the rest of the Lord
Week 26 is scheduled for study June 24-30, 2024. To find the rest of the Lord requires us to change our relationship with Him. We must be seeking him, not the other way around.

Day 1

Alma 13:1-19 – Priesthood ordinances point me to Jesus Christ for redemption.

How long has it been since you last thought your way through the wording or process of any priesthood ordinance? I’m guessing that the answer is either “never” or “a very long time.” This isn’t something we think about every day. Perhaps today is a good day to do it. Let’s look at the wording and process of a couple of ordinances that take place outside the temple then we’ll talk about what is going on. (You can find instructions on how to perform ordinances at this link. The text below was copied directly from the Church site at the address in the link.)

Father’s blessing or general priesthood blessing

A father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood may give father’s blessings to his children. … These blessings can be a great strength to a family. A family may record a father’s blessing for family records, but it is not preserved in Church records. Parents should encourage children to seek father’s blessings in times of need.

Worthy men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood also may give blessings of comfort and counsel to their wives, extended family members, and others who request them.

To give a father’s blessing or other blessings of comfort and counsel, a man who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, either alone or with one or more worthy men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, places his hands lightly on the head of the person receiving the blessing. No oil is necessary for such blessings. The one giving the blessing:

  1. Calls the person by his or her full name.

  2. States that he is giving the blessing by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

  3. Gives a blessing as the Spirit directs.

  4. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

Confirmation

Converts who are age nine or older and those who are eight whose parents are both nonmembers are confirmed in a sacrament meeting (see D&C 20:41). Eight-year-old children may be confirmed immediately after the baptism at the baptism location if at least one parent is a member of the Church and both parents give permission for the baptism and confirmation. Under the direction of the bishop or branch president, one or more men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood may perform this ordinance. They place their hands lightly on the person’s head. The one who performs the ordinance:

  1. States the person’s full name.

  2. States that the ordinance is performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

  3. Confirms the person a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  4. Bestows the gift of the Holy Ghost by saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost.”

  5. Gives a priesthood blessing as the Spirit directs.

  6. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

What’s going on?

The priesthood used in these ordinances is Christ’s priesthood. He is the presiding authority over the priesthood that uses his power to rule the universe in the Father’s name. As Christ is eternal, so is his priesthood. And those who are ordained to offices in his priesthood are meant to hold his priesthood forever and ever. Those who become high priests are meant to be high priests eternally.

The two ordinances I randomly chose both point to the work of Christ in our lives. Both are performed in his name by those properly ordained to their position of authority by others who already possess God’s authority to act in His name. All ordinances are done either because every worthy Melchizedek priesthood holder can perform that act (think blessing the sick), or the ordinance is done through obtaining permission from the one who possesses the keys of the priesthood in the area in which the ordinance is being done. I recently dedicated a grave for a family member and needed to obtain permission from the Bishop presiding at the funeral to do so. All things in God’s priesthood are done in order, just as he rules the universe and creates order in all things.

A father’s blessing and general blessings are general priesthood powers every holder of the Melchizedek priesthood has. All other ordinances must be done under the authority of he who holds the keys for those ordinances. Those keys can be traced back from Bishop to Stake President to Prophet to Christ. This tells us that ordinances of any kind are not willy nilly, but are centered in Christ, our King. He provides the ordinances and sets the rules for how they are administered, and by whom.

Did you notice that both ordinances listed above include a blessing given through the power of the Holy Ghost? He is our tutor, the great Revelator, and He from whom we learn all things spiritual. Jesus has given us the gift of the Holy Ghost to bring us closer to him. We petition for the presence of the Holy Ghost in everything we do in the Church.

My point here is that Christ has done his work to open the way for us to be redeemed from spiritual and physical death. The priesthood ordinances with which we have been blessed are here to both move his work of governance in the kingdom along, and to help us invite the Spirit to be more abundant in our lives.

If you would like to learn more about today’s reading, I recommend An Explanation of Alma 13:1-11.

Day 2

Alma 13 – The Lord invites me to enter into His rest.

Today’s lesson invites us all to figure out what it means to enter into the Lord’s rest. I will say at the outset that nothing I can say can inspire and uplift you more than President Nelson’s General Conference talk on the subject from October of 2022. The link is below. My recommendation is that you listen to it, either before or after you read it. But in any event, be sure to listen carefully to how he delivers his talk. The Spirit will accompany what you hear and you will learn more.

Now, hoping you have already gone and listened to his talk, here are my thoughts.

God’s rest is the state of mind that lifts us above the cares and concerns of this world. I’m not talking about no longer wanting to provide for ourself or our loved ones, that kind of thing. I am talking about the pettiness of needing to be right all the time, feeling the need to have something better than what we currently have, no matter how good what we currently have is. It is feeling obligated to dress a certain way, use certain words that are currently considered to be politically correct, etc. We too often find that we are being bombarded by others telling us we need to eat this to lose weight, do this exercise to feel better, buy this, buy that. The list is endless. We are never good enough, strong enough, wealthy enough, correct enough. Someone is always wanting to tell us what is the right way for us to behave and act. These are all things that God’s rest releases us from caring about.

Russell M. Nelson gave a talk in the October, 2022 General Conference entitled, “Overcome the World and Find Rest“.

