covenant privileges
Week 29 is scheduled for study July 12-18, 2021. There are covenant privileges that are all around us. Because we have made covenants the Lord has given us special promises. Sometimes we are blessed, but need to have our eyes opened to those blessings.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 77 – God reveals His mysteries to those who seek to know them.

The Lord told Joseph Smith that He would “speak in [his] ears the words of wisdom”. What words of wisdom do you receive as you study Doctrine and Covenants 77-80?

It appears that there is a basic principle or law of the gospel that many people just do not comprehend or understand. That law has to do with our agency. God remains hidden from us unless we seek Him out. We must be the pursuers, not God. He doesn’t need us. It is we who need him. God will not present us with the knowledge of spiritual things unless we ask for it. For Him to do so would make us accountable for that knowledge. So He doesn’t give us spiritual knowledge, thus violating our own moral agency, unless we go to Him and ask for that knowledge. We must do the seeking, the studying, the asking. Then, and only then, will He reveal His mysteries to us.

The mortal mind cannot comprehend spiritual things. All things spiritual must be revealed to us through the Spirit. Only then can we understand how the statements of God or His practices fit into His plan for our happiness. And it is important to remember that all that God does is for our ultimate happiness.

In practical terms think of those who say that a God of love would never allow hunger, sorrow, violence, or tragedy to exist. What kind of loving God would permit such things as a holocaust to happen? What they need to be reminded of is that we are not objects to be manipulated by God, like rocks or rivers. We are His children with agency to act for ourselves. We are free to choose destructive behavior if that is what we want, or if that is what we allow our neighbors to do. We must seek Him out to learn better ways of behaving, feeling, and thinking.

There are those who speak out against the practices of the Church leaders for one reason or another. Some are unhappy that our leaders don’t allow certain practices in the Church, like gay marriage or women holding offices in the priesthood. Others are unhappy with how the Church spends the Lord’s money. They are very vocal that the Church’s first responsibility is to the poor, not to their savings account. These advocates of “giving away the store” feel they know better than God’s prophets how the tithes and investments of the Lord’s Church should be spent. They are either ignorant of the financial history of the Church or they don’t see what the leaders of the Church see of the future.

Those who judge God and His servants as lacking in wisdom and judging them of having shallow modern morals are setting themselves up as the moral authority. It boils down to them not having a testimony that a prophet is a prophet, and it takes faith to follow a prophet. We simply cannot say a prophet is a prophet, but in the same breath criticize him for his actions or positions. Either he is a prophet of God or he is not. You can’t have it both ways.

Those who exercise faith in the prophet of God don’t openly criticize what the prophet does or says, instead when they have a problem with what is happening they get on their knees and seek guidance from the Lord. Note that the Lord requires us to come to Him. He cannot force Himself on us without violating our agency. If we question a doctrine or the actions of the prophet then we need to go to the Lord for guidance and counsel. And God has promised us that He will give it to us.

All the mysteries of the universe are ours for the asking, but we must do what is required to receive them. First we must desire to know new things with the intent to be obedient to that new knowledge. Seeking knowledge without this intent will only damn us, for any knowledge we receive from God will be used in our judgment at the last day. This is probably why the Lord gives us knowledge line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. Knowledge does us no good if we can’t learn wisdom from it. Learning wisdom requires practice using our new knowledge, which requires time and obedience to the commandments. Only through this process can the Holy Ghost teach us how to be wiser with what we already know. This prepares us for further light and knowledge. And thus the cycle goes.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 78:1-7 – I can help “advance the cause” of the Church.

The Lord told Joseph Smith that He would “speak in [his] ears the words of wisdom”. What words of wisdom do you receive as you study Doctrine and Covenants 77-80?

For years I wondered why the Brethren get up in Conference and plead with those who have wandered away from full activity in the Church to return. They always say that they are needed. My first thought always was, why? haven’t we gotten along just fine without them? (I know, I can be shallow sometimes, just like everyone else.) It wasn’t until I started to think about today’s lesson that some pieces began to fall into place for me.

Think of your toes. They just stick out from the ends of your feet, but what good do they really provide for the functioning of the whole body? Are they really that necessary? What appears to be useless appendages, that we sometimes even forget we have until we stub our toes on a leg of furniture, are really just as important in the overall functioning of the body as the legs, arms, or head. Our toes provide us with balance. Those who have their toes amputated are at greater risk of falling over due to an inability to properly keep their balance. So what appears to be a useless nuisance at times, is really a structural support that is very important.

The Lord has told us that every member of the body is of equal value, for we cannot all be the eye, the ear, or the mouth. All of us have a part to play in the functioning of the body of Christ and his Church.

When I think about my own lack of social visibility or my sense of unimportance in my neighborhood or my town, I assume I am not needed, that I am unable to affect change, or that my example and voice mean nothing of value to those around me. I am, in essence claiming I am just a little toe, and of no value to the body of Christ.

