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Friday, December 23, 2016

Four Gifts From Father to You...And One Gift From You to Father

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This Christmas season, I'd like to highlight four gifts Father has already given you.

While most choose to minimize and walk away from them, I'd like to challenge you to take them seriously. Receive them. Use them. Often.

I have no doubt that as you cherish these gifts, our overly-generous Father will be more inclined to bless you with more.
"Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.
Now I will liken these things unto a parable.
For it is like as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway went on his journey.
Then he that had received the five talents, went and traded with the same; and gained other five talents.
And likewise he who received two talents, he also gained other two.
But he who had received one, went and digged in the earth and hid his lord's money.
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
And so he that had received the five talents came, and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained besides them five talents more.
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents; behold, I have gained two talents besides them.
His lord said unto him, Will done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Then he who had received the one talent came, and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not scattered.
And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth; and lo, here is thy talent; take it from me as thou hast from thine other servants, for it is thine.
His lord answered and said unto him, O wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not scattered.
Having known this, therefore, thou oughtest to have put my money to the exchangers, and at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
I will take, therefore, the talent from you, and give it unto him who hath ten talents.
For unto every one who hath obtained other talents, shall be given, and he shall have an abundance.
But from him that hath not obtained other talents, shall be taken away even that which he hath received.
And his lord shall say unto his servants, Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (JST Matthew 25:12-31

The Gift of Gratitude


As one friend said, "May we put things into perspective and be grateful for the simple 'gifts' in our life that we take for granted...like our spouse, our children, clean water, electricity, food, jobs, transportation...and yes (for some)...coffee. For me, just being alive is an amazing gift."




The Gift of Faith: The Lectures on Faith 


In speaking about the Lectures on Faith, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:
"In my judgment, it is the most comprehensive, intelligent, inspired utterance that now exists in the English language-that exists in one place defining, interpreting, expounding, announcing, and testifying what kind of being God is. It is written by the power of the Holy Ghost, by the spirit of inspiration. It is, in effect, eternal scripture; it is true. I will only read part of it, and even then, because of the deep content that is involved in the words, we cannot measure or fathom their full intent. We need to study and ponder and analyze the expressions that are made." (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, lecture at Brigham Young University, Jan. 4, 1972)

Regarding the Lectures' status as scripture, the entire church membership agreed with Joseph, sustaining the lectures as scripture on August 17, 1835. Per D&C 26:2 and 28:13,
"Voting on the book proceeded by quorums and groups, with the leader of each group bearing witness of the truth of the volume before his group voted to accept it. After the voting by quorums, the entire church membership present, both male and female, voted to accept the book as 'the doctrine and covenants of their faith.'" (Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Volume 2, p. 307; http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/doctrine-and-covenants-1835)
Even though the Lectures on Faith are no longer included in our canon of scripture, the general church membership has never reversed its sustaining vote for them as scripture. They are still scriptural and scripture.

The History of the Lectures on Faith
Summary

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The Gift of Knowledge: The Joseph Smith Translation (JST)


I believe one of the most underrated resources we have in learning of the Lord and His gospel is the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. With knowledge obtained from it, you can better avoid deception. Without it, you are likely to misunderstand the gospel. Three examples:
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:22-23)
Now, here's the JST version:
"And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity." (JST Matthew 7:32-33; also quoted by Elder David A. Bednar, “If Ye Had Known Me”, October 2016 General Conference)
Another example:
“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the [five foolish] virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” (Matthew 25:10–12)
And the JST...
"The implications of this parable for each of us are expanded by another inspired revision. Importantly, the phrase “I know you not,” as reported in the King James Version of the Bible, was clarified in the Joseph Smith Translation to 'Ye know me not.'" (Elder David A. Bednar, “If Ye Had Known Me”, October 2016 General Conference)
Finally, here's a JST insight into Melchizedek and Abram:
"And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.
And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;
Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.
Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need." (JST Genesis 14:36-39)
And the King James Version:
[Doesn't exist]
These are just three of many deficiencies you'd never know about if you kept on reading the non-JST Bible.

The Gift of Preparedness: The Book of Isaiah


When Christ visited the Nephites, He said,
"And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.
For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles." (3 Nephi 23:1-2)
Please note:
  • These verses were spoken by the Lord immediately after prophesying events which are extremely likely to be imminent in our lifetimes (see 3 Nephi 21 and 22).
  • They were included in the Book of Mormon, for which we are still under condemnation for not taking seriously.
  • The Lord would have us not just search Isaiah's words, but search them diligently.
"Isaiah is the most quoted of all the prophets, being more frequently quoted by Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John (in his Revelation) than any other Old Testament prophet. Likewise the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants quote from Isaiah more than from any other prophet." ("Isaiah", LDS Bible Dictionary, https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bd/isaiah)
Despite Isaiah's scriptural importance, I'm constantly astounded by many online who claim to be serious students of prophecy and the end times, or have a deep interest in it, yet have never taken the Lord, His words, the Book of Mormon nor the Book of Isaiah seriously. It is amazing to see the discussions and even outright predictions made by some when it's very obvious they haven't read this most-quoted prophet.

