” the customer said. “I bought them two months ago and still nothing.”

“Did you plant them in good soil and give them enough water and sunlight?” Christa asked.

“No, but I did my part,” the customer replied. “I bought the seeds. After all, they are guaranteed to grow.”

“But you didn’t plant them?”

“Heavens no. That would mean getting my hands dirty.”

Christa thought about this and decided that planting guidelines would have to be written. She resolved what the first guideline would be: “You must follow planting instructions for the seeds to sprout. You can’t set them on the shelf and expect them to grow.”

It wasn’t long before another complaint puzzled her.

“The seeds aren’t producing,” a customer claimed.

“Did you plant them in good soil?” Christa responded. “Did you give them the appropriate amount of water and sunlight?”

“Oh, yes,” the customer insisted. “I did all that―exactly as it says on the package. But they don’t work.”

“Did anything happen at all? Did they sprout?”

“Nothing happened,” the customer said. “I planted them just as directed. I was hoping to have tomatoes for dinner. Now I am very disappointed.”

“Wait,” Christa replied. “Are you saying you planted the seeds today?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” the customer replied. “I planted them a week ago. I was not expecting to see tomatoes on the first day; I was patient. Let me tell you, there has been a lot of watering and waiting between then and now.”

Christa knew she would have to add another guideline: “These seeds conform to the laws of biology. If you plant the seeds in the morning and expect to eat tomatoes later that week, you will be disappointed. You must be patient and wait for the work of nature to unfold before you.”

All went well until Christa received another complaint.

“I’m very disappointed in your seeds,” the customer began. “I planted them just as the package recommended. I gave them water, made sure they had sunshine, and waited until finally they produced their harvest.”

“Sounds like you did everything right,” Christa said.

“That’s all very fine,” the customer replied. “But what I got was zucchini!”

“My records show that those were the seeds you ordered,” Christa said.

“But I don’t want zucchini; I want pumpkins!”

“I’m not following.”

“I planted the seeds in my pumpkin patch—the very same soil that produced pumpkins last year. I praised the plants every day, telling them what beautiful pumpkins they would become. But instead of large, round, orange pumpkins, I got long, green zucchini. Tons of them!”

Christa knew then that guidelines might not be enough and that it was necessary to state a principle: “The seed you plant and the time of the planting determine the harvest.”

The Law of the Harvest

The Apostle Paul taught about God’s harvest:

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:7–9).

In recent times, the Lord has given us additional wisdom and insight into this immutable law:

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20–21).

What we sow, we reap.

God’s harvest is unimaginably glorious. To those who honor Him, His bountiful blessings come in “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. … For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).

Just as earthly seeds require effort and patience, so do many of the blessings of heaven. We cannot put our religion on a shelf and expect to harvest spiritual blessings. But if we plant and nurture gospel standards in the daily life of our family, there is a high probability that our children will grow up to produce spiritual fruit of great value to them and to future generations.

God’s answers to our prayers do not always come immediately—sometimes they do not appear to come at all—but God knows what is best for His children. Assuredly, one day we will see more clearly; and on that day we will recognize the goodness and generosity of heaven.

In the meantime, our goal and great joy is to walk in the footsteps of our Master and Savior and to live good and refined lives so that the promised and precious harvest of God’s priceless blessings can be ours.

What we sow, we reap.

That is the law of heaven.

That is the law of God’s harvest.

Teaching from This Message

Discuss with those you visit how the law of God’s harvest applies to relationships, conversion and testimony, or career and educational goals. You could read and consider scriptures related to this law, such as Proverbs 11:18; 2 Corinthians 9:6; and Alma 32. Encourage them to review previous goals and set new goals to achieve righteous outcomes. Help them develop a plan to act consistently in order to reach their long-term purpose.

Children

Plan Your Harvest

God’s law of the harvest is that if we want something later, we have to work for it now. If we want to grow a garden, we need to plant the seeds, water them, and protect them from weeds. If we don’t do this, we won’t have any harvest later!

