Away From Danger

A few weeks ago, as I was out watering my flowers, I had something happen that has never happened before—a bird flew out of one of my hanging plants. It frightened me a bit! Then it happened again the next day, and the next. Could this bird be building a nest in my hanging plant? I asked my son take down the planter and, sure enough, there in my hanging plant is a nest with five little eggs in it. Interestingly, the nest is at the front of the planter where the direct water never hits. Since I’m so short, even on my tippy toes and with the longest attachment on the hose, I am unable to reach that spot.

This little mother bird taught me a valuable lesson. To give her children the best possibility for survival, she protected them in a most unusual way. Although there are many trees both large and small nearby, she chose to build her nest in the most obscure, protected place possible.

This reminded me of the counsel given to Emma Smith to “lay aside the things of this world and seek for the things of a better.”1  Using this scripture, President Nelson issued the same challenge to the women of the Church last year to “put aside many things of this world.” He said, “Sometimes we speak almost casually about walking away from the world with its contention, pervasive temptations, and false philosophies. But truly doing so requires you to examine your life meticulously and regularly.”2

There is so much going on around us, so many things calling for our attention and priorities. If we aren’t careful, we can get caught up in things that will take us away from the peace we so desperately need, or possibly even from the safety of the gospel. Seemingly innocent things can take us away from the things of eternal significance without our even noticing. Likewise, seemingly small and simple gospel principles consistently lived will take us almost imperceptibly toward the things of eternal significance.

President Nelson said, “As you shift your focus away from worldly distractions, some things that seem important to you now will recede in priority. You will need to say no to some things, even though they may seem harmless. As you embark upon and continue this lifelong process of consecrating your life to the Lord, the changes in your perspective, feelings, and spiritual strength will amaze you!”2

In the idyllic setting of my hanging plant, this mother bird has, in a way, taken herself out of the world. She is doing all in her power to protect herself and her loved ones from danger. So should we! The prophet reminds us, “We Latter-day Saints are not of the world; we are of covenant Israel. We are called to prepare a people for the Second Coming of the Lord.”2

What a great calling! I hope we can each give greater heed to our dear prophet’s challenge to put aside the things of this world and more fully consecrate our lives to the Lord.


1.  Doctrine & Covenants 25:10

2.  Spiritual Treasures – Russell M. Nelson

Sabbath Day Blessings

So many things in our lives have changed over the last few months. When suddenly I couldn’t buy toilet paper, bottled water, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes, I thought, “I wish I would have known before so I could have stocked up!” Luckily I had enough of those things in my storage to get by during the shortages. Those are temporal and temporary. What about my spiritual needs? How well is my spiritual storage room stocked? Because one thing is for sure, we have been warned that there are and will continue to be spiritually hard times ahead! For as long as I can remember, those warnings have been given. However, I don’t recall a time when they have been so emphatic.

Think about this and where we are today! In August 2015, Neil L. Andersen said, “In recent months, the First Presidency and the Twelve have felt an undeniable direction from the Lord to declare and reemphasize the Sabbath day and the importance of worthily partaking of the sacrament. As we take the sacrament, we remember the Savior and His Atonement. We come repenting of our sins, pledging our loyalty to covenants made with Him, and hearing again the promises He makes to us. To always have His Spirit with us is a pearl of enormous value. Receiving the sacrament on Sunday is more and more like an oasis in the desert, bubbling with cool spring water, quenching our spiritual thirst, and relieving our parched souls.”1

Two months later, Quentin L. Cook reminded us that “the storms and temptations of this life are often unpredictable. But this we know: they will come! In order to overcome the challenges and temptations that each of us inevitably faces, it will require righteous preparation and the use of divinely provided protections.”2 One of those divinely provided protections is honoring the Sabbath day.  Elder Cook taught, “Honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness. The Sabbath … allows us to be in the world but not of the world. Truly keeping the Sabbath day holy is a refuge from the storms of this life.”2

Remember in October 2018, when President Russell M. Nelson said, “It is time for a home-centered Church. … The adversary is increasing his attacks on faith and upon us and our families at an exponential rate.” It is undeniable that we are surely seeing that these days! He continued, “To survive spiritually, we need counterstrategies and proactive plans.”3 He also encouraged us to “conscientiously and carefully” transform our homes into sanctuaries of faith. He then gave this profoundly personal and individual promise, “I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. … [T]he influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease.”4

