Week 16 is scheduled for study April 12-18, 2021. Unity, unity, unity. We simply must find a way to become more united with each other, to be more forgiving, accepting, and loving of one another. If we don’t, Christ has already stated that he will not consider us one of his.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 37:1 – What was Joseph Smith translating in 1830?

Recording impressions as you study is one way you can obey God’s counsel to “treasure up wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30).

Today’s topic is not so much a lesson as it is a point to be made. The Lord mentions the translation that Joseph Smith was doing starting in the Old Testament. But something the manual says caught my attention. It was the last sentence of the main paragraph.

Some of the principles the Lord taught Enoch are similar to those He revealed in section 38.

What are some of these principles the Lord told both Enoch and Joseph Smith? This got me thinking and prompted me to put together a comparison of the conversation God the Father and Christ had with Enoch while in vision, with the references Jesus made directly to Joseph Smith in the latter days. The more I pondered these two conversations the more amazed I have become. Enoch currently lives with God, and has been there since the days of Adam. Enoch and the city of Zion were promised that someday they will return to the earth and enjoy the company of those who live in the days of Christ’s second coming. As you read the selected verses from Moses 7, and the verses I used from section 38, think about how they relate to each other.

In the following article I compare these two revelations and comment on my observations about the promises made by Christ and the Father to Enoch, and the fulfilling of those promises starting with the restoration of Christ’s church on the earth.

Comparison of Moses 7 and Doctrine and Covenants 38, With Commentary

The PDF file above is meant to be studied, not read. If you do it one piece at a time, thinking about the implications and connections, you should get a lot out of it. It’s long, so don’t think you can do it in just a couple of minutes.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 38 – God gathers us to bless us.

Recording impressions as you study is one way you can obey God’s counsel to “treasure up wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30).

Studying the scriptures, Church lessons, and anything having to do with the Spirit, isn’t always a linear process. Sometimes the things that stand out to us the most in General Conference, for example, aren’t even talked about in Conference. They stand out to us because the Spirit taught us those truths while we were watching or listening to the Brethren speak. These truths are just as useful and valid as anything the speakers in Conference have to say, for it comes from the Holy Ghost to you.

The reason for my tangent about how we learn from the Spirit is because my comments for today’s lesson have very little to do with what is printed in the manual, and more to do with the title of this week’s lessons and a thought from yesterday’s lesson.

In yesterday’s lesson we learned that the reason for section 38 was to begin the process of sending the Saints to the Ohio. The Lord had blessings to give them, and they needed to become more united, and more physically close together in order for those blessings to be given. The main blessings stemming from moving to the Ohio was the building of the Kirtland Temple and the people receiving the temple ordinances. Great trials needed to be overcome by the Saints as a whole, and I believe that the unity the Lord wanted for His people could only come through adversity. There seems to be something about unity that only happens when two or more people join together to overcome something that affects them both. Unity has difficulty establishing itself in the midst of peace and prosperity. Unity can flourish during peace and prosperity, but usually it establishes itself most firmly during times of hardship. You’re welcome to demonstrate to me times when this is not true, but at the moment I can’t think of any examples of great unity that came without great difficulties to overcome being the forerunner of the unity.

This brings me to this week’s lesson title, “If ye are not one ye are not mine.” This statement by the Lord is not a threat. It is a statement of fact. The Godhead, and for that matter, all celestial society, operates on the principles of unity in all things. We cannot be God’s children if we are contentious, scattered, of different opinions about doctrine, etc. As the Spirit teaches us and helps us to grow, we learn to be more unified in our thinking. This means we become more patient with each other. We learn to become more tolerant of the behavior of others, and we are more accepting of other’s idiosyncrasies. Everything about the Spirit brings greater unity. Everything about Satan and the world brings greater willfulness and division. So when the Lord says “If ye are not one ye are not mine,” that is a literal statement of fact.

This leaves us all with some questions to consider. What am I doing in my daily routine that is bringing me more into focus with the Savior’s teachings of becoming unified with my fellow men? How am I becoming more patient, tolerant, accepting, caring, and concerned for their welfare, and less worried about my own? There are those who are always quick to jump in and tell us all that we also need to take care of ourselves. But it has been my experience that it is the rare, unbalanced individual, that has become so concerned with others that they do themselves harm. Most of us, by an overwhelming percentage, never need worry about being too concerned for others that we might do our own selves a hurt. Normally that won’t ever happen, in my opinion. We are too concerned for our own interests. For most of us it is shedding our own self interests that is the greatest need. Most of us need to be more concerned with the welfare of others and learn to forget about our own wants in favor of blessing others.

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 38:11-13, 22-32, 41-42 – If I am prepared, I need not fear.

Recording impressions as you study is one way you can obey God’s counsel to “treasure up wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30).

Let’s do a brief overview of section 38, like the manual suggests (Yay! he’s following the manual!) and see what topics are discussed in this section that can help us live fearless lives.

D&C 38:1-3 – Christ is he who spoke and the worlds were framed. We have an all-powerful creator as our God. Who can be more powerful than that?

