love towards God
Week 17 is scheduled for study April 22-28, 2024. Love towards God and all men is something that happens through deliberate choice. Consistency in love is never an accident, but a repeated choice.

Day 1

Mosiah 1:1-7 – Search [the scriptures] diligently.

Scriptures are unlike any other form of writing. Most people view their scriptures as much an historical record as anything else. Some view them pretty much only for their historical value. But this isn’t how God views the scriptures.

When we go to a textbook to look up information and get answers to questions, we look for the section labeled with our topic, assuming our answer is somewhere in that section or near it. Scriptures don’t work this way. To find an answer in the scriptures means spending a lot of time reading about this prophet’s counsel on the subject, this prophet’s experience with the same subject, the words of a modern revelation to yet another prophet, or even the historical record that shows us how some of God’s children behaved in relation to our subject. The answers to our questions come in little pieces, a little here and a little there. Rarely will we find one, and only one answer, and in only one place, to a particular question in the scriptures.

That our knowledge on a particular doctrine or subject is found throughout the scriptures, and not in just one place, is the reason we are told to feast upon the words in the scriptures. If we don’t become familiar with all the stories, all the doctrines, and all the Lord’s dealings with His people, chances are we will only find shallow answers to our questions when we go searching. Like a miner who searches for weeks or months to eventually find a single nugget or small gem, so too do we search the scriptures and hope to pick up a little wisdom here and a little wisdom there. It is slow going, and takes great labors to find what ultimately does us the most good.

Part of the joy that comes from searching the scriptures regularly is the realization that God is consistent in His behavior. He is constant in His love, and always faithful to His covenants with His people. We are just like His ancient people. Sometimes we are more faithful than at other times. Occasionally we need to be reminded that we have made sacred covenants that we aren’t properly living up to, and sometimes we learn that we have been doing well and God is pleased with us. If we are putting ourselves into the stories of God’s people – think ‘likening the scriptures to ourselves’ – then we will find that we can more easily relate to the stories of obedience and disobedience found throughout the scriptures.

The payoff for the effort we put into searching the scriptures diligently is a stronger testimony that what we have chosen to believe is true. We come to find individual reasons to rejoice because certain doctrines have greater meaning to us at this particular time in our life. The study of the scriptures also shows us new things we didn’t realize before. The Spirit steps in and opens the eyes of our understanding and shows us bits of knowledge that come straight from God. We find reasons to rejoice and be grateful for things we hadn’t seen or understood before.

Day 2

Mosiah 2:10-26 – When I serve others, I am also serving God.

The verses in today’s lesson are about one of the most fundamental and basic doctrines in the whole plan of salvation. It has to do with the nature and disposition of God, Himself. His life is devoted to service to His family. Moses 1:39 says,

39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

God has a lot of time on His hands. In fact, He has all the time there is, for He is eternal. There are no time restraints on Him like there are on us. We know we will die soon, so we have careers to advance, glory to win, influence to peddle, and hearts to be won. There is a sense of urgency to all we do, for there is always the expiration of our life looming in the distance, drawing ever closer. We act like this life is all there is, so we need to hurry and accomplish things while there is still time. We live almost as though there doesn’t exist the eternity before we came to earth and the eternity that exists after we leave earth. Earth feels like it is all there is to existence. Not true.

God serves others. That is His nature. To not be in the service of someone else, to not be helping, promoting, assisting others to grow and become happier by becoming kinder, more loving, etc., is not in his nature. These behaviors bring happiness, the kind of happiness that only a God can experience. He wants this happiness for His children. Have you noticed that all of God’s commandments are designed to bring us the same kind of happiness that He experiences when He serves others? There is something about being selfless in our attitudes that causes us to rejoice in the prosperity of others.

Christ is the best example of someone living in this way. Every day of his life was spent in the service of others. His whole life was about blessing others through his personal efforts. In mortality, as a mortal, Jesus could only bless those with whom he personally came in contact. But each and every one of those people were presented opportunities for greater relief from suffering, pain, and the daily struggles in life because of his efforts to be nice to them.

Giving God glory, or glorifying God, is all about replicating God’s goodness through the works of goodness He has demonstrated for us. It is this endless duplication of what He does all the time that glorifies Him and His name. So when we live like Christ, who lives like God, we also are serving all those around us as God would if He were walking beside us. This is why He tells us to go out and serve. I have long said that the commandments are the laws of happiness. Commandments don’t exist to reign us in and restrict us and our behavior. The purpose of the commandments is to release our godly attributes and give us free reign to be as good as we want to be. By keeping the commandments we are more free than ever to be kind, to appreciate beauty, to love without restraint, and to find joy in serving others. Keeping the commandments helps us have consciences free of guilt. They help us learn to see clearly that serving others is what God does, and doing things like our God does them brings us greater joy than anything else we can conceive of doing.

This simple statement that when we are in the service of our fellow man we are only in the service of our God is correct. It is correct, because God doesn’t want our lip service. He wants our lives of service to others. God sees us as we really are, members of the same family here experiencing mortality, a vital step along our developmental path towards godhood. He wants us to love each other, care for one another, and to live in peace with one another. This is His work, and He wants us to make that our work as well. And just as this is also His glory to see us learn to be good as He is good, we also learn to become godly as He is Godly by doing what He does every day. Whether goodness is done by Him or by us, it is all the same work, so it doesn’t matter who does it or to whom it is done, eventually God gets all the credit and glory for it, because all good comes from Him. We become the conduits of His goodness as we serve one another. Yet we receive the joy that comes from initiating the goodness we learned from God.