David A. Bednar has said, “The Sabbath is God’s time, a sacred time specifically set apart for worshipping Him and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises. … On His holy day, our thoughts, actions, and demeanor are signs we give to God and an indicator of our love for Him. … the Sabbath is to elevate our vision from the things of the world to the blessings of eternity.”5

Sundays definitely look a lot different today than they did eighteen months ago. Churches aren’t open for worshipping. Religious experts are worried that when they do reopen many people will not return. In a newspaper article the other day, Nancy Ammerman, a professor of the sociology of religion at Boston University, said, “People who stop attending church rarely develop or maintain spiritual practices at home.”6

Clearly our prophet feels differently! Home-centered church is a proactive plan that, if followed, will not only help us maintain spiritual practices but where we can “learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.”3

M. Russell Ballard called home-centered church “an opportunity to renew our spirit and our devotion to God within the walls of our homes.”7

And Elder Bednar said, “Our most instructive Sunday School classes should be our individual and family study in our places of residence.”8

Hopefully soon we will be able to gather in our churches to worship together. Until then, may we be ever vigilant in creating sanctuaries of faith in our homes. Elder Bednar gives this prophetic warning we would do well to heed, “Making our homes sanctuaries wherein we can ‘stand in holy places’ is essential in these latter days. And as important as home-centered and Church-supported learning is for our spiritual strength and protection today, it will be even more vital in the future.”8 (emphasis added)

Then Elder Bednar gives us this encouraging reminder, “Compensating blessings will come as we strive to fulfill our individual responsibility to learn and love the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”8

Elder Andersen gives this impressive list of compensating blessings for our righteous efforts that should help ease some of the inevitable anxieties we are all feeling, “The Lord has long anticipated this most important period of human history. He knows the end from the beginning. The Savior has assured us in our day, ‘Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.’ As we find our way in a world less attentive to the commandments of God, we will certainly be prayerful, but we need not be overly alarmed. The Lord will bless His Saints with the added spiritual power necessary to meet the challenges of our day. … As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight.”1

May we find peace and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ every day but especially on the Sabbath day.


1.  A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous – Neil L. Andersen

2.  Shipshape and Bristol Fashion: Be Temple Worthy—in Good Times and Bad Times – Quentin L. Cook

3.  Opening Remarks – Russell M. Nelson

4.  Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints – Russell M. Nelson

5.  Exceeding Great and Precious Promises – David A. Bednar

6.  Church participation has been declining for decades. Will the pandemic make it worse? – Nancy Ammerman

7.  The True, Pure, and Simple Gospel of Jesus Christ – M. Russell Ballard

8.  Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing – David A. Bednar


September’s doctrinal topic was commandments.  “Commandments are the laws and requirements that a loving Heavenly Father gives His children to bless them, protect them, and guide them back to Him. When we keep the commandments, we show our love for Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. As we obey the commandments and continually repent, we become more like the Savior and we are blessed with happiness, peace, testimony, and the companionship of the Holy Ghost.”1  As I have studied what President Nelson has taught us about commandments, I thought about his gentle reminder to “do better and be better.”2   I also could hear his plea for us to do things in a higher and holier way.  Imagine the great blessings that can be ours if we keep God’s commandments in a holier and higher way.  How blessed we are to have a prophet who is encouraging us to be more faithful and faith-filled.  His loving counsel is to be more obedient to God’s commands, continuously improving our lives to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and ultimately qualifying us to return home to our Father in Heaven.

Russell M. Nelson once said, “The ultimate objective in our mortal journey has been revealed by our Creator, who said, ‘If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.’ … When we covenant to follow the Lord and obey His commandments, we accept His standards in every thought, action, and deed. Living the Lord’s standards requires that we cultivate the gift of the Holy Ghost. That gift helps us understand doctrine and apply it personally.”3 

Think for a moment about some of the words used in that quote—commandments, covenant, standards, doctrine.  Each of these words describes what our loving Heavenly Father has given us because He loves us and wants us to return home to Him.  He has given us the Holy Ghost to teach us, to guide us and to warn us.  He has also given us a living prophet to help us on our journey.