This garden shows some good “fruit” you may want in your life. On the lines below, write some things you can do this month to help you receive these blessings.

children’s activity

Ideologies

There are a lot of great ideas and ideals in the world.

There are a lot of horribly ignorant ideas and ideals in the world.

Gratefully, I thank God for scriptures, living prophets, and a conscience to help me know what is right and what is wrong.

God’s laws are delivered by God, or those whom He appoints. I see a strong resemblance between much of constitutional law and the basic fundamentals taught in the bible.

Man has no authority to change God’s laws.

Homosexuality is wrong! Does that make me a ‘homophobe?’ Not even remotely! It means I believe in God. That I believe in the Bible. Do I have the right to judge a homosexual? NO, I do not! I have heard people claim that you are born to be homosexual. Like choosing vanilla, or chocolate ice cream, it is a choice. Just as it is a choice to have ice cream, or not have ice cream. So it is with the practice of homosexuality.

More people should stand for something, and recognize that freedom of speech does not entitle anyone to a sexual preference parade which is visible to 4 and 5 year olds who ask “What is gay?” Sexual preference discussions are highly inappropriate for children of that age. And the ridiculous argument that “God made me. I am gay, so it is okay.” Opens the reasoning for the serial killer who thirsts for a kill “God made me. I love to kill, so it is okay.” Am I comparing the two? Nope, just showing how stupid the argument is!

Is it fair to receive something for nothing? No it is not. Should we care for those in need? Yes! Should we require they do their part? Yes!

Is it right to kill another person? Well that depends on the circumstances. Some might argue that it is never okay to kill. I argue, that if anyone presents a credible risk to my wife, my children, my friends, my Country, and even me, then you don’t want to be on the opposite side of that confrontation, and that is the only reason people are free to speak out against the military, because WE (the military) defended their right to do so!

Is it right to put the life of any animal, before any human? No! We were given dominion over them. Is it right to abuse them or to kill them and waste their carcasses for sport? No!

Is it right for us as citizens to keep assault rifles, or any other weapon? Yes! Our government is by the people, for the people and of the people, in no particular order.

Is it right to incarcerate people for drug use? I don’t think so. Is it right to incarcerate someone who hurts another person or damages another’s property? Yes!

There are some things, left open to debate, but certain fundamental core values are not! Else, you are debating God, and you are best to do that in the privacy of your own home. There are nearly countless examples of how that can go very wrong.

Am I a Republican? Yes, because as an American, I acknowledge that America is a Republic, not a Democracy! A Democrat in a Republic is still a Republican. Do I agree with everything associated with the ignorantly identified Republican party? Not even half of it. Do I agree with everything associated with the ignorantly identified Democratic party? Obviously, not!

Much of the passive/compassion that the Democrat party purports to defend is good. Without the industrious nature associated with most Republicans, the Democrats would not be able to fund their programs. Without the kindness of the Democrats, the Republicans would effect an eradication of the non-producing members of society. But, both parties are killing each other. As citizens we need to expect more of our government and cease supporting the hard-lines which are killing this Country. Naturally, the Democrats will force out the Republicans and the Country will go bankrupt without anyone exercising their entrepreneurial aspirations, because it makes no sense to work for something that is given freely. And the industrious Republicans who are forbidden to openly practice their religious observances, should they stop believing in the God of the Holy Bible, they will run over every Democrat who sought to rob them of their hard labor.

A Country without a God, welcomes anarchy. Anarchy happens when a Country’s people do not believe in a higher accountability than the laws of the land they live upon.

Personally, I don’t think any form of tax deduction should ever be allowed. I also believe that in a capitalist society, which is the only type of society which can truly thrive, we should all be taxed the same, regardless of income. Since, less than 1/10 of the population can afford to pay their fair dollar share, I agree with a flat tax rate. It encourages poor people to work harder. It rewards those willing to work harder. The sliding scale is without any intellectual reasoning. Would a treehugger operating a coffee shop charge nothing for their coffee to everyone making less than $50,000 per year? And, also charge $10,000 per cup to someone making over $50,000 per year? No! That would be stupid! They would not even be willing to charge on a sliding scale based upon income. Because, in this scenario people making over $50,000 could spend $50 on a high quality bag of beans. And it makes greater sense for them to get their coffee elsewhere. Though, the wise person would not have wasted a penny on coffee in the first place, since it only harms your body.