The reward for keeping covenants with God is heavenly power—power that strengthens us to withstand our trials, temptations, and heartaches better. This power eases our way. Those who live the higher laws of Jesus Christ have access to His higher power. Thus, covenant keepers are entitled to a special kind of rest that comes to them through their covenantal relationship with God.

I like that President Nelson says that God’s rest gives us the power to ease our way in life. As long as we care more for the voices of the world than for the voice of the Spirit, our life will be filled with strife. Satan does this on purpose. The noisier he can make our life, the more confusing life becomes, the more difficult it is to find God and Christ amongst the tumult. He wins.

As President Nelson says, experiencing the Lord’s rest is not something that happens overnight. We must make a conscious effort for a long period of time to put the commandments of God first in our life. The longer we live them, the easier we will come to find living in this world becomes. Those commandments are, after all, the laws of happiness. We are learning to become celestial minded people while still living in a telestial world. We are deliberately choosing to live a much higher law than the world in which we currently live. If we can learn to be faithful to celestial ideals and principles in this telestial world we will have shown our ability to become like Christ and to be happy living with other celestially-minded people.

Day 3

Alma 14 – In times of suffering, we must trust the Lord.

The people killed for their beliefs in the city of Ammonihah were true martyrs. They weren’t killed because of their ethnicity, or because they had differing political views, etc. They were killed because they professed and maintained their belief in Christ, right up to the point they were thrown into the flames and consumed.

Have you ever wondered why the Lord didn’t step in and save those who were willing to die for their belief in His Son? Amulek had a difficult time seeing the women and children thrown into the fire, as I am sure we all would. He questioned Alma saying that surely they could use their own faith in Christ to save these people. But Alma had already had a silent conversation with the Spirit about this very thing, and the Spirit said “No.” The reason? Jesus was going to receive all of these brave souls to himself, and they would glorify them for their faithfulness.

This brings up the point that God doesn’t see earth life like we do. He sees life as eternal, but in stages along the way. We only see today. Today is our everything. It is difficult to learn to see our life as part of an eternal existence. The Lord already had a reward waiting for those being killed, while at the same time using their death as a source for a righteous judgment against the people of Ammonihah. He knew the armies of the Lamanites were shortly going to come upon the city and destroy it, and every last one of its inhabitance in a single day. God would do nothing to prevent this disaster, because the people had thoroughly rejected Him and abused His prophets.

This lesson is one that is easy to miss when we are being hated and suffering at the hands of others because of our religious beliefs. The manual suggests the verses from Romans 8:35-39. In these verses Paul says that even though they die all the day long as “sheep for the slaughter” “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Conquerors? Really? Think about this. Why would Paul consider those who suffer in the name of Christ to be conquerors? There is a lot to learn from that passage.

Day 4

Alma 15:16, 18 – Discipleship requires sacrifice.

The word disciple and the word discipline come from the same root word. We cannot be a disciple without being disciplined or corrected. Sometimes our correction means losing something that was precious to us. Often the disciple has to be taught humility to lose their pride. Being disciplined often requires that we have certain things taken away from us so we learn to value other things. Discipline requires sacrifice for the needed changes to take place. The loss of something isn’t a sacrifice unless it is made sacred through the act of offering it up freely. If we don’t offer it up freely then it is just needless suffering. The point of being a disciple and receiving discipline is to learn what the master needs us to learn.

The person who comes to learn from the master, the disciple, doesn’t understand what it takes to be a master. Much of what the master requires of the disciple seems, at first, to be pointless suffering and work. Only the master knows why it is required for the growth and development of the disciple. The master doesn’t owe the disciple any explanations. The disciple agrees at the outset to do whatever the master requires in order to be taught.

Too often we feel put upon when we are made to suffer in some way, even if it is just a little inconvenience. But God, our Master, doesn’t owe us any explanation. He does, in fact, have every right to expect our complete obedience and loyalty. He knows that wisdom is earned with time and experience. At some point in the future we will begin to see life as He sees it. At that point we will begin to understand why He has required of us what He has. In the meantime we must exercise our faith in Him, because that gives us purpose in our adversities.

Personal Study

Be ready always.

Have you ever noticed that your best comebacks to a stinging remark come to you too late to be able to do anything about the hurt you received? That is such a bummer, but also probably a blessing, because if we were on point at the moment we might have burned a bridge that shouldn’t have been burnt.

This inability to have a comeback ready at all times is also the same thing that prevents us from being better examples and teachers to others. A situation arises, but by the time we realize some good could have been gotten from what just happened, the teaching moment has already passed us by. One of the first rules of being a teacher is to understand that actual teaching moments often come unexpectedly, are fleeting, and if not capitalized upon in the moment, are lost.

One way to be better prepared to teach our children or others in the moment of their need, or in the moment of our opportunity, is to learn to think of life as extensions of the various principles of the gospel. When we spend time looking for how all things testify of Christ, or we look at how each situation in our life demonstrates how the principles of the gospel work together for our good, when the opportunity to teach arises we are more often prepared to use it to share a principle or point with those around us. But we must be the one to be always looking for those teaching opportunities.

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BoM26-2024 – Enter Into the Rest of the Lord