President Nelson once said, “Know and obey the relevant teachings of the Lord. Some of His timeless truths are applicable generally, such as the commandments not to steal, not to kill, and not to bear false witness. Other teachings or commandments are also general, such as those regarding the Sabbath, the sacrament, baptism, and confirmation.  Some revelations have been given for unique circumstances, such as Noah’s building of the ark or the necessity for prophets like Moses, Lehi, and Brigham to lead their followers in arduous travel. God’s long-established pattern of teaching His children through prophets assures us that He will bless each prophet and that He will bless those who heed prophetic counsel.”4 

Consider the prophetic counsel President Nelson gave us in the general conference he was sustained as our prophet, and which has been repeated quite often, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”  He then pleaded with us to “increase your spiritual capacity. … Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.”5  That spiritual work includes keeping commandments, honoring covenants, living God’s standards, and knowing His doctrine.  

And as surely as we try to do the necessary spiritual work, the adversary will try to discourage us. President Nelson taught, “Because the evil one is ever at work, our vigilance cannot be relaxed—not even for a moment. A small and seemingly innocent invitation can turn into a tall temptation which can lead to tragic transgression. Night and day, at home or away, we must shun sin and ‘hold fast that which is good.’”6

Think of some of the other prophetic counsel we have been given over the last few years.  We have been warned that there will be much discontent in the world.  We have been encouraged to take a personal inventory to determine where we can make improvements to safeguard against the evils of our day.  We are being encouraged to make our study time and our worship time more of a priority.  It seemed to me that much of our recent general conference was a reminder to make the Savior the center of our lives.

President Nelson spoke to us of personal temple worthiness, which of course includes obedience to God’s commandments, reading the temple recommend questions, which “have recently been edited for clarity.”  He said, “Each temple is a holy place; each temple patron strives to become more holy. … All requirements to enter the temple relate to personal holiness. Individual worthiness requires a total conversion of mind and heart to be more like the Lord, to be an honest citizen, to be a better example, and to be a holier person.  I testify that such preparatory work brings innumerable blessings in this life and inconceivable blessings for the life to come.”7  Some of the sweetest interviews I have had have been with my bishop or a stake presidency member to renew my temple recommend.  What an incredible experience it is to vocalize my commitment to follow God’s commands and to give an accounting of my actions.  We know that at some future time we will likewise give an accounting, for one day “each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.”8       

President Nelson once shared, “When the Prophet Joseph Smith faced death, he said, ‘I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men.’  Now is the time to prepare for your own ultimate interview. You might ask yourself: ‘Do I pay tithing with a willing heart? Do I obey the Word of Wisdom? Is my language free from obscenities and swearing? Am I morally righteous? Am I truly grateful for the Atonement that makes my resurrection a reality and eternal life a possibility? Do I honor temple covenants that seal loved ones to me forever?’”9 

Alma 34:32 teaches us that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.”10   President Nelson said that “our sojourn in mortality is a period of probation, a time of trial and testing to see if we will do whatever the Lord commands us to do.”  He encouraged us to “keep all the commandments of God, knowing that they are given to bless His children and bring them joy.”  And he warned that we “will encounter people who pick which commandments they will keep and ignore others that they choose to break. I call this the cafeteria approach to obedience. This practice of picking and choosing will not work. It will lead to misery. To prepare to meet God, one keeps all of His commandments. It takes faith to obey them, and keeping His commandments will strengthen that faith.”  I love what he says next! “Obedience allows God’s blessings to flow without constraint.”11

Whenever we do what our Heavenly Father asks us to do, He blesses us!  In the second chapter of Mosiah, King Benjamin reminds his people over and over to keep the commandments.  He teaches them that the Lord “has promised that if you would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you. … He doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you.”12  King Benjamin ends his preaching with these beautiful words, “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.  O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”13 

President Nelson has reminded us, “Spiritual truth cannot be ignored—especially divine commandments. Keeping divine commandments brings blessings, every time! Breaking divine commandments brings a loss of blessings, every time!”14 

In a world that has lost its moral bearings, we need to be examples of morality.  Keeping God’s commandments, honoring covenants, living His standards and knowing His doctrine will provide us incredible moral strength.  Specifically to the women of the Church, the prophet recently said, “From the dawning of time, women have been blessed with a unique moral compass—the ability to distinguish right from wrong. This gift is enhanced in those who make and keep covenants. And it diminishes in those who willfully ignore the commandments of God.  I hasten to add that I do not absolve men in any way from God’s requirement for them also to distinguish between right and wrong. But my dear sisters, your ability to discern truth from error, to be society’s guardians of morality, is crucial in these latter days. And we depend upon you to teach others to do likewise. Let me be very clear about this: if the world loses the moral rectitude of its women, the world will never recover.”15

May we each take a moment to evaluate our lives and find places where we can do better and be better. As we make a more concerted effort to keep the commandments of God, I know we will be blessed!   Even those commandments we feel we are keeping well, I pray we can live in a higher and holier way.


