Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Search My Heart: President Lee, Lesson 8

One of our RS teachers just had a baby a couple of weeks ago. So we got a substitute for her for last Sunday. But on Thursday evening, the substitute called me to tell me she would be unable to teach. So I decided I would teach...and it was okay, because I'd read through the lesson and had stumbled upon several things that went right with the lesson. I want to keep my lessons, because they are a record of my thoughts and what I'm learning. And my computer really could die at any day, so I'm going to save it here on my blog. At first, I thought, no one wants to read my lesson again. But then I thought, hey, it's my blog, and it is a good place for ME to save it, so I am. :) I really write this for myself and my children. (The quotes, unless otherwise stated, come from Lesson 8 In Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow.)

The lesson begins by telling a story. President Snow and President Franklin D. Richards had in 1850 heard Brigham Young say that some of the men should have their Priesthood taken from them because they were not magnifying their calling. Both President Snow and President Richards (at the time they were Apostles) went to Brigham Young to see if they should give up their Priesthood. He said that the Lord was pleased with them.

Quotes 1, page 119 "Throughout his life, President Snow wanted his heart to be right before the Lord, and he also encouraged the Saints to examine their own worthiness. He spoke with “a view of riveting more forcibly upon our understanding” the need to establish “a proper character, as Latter-day Saints, before God our Father."

Quote 2 page 119, "I am under the strongest impression, that the most valuable consideration, and that which will be of the most service when we return to the spirit world, will be that of having established a proper and well defined character as faithful and consistent Latter-day Saints in this state of probation."

The title of this lesson, “Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart” comes from a psalm of David. PSALM 139: 23-24...“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”

Elder Snow counsels us to reflect on our lives and to pray to know which areas in our life we need to make changes. Quote 3 from page 120

I have reason to believe that many of the Latter-day Saints, during a great portion of their lives, could approach the Lord in all confidence and make this same prayer—“Search me, O God, and know my heart, and see if there be any wicked way in me;” but if we, as a people, could live so as to be able at all times to bow before the Lord and offer up a prayer like this, what a delightful thing it would be, what an attainment we should have acquired in righteousness and good works! … I would recommend that [every person] adopt this prayer of David, and see how near he can live according to the light that he has, so as to make it in all sincerity part of his devotions to God. Many fail in coming up to this standard of excellence because they do things in secret where mortal eye cannot penetrate, that have a direct tendency to alienate them from the Almighty and to grieve away the Spirit of God. Such persons cannot in their private closet use this prayer; they could not unless they had repented of their sins and repaired the wrong they may have committed, and determined to do better in the future than they had done in the past, and to establish a character before God that could be relied upon in the hour of trial, and that would fit them to associate with holy beings and with the Father himself when they shall have passed into the spirit world.

He then went on to say,
… We must be true men and true women; we must have faith largely developed, and we must be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost to aid us in the work of righteousness all the day long, to enable us to sacrifice our own will to the will of the Father, to battle against our fallen nature, and to do right for the love of doing right, keeping our eye single to the honor and glory of God.
President Snow said on page 120 at the bottom: “We must be true men and true women….”

STAY IN CONDITION: On a blog that I follow, the writer made a t-shirt that says, “Team Packer: Stay in Condition”. She shared this quote from President Packer's most recent conference talk, April 2013, “Each of us must stay in condition to respond to inspiration and the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The Lord has a way of pouring pure intelligence into our minds to prompt us, to guide us, to teach us, and to warn us. Each son or daughter of God can know the things they need to know instantly. Learn to receive and act on inspiration and revelation.”

She pointed out the importance of the line, staying in condition. Almost a year ago, I ran a half marathon with Alfredo. It isn’t something I’d ever thought I would do…I am not a runner. But I worked hard, trained and I did it. Recently, Alfredo asked if I wanted to run another half marathon this summer. I had to answer no…not because I hated the half…it was a good experience. But I have not stayed in condition. I continued running for several months after the half, but slowly, I stopped. I am in no physical condition to run a half marathon now. Running even 5 miles now would hurt. It would be hard to breathe. It would be HARD. In this blog post I read, the writer, Sister Christensen points out that if we don’t stay in condition, everything is harder and more painful and we will lose to more disciplined athletes. Then she writes this, “We cannot afford to lose. The outcome of this match-up is too important, but how do we remain in condition?” So now, I ask you, how do we remain in spiritual condition?

President Packer gave this advice: “Latter-day Saints recognize the transcendent importance of the family and strive to live in such a way that the adversary cannot steal into our homes. We find safety and security for ourselves and our children in honoring the covenants we have made and living up to the ordinary acts of obedience required of the followers of Christ.”

Other suggestions President Packer mentions are using the priesthood. Faith filled prayers. Repentance.

One way to stay in condition that keeps coming to my mind is acting upon the promptings we receive, whether we understand them or not. As we respond to the promptings we receive to serve, to teach, to bless others, we will receive more promptings. The Lord will know that He can trust us to listen, to hearken and to obey.

Another thought I’ve had this week as I read this lesson was that contention drives the spirit away. Can someone please read 3 Nephi 11:29. Contention removes the spirit from our homes and lives. I loved Elder Falabella’s conference talk entitled “The Home: The School of Life.” He shared that one of his wife’s mottos has been: “In order to contend, you need two people and I will never be one of them.” That really struck me…It is something I need to work on.

On another blog, Sister Emily Freeman wrote about the importance of obedience. She was recently having a conversation with a friend about obedience, and the friend asked why obedience is so important. She writes, “I told her that I used to think that it was in order to improve our behavior, to keep us safe, to follow the counsel we are given. Those are all important, and true. But recently I have learned a deeper truth.”