Likewise, with the current tax system, it is only encouraging the industrious to preserve wealth through alternate means.

I love this Country and to see it falling apart, it pains me.

Today’s Lesson the Book of Psalms (from the Old Testament)

My attempt to cover 150 psalms in 40 minutes, was modified to point out parallelisms of the Hebrew poets and how the practice of prayerfully searching scriptures can bring a greater understanding of our purpose in life–which hopefully is to serve others.

(((every so often, I insert a thought or idea which might seem random, but follows the pattern in Psalms.)))

[[red-italicized ==reading by a class member]]

Lesson 25: “Let Every Thing That Hath Breath Praise the Lord”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 117–22

  • Has anyone here ever experienced déjà vu?
  • Or, have you ever had a dream about something, that eventually happened?
  • What about a recurring dream, that seems to intensify, or maybe make more sense the older you get?

I’d like to start by reading Psalm 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”

  • Who do you think this is referring to? (Jesus is speaking of Judas.)
  • Remember when Cain offered a sacrifice, but it was rejected?  It wasn’t done right.  It wasn’t pure.

I have a testimony that Jesus was perfect back then, before Mary gave birth to him.  I believe He lived His mortal life without committing any sins.  I believe He is now perfect.  I firmly believe that He will always be perfect.

There is a technique that the Hebrew poets used, to make their point. This lesson refers to it as parallelism. One common characteristic of parallelism is the repetition of a thought in different words. Such repetition expands or intensifies the meaning of an idea. One example of this kind of parallelism is in Psalm 102:1-2

  1. Psalm 102:1–2

 1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.

 2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.

The same thought is expressed in different words five times

  1. “hear my prayer,”
  2. “let my cry come unto thee,”
  3. “hide not thy face from me,”
  4. “incline thine ear unto me,” and
  5. “in the day when I call answer me speedily”).

The repetition intensifies the message.

Now, think of Abraham, being commanded to sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham was a righteous man.

In the Marines, we have what some might call a proud attitude about not allowing the enemy to see us die.

pride

And we all want an honorable death.  Each of us, defining the meaning of an honorable death, for ourselves as individuals.  In bootcamp it is considered an honor, for us to be able to sing the Marine Hymn.  The melody is always butchered because we aren’t really singing, it is more of a yelling with a drawl.  Every real Marine believes in God.  If you ever have the opportunity to listen to a platoon full of recruits singing that hymn, you will have no doubt the pride we take in the words—

“If the Army and the Navy

Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,

They will find the streets are guarded

By United States Marines.”

It won’t sound like a song, it sounds like a bloodcurdling scream, and you will see fire in their eyes and a smile on their faces knowing they are speaking the absolute truth.

We believe we have job security in the hereafter, guarding the streets in heaven.  With this understanding, we concede that when our shifts are over, we all go back to hell and wait for our next shift to start.

Several psalms speak of singing as making a “joyful noise unto the Lord”

  1. Psalm 98:4

 4 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Psalm 100:1

 1 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Psalm 66:1

1 Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:

Psalm 95:1–2

 1 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

 2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

  • How can we make hymns more meaningful? (maybe research their meaning?, look up the scriptures referenced at the bottom of the hymnal page? Search for hymns based upon scriptures you are currently reading/studying? Listen to how the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings them?  Listen to them, instead of the Devil’s music?[LOL])

 

Going back to my earlier statement.. I believe Jesus was without sin.  I believe that He is perfect.  I believe that He will always be perfect.