  1.  Commandments – Come, Follow Me-For Young Women

  2.  We Can Do Better and Be Better – Russell M. Nelson

  3.  Living By Scriptural Guidance – Russell M. Nelson

  4.  Ask, Seek, Knock – Russell M. Nelson

  5.  Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson

  6.  Set in Order Thy House – Russell M. Nelson

  7.  Closing Remarks – Russell M. Nelson

  8.  The Living Christ

  9.  Personal Priesthood Responsibility – Russell M. Nelson

10.  Alma 34:32

11.  Face the Future With Faith – Russell M. Nelson

12.  Mosiah 2:22, 24

13.  Mosiah 2:41

14.  Let Your Faith Show – Russell M. Nelson

15.  Spiritual Treasures – Russell M. Nelson


September’s doctrinal topic was commandments.  “Commandments are the laws and requirements that a loving Heavenly Father gives His children to bless them, protect them, and guide them back to Him.”1 Simply put, Heavenly Father gives us commandments because He loves us and wants us to return home to Him.  We keep the commandments because we love our Heavenly Father and the Savior and we know that keeping the commandments will lead safely along the path of discipleship back to our heavenly home.

Massimo De Feo said, “True disciples love to obey the Lord’s commandments, and they obey because they love the Lord.”2  Similarly Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “We show our love for Him by keeping His commandments and by living up to our sacred covenants.”3

In general conference we are given gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, reminders of what our Heavenly Father expects of us and the blessings we can receive for following His will.  We will always be encouraged to do better and be better as we strive to keep the commandments.  We will continually be encouraged to make and keep sacred covenants.   We will also be reminded of the blessings we are promised when we are faithful in our commitments to God.   In his closing talk, Russell M. Nelson said, “Not only have the messages been edifying, but they have been life-changing!”  He exhorted us to “study the messages of this conference frequently.”4   Think for a minute about the word he used –exhort.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines exhort as “to give warnings or advice : make urgent appeals.”5   If a prophet of God knows that what we have just heard can change our lives, it is no wonder he makes an urgent appeal to us to study these talks frequently and repeatedly and include them in our discussions with family and friends .  He also tells us we will be blessed, in a specific way, if we will do this.  “Your desire to obey will be enhanced as you remember and reflect upon what you have felt these past two days.”4  As we reflect on a few of these conference talks, I hope  you will remember of some things you have felt as you listened to and have since studied these wonderful messages.

Using the scriptural words “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” as the theme for his talk, Dallin H. Oaks spoke about the effects of small and simple things.  Scripture study and prayer are just two of the seemingly small and simple things we are commanded to do that, when applied over time, can have a powerful effect for good in our lives.  It is important that we keep in mind that “in total and over a significant period of time, these seemingly small things bring to pass great things.”  One morning while taking a walk, President Oaks noticed a few places where the concrete sidewalk had cracked.  The cracks were evidence of the power that small and simple things can have over time.  They hadn’t happened from something big and powerful but were the result of the “slow, small growth of one of the roots reaching out from the adjoining tree.  The thrusting power that cracked these heavy concrete sidewalks was too small to measure on a daily or even a monthly basis, but its effect over time was incredibly powerful.”6  While the small and simple commandments we keep have a powerful positive effect in our lives over time, the small and simple things we fail to do will also have great consequences.  President Oaks warns, “Even small acts of disobedience or minor failures to follow righteous practices can draw us down toward an outcome we have been warned to avoid.”6

Claudio D. Zivic compared the experience he had the first time he went kayaking to keeping ourselves safe on the covenant path.  He said, “I rented a kayak, and full of enthusiasm, I launched into the sea. After a few minutes, a wave overturned the kayak. With a great deal of effort, holding the paddle in one hand and the kayak in the other, I was able to regain my footing.  I tried again to paddle my kayak, but just a few minutes later, the kayak tipped over again. I stubbornly kept on trying, to no avail, until someone who understood kayaking told me that there must be a crack in the shell and the kayak must have filled up with water, making it unstable and impossible to control. I dragged the kayak to the shore and removed the plug, and sure enough, out came a large amount of water.  I think that at times we move through life with sins that, like the leak in my kayak, impede our spiritual progress.  If we persist in our sins, we forget the covenants we have made with the Lord, even though we keep capsizing because of the imbalance that those sins create in our lives.  Like the cracks in my kayak, the cracks in our lives need to be dealt with.”7

