principle with promise
Week 34 is scheduled for study Aug. 16-22, 2021. This week we are focusing on perspectives. As a principle with promise the Word of Wisdom can change the way we live and the quality of our whole life. And when we learn to put our trust in God, the abundance we experience in life is elevated.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 89 – The Word of Wisdom is “a principle with promise.”

Prayerfully study Doctrine and Covenants 89-92, and record any spiritual impressions you receive. Be sensitive to how “the Spirit [manifests] truth” to you as you study.

My comments for today’s lesson are more along the lines of perspectives to consider as you study this section, rather than dwelling on the doctrine or what we should or should not do with the Word of Wisdom.

Here is a framework for considering and pondering the Word of Wisdom. Consider the three big questions people all over the world have when it comes to life in general. They want to know where they came from, why they are here, and what happens after this life is over. The gospel answers those questions not so much with intimate details, as it does with general information about the nature of our beings as children of God, the general purpose of being here in mortality so that we have context with which to make some decisions, and the general outlook on where our decisions might take us when this life is over.

The Word of Wisdom acts like a patriarchal blessing. It does have some details in it, but if read with the Spirit, and in a spirit of seeking to learn wisdom about how to better and more properly live in your body here on earth, you can have your eyes opened to many things. And each time you reread this section there is a possibility of seeing something from a different angle and with new eyes.

The important thing about the Word of Wisdom is that it is like a user’s manual for the human body. We are each living in a very complex organism that is a little different for everyone. And in some cases is a lot different from everyone. The Word of Wisdom gives us the general guidelines that apply to all people most of the time, and to most of the human race all of the time. For example, I know of no one on the planet where consuming tobacco is actually healthy for them and causes them to prosper physically. This might be one reason Satan wants us to use tobacco – it is addictive, and it is unhealthy for us. And notice that the Lord doesn’t object to alcohol, but to “strong drink.” Satan is the one who knows that strong drink is more likely to ruin us and our loved ones, so he pushes any use of liquor he can, weak or strong. If he can get us to like the weaker drinks, he has a better chance of getting us to use the more destructive varieties.

Satan knows that the body is so complex and marvelous that it can withstand a lot of abuse before it finally breaks down and dies. As a result, he pushes living in excess in all manner of ways. The Word of Wisdom tells us to live simply and consistently. It tells us to use what God has given to us in the way of natural remedies, herbs, etc. to heal our wounds, keep us healthy, and to keep clear heads that the Spirit can speak to so we can hear His voice.

Many of us have already succumbed to the alterations manufacturers have made to the natural food God originally gave us, so we have a long list of tolerance issues, like to gluten, and with food allergies. These things didn’t exist nearly to the extent they do today 200+ years ago. My guess is that as people come up with more and more ways to preserve food, to genetically modify food, and to process food, more and more of these tolerance issues will manifest themselves. The human body wasn’t meant to be treated in this way. The Lord gave us food that was perfect for our bodies. It is the tampering we do with the foods He gave us that cause many of our problems. (Yes, this is me admitting that my chocolate-covered Twinkies is probably not the best choice of snack food I could come up with.)

How we each get back to healthy living and eating is a tough process. Everyone advertises that they have the answer, for a price. That price might be money, or popularity, or notoriety, but they will set themselves up as the experts in how you should eat and live for a price of some kind. The Lord tells us all the basics we need to know in the Word of Wisdom. But His price is that we have to read it and listen to the Spirit who will teach us step by step how to be healthier. The Lord’s way is to personally tutor us in this process, not to tell everyone that there is one and only one way to do something.

Remember that the Word of Wisdom has to be considered in the same way we are told to learn to receive personal revelation or gain priesthood power. These are parts of the gospel where no manual will work for everyone. These things simply must be revealed to us one bit at a time as we become more sensitive to the whisperings of the Spirit. As we put our faith in our own ability to listen to and follow the promptings we receive, He will lead us along over a period of time to do things and feel things that benefit us and will make us healthier and happier. Learn to find joy in the process of the search, for it rarely ever comes all at once.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 90:1-17 – The First Presidency holds the “keys of the kingdom.”

Prayerfully study Doctrine and Covenants 89-92, and record any spiritual impressions you receive. Be sensitive to how “the Spirit [manifests] truth” to you as you study.