  • Who crucified our Savior?
  • Why did they crucify him?
  • How was he arrested, or taken into custody?
  • Why did Judas do that?
  • Why was he greedy?
  • What did he want?
  • Do you think maybe his wife and kids were hungry?
  • Maybe they needed some clothes, or had to pay some bills?
  • What was the driving force behind his greed?
  • Was he beaten as a child?
  • Was someone holding his wife hostage?
  • Does anyone here know, for themselves the state of mind or the true intent of Judas’s heart, when he delivered Jesus to the Italians (romans lol)?  We don’t know it and we can’t know it.  And it would condemn us to judge him to be evil.
  1. John 18:23

23 Jesus answered him, If I have spokenevil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

Matthew 12:34

34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Jude 1:10

10 But these speakevil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

Jude 1:8

8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speakevil of dignities.

Doctrine and Covenants 136:23

23 Cease to contend one with another; cease to speakevil one of another.

James 4:11

11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

Purpose of this Lesson is–

To help us show our gratitude for the Savior and for the many blessings that He and our Heavenly Father have given us.

God has given us scripture, with point after point of how to enjoy life, how to serve him, how to serve each other… the options are many and the course is unique to each of us.

My intent was not to exonerate Judas, but to illustrate how scripture proves the purity of Christ, even if the writers of those scriptures, or the translators of scriptures deliver an inadequate portrayal, causing us… or rather, giving us the opportunity to inquire of the Lord, to gain a greater understanding.

Because, ultimately… was it Judas, the Jews and the Romans who crucified Jesus?  Or, was it all of us, individually, spitting upon our Savior, with our inaction?  Our pacified acceptance of the moral degradation of a society built up upon this promised land?  Our, willful negligence to respect the Sabbath and hammering that nail into His sinless feet, as we tell ourselves “I am pretty good. 98% isn’t too bad.”  Then we laugh and mock him up on the cross, when we don’t share the gift of the testimony He has allowed us?  When we speak ill of anyone, he has completely bled out.

What do you think happened to the men who were tasked with torturing our Savior?  Have you seen The Green Mile?  Of course, I mean the edited for tv version…  Men who are workers of death, in my experience, seem to be some of the most spiritual people I have ever known.

Believing we have a Loving Father in Heaven, I have no doubt that the men who delivered our savior up on that cross, god chose each of them and their names aren’t known to us.  Think about that.

  1. Ether 12:24

 24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.

I believe this inadequacy is what brings us closer to God, because we have to search for answers.  We always appreciate more, the things we have to work for.  A really neat thing about the book of Psalms… it is a collection of poems originally sung as praises or petitions to God. Many were written by David. This book is like a hymnal from ancient Israel. Its lyrics constitute some of the world’s best inspirational literature, expressing faith in the Lord and an earnest desire to live righteously.

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1. Prophecies of the life and mission of Jesus Christ

Many psalms prophesy of Christ’s mission as the Messiah. The resurrected Savior declared, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44). Discuss the fulfillment of a few of the following prophecies about Christ that are written in the book of Psalms:

Prophecy Fulfillment
Psalm 107:23–30 Matthew 8:23–27. Jesus calmed the winds and the waves.
Psalm 69:8 John 1:11; 7:5. Jesus was not received by his own people.
Psalm 41:9; 55:12–14 John 13:18, 21. Jesus was betrayed by a friend.
Psalm 69:20 Mark 14:32–41. Jesus suffered alone in Gethsemane.
Psalm 22:7–8 Matthew 27:39–43. Jesus was mocked.
Psalm 22:16 Mark 15:25. Jesus was crucified.
Psalm 22:18 Matthew 27:35. The soldiers cast lots for Christ’s clothes.
Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46. Jesus asked the Father why he had forsaken him.
Psalm 69:21 John 19:28–30. Jesus was given vinegar for his thirst.
Psalm 34:20 John 19:33–36. None of Jesus’ bones was broken.
Psalm 31:5 Luke 23:46. Jesus commended his spirit to the Father and died.
Psalm 16:10 Acts 2:31–32; 13:34–35. The Savior’s flesh did not see corruption, being raised up in the Resurrection.

 

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Jesus Christ is the only person whose birth, life, death, and resurrection were prophesied before his birth.

