Thursday, June 23, 2011

D&C Section Seventy Five

At the conference of the church, a number of the missionaries wanted to know what their duties were. Joseph received this revelation which paired up a number of them and sent them either north, south, east, or west. It's interesting how it's very rare that they are sent to a specific place. It's as if the Lord is saying spread out across the land and cover it as best you can. This is a good missionary section of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord commands the missionaries to put their whole heart into the work, to call on the Holy Ghost to teach them all things, to pray, and to preach the truth according to the revelations they have received from the Lord, not the ones they've received from Paul, or Moses, or an ancient apostle. What the ancient prophets said was important, but what is more important is what the Lord is saying in our time. Missionaries who try to convince people by the Bible are missing the whole point of the restoration and that is, God speaks to mankind today just as he did anciently. He speaks to prophets today just as he did in previous eras. There can't be any more important religious message for our times than that. Missionaries who try to show people that "we're just like you" are going to fail. We aren't like any other religion and for those who are seeking the truth, that is of the key. For those who aren't, it will be a thorn in their side that irritates them to no end. This is why, to me, it's so important to know the doctrine, not get caught up in the social elements, but know the scriptures so your decisions are based on truth.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

D&C Section Seventy Four

Here is one of the first sections of the D&C that came about because of a question Joseph had concerning something he found in the New Testament. In the early church, evidently there was a movement among the members that when one spouse converted to the church, they left the marriage if the other spouse didn't also convert. Verse 1 is the scripture Joseph is asking the Lord about. The Lord's counsel is for the spouse to remain in the marriage because they will be a blessing to the non-member spouse. The other point of the revelation is that children are innocent and in the time of Paul it was no longer necessary to keep the law of Moses, especially circumcision, as it no longer was a sanctifying ordinance for the male child.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

D&C Section Seventy Three

Joseph and Sidney's efforts to counter Ezra Booth have been successful in the immediate area. Booth was afraid to meet with Joseph but I think he was terrified to face Sidney Rigdon in debate over what he was claiming about the church and Joseph. Sidney was a formidable speaker; Booth was a no-show. Unfortunately, it didn't stop Booth from spreading false lies and rumors in the outlying areas. These claims stirred people up in opposition who up to that time had been friendly. In this revelation, the Lord tells Joseph that he can resume his work on the New Testament and that until the next conference in 15 days, he should also continue preaching the gospel when and where it is practical.

Monday, June 20, 2011

D&C Section Seventy Two

The prophet went back to Kirtland with Sidney Rigdon and received this revelation. In Section 41, Edward Partridge had been called to serve as a bishop in Missiouri. Now Newell K. Whitney is called to serve as a bishop in Ohio. In this section, the duties of a bishop are given and they are:
1. Look after the welfare of the members.
2. Keep the Lord's storehouse. This is now done by the presiding bishop of the church who is responsible for all of the tithe and fast offerings.
3. Receive the funds of the church. We turn in all of our tithing and fast offerings to the bishop.
4. Provide temporal assistance using the fast offerings. In earlier days, fast offerings were more often in the form of food.
5. Provide certificates of verification. These have evolved into the bishop being a judge in Israel and also our temple recommends.

Other duties will come in later sections. I can remember being immediately filled with a feeling of love and concern for my ward members the very first day I served as a bishop. Over the years I served, I became more and more aware of the mantle that descends on a bishop while he serves. There is no way that a bishop can do his job without the help of the Lord. When I was released, I immediately felt the loss of that mantle and was amazed at how different I felt without it. I had a feeling of being lost, weak and alone. There was no doubt that the mantle was real.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

D&C Section Seventy One

After he returned from Missouri, Ezra Booth apostatized form the church and now has the dubious honor of being the first person to publish false articles about the church. He sent articles and letters to the newspapers in the neighboring cities and towns that were filled with lies that inflamed the people against the church. As a result, the Lord in this revelation commands the prophet to stop translating the Bible and to go out and proclaim the gospel for a time. The Lord's instruction to him was no different than what the missionaries receive today, teach the gospel using the scriptures and bear testimony by the power of the Spirit. Then it is up to the person hearing wether they will accept the truth or not. The prophet challenged Ezra Booth to meet with him in public and debate the things Booth had been claiming, but Booth always refused or when he agreed did not show up. He was a coward. I like the statement of President Heber J. Grant when he said that no one has ever done anything "that has injured this work of God. I look around, I read, I reflect, and I ask the question, 'Where are the men of influence, of power and prestige who have worked against the Latter-day Saints?' They have faded away like dew before the sun."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

