sacredWeek 24 is scheduled for study June 7-13, 2021. This week we get to look at signs of God’s love, signs for the faithful, the nature of purity, and God’s dealings in our lives. We finish with a discussion of the living water He has given us. It is all sacred.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 63:1-6, 32-37 – The Lord’s anger is kindled against the wicked and rebellious.

The Lord said, “Ye receive the Spirit through prayer” (Doctrine and Covenants 63:64). Consider praying for the Spirit to guide your study.

Here is a personal confession. I know that the lessons in the Come, Follow Me manuals are inspired. I have had too many evidences of that to honestly deny it. So when I read the lesson material for today, and the scriptures listed for study, I was floored when I read the last sentence of the lesson: “How are such warnings evidence of God’s love?”

Honestly? I was still reeling from the hellfire and damnation talk from the verses listed for the lesson. How on earth indeed is this supposed to teach me of God’s love for me? I ran from this lesson for days. I simply couldn’t bring myself to address it, for it truly disturbed my soul.

But good news – after much thought, prayer, and pleading, I have finally seen past what I considered to be an impenetrable roadblock, and am excited to embrace today’s lesson. Okay, enough about my weaknesses. Let’s get on with the lesson.

To truly find the answer to the last sentence of today’s lesson, you need to reread the entirety of section 63. Don’t pay so much attention to the threats of hellfire and damnation being referenced for the wicked. Instead, look at all the references of God’s love for His people, and the blessings promised to them. Fortunately, someone posted a scripture reference on social media today that helped to change my point of reference. Here is Isaiah 54:10.

10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.

There are a number of verses connected to this one what expands on His love for the people of Israel, but this is the main promise. The important thing is that the Lord has never rescinded His love and loyalty to those who have covenanted with Him.

Homework assignment

As you go back through section 63, I suggest you make a list of all the promises the Lord makes to those who love Him and with whom He has made covenants. You should end up with quite a number of entries for your list. The wicked have no reason to rejoice, except that today they believe they are getting away with something. In the end, which is all that is truly important to covenant makers, it is the righteous who will have everlasting cause to rejoice.

After you have made your list, I hope you will share it with someone else and try to appreciate how extensive the Lord’s love is for covenant Israel, which includes each and every one of us.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 63:7-12 – Signs come by faith and the will of God.

The Lord said, “Ye receive the Spirit through prayer” (Doctrine and Covenants 63:64). Consider praying for the Spirit to guide your study.

Miracles, or signs of God’s power, are tricky things. In this ever-changing society, things that would have been considered miracles even a generation ago are considered common place today. For example, when I got married, if I needed to warm a bottle of milk for the baby it required getting out a pan, filling it part way with water, putting it on the stove and watching it to make sure the milk didn’t get too hot. If it did get too hot you ran the risk of burning the baby’s mouth and throat, so you had to be very careful. And we used actual cow’s milk for the baby. The whole time you were going through this 15 minute operation the baby was crying from hunger. Today, everything is in a powder you scoop into a bottle, add water to the indicated line, shake and into the mouth it goes. Two minutes vs. 15 minutes. For those of us who had the 13 extra minutes of screaming baby multiple times a day, powdered formula was a miracle.

Even things taken completely for granted today, like a microwave, was a miracle to those of us who were raised before it was invented. And if you would have told us that someday you could pull your phone out of your pocket and see the person you were talking to on the other side of the world, well, we would have told you you had been smoking too much of that weed from the back lot.

Miracles are gifts from God we can’t explain. If you have ever had a child or friend to whom you gave more than they were able or ready to receive, you know that it is human nature for them to become ungrateful, and to come to expect you to produce great things for them without any effort on their part to get or deserve it. This is what happens when people, like the mentioned Ezra Booth witness miracles before they have developed faith in the Lord.