D&C 38:4-6 – In the days of Enoch, when the world devolved into ever increasing wickedness, God took the righteous unto himself. This is how he preserved his people. He couldn’t let them stay on earth, because all life, but Noah’s family would be destroyed in the flood that baptized the earth and cleansed it from the wickedness that was upon its face. Christ pleads for the cause of the righteous before the throne of God. As he put it, “for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.”

D&C 38: 7-9 – Christ tells us that he is in our midst, but we cannot yet see him there. But when he comes again, then we will see him. Those who have purified themselves will abide or endure the day of his coming and find joy in his presence. We are promised that the kingdom of God will be ours, and that the wicked will not overcome us.

D&C 38:10-11 – The Lord tells Joseph Smith that, on the whole, he is pleased with the Church. He recognizes that the whole earth is filled with corruption and that the members of the church aren’t yet perfectly clean.

D&C 38:12-15  – The powers of darkness that prevail on the earth cause all eternity to be pained. There is a silence in the heavens as the angels wait anxiously for the command to come down and begin the harvest. They are anxious to tear out the tares, the wicked from among the nations of the earth that they might be burned for their evil. The Lord tells Joseph that there are those who are combining against the Saints, seeking to take their lives. He acknowledges that the Saints aren’t all righteous, but that he will be patient with them, and that the kingdom is still theirs. He promises to be merciful to us in our weakness.

D&C 38:16-20 – God has heard our prayers and for our own salvation he will make us even richer, and give us a land of promise, a place on which there will be no curse when the Lord comes. If we seek it with all our hearts he will give it to us as a land for our inheritance, both for now as well as for all eternity.

D&C 38:21-22 – We will have no lawgiver but God, for we will only have His laws to direct us. We will have no other king than Christ, the King of Kings.

Those are the promises the Lord made to the Church, the children of Israel. What follows are the ways in which we prepare ourselves for these blessings.

Verse 23 – Teach each other according to the commandments God has given us at this time to teach each other.

Verse 24 – This has two parts. Every man should esteem his brother as himself. We are to practice virtue and holiness before God.

Verse 25 – God repeats this commandment, which is important, for God rarely repeats Himself – Every man should esteem his brother as himself. This should be a giant red flag for all of us that we need to learn more about what this means, for the Lord told us the same thing, not on two different occasions, but in two sentences, back to back. He really wants to make the point that this is important.

Verses 26-27 – The Lord follows His back-to-back injunction to esteem each other as ourselves with a parable about what it means to be just. We cannot expect to be claimed by Christ as one of his own if we haven’t yet learned to esteem our brother as our self. When we show favoritism or preference to one person over another, we still haven’t learned to love perfectly, to fully deal justly with others. Until we learn to treat each other with a universally uniform generosity, we are not yet one and united with God.

Did you realize there was that much in those few verses of section 38? I certainly didn’t. Over and over again the Lord tells the Saints he is telling them all this so he can lead them to even greater blessings, a promised land and greater revelations – all to prepare them to become unified like His people of old, the people of Enoch. The people of Enoch were removed from earth, I believe partly out of necessity, for the earth was about to be cleansed by water. But in the last days the earth will be cleansed by fire, and the righteous will abide that fire because they will be changed, just as the people of Enoch were changed. They will be caught up to be with Christ, just as the people of Enoch were caught up to the city of Zion. But this time, we will all return to earth to continue living, but now it will be under Christ’s rule. At Christ’s second coming the whole earth will be changed, so nothing will be as it was before. After his coming the city of Enoch can return and the immortal people of the original Zion can live in harmony with the mortal people of the New City of Zion.

The list of what we need to do to prepare ourselves to abide the day of Christ’s coming is short. We need to love and esteem those around us as our selves then practice virtue and holiness before the Lord. Pretty simple list. Let’s get to work!

Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 39-40 – The cares of the world must not distract me from obeying God’s word.

Recording impressions as you study is one way you can obey God’s counsel to “treasure up wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30).

God accepts us where we are. If we tell Him we will be obedient, He never tells us, “No, you won’t.” He accepts us at our word and gives us commandments that will make us happier, starting from where we are, but only if we follow what He says. Our happiness is always up to us, and is based on the degree of our obedience. Section 39 is a great example of the Lord accepting a person where he was, and choosing to act on that person’s professed faith, even knowing that he would turn from the truth soon after.

At the time of this revelation (section 39), James Covel was in a good place spiritually. He was humble and submissive. So what happened? As you review section 40, do you see any sign of God being judgmental, mean spirited, spiteful, angry, or malicious? Of course not. The Lord continues to refer to him as “my servant James Covel.” Though he openly recognizes the reasons for James Covel turning away from Him and breaking the covenants he had made with God, there is no indication in His words to Joseph and Oliver that He is personally insulted, offended, or that He wants to punish his “servant James Covel.”

