Week 39 is scheduled for study Sept. 20-26, 2021. Section 107 is all about the priesthood, but 106 and 108 are all about how the Lord supports and helps us, and about how much He believes in each of us.

Day 1

As you immerse yourself in Doctrine and Covenants 106-108, record ways you can strive to live the truths you discover.

Doctrine and Covenants 106; 108 – The Lord instructs, encourages, and supports those He calls to serve.

We can all find great comfort in reading these two sections. As I read section 106 and considered the language the Lord uses in talking to Warren Cowdery, I could almost hear Him talking to me. Almost. Warren wasn’t perfect (and no, that isn’t the difference between Warren and me). We know this because the Lord tells him plainly that he suffers from vanity in his heart, and that he needs to humble himself. This alone may be devastating to a person to hear the Lord single out your greatest sin(s), but his sin of a vain heart is treated here almost like an afterthought. It isn’t the main point of this section.

All in all this is a joyful statement of praise for Warren’s obedient life to God. The Lord promises him that He will provide all that Warren needs to find the kingdom of heaven as he fulfills his calling. He tells Warren that the angels of heaven rejoiced when Warren chose to submit to the will of the Father, that He would lift Warren up, and that He will give him grace and assurance that Warren might be able to stand in his calling with confidence (that is not the exact wording of the passage, but the intent of it).

Isn’t this the kind of language the Lord has given to us throughout the scriptures, through the prophets, and most probably even in our patriarchal blessings? Our Father in Heaven derives great joy when we choose Him over ourselves, Satan, or the world. There are so many blessings he has waiting for us, but can’t give them to us unless we obey the laws that give us access to the blessings.

And did you notice how in verses seven and eight the Lord acknowledges Warren’s sin, but doesn’t dwell on it? He notes that the sin is there, and that it is holding Warren’s progress in check. But if Warren will work on that, God promises to provide all the support Warren needs to overcome it and win the prize.

Therefore, blessed is my servant Warren, for I will have mercy on him; and, notwithstanding the vanity of his heart, I will lift him up inasmuch as he will humble himself before me.

And I will give him grace and assurance wherewith he may stand; and if he continue to be a faithful witness and a light unto the church I have prepared a crown for him in the mansions of my Father. Even so. Amen.

This is the important part. We may say, “Lucky Warren!” But God treats all of His children the same way. What He feels for Warren A. Cowdery is no different than what He feels for you or me. Our Father has been through earthlife before. Our Savior too. They know how difficult it can be. God’s mercy and love for us are perfect. He wants us to succeed, and as long as we continue to do our best, and seek Him out, He will provide us with the mercy and assurance we need to be successful. We too will be lifted up as we continue to humble ourselves before God.

Day 2

As you immerse yourself in Doctrine and Covenants 106-108, record ways you can strive to live the truths you discover.

Doctrine and Covenants 107 – The Lord leads His Church through priesthood authority.

We all know that the Lord has never deviated from His statement that He teaches us line upon line, precept upon precept. It has always been that way, and will be to the end of time. I don’t know of any doctrine that was given the first time to us already in its final and perfected form. This is especially true with revelations about the priesthood. The way in which the priesthood is implemented today is vastly different from the way it was exercised in Joseph Smith’s day. The authority and principles of the priesthood haven’t changed, but the size and complexity of the Lord’s kingdom has changed, and the responsibilities of the offices of the priesthood, and the way in which the priesthood administers the use of the priesthood has changed over time according to the needs of the growing Church.

Here are just a couple of small examples of how the use of the priesthood has changed over time. Originally, there was one Patriarch for the whole Church. Now there is no longer a Churchwide Patriarch at all, but there are Patriarchs in every stake and most missions in the Church. Originally, the prophet had to personally sign every recommend for the temple. As the Church grew, that responsibility became too burdensome, so others were assigned to help. Now Every Stake Presidency signs off on recommends. There hasn’t been any change in priesthood doctrine, just changes in administration. This is also seen in the changes over time to the Temple ceremony. There hasn’t been any change in doctrine, just changes in presentation to fit the needs of the Church and the time in which we live.