These are two great examples of how small things, either positive or negative, can have a profound impact.  Sometimes when we talk about keeping the commandments, we think about the big ones like the Ten Commandments, the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom.  Clearly those are incredibly important in our lives.  But we need to be keenly aware of the effect that heeding or neglecting the smaller things can have in our lives.  The counsel and exhortations of our living prophet may be some of those small and simple things of the gospel.   Hearing and heeding the prophet helps us successfully navigate this life and endure to the end.  If we are not careful, seemingly insignificant things over time can have devastating consequences.  Surely that is why Elder Zivic cautioned us to “strive to obey all the commandments and pay close attention to those that are hardest for us to keep.”7

Quentin L. Cook’s talk was especially powerful to me.  He reminded us, “This life is the time for all of us to prepare to meet God.  The Book of Mormon provides multiple examples of the tragic consequences when individuals or groups fail to keep the commandments of God.”  Elder Cook spoke on enduring to the end.  He said, “Jesus Christ assured us that ‘he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.’ To endure means ‘to remain firm in a commitment to be true to the commandments of God despite temptation, opposition, and adversity.  Even those who have had powerful spiritual experiences and have given faithful service could one day go astray or fall into inactivity if they do not endure to the end. May we always and emphatically keep in our minds and hearts the phrase, ‘This will not happen to me.’ When Jesus Christ taught in Capernaum, ‘many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?’  I believe that today, Jesus Christ asks all of us who have made sacred covenants with Him, ‘Will ye also go away?’”8  

Those words should cause us all some introspection.  Perhaps today more than at any other time temptation, opposition, and adversity are all around us!  If we are not conscientious, small cracks will allow the wrong things to seep into our lives.   Unknowingly we may find that we are no longer walking with the Savior.  How tragic!  The surest way to protect ourselves against this is to, as Elder Uchtdorf encouraged, “seek to align our lives with Him, … strive to refine our natures and daily grow a little closer to Him.”3  As we do, we allow the Holy Ghost to be our companion.  Adding to that, Larry Y. Wilson said, “We must each be making the effort to align our lives with God’s commandments in order to be directed by Him.”9

President Nelson knows how important it is for each of us to have our Father in Heaven’s direction in our lives.  He urged us to “stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation.”   Remember his powerful declaration, “Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work. …  I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.  Let this Easter Sunday be a defining moment in your life. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.”10

Exact obedience will keep us walking with the Savior.  Exact obedience will help us hear the voice of the Spirit.  Exact obedience will align us with God and His holy prophet.  Exact obedience will bless us, protect us, and guide us back to our heavenly home.


  1.  September: Commandments –

  2.  Pure Love: The True Sign of Every True Disciple of Jesus Christ – Massimo De Feo

  3.  Behold The Man! – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

  4.  Let Us All Press On – Russell M. Nelson

  5.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

  6.  Small and Simple Things – Dallin H. Oaks

  7.  He That Shall Endure to the End, the Same Shall Be Saved – Claudio D. Zivic

  8.  Prepare to Meet God – Quentin L. Cook

  9.  Take the Holy Spirit as Your Guide – Larry Y. Wilson

10.  Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson

The Sabbath Day: A Day to Remember What God Has Done for Us

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have been encouraged to increase our devotion to the Lord by more fully keeping the Sabbath day holy. A few years ago, Neil L. Andersen said, “The First Presidency and the Twelve have felt an undeniable direction from the Lord to declare and reemphasize the Sabbath day and the importance of worthily partaking of the sacrament.”1 One recent declaration came from David A. Bednar when he reminded us, “The Sabbath is God’s time, a sacred time specifically set apart for worshipping Him and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises.”2

I am excited for the opportunity to study the Sabbath day as our fourth-Sunday curriculum for the next six months. I am confident that as we prayerfully study and participate in the monthly discussions we will come to understand, in a greater way, the reasons for this reemphasis and the blessings that will come as we heed the admonition of the prophets and apostles—blessings Elder Andersen calls “compensatory spiritual power for the righteous.” He promises, “As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight. … This added blessing of spiritual power does not settle upon us just because we are part of this generation. It is willingly offered to us; it is eagerly put before us. But as with all spiritual gifts, it requires our desiring it, pursuing it, and living worthy of receiving it.”1 

January’s lesson is “The Sabbath is a Day to Remember What God has Done for Us.” We are reminded that there are mighty works that God has associated with the Sabbath. The three discussed in this lesson are the Creation, the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt and the Savior’s Resurrection. Reflecting on their significance and considering the symbolism each can have in our lives will help us remember some of the mighty works our Heavenly Father has done for us and will continue to do for us as we rededicate our lives to Him.