The Lord knows we are fickle. One day we feel like we can take on the world, like the night Paul, Christ’s apostle, declared that he would go to the cross with Christ, but within hours he was cursing and swearing that he did not even know Jesus. Do we comprehend that God fully understands this trait of His children? Do we believe that as a patient and loving Father, God is ready to forgive us for our mistakes and poor choices as many times as we are willing to ask for forgiveness? When we are truly humble and repentant, it can be very difficult to believe that God is that kind, that accepting. But He is.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 40 – Cares of the world

How would you define “the cares of the world?” This is a serious consideration. Are the burdens in your life the same as mine? Can I correctly or easily decide what distractions or demands in your life qualify as a care, and what do not? Can we easily say when a distraction or want in our life crosses over and becomes one of our cares in life?

I was talking to a relative the other day about a member of the extended family everyone is currently shunning. They claim he has lost all his family rights because of his betrayal of the family. Most members of the family won’t talk to this second father, or forgive him, because of the literal crime he committed against one of the children of the family. Yet the biological father of this family, in the exact same position of authority within the family unit, abandoned his children to live with his lover, leaving them fatherless. But since he is the biological father, he has legal rights the second father doesn’t have.

This first father left the church and has since taken his children with him. Their lack of contact with the church will lead to many, many of their descendents living without any of the blessings of the gospel. I asked this relative which of the fathers has committed the greater sin against the family and/or the children. The one committed a legal crime against one of the children, but in all other ways had been an exemplary father. He was honorable, kind, faithful to their mother, he cooked for the family, cleaned the house, took them rock hunting as a family, and in many other ways brought joy into their lives. He made one fatal and costly mistake that sent him to prison. Since then he has been humble, penitent, and in every way possible has done all within his power to make up for what he did.

So now the children’s mother has died, and we hold a family meeting. The second father is still spat upon and vilified by the family members, while the father who abandoned his children, who now has custody of two of them, is welcomed into the family gathering with open arms, and given a prominent seat at the council table. This father has the audacity to bring his newest lover with him, who is young enough to be his own child, and no one bats an eye. The family, as a whole, has completely spurned one sin, while giving a complete pass to a whole batch of other sins, many of which may be considered by some to be far worse than the one sin that got the second father sent to prison.

Is this situation a care of the world? Does it qualify for a distraction that could cause someone to abandon their covenants and forget their pledges to the Lord? What if my only problem was one where I felt a need to push myself to succeed, and in my effort to succeed I felt I needed to work on Sundays or leave the rearing of my children to someone else? Does that count as a care of the world?

What if I am a single mother who struggles every day to handle the stresses of life with growing children? Are all of those stresses cares of the world? What about the single person who can’t seem to find someone to marry? Life seems to revolve around my constant thoughts of being alone and wanting companionship. Is this situation a care of the world? How about someone who is elderly or in a weakening condition (of any age) who is seeing their vitality and abilities stripped from them a little each day. They are becoming more and more dependent on the kindness or services of others, and less and less able to care for themselves?

And finally, what about the wealthy person who finds that in order to keep and manage their wealth in a responsible manner, sometimes they feel moral concessions must be made in order to continue on in the path they have chosen. Are those cares of the world?

At what point can we say that something a person has to deal with doesn’t count as a care of the world? When do we get to be the one to determine that someone else is not allowed to count what is important to them as a worldly care? I feel confident that most of us have good intentions in this life. We want to be honorable in our covenants to God and each other. We try to do good things and uphold our commitments in life.

What we each need to see and understand about each other is that at some point each and every one of us lets a care of this world distract us or control us. Let’s face it, the cares of this world cause us to sin and to cause pain to ourselves and to other people. This may happen because of what the cares of our life cause us to withhold doing, or it may come from what we choose to do.

There is no one in this life who escapes being affected by their personal cares of this life, this world, at some point or another. Who are we to judge that someone who is trying to handle a care that would not bother us in the least, is slacking in their responsibility or is weak in their moral character? Perhaps they could handle our cares far better than we are currently doing. Perhaps that is why the Lord gave them their care and not ours. Hmmm?

This particular Come, Follow Me lesson was written close to Easter time. The topics of this lesson, though not directly focused on the resurrection and the atoning sacrifice of Christ, remind me that everything we do, think, and feel, are tied up in this supreme act and sacrifice. Christ keeps telling us to be one with each other, as the Godhead is one. If we continue to point fingers of blame at one another, we must ask ourselves if that is what Christ meant about being one? Do the members of the Godhead criticize one another? Do they blame their problems on one another? Do they stand in judgment of one another’s weaknesses?

I hope you get my point here. We all have different cares in this world. Some we understand. Some we simply don’t, even if we think we do. The responsibility God has given each of us is to bear with the needs and behaviors of others with patience, to be longsuffering, to forgive, and to love unconditionally. At no time have we been given the responsibility by God to judge other’s cares and determine if they are handling them as they ought. Our only commandment from God is to love one another, for it is by loving unconditionally, forgiving unconditionally, and learning to suffer patiently that we are able to properly help and support each other in our personal cares of this world.

Click the link below to

print a PDF copy of the file.

If Ye Are Not One Ye Are Not Mine

Week 16