Please ask yourself:
  • If you aren't reading Isaiah, just how long do you plan to disregard the Lord's commandment to diligently search it?
  • What forms of entertainment rank higher in priority than diligently studying the Lord's words as He has directed (simple metric: # of hours spent surfing online/watching TV/movies/sports vs studying Isaiah)?
  • What other prophecy-related book authors have received more of your time than Isaiah?
  • Do you give in to Satan's statements that Isaiah's too hard to understand?
  • Have you taken advantage of the many resources (here's one) to diligently study Isaiah in an easy-to-understand format? 
"The reader today has no greater written commentary and guide to understanding Isaiah than the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. As one understands these works better he will understand Isaiah better, and as one understands Isaiah better, he more fully comprehends the mission of the Savior and the meaning of the covenant that was placed upon Abraham and his seed by which all the families of the earth would be blessed." ("Isaiah", LDS Bible Dictionary, https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bd/isaiah)
As mentioned above, there's a free resource to help you better understand Isaiah: IsaiahExplained.com. Here's how I would navigate this website:

1. Start with the video vignettes. Each of the 7 vignettes (listed on the right-hand side of the page) are less than 20 minutes long. Watch those 7 videos, and I'd seriously bet you know more about Isaiah than the average Christian, and are ready for a little more depth.

2. Read the Isaiah Resources. Also on the right-hand side, you'll become more familiar with the "Key Features of the Prophecy of Isaiah", "Isaiah's Layered Literary Structures", "Isaiah's Seven Spiritual Levels of Humanity", "Isaiah's Ancient Types of End-Time Events", "Overviews of the Prophecy of Isaiah" and "Glossary of Terms Relating to Isaiah".

3. Diligently search the Book of Isaiah. At the top of the page, horizontally, you'll see four links:
  • Isaiah Institute Translation
  • Comparative (King James Version vs Isaiah Institute) Translation
  • Apocalyptic Commentary (of every verse, in every chapter, of Isaiah)
  • Interactive Concordance (of nearly every word in Isaiah).
4. Need audio? No problem! Go here, scroll to the bottom of the page and grab either the online or 2-Disc mp3s of the "Analytical Commentary of the Book of Isaiah", which is an in-depth examination of every verse of Isaiah. I can testify that they're far more interesting, informative and enlightening than what's on your radio today.

Use each of those resources to better understand what Isaiah is saying -- especially those portions which are directly affecting us right now, yet almost all (especially latter-day saints) are unaware of them.

The Gift You Can Give to Father


Have you ever wanted to give Heavenly Father a present?

You can.

It's one thing to behold God's glory in the spirit world.

But it's something quite different when you're living in such darkness and difficulty, and you express your adoration for Him...pray and sing with real intent to Him...and show love to others.

Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- brings more joy to Father and Christ's hearts than when you truly worship Father, despite living in a dark, dreary, depressing, difficult, violent, immoral, embattled, struggling world.

When you worship without seeing His glory, in the midst of your trials, you worship in Spirit and in Truth. The Father seeks such to be His worshippers.

Worship the Father -- not for what you will get, but to bring Him joy. You will never be stronger than when you bring Him joy, "for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

Genuine adoration, expressed by even the most humble believer on earth, makes all of heaven rejoice. But even more than that, it actually touches Father.

It will touch Him more than you can comprehend.


3 comments:

  1. Do you have any insights on how to "truly worship Father?" Prayer and singing comes to mind, but I'm wondering if you have any specific recommendations.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It'll tell you what would be most meaningful [1] for you and [2] at any given time. For one person, it might be praying. For another, singing. For another, doing genealogical work. For another, spending time chillin' with your family.

      "...receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do." (2 Nephi 32:5)

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    2. In both Bednar's talk and in the New Testament Student Manual, it references a non-existent Joseph Smith Translation--Matthew 7:23, or Matthew 7:32-33. Very odd. I wonder why this error. The manual was a 2014 edition. Here's the quote from the manual:
      The Joseph Smith Translation changed “I never knew you” to “Ye never knew me” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:33 [in Matthew 7:23, footnote a]).


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