The Church was growing rapidly by 1835. It needed some definition and clarification of how the various priesthood offices were supposed to function. To us, this section may seem like a retelling of things we have heard all our lives – and for many of us, that is true. But to the Saints in 1835 this was truly revelatory. Nothing on earth worked like God’s priesthood organization, and this was a first hearing of this doctrine for those Saints.

As you review section 107, notice how all the instructions for how to exercise the priesthood are just a subset to the fact that everything is being done with God’s authority. This is His power, and He will not grant us priesthood power unless we administer His priesthood in the way in which He dictates. This brings up an important point. Women need to understand how the priesthood is supposed to work and be administered, just like the men need to understand it. We all receive power in the priesthood from the covenants we make, and the use of the priesthood in the home, ward/branch, and stake/mission requires that everyone in the Church have at least a basic knowledge of how the priesthood is supposed to be administered. How is a sister supposed to know if someone is telling her something incorrect if she has never taken the time to get to know how the Lord wants His priesthood to be used today?

I heartily recommend you read the manual and review the various priesthood offices listed, and the verses that go with them.

Day 3

As you immerse yourself in Doctrine and Covenants 106-108, record ways you can strive to live the truths you discover.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:1-20 – Priesthood ordinances provide spiritual and temporal blessings to all of Heavenly Father’s children.

Consider two women, Jane and Joan. Jane and Joan both need food to eat, so they make a daily trip to the local food kitchen for one of their meals. Jane just eats the food, but Joan both eats the food and volunteers to prepare it and serve it to others. Would you say that one gets more out of her experience with the food kitchen than the other, or do you think their experience is the same?

I would think that Joan’s experience with the food kitchen would be a richer one than Janes, primarily because Joan serves and blesses others in addition to the food she receives herself. Jane’s needs are met, but only because of people like Joan who give of themselves to prepare and serve her food for her. Whether Jane is grateful for the food she receives is a whole different discussion.

The priesthood we are blessed with in the Lord’s restored Church does so much for us. But what about for others who aren’t members of the Lord’s kingdom on earth? Does it bless their lives in any way? To answer that, ask yourself why the priesthood is needed at all. Here is a short answer. The priesthood is where we get our covenants. The covenants are what enable the atonement to change us into celestial candidates. Without the covenants this is not possible.

Those who are not members of the Lord’s Church may not currently know anything about the covenants God has made available to us so we can become like Him. But His children who have made those covenants with Him, and who keep those covenants, are out there every day blessing the lives of all with whom they come in contact. Covenant keepers are setting examples of righteous living and of the happiness that obedience to God’s commandments brings into our lives.

Covenant keepers are also performing the saving work for those who have already finished their time in mortality and can no longer make the covenants on their own. Yet, because a current covenant keeper goes regularly to the temple and performs vicarious work for these people, they are still able to accept the gospel in the spirit world and continue their progression towards returning to be with our Father in Heaven again.

The priesthood exists in the Church to bless the whole human family, not just those who have already been baptized. The Priesthood is the universal engine of salvation that enables all of us to return to our Father. There are both physical blessings that come from the presence of the priesthood in our lives, as well as a multitude of spiritual blessings. The priesthood is not only an administrative tool for running God’s kingdom, but it is also the power by which happiness is introduced and maintained in all of our lives. Without the priesthood, none of us could be redeemed and exalted, and I am referring to every living soul.

Day 4

As you immerse yourself in Doctrine and Covenants 106-108, record ways you can strive to live the truths you discover.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:41-57 – The priesthood blesses families.

I mentioned yesterday that the priesthood is an engine through which happiness is brought to God’s children. Eternal happiness cannot happen without the power of the priesthood. The manual points out that Adam blessed his family with the priesthood in their lives, so they would be happy.