D&C Section Seventy

This section goes with Section 69 and is a continuation of the Lord's giving responsibility to those in Missouri for the publication of the revelations and the funds of the church. The Lord expects all of us to consecrate all that we have to his kingdom so that we can be equal. I look at it this way. By being willing to share or give all that we have, we are preparing ourselves to receive all that the Lord has. If we are willing to give all, we can receive all. It's true in all aspects of life. The more we want out of life, the more we have to give our all. The more each member of a team gives of himself, the more team is going to achieve. The Lord wants us to have all the blessings possible, but also recognizes that any great bestowal must be preceded by a like effort. It's not like he's just saying, give everything you have to the church for the church's good. The church will be blessed and the members through the church, but in the end, all of the blessings come to the individual.

D&C Section Sixty Nine

Oliver Cowdery has been appointed to take the revelations to Missouri where
the printing press has been set up so they can be published. It was
important that along with the Book of Mormon, the revelations be published.
The Book of Mormon was evidence that God was speaking to a prophet again
through new scripture, and the revelations were evidence that God had
bestowed the keys of authority and apostleship upon man again. Revelation,
new scripture, and authority are three things that are necessary if God were
re-establish his church once again on the earth. Without these, it would
only be a man made church. Those who attended the four conferences of the
church that were held in November all felt that these revelations would show
people that these three things were evidence that the church had been

Because the journey is about a thousand miles through sparsely populated and
sometimes dangerous land, and because they felt the revelations were of more
worth than all the riches of the world, and because Oliver Cowdery would
also be carrying money with him for the church in Missouri, the Lord
appointed John Whitmer to travel with Oliver. The Lord also tells John that
he is to continue making a history of the church.

D&C Section Sixty Eight

This section contains three very important teachings. The first one is one
that I wonder if I truly understand its significance but not in the way we
normally think. The verse is no. 3; it's about the priesthood, and it
basically says that when someone speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, it
is scripture, it is the mind, will and word of the Lord." We all know that
we should carefully consider the things that are said in general conference
and at other times by our prophets. But on a personal level, when we are
moved by the Holy Ghost, those personal thoughts and words are personal
scripture for us. They are only for us and not others, for the ward or
church in general. But they are things that can be very sacred to us and we
should preserve them in our journals for the inspiration of our descendents.
I'm afraid my journal would be a bit thin and of that is because I fail to
recognize when I'm being prompted by the Spirit and cast aside those

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

D&C Section Sixty Seven

Joseph and the leaders of the church had been inspired to publish the revelations and had made the decision that they would be published in Missouri as the Book of Commandments. The Lord then gave the revelation which is Section 1 and is the preface to the book. I think Section 1 is one of the greatest revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. After Joseph received Section 1, the publishing of the Book of Commandments was put to a sustaining vote. Joseph then asked the brethren if they were willing to bear testimony to the truth of the revelations. All of them were except a small group who said the language was not sufficiently intelligent. Joseph then received this revelation(Section 67) in which the Lord said to choose the wisest person in this group to write a revelation and see if it equaled what they felt was the least of the revelations received so far. William E. McLellin thought he was the most educated person in the group and said that he could. Joseph, who said McLellin had more learning than sense, invited him to write a commandment. He tried and failed miserably.

What some people don't realize about the revelations that Joseph received is, the Lord put the ideas into Joseph's head and Joseph had to put them into words. This was difficult, just like trying to put the visions he had received into words was. This is different than the Book of Mormon where specific words were given. I think these brethren thought the language should be like that found in the Book of Mormon and Bible.McLellin tried to write a revelation, but while he formulated words, the spirit of revelation, or the Holy Ghost, wasn't there. Without the Spirit, there was no life in the words. That is why he failed. It's the same principle we saw in Section 42 where the Lord said that without the Spirit, you can't teach the gospel. One of the reasons I enjoy the Doctrine and Covenants so much is that you can get a sense of Joseph Smith in them.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

D&C Section Sixty Six

At a conference of the church, William E. McLellin asked for a blessing and Joseph received this revelation. McLellin was another one of those who initially accepted the gospel but rather than face his own problems, would turn against the church. We get a clue in this revelation when the Lord says that he still has some things to repent of. The Lord says that adultery is a temptation that he is troubled with.

