Week 42 is scheduled for study Oct. 11-17, 2021. This week the Lord reveals what sacrifices He really wants from each of us, and how He wants to bless us.

Day 1

The Lord wants to speak to you. As you study the scriptures, pray and ask Him to help you discover His messages for you.

Doctrine and Covenants 115:4-6 – The name of the Church was designated by the Lord.

Verse four of section 115 is very clear in what the name of the Church is to be. But why is it so important that the Church be named after Christ? Yes, Jesus tells us in various places that we must do all things in his name, and that the Church must be called after him as well if we are to receive the Father’s blessings as a Church. Have you thought about the doctrine behind this insistence?

Our Father is the law giver. He judges and rewards based on our obedience to His laws we either keep or don’t keep. He cannot deviate from those laws He has given us. Because we are all sinners, none of us “deserve” to have our prayers answered, for we are all law breakers. There is only one man who has kept all of God’s laws, and who has the right to ask whatever he will of the Father, and still expect a positive response. That is Jesus, the Redeemer of all mankind.

Jesus paid for all of our sins. He answered for all of our misdeeds and derelict conduct in mortality. He paid the eternal penalty for our various rebellions. As a result, our Redeemer earned the right to set the terms and conditions upon which we can have our prayers answered. As long as we are striving to be obedient to the commandments he has given us, when we go to the Father and pray in the name of His Beloved Son, Jesus will step in and ask the Father to grant our petitions, for his own sake. It is for his own sake, because he is the one who paid for our sins, and is the only one who has the right to ask anything of our Father and expect his request to be honored. Actually, the Father honors all that the Savior asks of Him because of Christ’s obedience and respect for his Father. The Father honors our requests for Christ’s sake, not ours, for we have done nothing that can pay for our own sins. Look at what Christ says in 3 Nephi 27:7.

Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.

God honors Christ’s requests for his (Christ’s) sake, not ours, for Christ was obedient where we are not. Christ has paid for our sins, so he has the right to ask that God forgive our sins and grant us our petitions for help to improve and become more like Christ. It is for Christ’s sake that God is able and willing to do this.

So how does this doctrine fit with why the Church must be named after Christ, and not after any other name or person? It is because he has told us that ALL things must be done in his name or he and our Father will not honor it. Christ is the only one worthy of receiving God’s blessings, so if we want those blessings we must do all that we do in Christ’s name. There are the additional stipulations, of course, that all that we do must also be done with his authority and based on his doctrine. But the underlying principle is the same throughout – the name of Christ’s church must bear his name or he will not recognize it as his church. He sets the rules, we obey them. It is the Father who determined that none can return to Him unless they go through His son, the Mediator and Redeemer, even Jesus the Christ.

Calling the church after the name of Christ is only one part of all of the ways in which we approach the Father in the name of His Son. For we pray in Christ’s name, we perform all of our ordinances in his name, and we act in his name in all things. Without Christ there is no hope for salvation, so we must include Jesus in all that we do in our efforts to become worthy of exaltation, for he is the path, the way, the life, and the light of all mankind.

Day 2

The Lord wants to speak to you. As you study the scriptures, pray and ask Him to help you discover His messages for you.

Doctrine and Covenants 115:5-6 – Zion and her stakes offer “refuge from the storm.”

A standard and a light

Here is verse 5.

Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;

There are two kinds of standards. The old fashion standard from yesteryear was a banner that was held aloft by a standard bearer at the front of an army. This banner told everyone who was in charge of the army, or which royal house they belonged to. The standard bearer kept close to the head of the army. As long as the standard bearer was still holding aloft the king’s standard, there was still hope in victory. When the standard fell, hope was seen as lost, and the army often fled in disarray and confusion. Needless to say, a great deal of effort was put into keeping the standard bearer safe.

The other meaning of the word “standard” is a measurement by which all other like things are compared. Examples of standards in the world are inches or metric equivalents used for measuring. If you don’t use either centimeters or inches as the basis of measurement then no one can be sure that the measurements you give them can be trusted. We also measure heat in degrees of either Fahrenheit or Celsius. If you buy a thermometer that uses any other system, you might not be able to trust the readings you get, for Fahrenheit and Celsius are the standards we all accept, trust, and understand.

Spiritually speaking, the commandments we receive through the scriptures and the writings of the prophets are our standards for behavior. Because Christ is consistent and never deviates from what he has stated before, we can accept his teachings as a standard that never changes. This is the standard, whether as a banner or as a method of measurement we can present to the world. It is a standard which all can rely on to return to God safely.

Christ tells us in the scriptures that he is the light. We look to him for illumination and to find our way back to God. His instructions have always been the same to his people. They are to do as he has done. In this case, we, as his people, are to act as an example to those around us. We are to reflect the light we receive from Christ and shine or demonstrate that light to all those with whom we come in contact. Jesus used this concept with his statements about lights set on a hill, and a candle being hidden under a bushel. It is in this act of duplicating what we have seen Jesus do that we give God glory, for we are multiplying God’s goodness and righteous example to all those around us.

Refuge from the storm

There are very few of us who can latch onto the teachings of the gospel and thrive and improve ourselves solely on our own. The vast majority of us need others around us who believe as we do, and who share our convictions. This is why the Lord always tells us to gather together. It is in gathering together as wards/branches, stakes/missions, and as families/friends that we receive strength from those who believe as we do.