The Creation

“Under the direction of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth (see Mosiah 3:8; Moses 2:1). From scripture revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, we know that in the work of the Creation, the Lord organized elements that had already existed (see Abraham 3:24). He did not create the world ‘out of nothing,’ as some people believe.”3   The symbolism I see here is that our Heavenly Father can make more of us than we currently are—new creatures, if you will. This is possible, however, only if we are willing to submit our will to His will. Neal A. Maxwell once said, “When you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!”4

When the Savior visited the Nephites after his Resurrection, an event which had been prophesied among this people for six hundred years, Jeffrey R. Holland teaches us something profound about what he calls the “introductory utterance from the resurrected Son of God.” Elder Holland said, “Of all the messages that could come from the scroll of eternity, what has he brought? … He speaks, ‘I am the light of the world; … I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, … I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.’  That is it. Just a few lines. Only fifty-two words. … I have thought very often about this moment in Nephite history. I cannot think it either accident or mere whimsy that the Good Shepherd in his newly exalted state, appearing to a most significant segment of his flock, chooses first to speak of his obedience, his deference, his loyalty, and loving submission to his father. In an initial and profound moment of spellbinding wonder, when surely he had the attention of every man, woman, and child as far as the eye could see, his submission to his father is the first and most important thing he wishes us to know about himself. Frankly, I am a bit haunted by the thought that this is the first and most important thing he may want to know about us when we meet him one day in similar fashion. Did we obey, even if it was painful? Did we submit, even if the cup was bitter indeed? Did we yield to a vision higher and holier than our own, even when we may have seen no vision in it at all?”5 

The Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt

The exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt symbolizes leaving the world behind as we free ourselves from the bondage of sin. That freedom from sin comes only through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Just as the Israelites celebrated their deliverance with a Passover meal, the sacrament is the weekly reminder of our own deliverance from the evils of this world and the sins which hold us down.

L. Tom Perry said, “During the administration of the sacrament, we set aside the world. It is a period of spiritual renewal as we recognize the deep spiritual significance of the ordinance offered to each of us personally. If we were to become casual in partaking of the sacrament, we would lose the opportunity for spiritual growth. Elder Melvin J. Ballard once said: ‘I am a witness that there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load is lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food.’ (“The Sacramental Covenant,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1919, 1027)”6 

Speaking of the sacrament, Elder Holland reminds us that “every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, and surely that is why this particular ordinance with all its symbolism and imagery comes to us more readily and more repeatedly than any other in our life. It comes in what has been called ‘the most sacred, the most holy, of all the meetings of the Church’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 2:340). Perhaps we do not always attach that kind of meaning to our weekly sacramental service. How ‘sacred’ and how ‘holy’ is it? Do we see it as our passover, remembrance of our safety and deliverance and redemption? With so very much at stake, this ordinance commemorating our escape from the angel of darkness should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is. It should be a powerful, reverent, reflective moment. It should encourage spiritual feelings and impressions. As such it should not be rushed. It is not something to ‘get over’ so that the real purpose of a sacrament meeting can be pursued. This is the real purpose of the meeting.”7

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The symbolism of the Savior’s Resurrection is new life, renewal, transformation. Because of Him, we have an eternal perspective and can see beyond the things of this world. As we “look to God and live,”8 we find new life. As we follow our Savior, Jesus Christ, our lives are transformed.