One interesting thing the Lord says is that he will show our weaknesses to us. If we are living righteously, the Lord will continue to help us do away with our faults and help us to improve. This can become a problem for some when they allow themselves to feel guilty in spite of their being righteous and good people. Even to McLellin, the Lord says that he is clean, he is accepted, and chosen to help in furthering the work of the gospel. He is told he will heal the sick and receive guidance. There is a fine balance that needs to be obtained between accepting ourselves along including the weaknesses we have. As long as we continue to try to progress and improve, there is no need for guilt.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

D&C Section Sixty Five

Joseph, at the invitation from Father Johnson has moved to the Johnson farm to hopefully have some peace and quiet to finish the revision of the Bible. That won't be as we will see. While at the Johnson farm, Joseph will receive 13 revelations including Section 76. This section could be called an inspired prayer. Joseph designated it a prayer. The main point of the prayer is that the kingdom of God will go forth so the kingdom of Heaven can come. Throughout the old and new Testaments, there are prophecies of the God establishing his kingdom on earth. He will rule a world of peace symbolized by the lion and the lamb lying together. For that to happen, there is preparatory work that must be done. To accomplish that, the Lord has set up the kingdom of God on earth.

For example, the vision in Daniel compares this earthly kingdom to a stone that is cut out of a mountain that rolls forth to consume the whole earth. Once all the prophecies are fulfilled concerning this kingdom, including the preaching of the gospel to every nation and people, then the Savior will come, cleanse the earth of wickedness and the kingdom of Heaven will be established for the millennial reign of Christ. The center of government and the place from where Christ will rule is the City of Zion or the New Jerusalem. This is why so many of the early saints wanted to have what they called an inheritance, or land for a dwelling place there. If Missouri is going to be the location of the city, who wouldn't want to have a home there?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

D&C Section Sixty Four

The church is beginning to move into what will become a difficult period. There are some who are very critical of Joseph Smith. When he tries to settle things with some people, they refuse, even when they know they are in the wrong. Joseph was a very forgiving person. He did not hold grudges and was quick to defend those who had not defended him. The Lord points out in this section that when we have been wronged, we should forgive and when we don't, the greater sin lies with us. The reason for this is, instead of letting go, we seek to stop the progress of the person we don't forgive. It is wrong to wish evil or bad fortune on anyone. Sometimes this is not easy, but like the old saying goes, when bit by a rattle snake, it's a lot better to get the poison out then let the poison do its work and we die trying to kill the snake.

The prophet is moving 30 miles southeast of Kirtland to the Johnson farm where things will be quieter and he can devote more time to the revision of the Bible that the Lord commanded him to do. We call it the Joseph Smith Translation, but that is really incorrect. Nothing was translated. It is scripture that has been clarified, corrected, or had missing verses restored by means of revelation.

The Lord promises that the saints will obtain an inheritance in Zion. He says "my words are sure and shall not fail." But he also says, "But all things must come to pass in their time." We always want the blessings "now." A blessing is always given at the time that it will do the most good, and be the most appreciated. Sometimes our needs seem so pressing; we wonder why the Lord allows things to happen that cause us concern. If we didn't wait and let the Lord's time have its way, we would not only fail to appreciate and enjoy the blessing, we would miss out on developing the wisdom and experience that would have come in waiting.

The Lord asks three things of us in this section, our hearts, a willing mind, and obedience. Those who offer those three things are promised that they will enjoy the goodness of Zion. We just might have to wait a bit first though.

Friday, June 3, 2011

D&C Section Sixty Three

Two weeks after the Section 62 was received, Joseph Smith is back in Kirtland. While in Missouri, the Lord had revealed where the city of the New Jerusalem was going to be and now the saints in Kirtland are anxious to know about it, when they will go there, and if they will have land of their own in the city. The Lord reveals that this is not something that can be taken lightly.

Zion is a very sacred concept and a very sacred place. Only those who have faith in the Lord, who keep the commandments, will be able to dwell there. The Lord warns those who want a sign that these things are true rather than having faith in him that they are true that they will not have such an inheritance. Others, are not worthy morally.

