our common lot
Week 11 is scheduled for study March 8-14, 2021. We all face afflictions and trials in this life. This is our common lot. But God is faithful. He has promised to be with us and sustain us through our whole mortal journey.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 23-26 – I can Help Strengthen the Lord’s Church.

As you read Doctrine and Covenants 23-26, make note of the impressions you receive from the Holy Ghost. How can you apply the counsel in these revelations to strengthen your own discipleship and also the Church?

Our lives today are filled with big people doing big things. We are bombarded by images of the rich and famous, the movers and shakers on social media, and those with political clout. It can seem like those of us who don’t fit into their circles are just little people who don’t really matter or who can’t make a difference. What we perceive to be the truth in these matters is actually very far from the truth of the matter.

The people who make the biggest, most long-lasting differences to the direction and movement of mankind are those like all of us who are the quiet, simple people of the earth. It is in the rearing of our families in righteousness, and in being attentive to the needs of the stranger, and our neighbors, that moves the work of the Lord along. Through the little acts of kindness, the bestowal of respect, and the humility of those who are obedient to the commandments that the Lord is most notably able to show His strength and love for humanity. Watch this clip made by Joy D. Jones. Her comments illustrate the power of each person seeking to just be a single piece in God’s puzzle.

We don’t need to be, nor can we be, the puzzle she speaks of in the video. This is God’s work, not ours. We only contribute when and where we can. And that contribution is enough. While it is true that God can do His own work, it isn’t His salvation that is in question here, but ours. It is we who need to learn to act and think like God. And one of the defining attributes of God is His desire to bless all those around Him in any way He can.

Just as the Lord told those in the beginning of this dispensation that their responsibility was to strengthen the Lord’s Church, that still is, and always will be each and every person’s main responsibility in the kingdom. It is the idea that if we want to become like God, we must learn to love the work that God loves. Blessing the lives of all those around us in any way we can is that work.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 24 – The Savior can lift me “up out of [my] afflictions.”

As you read Doctrine and Covenants 23-26, make note of the impressions you receive from the Holy Ghost. How can you apply the counsel in these revelations to strengthen your own discipleship and also the Church?

This is a side note to today’s lesson. We are accustomed to having men of advanced years leading God’s Church. They have spent their lives in devoted service, gaining wisdom and perspective over decades of experience. Joseph Smith was about 24 when the Church was organized, and had been through only 10 years of instruction since his first vision. Sometimes I find myself equating Joseph Smith, Jr. with the current leadership of the Church, those men in their 70’s through their 90’s. But Joseph was still a new father, struggling to not only learn how to be married and raise a family, but also organize and grow God’s kingdom on earth. He had tremendous weight placed on his shoulders at a very early age in life. He, of all the prophets of this dispensation, needed absolute reliance on the Lord’s direction, though they all rely on the Lord. And many of Joseph’s companions in the early days of the Church were also around his age. In the first years of the Church the Lord only had young, impressionable adults to work with.

Doctrine and Covenants 24:1-3 – If we look at these verses as though they are written for our personal benefit, these are the points I pull out of them. What additional ideas do you find?

  • We all have callings in the Church.
  • When we are faithful and turn to the Lord he can, and will, deliver us from our afflictions. The first verse doesn’t say “deliver”, but like those in the Book of Mormon who were in bondage, even when we are made to endure our afflictions in life, the Lord is able to help strengthen us so we are able to bear our afflictions well (Mosiah 24:15).
  • We are commanded to be obedient and sin no more.
  • When we magnify our callings we perform our duties in them to the best of our abilities, and the Lord enlarges our efforts and magnifies us, increasing our capacity to do His work.
  • The Lord tells these brethren to do the work necessary to care for their families, but when that is done they are to immediately turn their attention to the work of the Lord. When they do the Lord’s work not only they, but those they labor for, will be blessed.

Doctrine and Covenants 24:8 

Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.

All of us will have many afflictions in this life. It is with justification that the Lord said in Abraham 3 that “we will prove them herewith.” This whole life is one grand testing period to see if we will always choose to follow the Savior in all things. So it is right that God would tell us to be patient in our many afflictions. And what a comfort it is that He also promises that when we are patient in our afflictions he will be with us to the end of our days. He is the prince of peace, and that is what those who follow Him receive in their hearts.

There are three additional scripture references in the manual. I recommend you read through each of them and see how they apply to you, personally. I don’t know of any scripture we have that applies to only the person to whom it was given or written for. If it didn’t apply to the rest of God’s children in some way, I don’t believe the Lord would have had it included in our written record of His dealings with us. For best results, I also suggest you talk over your observations with someone else. Sharing will open doors for your understanding.

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 25 – Emma Smith is “an elect lady.”