I sometimes forget that I don’t need to be the prophet, the Stake President, or the Relief Society President to be important to the Lord. He loves all His children, and what is important to Him is our efforts, not our results. That can be a hard notion to accept. We live in a world where results are what is important, not effort. The Lord doesn’t work the same way. When we put forth any effort to be obedient He will magnify our efforts and increase our capacity. When we repent, even a little bit, He will cleanse our soul and grant us knowledge, which enlarges our soul. When we seek to be kind to others He will provide us with opportunities to do so. All He wants from us is a willing heart and an obedient mind. Remember, we aren’t advancing His kingdom alone. All of our efforts are in cooperation with His Spirit, by which anything and everything is possible. This is why it takes faith to do almost everything in the gospel. It is by faith that God is able to work miracles and wonders in our life, and through which we are enabled to help in the spread of His gospel and kingdom on earth.

The last question in today’s lesson says, “how is [your service] preparing you for “a place in the celestial world”? Our place in the celestial kingdom is not going to be determined by what we accomplish through acts in this life, but by what we become in this life. The Lord’s definition of progress is how much change we experience for the better, not how much we physically accomplish in mortality. The world focuses on accomplishment and advancement. The Lord focuses on personal development and spiritual growth. He really doesn’t care what our job is or how socially connected we are. His concern is for the kind of person we are becoming. This is His cause that we espouse at baptism, to become like Him. Anything and everything we do to draw close to that ideal and to help others draw closer to that ideal is all that really matters in this life.

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 78:17-22 – The Lord will lead me along.

The Lord told Joseph Smith that He would “speak in [his] ears the words of wisdom”. What words of wisdom do you receive as you study Doctrine and Covenants 77-80?

If you have spent any extended time around children it might help you more fully understand the Lord’s comment in these verses when he declares, “ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood …” Children’s brains are not fully developed. They tend to think in very strict black and white ways, either/or, or fair/unfair. They don’t understand extenuating circumstances, the need for mercy, the demands for justice when they feel they should be let off the hook for something they have done. They simply cannot comprehend what an adult does.

The Lord looks at us in much the same way as we look at our children. We have adult bodies and minds, but spiritually we are still very young and innocent. His goal is to help us mature spiritually. The more spiritually mature we become, the more we can comprehend Him and the blessings He has to offer us. We are literally blind to all that is in God’s power to give, and to His possessions. We cannot fathom His ability to know and to do what is beyond our current grasp. This is why being obedient to God requires us to exercise faith, for it is the only way we can follow Him when we don’t understand what He wants us to do. It really is like a child who has to learn to yield to the parent because they are the parent. No amount of explaining on the part of the parent can cause the child to understand until that child grows more and is more capable of understanding. This is why Christ tells us in the New Testament that we must become like a little child. This is why he tells us in the Doctrine and Covenants that we are little children.

It is easy to take offense to being called a child when we feel so grown up. We are often like teens who feel they understand how life works. We feel we have a complete grasp on justice, laws, and the rules of behavior. When teens decide something is a certain way, sometimes only years of living and growing up can change their mind. We are no different than a teen when it comes to spiritual matters. The Lord understands this.

As you read today’s verses again, note how tenderly the Lord addresses us. He is truthful in calling it like it is by referring to us as little children. But he encourages us to believe him and to put our faith in him, because we really don’t understand all that the Father has to give us, or what the Father is capable of blessings us with if we are but patient and faithful to the commandments of His Son.

I will be bold here and state that our goal is to learn to humble ourselves as little children, who have not yet become rebellious teens. Little children may not like what their parents make them do, but they obey and love them willingly. They forgive their parents quickly when they feel like life has treated them harshly. Little children trust that their parents do all things in their best interests, and usually assume that if something goes wrong it is because they, themself did something wrong, not the parent. This is our goal, to relearn this native behavior we once had as a small child, and have largely since forgotten.

Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 79-80 – The call to serve God matters more than where I serve.

The Lord told Joseph Smith that He would “speak in [his] ears the words of wisdom”. What words of wisdom do you receive as you study Doctrine and Covenants 77-80?

The title of today’s lesson seems simple enough, but it actually holds within it some very heavy doctrine. I don’t know yet if I will address any of the heavy doctrine. I recommend you relisten to, or read again, Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s Conference talk below.


The highest callings that come from God come only to those who are willing to walk the covenant path back to Him. Yes, He uses the influence and works of good people everywhere to promote the Spirit’s influence among all His children, but it is to those who have covenanted with Him to obey Him in all things that He gives His greatest assignments.

What are some of those assignments? How about when we are called to teach His little children in the nursery about Jesus? These teachers are loving and teaching our children using true doctrine and knowledge from heaven to train the rising generation in the truth. Young Women teachers teach and guide the youth through the difficult teenage years, providing support and love for God’s precious daughters. Ministering brothers and sisters are called to seek out ways to bless the lives of those to whom they have been assigned, and to bless the lives of all those with whom they come in contact. The ability to bless others increases with the making of covenants, for only through our use of the Holy Ghost can souls be purified and prepared for the Celestial kingdom.