Another thing the Lord reveals about the move to Missouri is that it is not to be in haste because it will bring confusion, overcrowding and pestilence. Rather than prospering, the people will suffer. Lands need to be purchased which means money is needed. I think it's interesting that the Lord commands specific individuals to provide money for purchasing land, but doesn't say how much, only that they use wisdom. A false prophet would say the Lord is asking the people to give everything to him without thinking of their circumstances or needs.

One thing that came true in this revelation is the Lord's telling them that their enemies will be upon them, that they will be scourged from city to city. I'm sure they had no concept of what was in store for them when they finally came to Missouri. The Lord says that the promises of Zion will be in his own time. The saints wanted it then and it just wasn't going to happen.

The Lord also cautions people concerning love. Pure love is a part of Zion. The Lord is offended by those who claim to love, but lie. Because the Lord's love is perfect for all, because he has suffered for all and given his very life for everyone, it is offensive to him when claim to love him but don't. It is also offensive when his or his Father's name is used as an epithet, or casually, or in vain.

Eventually the righteous will be separate from the wicked. There will no longer be the grey areas that are so easy to wander in today. We can see this happening now with some moral issues. I also find it interesting that the Lord says the wicked will slay the wicked. History has shown this to be true and this will be seen on a far larger scale prior to the Lord's coming.

I think what the Lord wants is for us to recognize and respect that which is sacred. That we live our lives as if they are sacred gifts, that we keep the commandments, and that we love without guile. When we do that, we become a Zion people worthy of a Zion city. But we also are happier and more settled. We live life with both feet on the ground, know who we are and what we're about.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

D&C Section Sixty Two

You can read the scriptures and there is always some gem, some wonderful thought that inspires you, that answers a question, gives comfort, or some way brings you closer to the Lord and closer to who you are. I think there are a couple in this section.

Five days after the last revelation was given, Joseph Smith and his group are still traveling along the Missouri River when they meet a group of elders coming from Kirtland. It's hard to imagine the joy they feel in finding each other. The Savior tells the group from Kirtland, and now tells us, that he is our advocate, that he knows our weaknesses, but also knows how to succor us, especially when we are tempted. To succor means to give aid in a time of distress. It's a comforting thought to know that the Lord knows our weaknesses and how to help us. And it's even better to know that he will help us. In Ether 12, he tells us that he will make our weaknesses become strengths if we turn to him for help. Whenever we feel inadequate in the face of something, it's so good to know that we don't have to face it alone. He promises that he will not leave us comfortless.

In this revelation, you can sense a difference between the two groups. The group with Joseph Smith seems to have been reluctant to bear testimony of the gospel in their travels. He said that he was unhappy with them because there were some who would not open their mouths. This group from Kirtland is praised by the Lord for their willingness to share. Then he tells this group, and I think he's telling us also, that when we bear our testimony, we are blessed. He says our testimonies are recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon. I believe that when the angels look upon these testimonies, they are blessed for having read them. When we bear testimony, the Spirit will always touch someone's heart when our testimony is borne in humility. This often brings about a change of heart in some way. Perhaps the person is spiritually strengthened. Maybe they're testimony has been weak and this strengthens it and points them in a direction where they continue to grow. In some way, someone is blessed by the testimony we bear. That is why I think the Lord says he will forgive our sins when we bear our testimony. We don't know that it will happen every time, but I believe it happens more often than we realize. What a promise. Certainly one worth thinking about.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

D&C Section Sixty One

This is an interesting section, based on what occurred while Joseph Smith and the others are traveling by canoe on the Missouri river. This is one of many times you would have liked to have been with them. While they were camped, they were able to kill a wild turkey which gave them a good dinner. During this time, something occurred on the waters of the river. They became suddenly tumultuous in some way, making a great noise. Everyone heard the noise, but William W. Phelps saw Satan on the water. This led to the revelation. In it, the Lord reveals the waters have been cursed and are dangerous. This stems from the apostle John's vision in the Book of Revelation of Satan being cast upon the waters. In the last days, the waters have been cursed for this reason. But, while Satan does have control of some elements, the Lord has ultimate control over everything. So the Lord cautions them to be careful on the water, and in some cases tells them to only travel on land unless they are on a canal. The best verses to me are at the end where the Lord tells them not to fear, that he is in their midst and will not forsake them. If ever I am traveling, if I have some fears, I like to refer to these verses.