Even when we go to the temple we receive strength by serving with others. Have you ever considered what temple worship might feel like over time if you went and were all alone in your session and work? It would be so easy for Satan to convince us that we are the only ones who feel this way, and that we should be embarrassed or question what we are being taught, for obviously there is no one else who feels this way about what we are doing. This is why our homes, wards, and stakes act as places of refuge.

The Lord has promised that there will be great tribulations in the last days. There will be storms of discontent, storms of contradicting opinions, political upheavals, and all manner of confusion. As we gather and stand in these, our holy places, the Spirit will be able to bring us comfort and peace to help us stay the course and remain safe in all the turmoil that is going to be sent out upon the world.

Day 3

The Lord wants to speak to you. As you study the scriptures, pray and ask Him to help you discover His messages for you.

Doctrine and Covenants 117 – My sacrifices are sacred to the Lord.

Please, please, please read or listen to the Conference talk referenced in the manual for today’s lesson by Elder Boyd K. Packer. It is a marvelous talk and makes a great answer to today’s topic.

As you read the talk by Elder Packer, I hope you will note that the Lord is not concerned with our social status in society, nor our intellectual accomplishments. All He cares about is our willingness to be obedient to the best of our abilities. If we give Him our all, then that is sufficient and our sacrifice is acceptable to Him. This means that even if what we were sent to accomplish was never fulfilled, we are still acceptable to the Lord, for we did all we could do under the circumstances we were given. The Lord really does look on the heart, and not on the outward appearance.

What is sacred to the Lord is our dedication and devotion to His work. He doesn’t care about possessions, wealth, land, or accomplishments. All that is important is the willingness of our heart to be obedient in all things. He made the earth, and all that is in it. If it is money He needs, He knows where every diamond and fleck of gold is in the whole earth, for He put it there. God is far more concerned with our desires to be obedient and to please Him. That is all that really matters in the long run.

Day 4

The Lord wants to speak to you. As you study the scriptures, pray and ask Him to help you discover His messages for you.

Doctrine and Covenants 119-120 – By paying tithing, I help build and “sanctify the land of Zion.”

I love Webster’s 1828 dictionary. Here his definition of “sanctify.”

To cleanse from corruption; to purify from sin; to make holy by detaching the affections from the world and its defilements, and exalting them to a supreme love to God.

In wrapping our head around today’s lesson title, it helps to remember that tithing was the replacement for the law of consecration previously given to the Saints. There were too many who were having trouble giving their all to the Lord, for their hearts were still rooted in the values of the mortal world. Tithing is meant to allow a measure of commitment and dedication without requiring all that consecration required.

By learning to be faithful and honest in paying our tithing, we learn from the blessings tithing brings that God will greatly enlarge our souls when we give of our substance to His sacred causes. He refers to this enlargement as “opening the windows of heaven.” And indeed, the blessings of tithing aren’t just physical in nature. As often as naught we are blessed with wisdom, opportunities, relief in various forms, and many other things that make our lives happier. (The same can be said for other free-will offerings, like Fast Offerings and other contributions to the work.)

So it is in learning to identify the blessings traceable to the payment of tithing that we recognize that we are slowly being sanctified. We don’t have to be in the land of Zion, as labeled Independence, Missouri. Zion is where we are at among however many Saints there are in our area. The payment of honest tithes sanctifies us and all that we possess, meaning it helps us to cleanse ourselves from corruption, to purify us from sin, and to make us holy by aiding us in detaching ourselves from the affections of the world.

We do make the promise to live the law of consecration, but for now, the law of tithing will suffice in accomplishing God’s purpose to elevate His children to a level of holier living than we were previously living. I recommend you think about how the payment of tithing has blessed your life. Through prayer and pondering, can you identify some blessings in your life that have made you happier and more closely connected to the ways of the Lord?

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 117:1-11 – Weightier matters

The Saints were having to leave Kirtland, Ohio, but there were those whose hearts were having difficulty letting go of what they had come to possess while in Kirtland. In these verses, the Lord is trying to help us see that what we call possessions are nothing to Him. He made the earth and all that it contains, so what is a parcel of land to Him? He made all the jewels and riches we dig out of the earth, so what is a measly bank account to Him?

We become so fixated on the little we acquire in life, thinking and imagining to ourselves that our accomplishments are so grand, that we fail to recognize how small our abilities are compared to the Lord’s. His concern for the Saints was that they remain faithful, not that they manage to carry all their supposed riches with them from place to place. After all, the earth is God’s to command and produce as He directs. This is why He repeatedly throughout history takes His people from wherever they are and promises them that where they are going He will cause the land to blossom as the rose. Either that or He promises them that they will be led to a far richer land. So does is really matter what we leave behind?

All God cares about in mortality is our level of commitment and devotion to keeping His commandments. Our challenge is to learn to look beyond what little we actually possess and see the potential for blessings the Lord is offering us through our obedience. What He provides for His faithful is always more than anything the faithful could have imagined for ourselves. And you can take that to the bank.

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His Sacrifices Shall Be More Sacred

Week 42