Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy


This week, Diane Smith taught a great lesson from Chapter 27 of the Joseph Smith manual. It is entitled, Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy. As usual, this is a great lesson sisters. If you have not had a chance to read the lesson, please take time to read it this week.

The subject of this weeks lesson was how we can avoid apostasy. Sister Smith defined apostasy as a turning away from our beliefs.

The lesson manual describes the apostasy of many members of the church during the Kirtland period of church history. Describing those who left the church, Sister Eliza Snow said, "As the Saints drank in the love and spirit of the world, the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from their hearts."

Of course, most of the Saints during that period stayed close to the spirit and loyal to the gospel. Brigham Young described a meeting in which some Church members were discussing how to depose the Prophet Joseph: "I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, but they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God; they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God, and sink themselves to hell." I was amused to read his next sentence, "Many were highly enraged at my decided opposition to their measures...." Hmmmm? I guess no one likes being told they might be on the wrong road. Brigham continued, "This was a crisis when earth and hell seemed leagued to overthrow the Prophet and Church of God. The knees of many of the strongest men in the Church faltered."

Sister Smith began a discussion of how we can keep our "knees from faltering."

She pointed out that when we lose confidence in or criticize our church leaders we run the risk of apostasy. We discussed that our church leaders are just people like us, doing their best to live the Gospel. It is our job to support and sustain them as they do their best to serve us the way the Lord requires.

Sister Smith spoke to us about how we must guard against apostasy. She used this quote from Joseph, "Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church, you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one and you will follow his dictation and be his servant."

There is the answer Sisters. As we do our best to follow the Master, Jesus Christ and to listen to His voice through the Holy Ghost, we will be protected from apostasy. We must work to obtain our own rock solid testimony of the Savior and the Gospel. As our testimonies become stronger, we become instruments in the hands of the Lord to be used to strengthen his kingdom.

Sister Smith ended her lesson with this quote from the manual, "Ezra T. Clark remembered: 'I heard the Prophet Joseph say that he would give the Saints a key whereby they would never be led away or deceived, and that was: The Lord would never suffer a majority of this people to be led away or deceived by imposters, nor would he allow the records of this Chruch to fall into the hands of the enemy.'"

Sisters, we love how you support each other. We are astounded by the service you give to each other. We see evidence of your testimonies constantly in the day to day service you render to your families, friends, and each other. We are amazed by you.

Your Relief Society Presidency


Hi Sisters:

I'm sorry I missed sending out this message last week. My Sunday got away from me. So, there will be two messages this week. This first message is regarding the lesson given last week (February 8, 2009) by Sue Bean. It is lesson 27 in your Joseph Smith manual and is called Elijah and the Restoration of the Sealing Keys.

Sue started out by describing the dedication of the Kirtland temple. Eliza Snow said, "The ceremonies of that dedication may be rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the heavenly manifestations of that memorable day. Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine presence was realized by all present, and each heart was filled with joy inexpressible and full of glory."

On the following Sunday, April 3, 1836, the prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery retired to the pulpit behind lowered curtains and knelt in solemn prayer. As they rose from prayer, the Savior Himself appeared tot hem and proclaimed His approval of the temple.

D&C 110:7 says, "Behold, I have accepted this hous, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house. "

After Christ appeared, Joseph and Oliver had more visions in which they saw Moses who gave them the "keys of the gathering of Israel", Elias who gave them the "dispensation of the gospel of Abraham", and then Elijah, who gave Joseph and Oliveer the "keys of sealing - the power to bind and validate in the heavens all ordinances performed on the earth."

Sue then facilitated a discussion by the sisters of why the sealing keys are so important. There were many great points discussed and the concensus of the sisters seemed to be that as we do our geneology and attend the temple, we are sealing everyone who has ever lived on the earth to each other. When the end of the millenium arrives, all will have received this ordinance and will have the opportunity to accept their place in the family of God. The work we do today in our families and in the temple is vital to the plan of salvation.

We also discussed that there are great blessings here on earth from the sealing keys. Being sealed as a family fosters feelings of love and acceptance and joy in our families. Knowing that we will be together eternally helps us to treat each other with tenderness and understanding. It also helps us to work out our difficulties and draw closer together in times of trial.

We love you sisters. Let us all strive together to be more dedicated to our temple work.

Your Relief Society Presidency

Monday, February 2, 2009

For God Hath Not Given Us The Spirit Of Fear

Dear Sisters:

Today in Relief Society, we talked about fear. Sister Michele Carnohan taught the lesson. She started with a scripture found in Philippians 4:6-8.

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

We then supplemented that by reading the NIV version of the same verses.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

We talked about how sometimes it is nice to supplement your scripture reading with another translation to help understand difficult phrases or to add to the depth of a scripture you already love. This scripture is definitely in the latter category.

After we read and marked the scripture, we talked about some of the things in our world today that are frightening. There are many things that make us anxious and fearful. Finances, a wayward child, having to go back to work, illness, family issues, and evil are only a few of the fears that beset us.

So we again focused on how the Lord asks us to overcome those fears. In vs 6, he says, "in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." So, we are to bring our problems to him in prayer. Give him our anxiety and our fears. And in return, he promises us that "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." I also love the NIV version which says that the peace of God will "guard" your hearts and minds. I like the idea of my heart and my mind being kept and guarded by the peace of God through Christ Jesus.

We then talked about how we can help others overcome their fears. We read D&C 81:15 together.

"Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. "

We listed the ways that we can help others:

1. Be faithful in our callings and have faith in Jesus Christ.

2. Succor (Run to or give nourishment to) the weak.

3. Lift up (Provide encouragement to those with) hands which hang down (the depressed or exhausted.)

4. Strengthen (Give courage to) those with feeble knees (knees that knock in fear and anxiety).

We discussed that sometimes, when we are overwhelmed with the difficulty of the way, we forget to give thanks for our blessings and we forget to look outside ourselves and help others. In our discussion, we decided that there are ways to help the Lord give us the "peace of God which passeth all understanding."

We can love and support one another. We can forgive ourselves and others. We can remember that we all have fears and anxieties and issues. We may not show them outwardly, but we have them. And as we strive to help each other overcome those problems and find the peace of God, we also find that peace ourselves. We also discussed that as we have needs that can be filled by our RS sisters, we must be willing to ask for help and allow others to help us so that they can find the peace of God through service.

We ended with Ephesians 4:31-32

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Years ago, Sally Wimmer introduced me to the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. The main character in these books is an Episcopilian Priest, Father Tim Kavanaugh. I have just read through the series again and loved them just as much as I did the first time. One of the things I am reminded to do when I read about Father Tim is to pray "the prayer that never fails, 'thy will be done.'" Once I pray the prayer that never fails, I must have faith that the Lord has his hand in our lives and that He has a plan for me that I may not be able to see. When I am able to let His will be done, I am able to feel His peace.

Have a fantastic February, sisters. Get out and do your visiting teaching early this month so you can "succor the weak, lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." We love you.

Your Relief Society Presidency