There are aspects of the Savior’s gospel that are far older than the actual plan of salvation itself. Presidencies are just one of many things that predate the plan of salvation. The Godhead is a presidency of sorts, and it acts as the model for all presidencies here in mortality. What are some things we know about the presidency of the Church? We know it is the highest governing body. No doctrine is put forward as the official view of the Church unless it comes from the First Presidency. No Apostle can declare something new to be doctrine until the First Presidency has stated it to be so. We know that the President of the presidency is the only man on earth who is able to exercise all priesthood keys. All of the members of the presidency, and of the Quorum of the Twelve possess the keys, but only one person at a time is able to exercise the use of those keys. All others are governed by and receive their directions from this one man and this one quorum.

The three members of the presidency are equal in that they form a body that presides over the Church as a whole. All questions about doctrine and all final decisions about the welfare and direction of God’s kingdom on earth are settled upon by this group of men. (Please realize that I am not including all of the nitty gritty details about who can do what, and which quorums are equal to which quorums, etc. I am focusing only on the First Presidency at the moment.)

When asked about why President Nelson put President Oaks into the First Presidency when President Oaks was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, he commented to the effect that too often the President of the Quorum of the Twelve is unprepared for the mantle of the Prophet because he hasn’t spent any time in that quorum, so he takes a while to get up to speed once he becomes the prophet. He thought it would help President Oaks make the transition to prophet faster and more easily this way. That, of course, is assuming President Oaks lives longer than President Nelson. ūüôā

In a number of ways presidencies are supposed to act and function like the Godhead. The members of the presidency are supposed to act in unison with each other. They are supposed to speak and act with one voice to those whom they lead. No decision should ever be dictated by the president of a presidency without the complete cooperation and agreement of the other two councilors. Presidencies are the role model for what it means to live and work with hearts knit as one.

In essence, the First Presidency is the governing body for the Lord’s kingdom on earth. They take their direction from the Savior, and lead out in bringing the members of the Church onboard with what the Savior wants done. They have the keys they need to govern the Lord’s Church in the Savior’s physical absence.

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 90:24 – “All things shall work together for [my] good.”

Prayerfully study Doctrine and Covenants 89-92, and record any spiritual impressions you receive. Be sensitive to how “the Spirit [manifests] truth” to you as you study.

As a skill or talent, this ability to make all things work together for someone’s benefit is one of God’s crowning virtues. We are short-sighted creatures, seeing only what is right in front of our faces. We don’t see our lives from an eternal perspective, nor do we see how what we are currently going through is going to benefit us in the future or can help us in the here and now. God does.

As children of God, we are, in many ways, blind to what is going on around us. This is why the Lord has to keep reminding us that everything we go through in life, both the good and the bad, can teach us lessons we need to learn to become more like our Father. Many of the experiences we go through in life will leave us reeling and wondering what just hit us. But the Lord has assured us that if we remain faithful to His commandments the day will come when we will understand the lessons our trials taught us. The only thing we need to be able to do in the here and now is trust God and lean on His understanding of our situation. If we can just do that, the day will come when the light of His knowledge will show us why our trials were so important to the advancement of our soul, and why we needed that particular “adventure” to learn the lessons it had to teach us.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 90:5 – Oracles

5 And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.

Here is Noah Webster’s 1828 entry, or part of his entry for the word Oracle. All of these have a contribution to make to our understanding of the verse above.

4. Among christians, oracles, in the plural, denotes the communications, revelations or messages delivered by God to prophets. In this sense it is rarely used in the singular; but we say, the oracles of God, divine oracles, meaning the Scriptures.

5. The sanctuary or most holy place in the temple, in which was deposited the ark of the covenant. 1 Kings 6:1.

6. Any person or place where certain decisions are obtained.

7. Any person reputed uncommonly wise, whose determinations are not disputed, or whose opinions are of great authority.

In their entirety, the oracles of God include all communication from Him to us. This means the messages offered in our prayers, through the statements of the Prophets, the scriptures, as well as the instructions given to us from our Church leaders, and the impressions given to us from the Holy Spirit. We actually have many channels through which we can and should be receiving commandments and instructions from God to us.

The question raised in today’s verse is, “Are we treating lightly the oracles of God?” Are the commandments, and nudges from the Spirit, the words of the prophets, etc. – are they what we live for and by? Do we, in fact, live by every word of God? Are we actively seeking to know more of His words? Or do we look at the banquet of truth laid out before us and gingerly pick and choose which delicacies we will taste, and which we will pass over as undesirable? It is true that we are free to choose for ourselves, but we shouldn’t forget that our choices come with eternal consequences.

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A Principle With Promise

Week 34