promised blessings
Week 38 is scheduled for study September 13-19, 2021. Trials, suffering, and promised blessings are the main topics for this week. What lessons have you learned from your trials in life?

Day 1

What principles from Doctrine and Covenants 102-105 are meaningful to you? Consider recording your thoughts and impressions about these principles.

Doctrine and Covenants 102:12-23 – What is the purpose of the instructions in these verses?

These verses require some consideration. When the membership of a person is called into question because of behaviors of the member, think about how the Lord has instructed the council to be divided. Per His instructions, the council is to be randomly divided into two groups. One group is to represent the interests of the Church, while the other group is to protect the interests of the person being accused. It is important to the Lord that there be no “insult or injustice” done to the accused.

We used to refer to these as Church courts, but now they are referred to as disciplinary councils. These councils used to be considered by most to be punitive in nature. Unfortunately, that was never what the Lord had in mind for these councils. The purpose of a disciplinary council is to help the person who has violated their covenants find their way back to full activity in the Church. But by the time a disciplinary council is required, it is past time to sit down with the Bishop to have your path for forgiveness laid out. It is now time for a period of repentance that may require the suspension or removal of covenant blessings or even membership until full repentance has been completed.

At no time does the Lord want or expect there to be anything but love and respect given and shown to the accused. This is one of the main reasons for dividing the high council into two groups. Not only does the accused need to be fairly represented, but the Church deserves the same consideration. Often people adopt the erroneous belief that their sins are their own, and only affect themselves. This is not true, for we are all interconnected, and we all have influence in the lives of our fellow Saints. Very few sins are ever truly private. Anything we do to drive away the Spirit affects how we act around others.

Day 2

What principles from Doctrine and Covenants 102-105 are meaningful to you? Consider recording your thoughts and impressions about these principles.

Doctrine and Covenants 103:1-12, 36; 105:1-19 – Zion can be built only on principles of righteousness.

Until I read today’s lesson, I had not been aware that I have been living under the same delusion as the early Saints. When they talked about Zion and living in Zion, it was almost like we talk about a trip to Disneyland. Zion was going to be this magical place where just living there made people kind, cooperative, “celestial” in nature, and the Lord would pour out His blessings upon those who were lucky enough to be allowed to be there. They were looking at Zion as the solution to their earthly problems as though Zion the place would solve everything. At least this is the impression I have gotten from reading the scriptures about the early Saints and their desire to move to Zion. This is also how I have, at times, viewed living in Zion.

Let’s look at Doctrine and Covenants 105. Here the Lord spells out the mistake the Saints made in assuming that just standing on consecrated soil would solve their spiritual and physical problems. 

Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now.

But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;

And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;

And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.

This is the list of things I learned from those four verses.

  1. The condition of being a Zion people has to be a Churchwide thing in order for Zion the place to be established. The Lord here condemns the Church as a whole, not individuals, for not being ready for Zion as a city.
  2. The law of Zion is a celestial one, which means we must learn to live a celestial lifestyle before we are ready to have a celestial city.
  3. The requirements of Zion, the city, are that all its inhabitants are ‘united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom.” They must also live in such a way that they spontaneously “impart of their substance … to the poor and afflicted among them.”

It is because the people were not able to live the celestial law (as a Church) before the temple was built that the Lord said they would have to wait until they had learned how to behave in a manner that would create a city of Zion naturally, because everyone was living the law of the celestial kingdom. He also said that He would have to chasten them until they learned their lesson, even if that required suffering in order to learn those lessons.

And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer.

In verse 10 the Lord tells us that the reason for this course of action was so that we could “be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning [our] duty.”

10 That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.

The Lord was not angry with the Saints when this revelation was given. He, instead, gave this revelation like a teacher who knows that the lessons can and will be learned, but not in the way it was originally hoped for. This is another one of those patterns of God I have written about in other articles. God always gives us the best and quickest route back to Him, but always has alternatives in mind if we don’t live up to the first effort to get us back. He continues to reduce the requirements for us until we are able to handle what He has given to us to learn. Once we learn those lessons, He reintroduces a higher level of lessons, until He has built us up to where we are able to do what is needed to get us back into His presence.

If you want an example of when this was done in ancient days, just look at Moses. The Lord originally gave Moses the fulness of the gospel. It was only when the people demonstrated they didn’t want it, and couldn’t live it, that He gave them the law of carnal commandments to prepare them for the higher gospel Christ would bring with him.

In verse twelve the Lord tells us not that He will have to come up with a plan B, because we failed plan A, but that He has already prepared “a great endowment and blessing to be poured out upon them.”

12 For behold, I have prepared a great endowment and blessing to be poured out upon them, inasmuch as they are faithful and continue in humility before me.

It seems to be part of this pattern of dealing with His children that God always has multiple paths prepared ahead of time to help His children overcome their weaknesses on their road back home. There is no indication that He resents us for having to wait for us to get on board with His program. He is a very patient parent. These verses serve to show us both how patient and loving our God is, as well as our need to learn to measure up to our desired blessings. He can’t give us what we are not prepared to receive. It is our responsibility to seek Him out and learn to live His lifestyle, and that means being generous to all who stand in need of anything, reserving judgment, and being completely obedient to all, not just some, of God’s commandments.