  • Why do you think such detailed prophecies were given about the Savior’s life? (These prophecies made it clear that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world.)
  • How were these prophecies a blessing to those who received them? (The prophecies helped people learn of the Savior and gain testimonies of him even before he was born [see Mosiah 3:13]. The prophecies also helped some people recognize him when he came.)

2. “The Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee” (Psalm 116:7).

In addition to prophesying of the Savior’s life and mission, many psalms express gratitude for blessings such as the creation of heaven and earth; the Savior’s mercy, forgiveness, and love; the scriptures; and the temple.

The Creation of Heaven and Earth

Discuss the following psalms that express gratitude to the Lord for the creation of heaven and earth:

  1. Psalm 19:1

 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

  1. Psalm 104:5–7, 14, 24

 5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

 6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

 7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

 14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

 24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

  1. Psalm 136:3–9

 3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 4 To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:

 8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:

 9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

  • How does the creation of heaven and earth testify of God’s power and love? (See Alma 30:44; Moses 6:63.)
  • How can we show gratitude for the gift of the Creation? (respect the Sabbath)

The Savior’s Mercy, Forgiveness, and Love

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Psalm 23

David declares, The Lord is my shepherd.

A Psalm of David.

1 The Lordis my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

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  • Has the Lord ever been merciful towards anyone here?  Have you ever begged God for mercy and received mercy?
  • Have you ever felt forgiven, by the Lord?
  • Have you ever felt loved by the Lord?

The Scriptures

Discuss the following psalms that express gratitude to the Lord for the scriptures:

  1.   Psalm 19:7–11

 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

 8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

 11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

  • What words did David use in Psalm 19:7–10 to describe the scriptures? (Synonyms for the scriptures include law, testimony, statutes, commandment, and judgments. Adjectives describing the scriptures include perfect, sure, right, pure, true, and righteous. The scriptures are also described as more desired than gold and sweeter than honey.)
  • What blessings can the scriptures bring into our lives, as recorded in Psalm 19:7–11?
    • They convert our souls (verse 7).
    • They make the simple wise (verse 7).
    • They cause our hearts to rejoice (verse 8).
    • They enlighten our eyes (verse 8).
    • They give us warning (verse 11).
  • How have the scriptures blessed your life in these or in other ways?
  1.   Psalm 119:105

105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

  • How are the scriptures like “a lamp unto [our] feet, and a light unto [our] path”?

The Temple

Discuss some of the following psalms about the temple. You may want to display one or more pictures of temples as class members read these psalms:

10.  Psalm 5:7

 7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

11.  Psalm 15:1–3

 1 Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

 3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

12. Psalm 27:4

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

  • What can we learn about the temple from these psalms?
  • What can we learn about preparing ourselves to go to the temple?

3. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12)

In Psalm 116:12, David asked, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”

Here is how he answered-

13.  Psalm 116:13-19

 13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.

 14 I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.

 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

 16 O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.

 17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.

 18 I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people,

 19 In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.

“I will take the cup of salvation” ().

“I will … call upon the name of the Lord” (116:13).

“O Lord, truly I am thy servant” (116:16).

“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (116:17).

“I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord’s house” (116:18–19).

  • How can we apply David’s answers in showing gratitude to the Lord?

I think a pretty good example is right here in this awesome hymn.

4. “Trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:5)

“Trust in the Lord” is one of the most common admonitions in the book of Psalms (Psalm 4:5; 5:11; 9:10; 18:2; 56:11; 62:8; 118:8–9).

  • How do we place our trust in the Lord?
  • How have you been blessed as you have trusted him?

Conclusion

The psalms bear powerful witness of the divine mission of Jesus Christ. They also remind us of the great blessings that he and our Heavenly Father have given us. And they suggest ways we can express gratitude for those blessings.

 

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Psalm 150

Praise God in His sanctuary—Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

 

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The final Psalm, made me think of this tune… I think it is good anytime of year!

I am grateful for the limitations of scripture that force me to seek answers through prayer and study.  I encourage you all to bear your testimonies more frequently, whether in word or deed, or screaming it out in blood-curdling fashion… itNoJC,a!!