She then shared this quote from Lorenzo Snow. QUOTE: Now if we really desire to draw near to God; if we wish to place ourselves in accord with the good spirits of the eternal worlds; if we wish to establish within ourselves that faith which we read about and by which ancient Saints performed such wonderful works we must, after we obtain the Holy Spirit, hearken to its whisperings and conform to its suggestions, and by no act of our lives drive it from us…” (page 123)

We need to be so careful not to drive the Spirit from us. We have great responsibilities…as mothers, as wives, as grandmothers, as sisters, as visiting teachers, as women of the Relief Society. We need the guidance and direction that the Spirit can bring us. We cannot afford to drive it from us.

Are there things in your life now that push the spirit away? Are there books you are reading or tv shows you watch that remove the spirit from your life? Are there sins that you need to repent of so that the spirit can dwell with you? Is there someone you need to forgive so that anger or bitterness doesn’t cloud your mind and heart and keep the spirit from you?

Or are there things that you need to add to your life or increase in your life so that you can have the spirit more fully? Perhaps you need to study the scriptures more diligently or you need to improve your personal prayers. Perhaps you are not attending the temple and don’t have those blessings in your life. Perhaps you know that you need to serve more. I hope that on the card I’ve given you, you will write down one thing that you will stop doing or start doing so that you can have the spirit more abundantly in your life, so that as President Snow says, you can “be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost”.

The Lord wants us to come to Him with broken heart and contrite spirit. I’d like us to listen to a song by a group called “One Clear Voice” entitled “Broken”. As it plays, listen to the importance of a broken heart and also perhaps be writing down what you can do to have the spirit more abundantly in your life…search your own heart to see if it is right before the Lord.

MOSES and JONAH:review these prophets and what we can learn from their examples, including that we can repent. Also that we need to do what is right, even if we stand alone. (page 121)

How can these stories of Moses and Jonah help us as we search our heart to see if it is right before the Lord?

Quote 4:
Such traits of character as we find evinced in the ancient worthies are not the products of accident or chance, neither are they acquired in a day, a week, a month, or a year, but are gradual developments, the results of continued faithfulness to God and to truth, independent of either the plaudits or criticisms of men.

… It is important that we, as Latter-day Saints, should understand and bear in mind that salvation comes through the grace of God and through the development in us of those principles that governed those righteous people before mentioned. The idea is not to do good because of the praise of men; but to do good because in doing good we develop godliness within us, and this being the case we shall become allied to godliness, which will in time become part and portion of our being. …

What does our heart glory in? What are our greatest desires? ALMA 48: 11-13, 16-17

On Thursday evening, I read D&C 64: 33-34. IT says, “Wherefore, be not weary in well dong, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceeded that which is great. Behold the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”

I love these verses and in the past when I have read them, I have related them to service… be not weary in well doing… out of small things proceeded that which is great…. I still think they do relate to service, but as I was studying them this past week, a new thought came into my mind. Can’t these verses also relate to our own efforts in personal righteousness… be not weary in well doing. Keep doing what is right. Keep studying and learning and growing. You are laying the foundation of a great work. Out of small things proceeded that which is great. Our efforts to live the gospel are often small. But we are rewarded so bountifully. Even small steps to improve our lives bring blessings, particularly if the Lord sees that our hearts are open and our minds are willing. In Ether, the Lord promises that if we turn to Him, He will make our weak things become strong. Ether 12:27...

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage… and on, on to the victory!” (D&C 128:19, 122) in Sheri Dew's book No Doubt About It, she talks about how excited this makes her. She says, "Doesn't that just make you want to climb a rooftop or go on CNN and tell the whole world what you know and believe? We are engaged in the glorious cause of Jesus Christ."

Page 220-221 in Sheri Dew's book No Doubt About It (I read more than this, but here are the highlights that are my favorites:
I have come to believe that whatever we really want, we'll probably get. If we really want money and status, we'll find a way to get them. By the same token, if we really want to overcome bad habits or cultivate integrity or become more pure so that we can better hear the voice of the Spirit, we'll find a way to do those things as well. Fifty years from now, what we have become shouldn't surprise us, because we will have become what we have set our hearts upon.

Satan is also after our hearts, because he knows that if he can control our feelings and desires, he can control us--which is why he tries to harden our hearts, puff up the pride of our hearts, and set our hearts upon the vain things of the world...

No wonder the Lord "requireth the heart and a willing mind. Notice that He said nothing about how gorgeous or thin, educated or affluent, wealthy or influential we must be. He simply asks for our hearts and our will, because that's all we have to give Him. Everything else is already His.

Quote #5 from President Snow:
… What can we do under the circumstances to elevate ourselves still higher in the righteousness of our God? What advantages, blessings and privileges does this system of salvation, which we have obeyed, afford, and what means shall be employed to realize them? If there should be a sacrifice demanded it will be very opportune for all those who wish to make their religion a study, and who are endeavoring to conform to its requirements, by living it in their everyday life, to show their willingness to bow to the will of Jehovah, acknowledging his hand in adversity as in prosperity.

… It would be well to examine ourselves, hold communion with ourselves in the secret closet, to ascertain how we stand … before the Lord, so that if need be we may renew our diligence and faithfulness, and increase our good works.

I hope we will take the time to examine ourselves, to pick out at least one thing we can add to our lives so that we can feel the Spirit more abundantly or one thing we can remove from our life that is hindering us from feeling the Spirit.