The Holy Ghost works with everyone who will listen. He guides the lives of those who submit to do good whether in or out of the Church. But it is only those who make covenants with God who are able to be cleansed and sanctified, and prepared for Celestial glory.

When we say that it doesn’t matter what calling we have, you can refer back to this week’s second lesson for discussions on toes and other body parts. What sets today’s lesson apart from the other lessons is that we are privileged to receive a personal calling from God. Such callings are not given to those outside the covenant, only to those inside the covenant path. So it doesn’t matter if we are called upon to play for Primary or Sacrament service, to be a Bishop or on the High Council. What counts is that God specifically calls upon us to fulfill a position of responsibility in His kingdom. He entrusts us with the souls of our brothers and sisters, and expects us to develop our spiritual capacities through the callings we receive. What the call is makes no difference. Remember that God does not look on position of authority as a qualifier for glory, but the purity of the soul of the person as the qualifier for glory.

What a privilege it is to be in a position to be called of God, by name, and set apart through His priesthood authority to bless the lives of others and to grow in our spiritual pursuits through our service in the kingdom! The blessings are the same for any calling we are given and receive with gratitude and perform with diligence. For all callings lead us home to God.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 77:14 – Eating

To begin this discussion about the symbolism of eating, let’s start with Abraham’s assignment to offer his son, Isaac. Abraham was not just told to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice, but as a burnt offering. Burnt offerings are completely consumed, so that only ashes remain. There is no coming back from a burnt offering. It is a total commitment, and complete offering, for there is nothing left when it is done. Lest Abraham have any hopes of healing his son or raising him from the dead after he performed his sacrifice of him, the Lord made it clear that this sacrifice was completely final. There would be no reclaiming Isaac after this act was performed. Abraham’s heart had to be all in for this particular sacrifice. He had to be willing to completely let go of his only son.

Abraham’s call to sacrifice Isaac is a perfect example of how the Lord uses words to express spiritual principles. Just as Abraham and Isaac had to be completely willing to submit to the Lord’s command and requirement that Isaac die, so too can we see the show of total commitment in the Savior’s willingness to suffer any and all loss of his own personal will in order to submit to the requirements of his Father. This is part of the power these verbal paintings hold for us in the scriptures. They help us see relationships that might be difficult to demonstrate in any other way.

Here is the verse under discussion – Doctrine and Covenants 77:14.

14 Q. What are we to understand by the little book which was eaten by John, as mentioned in the 10th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that it was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel; behold, this is Elias, who, as it is written, must come and restore all things.

Side note: Abraham lived in the dispensation of Elias. I assume Elias was a real person, because there is a dispensation named after him, but when we refer to Elias, since we don’t really know anything about the person, we are referring to the spirit of one who is an Elias. An Elias is both a forerunner, one who prepares the way for something or someone else, but is also someone who restores that which was lost. When Christ granted continued physical life to John the Beloved, John became, by assignment, an Elias.

John the Beloved is an Elias to the tribes of Israel. He was given a mission to prepare for the coming of Christ the second time. Besides his hand in helping to restore the Melchizedek priesthood and writing the Book of Revelation, we don’t know what else is involved in his mission to Israel.

The notable responsibility we know of that was given to John the Beloved was to write the vision of the end of the world. In the Book of Revelation John sees a book (a scroll) with 7 seals. Each seal represents a thousand year period of earth’s temporal/mortal existence. During this vision John saw an angel with a small book or scroll in his hand. John was commanded to go and tell the angel to give him the book, which he did. The angel told him to eat the book then warned him that though the book would be sweet as honey in his mouth, it would make his stomach bitter.

I have not found any explanation for this passage, either from in the church or outside the church. So I offer something for your consideration.

We have been commanded to take upon us Christ’s name, to literally become the spiritual sons and daughters of God through our obedience and devotion to the commandments and covenants we receive from our Father in Heaven. We are told to study, ponder, and pray to learn to think, feel, and act like the Savior. When we eat food, we take it into our bodies and our body extracts every usable part from what we consume to sustain us and give us life.

Might this be a possible explanation of what the Lord was telling the Apostle John to do when he was told to eat the book? Might the Lord have wanted John to take this book of prophecy and use it to guide and direct his life from then on, to make it a part of himself? And what about the sweetness in his mouth and the bitterness in his stomach? In 3 Nephi 28 we get a glimpse of the condition of the three Nephites who would not taste of death. Part of their physical condition is as follows:

9 … ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world;

As I read the description of John the Beloved eating the book of prophesies, I wondered if the sweetness he derived from the book comes from the joy the righteous have in God’s work and His plan for our salvation. And perhaps the bitterness in his stomach is the sorrow the prophets feel for the wickedness of those who must suffer for their disobedience and wickedness. Just a thought, because it fits with other passages of scripture and how the prophets feel about the people whom they love, but must perish from their own wickedness.

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I Will Lead You Along

Week 29