When we exercise faith in God first, and He rewards us with a confirmation of our faith by showing us a sampling of His power, we are richly blessed if we choose to be grateful for that blessing that came in the form of a miracle in our life. This pleases the Lord, for He loves to bless His children. It is when we begin to base our belief on whether or not God performs miracles for us that He becomes displeased with us, for then we are behaving like a spoiled and demanding child. Those who seek for the miracle first are, in essence, telling the Lord they will not believe and obey unless the Lord does such and such first. They are putting demands on God to satisfy their desires before they are willing to be obedient. If you recall the examples of those men in the Book of Mormon who demanded a sign before they would believe, you will also recall that it never turned out well for any of them. The Lord never negotiates with terrorists or demanding children who act like terrorists.

We need to be careful about how we treat the Lord’s interventions in our life, or even the lack of His intervention. I know one man who complains on social media all the time that the current day apostles don’t perform miracles like the record of the ancient apostles. He is unhappy that God is not behaving in a manner that he wants Him to behave. He really expects the apostles to come to his hometown in South America and heal his sister, and they aren’t real apostles if they aren’t willing to go around and do public healings. I fear his faith is misplaced, and his expectations and desires have turned him into one who is ungrateful for the covenants he has already received, and the promises from God that came with those covenants.

The point (at least for me) is that God is wise. He decides when and where His power needs to be displayed. We can pray for miracles in our lives, but we can’t ever expect the Lord to jump through the hoops of our choosing. This is His plan, not ours. When we pray for something from God, do we also pray to have the faith to receive the answer of “No”? The Lord doesn’t usually explain Himself. Why should He? We must rely on His timing, His judgment, and His mercy, and continue to be faithful to Him no matter what happens. If He gives us a miracle let us rejoice. If He withholds the miracle we hope for, we still need to be grateful for His mercy and promises, for all His promises will be fulfilled, either in this life or the next.

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 63:13-23 – Chastity means keeping my thoughts and actions pure.

The Lord said, “Ye receive the Spirit through prayer” (Doctrine and Covenants 63:64). Consider praying for the Spirit to guide your study.

You cannot long portray that which is supposed to be pure if it is continually being polluted. Eventually the pollution will show itself. There is nothing you can do to stop it. For example, if you have a small clear stream and you begin to drop red dye into it, eventually, if you drop enough dye into the water, the whole stream will become visibly tainted. The solution? Stop with the dye and wait for the stream to flush itself out.

Our thoughts are like the dye. Our behavior is like the stream. If we become tainted with sexual or unworthy thoughts that bring misery and unhappiness, even though they may be pleasing to the mind and body, eventually we will not be able to hide them, they will begin to manifest in our behavior. When the Lord tells us that lust, the dwelling on something sexually sinful in nature, is as bad to Him as committing the act, He is trying to teach us a lesson. That lesson is that our thoughts lead to the physical actions that surely follow if we think on those those thoughts long and intently enough.

We will never do that which is offensive to the Lord if it is not first preceded by the thought of doing it. Thoughts always precede the action. A pure mind always leads to clean and honest actions. A mind filled with unclean thoughts is at war with itself. Eventually, it must be cleansed or that which is impure will win out and take over the mind, and lead to the behavior that creates such sorrow and misery.

All of this is to say that chastity is housed in our minds. That is the beginning and end of it. We will not slip up and commit a sexual sin, betray our loved ones, or our self, if our mind is clean, or free, of unworthy thoughts. This is the challenge of chastity, to live our life such that we are careful of our thoughts, and aware of what we are thinking. It is one thing to have a thought cross our mind, but it is a whole new level to entertain that thought and play it out in our mind. Once we are aware we are entertaining a thought that is unbecoming of someone who wants to remain pure and become holy, we must repent immediately and turn our attention to those things that we know are worthy. This will be one of our most persistent and difficult challenges of mortality, for we, and we alone choose which thoughts we entertain.

Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 63:24-46 – The Lord directs the spiritual and temporal affairs of His Saints.

The Lord said, “Ye receive the Spirit through prayer” (Doctrine and Covenants 63:64). Consider praying for the Spirit to guide your study.