“No doctrine in the Christian canon is more important to all mankind than the doctrine of the resurrection of the Son of God,” said Howard W. Hunter. “In spite of the great importance we place upon the resurrection in our doctrine, perhaps many of us may not yet have fully glimpsed its spiritual significance and eternal grandeur. If we had, we would marvel at its beauty. … It is the greatest of all of the miracles performed by the Savior of the world.”9

Russell M. Nelson reminds us, “The gift of resurrection is the Lord’s consummate act of healing. Thanks to Him, each body will be restored to its proper and perfect frame. Thanks to Him, no condition is hopeless. Thanks to Him, brighter days are ahead, both here and hereafter. Real joy awaits each of us—on the other side of sorrow.”10

Dallin H. Oaks teaches, “The ‘lively hope’ we are given by the resurrection is our conviction that death is not the conclusion of our identity but merely a necessary step in the destined transition from mortality to immortality. This hope changes the whole perspective of mortal life. The assurance of resurrection and immortality affects how we look on the physical challenges of mortality, how we live our mortal lives, and how we relate to those around us. The assurance of resurrection gives us the strength and perspective to endure the mortal challenges faced by each of us and by those we love, such things as the physical, mental, or emotional deficiencies we bring with us at birth or acquire during mortal life. Because of the resurrection, we know that these mortal deficiencies are only temporary! The assurance of resurrection also gives us a powerful incentive to keep the commandments of God during our mortal lives.”11 

Studying these mighty works—the Creation, the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt and the Savior’s Resurrection—has given me greater insight to and appreciation for the many mighty works Heavenly Father has done and for the mighty works He has done for me personally. I testify that as we submit our will to the Father’s, He can make of us more than we can ever make of ourselves. As we submit our will to His, we will desire to turn from the world and to the Savior. As we submit our will to His, we will be following the example of His Son, whose Resurrection offers us hope and joy in a fallen world. As we submit our will to His, the Sabbath day will be more holy and sacred to us. As we submit our will to His, we will come to know, in a very real and personal way, the compensatory spiritual power promised for the righteous.


  1.  A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous – Neil L. Andersen

  2.  Exceeding Great and Precious Promises – David A. Bednar

  3. Topics – Creation

  4.  Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father – Neal A. Maxwell

  5.  Obedience: Submitting to the Will of the Father – Jeffrey R. Holland

  6.  As Now We Take the Sacrament – L. Tom Perry

  7.  This Do in Remembrance of Me – Jeffrey R. Holland

  8.  Alma 37:47

  9.  He is Risen – Howard W. Hunter

10.  Jesus Christ—The Master Healer – Russell M. Nelson

11.  Resurrection – Dallin H. Oaks

An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World

Gordon B. Hinckley declared, “It is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world. We have had placed upon us a great, all-encompassing mandate from which we cannot shrink nor turn aside. We accept that mandate and are determined to fulfill it, and with the help of God we shall do it.” Many of our beliefs as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set us apart from the world. Four of those are discussed in Chapter 2, An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World. The way we live as individuals can and does make a difference. President Hinckley reminds us, “Our individual contribution may be small, but it is not unimportant.” Every righteous life gives added light to an ever-darkening world. A righteous life can most easily be achieved if we “take on more of the luster of the life of Christ.” Not only will that bless us individually but, as President Hinckley teaches, that is also the only way we will be able “to hold up this Church as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world.”

Family – “As the integrity of the family crumbles under worldly pressures, our position on the sanctity of the family will become more obvious and even more peculiar in contrast, if we have the faith to maintain that position.” Gordon B. Hinckley

“So much of the Restoration focuses on fundamental principles pertaining to the family, including sealings of eternal families. Latter-day Saints therefore have no choice but to stand up and to speak up whenever the institution of the family is concerned, even if we are misunderstood, resented, or brushed aside.” Neal A. Maxwell1

“We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established. We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring. We must continue to project that voice throughout the world in declaring why marriage and family are so important, why marriage and family really do matter, and why they always will.” L. Tom Perry2

Virtue and Morality – “We do not set the standards, but we are commanded to teach them and maintain them. The standard remains abstinence before marriage and total fidelity in marriage. However out of step we may seem, however much the standards are belittled, however much others yield, we will not yield, we cannot yield.” Boyd K. Packer3

“The Lord has made it clear, and the experience of centuries has confirmed it, that happiness lies not in immorality, but rather in abstinence. The voice of the Church to which you belong is a voice pleading for virtue. It is a voice pleading for strength to abstain from that which is evil. It is a voice declaring that sexual transgression is sin. It is contrary to the will of the Lord. It is contrary to the teachings of the Church. It is contrary to the happiness and well-being of those who indulge in it. You should recognize, you must recognize, that both experience and divine wisdom dictate virtue and moral cleanliness as the way that leads to strength of character, peace in the heart, and happiness in life.” Gordon B. Hinckley4