As I considered all the posterity Adam ordained to the high priesthood, I began to think of my young married years. We assumed our children were too young to learn about prayer, too young to learn about the priesthood, about doctrine, about ministering to others, etc. On my mission I had heard many people declare that they were going to wait until their children were adults, and then let them choose whether to be baptized and go to church. What they didn’t realize was that by then they would have already taught their children to say no to those things.

The blessings of God are never too much for a young mind. Every child understands expressions of love. Understanding particular doctrines, or how doctrines work with each other to bring about even greater blessings, is something children have to learn from experience over time. But all the parts of the gospel that are essential to our salvation can be understood by even two year olds. They can understand sharing, helping, praying, talking to God, loving others. They can learn scripture stories and expressions found in the scriptures. It all depends on what kind of conversations are being had in the home.

Are we talking about the gospel in our home? Do we discuss principles and ask questions about how doctrines work? Are we praying out loud at the table and in other prayers as a family? Are we demonstrating to the children when the Holy Ghost is present so they learn to recognize His influence? Do we teach our children about the covenants we make so when they are ready to go to the temple, they already know all the doctrine presented there? There is nothing secret about what is taught in the temple, for the teachings of the temple are found all throughout the scriptures and the writings of the prophets. When our children go to the temple there shouldn’t be any surprises. They should feel right at home with what happens there.

My point here is that the priesthood can’t do a very good job of blessing a family unless the parents of that home are teaching the covenants of the priesthood that bring those blessings. If you are single, then are you searching the scriptures and seeking understanding of the priesthood covenants and the blessings of the priesthood? Children have to be taught these things, but it is adults who have to learn them to be able to teach them.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 108:7 – Strengthening others through our conversation.

Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.

Verse seven is the exhortation to all of us to clean up our conversations, prayers, exhortations, and all our doings. But there is a preface to this set of commandments. It is found in verses two and three.

Therefore, let your soul be at rest concerning your spiritual standing, and resist no more my voice.

And arise up and be more careful henceforth in observing your vows, which you have made and do make, and you shall be blessed with exceeding great blessings.

What I see in these verses is the following:

  • If we want our soul to be at rest concerning our spiritual standing then we need to stop resisting the Lord’s voice. That means we need to be more attentive to the whisperings and promptings we receive from the Holy Ghost, which is the most common way God speaks to us.
  • We need to be more careful that we live up to the vows/covenants we have made with the Lord. If we keep our covenants we “shall be blessed with exceeding great blessings.”

All this is fine and good, but how do we better keep our covenants/vows and be more in tune with the Lord’s voice (Holy Ghost)? The answer is in verse seven. When we talk to someone else, how concerned are we in the course of our conversation that we try to leave that person at least as good, if not better, than they were before we started talking to them? In other words, are we building people up? Are we encouraging them, supporting them, expressing love, and strengthening their commitment to Christ and his purposes?

If you are like me, I dare say that often times those things are as far from my thinking as they can get. I am transacting business or just greeting someone and moving on. That is all. It often doesn’t even occur to me that the person I am talking to may need some building up, support, or a feeling that someone cares about them. 

When we think about what kind of difference this type of conversation can make in our own life, does it occur to us that corralling our thoughts in this way might make them serve a higher purpose by drawing us closer to God? One of the attributes of godliness is being deliberate about being and doing good, always, and at all times. When we choose to have God in the forefront of our thinking, so that His purposes are always right there in front of us then when we talk to others we are more likely to choose forgiveness, choose forbearance, exercise patience, promote peace, act kindly, and build up others around us. How can we be out breaking the commandments and forsaking our covenants if this is how we are living our life? These two behaviors are on opposite ends of the scale. Choosing to build up others and show them love cannot be done if I am breaking my covenants to live a more godly life.

Verse seven may be one of the most simple and easy-to-follow ways to learn to keep all the commandments, for by seeking to strengthen and bless the lives of others, whether through prayer, conversation, or direct action, are we not keeping the two greatest commandments? And if we are keeping those two great commandments then all other commandments seem to follow in their wake. By putting the love of our fellow men at the forefront of our thinking, we are, by default, also demonstrating our love for God, for the Savior said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

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To Have the Heavens Opened

Week 39