It is easy for us to assume that God is in control of all things spiritual. The spiritual realm is that which is unseen and can only be understood through faith and obedience. What is sometimes difficult for many of us to accept is that God is also in charge of our physical existence. The world certainly doesn’t believe He is. They tell us all the time that we are the masters of our own fate, that we are in control of our destiny, and that we need to seize the day, etc., etc.

What we sometimes forget is that when we make covenants with the Lord we are turning our whole life over to Him, not just the spiritual half. No, God won’t tell me where to rent my apartment or what grocery store to frequent. But the Lord is giving directions for His church to His servants, the prophets, all the time. He directs, through the Spirit, how the monies of His church are spent, where the temples are built, how the finances are handled, etc. The Lord’s kingdom is physical as well as spiritual. The Church is the physical part of His earthly kingdom.

When the Lord returns again he won’t be starting from scratch to set up a government and system to rule the earth. He already has his church on the earth, and year by year it is being molded to be ready for his return. When he comes he will continue to run his kingdom just as he has since the days of Joseph Smith, through his prophet, but now he will be physically upon the earth. (To be honest with you, I have never considered until this moment whether or not Christ will have one man as his mouthpiece once he personally returns, but I can’t think of a reason not to still have a governing body of some sort to rule the nations, and he already has that in place.)

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 63:23 – Living water

Here is the verse we are contemplating.

23 But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living waterspringing up unto everlasting life.

This picture of a well of water that brings everlasting life has always intrigued me. In John 4 in the New Testament, when the Savior talks to the woman at the well in Samaria, he tells her that –

13 … Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

This is where life becomes difficult for me. I like being literal whenever I can, and I struggle to see possible meanings to words or images that aren’t readily evident or apparent. It makes no sense to me to take the comment that “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” The Lord can’t be saying that we would literally never be thirsty again, for that goes against the nature of being mortal. He must have had another meaning in mind.

When I yearn to learn a spiritual truth, I figuratively thirst for knowledge. That is the English phrase to represent that desire. We also say that we hunger for truth or knowledge. So what is it about the gospel that makes suffering from hunger or thirst a thing of the past? Is it not wisdom and knowledge of God and of the eternities that the Spirit teaches us? Where is the end of such learning? We may still yearn/thirst/hunger for more, but it is available. This “well” never runs dry. It is literally like a spring that is constantly refilling itself so that we can drink our fill anytime we come seeking. It is a permanent source of knowledge and satisfaction.

I like the play on words used in the second half of the Savior’s sentence – “the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” He is mixing a cocktail of metaphors here. The nature of a spring is that the water is constantly flowing, “welling up” from the ground. The nature of a well is that it acts like a contained spring in that it is continually “springing up” to stay full, always ready to have more drawn out of it. Both the spring and the well act much in the same way, but one is contained and the other flows away from the source.

Finally, how does this water bring everlasting life? Is not the gospel all about acquiring, learning then using truth? Are not the reasons for revelation, commandments, and service so we can learn for ourselves the joys of living a Christlike life, a godly life? Isn’t this what attracts us to the truth? Living godly lives brings joy and peace into our life. We seek to learn the nature of God. We want to comprehend Him and understand His ways. This is why He gives us commandments and tells us to go practice living His kind of life. He is preparing us to become celestial people so we will be comfortable living with Him again.

The world may be continually seeking to satisfy the thirst and the hunger that plagues them. In Amos 8:11-13 this is what the Lord told His prophet.

11 ¶ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.

The world continues to thirst and to hunger. They are unsure of what will fill their souls and bring them satisfaction. What they don’t understand is that this satisfaction only comes from finding and heeding the word of God. This is the living water. It is the only thing that will truly and permanently satisfy our souls.

This article is a good reference to the Savior’s comments about the blessings of us receiving commandments, when we keep them.

What Does it Mean to Be Crowned With … Commandments?

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print a PDF copy of the file.

That Which Cometh From Above Is Sacred

Week 24