Day 3

Mosiah 2:38-41 – Happiness comes from keeping the commandments of God.

The concept of today’s lesson takes faith to accept. Please allow me to explain my thinking. When we lived in the presence of God, it was understood with perfect clarity by one and all that the nature of life is governed through God’s laws and our obedience to those laws. Happiness and misery are both reliant on whether or not we are obedient to God’s laws. We have a veil over our minds while in the flesh. If it wasn’t necessary for our growth and opportunities to develop into greater beings, we wouldn’t have the veil. Such is life. In mortality we are free to be as disobedient as we wish to be. Since we don’t remember while we are here in the flesh the eternal certainty of what happens to those who disobey God, we have little to no fear of being punished for our misdeeds.

Once we have our memories restored, those deeds in mortality for which we have not repented through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice will suddenly resurface. We will see our own behavior in the light of eternal truth. Our conscience will be smitten with the realization that we have disobeyed our Father, and that we have no way of making that right, for we have rejected Christ’s sacrifice and his offer to forgive us for our sins. We know now that the punishments we have to look forward to are completely just, for we disobeyed deliberately. And even though we may have rejected Christ’s sacrifice by not seeking to be forgiven while in the flesh, we will all be painfully aware that even with this rejection on our part, he will still have covered our sins which we innocently committed. He paid for the sins of all, whether or not we love him back.

Those who have exercised faith in Christ, have repented of their sins, and have been faithful to the commandments he gave us in our generation, they will realize that their slate is clean. They have nothing to fear when it comes to the laws of God, for through their faith in Christ they have been living within the laws of God all along. They are free to experience all the joy that living God’s laws offers His children. We don’t remember the certainty and the demands of God’s laws while we are here in mortality, but the day will come when we will remember once again. How joyful the obedient to Christ will be, and how full of woe will be those who rejected their proffered opportunities while in the flesh.

Now that you have read my thinking on the subject, I recommend going back and rereading the verses for today’s lesson and see if you agree with what I have written.

Day 4

Mosiah 3:1-20 – I can become a saint through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Here is a trivia point I never knew until this lesson. To be a saint means to be “set apart, separate, holy.” To be holy means “consecrated, set apart or separate.” It looks to me that to be a saint and to be holy are pretty much synonymous with each other. This is a point I have never before considered. The scriptures are very clear that we are to be a holy people. They are also very clear that we are to become saints.

We have been called saints from the time we were baptized, but to try to be holy seems almost pompous or sacrilegious. Accepting that we are saints, because we keep ourselves unspotted from the world, in the world, but not of the world, also defines what it means for us to be holy. Just as we readily accept that we are the saints of the latter day, so too should we willingly accept that being a saint is what makes us a holy people. In other words, we live among our non-covenant making friends, but we take care to show forth love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, obedience to the commandments, and all other attributes of one who has committed themselves to follow Christ in all things.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ provides the way for us to be forgiven of our sins. Those who seek forgiveness at his hands Christ calls saints. Saints are covenant making and covenant keeping people. The very act of being forgiven makes us more holy than we were before we repented. We become saints through our submission to the commandments of God. We simply cannot be either holy, nor saintly in our disposition and  attitudes in life without seeking to become better than we currently are through the atoning sacrifice of Christ.

Day 5

Mosiah 3:5-21 – The Lord Omnipotent … shall come down from heaven.

I don’t know why it is that some people feel a need to limit what Christ can or will do in their lives. I don’t know if making Jesus more human in nature comforts them somehow or if it provides an excuse for not fully trusting him with all their heart and soul. Omnipotence, the ability to do anything, should be the very reason we are willing to put all of our trust and faith in Christ’s commandments, in his ability to understand our needs and our pain, and to believe he wants to forgive us of our sins so we can become more like him.

How we feel about Christ and his omnipotent nature, and how we are willing to react to his commandments, because of his omnipotence, is something each of us has to reflect and ponder on. The prophets act like Christ’s omnipotence, his all-powerful nature, is what should draw us to him. Jesus was chosen by God, our Father, to be our Savior and Redeemer specifically because he has demonstrated that his love for us and for being righteous is just as perfect as God’s is. He also has the mental and spiritual capacity to accomplish what only a Messiah can accomplish. We don’t have the capacity to pay infinite and eternal prices for sin. Jesus can and did. We cannot even pay for our own sins, but Jesus paid for ours and everyone else’s sins as well, whether or not they would love and accept him in return. If anyone deserves our complete trust and devotion, besides God, Himself, it should be Christ, our Redeemer.

Personal Study

We benefit from repetition.

The manual says that “Repetition will help the children remember what they learn.” That is also true of adults. Most things in the gospel of Christ are built on the principle of repetition. There is the weekly renewal of the baptismal covenant in the form of the sacrament. We make covenants in the temple only to be told to return over and over again, but now each visit is for the sake of someone else. But while there we are reminded over and over again of the promises we made and are promised in return for our obedience.

Prayer, personal or otherwise, should be morning and night, minimum. Payment of tithes and offerings is periodic. Ministering is something we do over and over again. The more we do it the more valuable it becomes to us. The fulfilment of church callings is also periodic in nature. Once we accept covenants from God, our life takes on a new rhythm or pattern, for all that is good is best repeated as often as possible.

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BoM17-2024 – Filled with Love Towards God and All Men