Day 3

What principles from Doctrine and Covenants 102-105 are meaningful to you? Consider recording your thoughts and impressions about these principles.

Doctrine and Covenants 103:12-13; 105:1-6, 13-19 – Blessings come after afflictions and trials of faith.

After reading the verses in today’s lesson, do you get the impression that the Lord is saying to all of us that the redemption we seek, whether physical redemption in the city of Zion, or redemption from our personal sins, it requires us to seek out the endowment He has provided us in the temple? That is what I am getting from it.

In two places in section 105 the Lord tells us that the endowment of power He has prepared for us can only be found in the temple. He also tells us that this endowment is necessary for us to obtain the redemption He has in store for us. The endowment as a necessity is discussed in verse eleven, where He states that our redemption cannot be brought to pass until we have been endowed.

11 And this cannot be brought to pass until mine elders are endowed with power from on high.

12 For behold, I have prepared a great endowment and blessing to be poured out upon them, inasmuch as they are faithful and continue in humility before me.

18 But inasmuch as there are those who have hearkened unto my words, I have prepared a blessing and an endowment for them, if they continue faithful.

Now to the point of today’s lesson. The Saints didn’t yet have a temple. They had just botched their one shot at building Zion, and the Lord was telling them that they had lessons of obedience they needed to learn, as well as to gain experience in living in celestial ways before He could redeem us as a people. Notice that when He told them Zion would not be redeemed for a little season, He was talking about multiple generations down the road. We are still learning to be more obedient to His commandments. We are getting there, but it is taking more time than He would like us to take. It is a good thing He is patient and loving.

He also forewarned the Saints that suffering is a requirement of learning the lessons we need to learn. So when trials and afflictions come our way, should we be surprised or resentful of having the inconvenience and discomfort required for us to learn our lessons? These are purifying and uplifting experiences that present us with the opportunities to grow and become more refined – more celestial – in our character. It is these afflictions we must endure and learn from that will bring the redemption in Zion God has promised us. And that redemption will come only because we will have already learned to live the celestial law required of those who create Zion in their homes and personal lives.

Day 4

What principles from Doctrine and Covenants 102-105 are meaningful to you? Consider recording your thoughts and impressions about these principles.

Doctrine and Covenants 104:11-18, 78-83 – I am a “steward over earthly blessings.”

To start with I would like to take a look at verse 16.

16 But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.

After reading this verse multiple times, it occurred to me that the Lord doesn’t say that by exalting the poor the rich will no longer exist. There will still be rich people. I leave it up to you to define what it means to exalt the poor and make the rich low.

To be a steward is to take responsibility for something that doesn’t belong to you. It is up to the steward to make it prosper, to keep it in good working order, and to protect and promote it whenever it is needed. The steward reports and is answerable to their master for the responsibilities given them, and can be rewarded or punished for the fulfillment of their stewardship. In modern terms, we can consider our callings in Church as stewardships. Our ministering assignments certainly qualify as stewardships, as do our responsibilities over our homes and to our family members. We also make covenants in the Temple to make available to the Church all that we have or might come to possess for the building up of God’s kingdom. We are all stewards, and we will all answer for the stewardships we are given from time to time in the Lord’s kingdom. He is our master and we answer directly to either Him or His ordained leaders.

One of the greatest lessons to be learned from accepting stewardship assignments is that even though most of our stewardships in this life are earthly in their nature, all callings from God are meant to strengthen us spiritually. That is where our focus should be.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 103:12, 36; 105:9-13 – Expectations and reactions

There was a lot of disappointment when Zion’s camp was disbanded before it fulfilled the aims of the camp of resettling the Saints in Zion. They were disappointed because they didn’t understand the true purpose of the camp. The Lord used the experiences of the camp to test and prove His future leaders. Almost all of the future leaders of the Church came from those in the camp. Those who quit the camp embittered from the perceived failure of the camp to fulfill its purpose left the Church.

It is common for people to assume they know all there is to know about something, both the reasons for and the possible outcomes of an event in their life. But how many times have you experienced something in your life that was difficult, only to look back later on and realize that the trials you faced changed you in ways that made opportunities in the future possible? How many of your afflictions in life made you a better person, gave you strength you didn’t have before, or taught you patience, forbearance, love, or some other noble attribute? And how often has it taken multiple periods of suffering in one way or another to accomplish the growth you needed for an opportunity or to receive a particular blessing later on? Trials aren’t just about the current suffering. Many trials are stepping stones to greater blessings and opportunities in the future.

How we react to our afflictions in life makes all the difference in what we are able to learn from them, and how we are able to grow from them. A trial is just a trial, unless you are willing to learn from it. Why suffer just to suffer, when you can learn from your suffering and become a better person because of it? We can’t control all of what we suffer from in this life, but we can learn from all of it.

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After Much Tribulation … Cometh the Blessing

Week 38