“In a world ever growing in moral pollution, tolerance of evil, exploitation of women, and distortion of roles, you must stand guard of yourself, your family, and all those with whom you associate. You must be guardians of virtue.” Elaine S. Dalton5

Word of Wisdom – “Our physical body is the instrument of our spirit. In that marvelous revelation, the Word of Wisdom, we are told how to keep our bodies free from impurities which might dull, even destroy, those delicate physical senses which have to do with spiritual communication. The Word of Wisdom is a key to individual revelation. If we abuse our body with habit-forming substances, or misuse prescription drugs, we draw curtains which close off the light of spiritual communication. Narcotic addiction serves the design of the prince of darkness, for it disrupts the channel to the holy spirit of truth. At present the adversary has an unfair advantage. Addiction has the capacity to disconnect the human will and nullify moral agency. It can rob one of the power to decide. Agency is too fundamental a doctrine to be left in such jeopardy. Teach your children to obey the Word of Wisdom. It is their armor and will protect them from habits which obstruct the channels of personal revelation.” Boyd K. Packer6

“The Word of Wisdom is one of the recognized and distinctive practices of members of the Church. Generally, others not of our faith acknowledge that members in good standing abstain from tobacco, coffee, tea, and all alcoholic beverages. Scientific studies have confirmed that Latter-day Saints have less incidence of heart problems, all forms of cancer, and other diseases because of their adherence to the Word of Wisdom. In all love, we give you warning that Satan and his emissaries will strive to entice you to use harmful substances, because they well know if you partake, your spiritual powers will be inhibited and you will be in their evil power. Stay away from those places or people which would influence you to break the commandments of God.” Ezra Taft Benson7

The Sabbath Day – “Observance of the Sabbath is an indication of the depth of our conversion. Our observance or nonobservance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward his suffering in Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of his atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us.” Mark E. Peterson8

“Examine your feelings about, and your behavior on, the Sabbath day. The Savior identified Himself as Lord of the Sabbath. It is His day! Repeatedly, He has asked us to keep the Sabbath or to hallow the Sabbath day. We are under covenant to do so. Faith in God engenders a love for the Sabbath; faith in the Sabbath engenders a love for God.” Russell M. Nelson9

From the beginning, prophets of God have taught that faithful observance of the Sabbath blesses every aspect of our lives. What an incredible example President Hinckley shares about the pioneers following the prophet’s counsel to keep the Sabbath day holy – even when it would seem logical to make an exception. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in late July, with planting season well over. As the saints gathered on Sunday for Sabbath services, “in the blistering heat of that July Sunday they sat on the tongues of their wagons and leaned against the wheels while the Brethren spoke. The season was late, and they were faced with a gargantuan and immediate task if they were to grow seed for the next season. But President Young pleaded with them not to violate the Sabbath then or in the future.” And they were blessed for keeping the Sabbath day holy because, as President Hinckley reminds us, “God will shower down blessings upon those who walk in obedience to His commandments.”

President Hinckley taught, “Unless the world alters the course of its present trends (and that is not likely); and if, on the other hand, we continue to follow the teachings of the prophets, we shall increasingly become a peculiar and distinctive people of whom the world will take note.” I love Russell M. Nelson’s reminder, “It is converted, covenant-keeping women whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world and who will thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.”10

President Hinckley gives us quite an extensive list of things we need to do. He also gives some pretty incredible promises if we will follow his counsel. “We must stand firm. We must hold back the world. If we do so, the Almighty will be our strength and our protector, our guide and our revelator. We shall have the comfort of knowing that we are doing what He would have us do. Beginning with you and me, there can be an entire people who, by the virtue of our lives in our homes, in our vocations, even in our amusements, can become as a city upon a hill to which men may look and learn, and an ensign to the nations from which the people of the earth may gather strength. The time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of this The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, and the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. It is a time to be found keeping the commandments. It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain. It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships. In other words, to become more Christlike.”


1. Take Especial Care of Your Family – Neal A. Maxwell

2. Why Marriage and Family Matter – Everywhere in the World – L. Tom Perry

3. The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected – Boyd K. Packer

4. Reverence and Morality – Gordon B. Hinckley

5. Guardians of Virtue – Elaine S. Dalton

6. Revelation in a Changing World – Boyd K. Packer

7. A Principle With a Promise – Ezra Taft Benson

8. The Sabbath Day – Mark E. Peterson

9. The Sabbath is a Delight – Russell M. Nelson

10. A Plea To My Sisters – Russell M. Nelson