As you read Doctrine and Covenants 23-26, make note of the impressions you receive from the Holy Ghost. How can you apply the counsel in these revelations to strengthen your own discipleship and also the Church?

We have here a revelation given to a very unique individual. She is the wife of the prophet of the Restoration. Her whole life was filled with “special circumstances.” What could we possibly have in common with someone whom the Lord refers to as an “elect lady?” Read through this section again, and see if I have missed any verses or parts of verses that actually apply to everyone, not just Emma. I leave it up to you to find a way to apply each of these verses to your own life. Don’t think of Emma Smith, think of the Lord talking to you. How do these verses resonate in your life?

A revelation I give unto you concerning my will; and if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion.

For verse two think of your patriarchal blessing or other blessings you have possibly received through God’s priesthood power when being called and set apart to various offices in your life. Remember your answers to prayers as well. We all have the spirit of revelation, because we all have the gift of the Holy Ghost, so the Lord has indeed made His will manifest to you from time to time in your life.

Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come.

For some of us this can be a more difficult less than for others. I, for one, hate being left out of the know on things. I want to know everything that is going on. But the Lord is very careful to only let those who are supposed to know things in on what is happening. When it is time for all to know something the Brethren or other leaders of the Church let us know. I shouldn’t murmur just because I am not the first to know something.

10 And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.

The word “better” refers to a better world, meaning the eternal world in which we have placed all our hopes and in which we exercise our daily faith.

13 Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.

I find it interesting that the Lord uses the word cleave here. Where else in the scriptures does he tell us to cleave? Is there a reason for this same word usage?

14 Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride. …

15 Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come.

Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 26:2 – What is common consent?

As you read Doctrine and Covenants 23-26, make note of the impressions you receive from the Holy Ghost. How can you apply the counsel in these revelations to strengthen your own discipleship and also the Church?

What else is common consent if it isn’t a practice of a Zion people? If we are to be of one heart and one mind then doesn’t it make sense that we would do all things by common consent? When we raise our hand to the square in Church and sustain someone in a calling or ordination, it isn’t just that we acknowledge that it is being done. By raising our hand we promise/covenant with God and that person to support them and sustain them in their new position in any way we can. We are pledging our best efforts to help them succeed in their new calling or office. We will be judged on the promise we make when we sustain someone. Sustaining someone is no idle motion of our hand, it is a contract we make as part of Zion to uphold and support each other in the work of the Lord.

The Lord constantly comes back to our need for unity. He always points us to the Godhead and how they operate in perfect unity in all things. This is our example, and what we are aiming for. Here is an article on the practice in the Church of sustaining each other in our callings.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 24:8 – Patient in afflictions

Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.

Upon first reading this verse,  you may do what I did, and just gloss over all its parts. My first thought was, “Great, so I’ll have lots of afflictions.” That was as far as I thought at that moment. But let’s look at each part of this sentence and think about what it is saying to us.

Be patient in afflictions

The Lord’s focus here isn’t on the fact that we will have afflictions, but on how we face and handle those afflictions. This life isn’t about comfort and ease, as this life is meant to be a test of our character. You certainly can’t test a person’s character by making life easy for them. If we are to demonstrate where our heart really lies, our love, and our desires, we must be faced with hard choices, difficult decisions, and tough circumstances. The Lord is encouraging us to be patient in all those experiences.

for thou shalt have many;

One of the prophets said in a Conference talk many years ago that it is just the nature of this life that we will have storms and hard times, interspersed with occasional periods of peace and calm. But the majority of this life, if we are living it correctly, will be filled with hard things. This is like having to take our medicine. We may not enjoy the flavor of the medicine, but it beats suffering from the sickness. Patience helps ease the suffering, because we are putting our faith in God to help us through our efforts to grow and change for the better.

but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.

Those who live with people who are permanently disabled or handicapped understand what it really means to endure. Enduring requires a quiet resolve and acceptance of the current situation, knowing that it isn’t just going to go away because it is inconvenient at the moment. Once we learn to accept the challenges of this life and accept their presence as something we cannot change, we can begin to focus our efforts on other, more productive thoughts and attitudes. The good news is that the Lord has made us two promises in this verse. First He tells us that He is with us in our afflictions, no matter what kind they are, no matter how many there are. He also tells us that He will be with us till the end of our days of trial and testing.

What a blessing that we can face the trials of mortality with God at our side in all our trials. And what a blessing to know that the kind of trials we are going through right now will not be our situation for the rest of eternity. In fact, He has promised us rest from these afflictions in the eternities. That doesn’t mean we won’t face hardships, as I am sure each time we make God, our Father weep that is a hardship for Him. But God controls eternity, and we will never have to face a trial He can’t help us through in mortality.

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Strengthen the Church

Week 11