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Receive Your King

The following is adapted from the devotional I gave at my Relief Society's Christmas party.

Joseph, the Stepfather of Jesus

Mary the mother of Jesus is revered in Christianity, particularly in Catholicism. She was "highly favoured" and "blessed . . . among women" (Luke 1:28, 30). But we seldom talk about her husband, Joseph. He too must have been highly favored and blessed among men to have been given the honor of raising Jesus.

Joseph was a "just man" and not spiteful: when he learned of Mary's pregnancy, he did not publicize it, but wished to divorce her privately (Matthew 1:19 footnote b). He was also very unselfish toward Mary during her pregnancy (Matthew 1:25).

Joseph was obedient to the Lord, as shown when he followed angels' commands to still marry Mary (Matthew 1:20-24) and flee to Nazareth to protect little Jesus from King Herod (Matthew 2:13-15). Joseph served as young Jesus's example of a righteous husband and father. The Bible Dictionary states, "Joseph was naturally regarded in Nazareth as [Jesus's] father, and the holy child treated him as …

The Sacrament Prayers

We hear the sacrament prayers every week, but do we listen to the words and know the purpose of the prayers? I have broken down the blessing on the bread to help us better understand the sacrament, something I was advised to do in my patriarchal blessing.

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy son, Jesus Christ,
First, we address Heavenly Father. Then we ask Him in humility and verify that we are doing so in Jesus's name, as we are commanded to do all things in His name (3 Nephi 27:7, 9).

to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it,
The Guide to the Scriptures on lds.org defines the words bless and sanctify as follows:
Bless: To confer divine favor upon someone. Anything contributing to true happiness, well-being, or prosperity is a blessing.
All blessings are based on eternal laws (D&C 130:20–21). Because God wants his children to find joy in life (2 Ne. 2:25), he grants blessings to them as a result of their obedience to hi…

A Kind Blessing

A story Elder Cornish shared in General Conference October 2011.

When I was a young resident physician at Boston Children’s Hospital, I worked long hours and traveled between the hospital and our home in Watertown, Massachusetts, mostly by bicycle since my wife and young family needed our car. One evening I was riding home after a long period in the hospital, feeling tired and hungry and at least a bit discouraged. I knew I needed to give my wife and four small children not only my time and energy when I got home but also a cheery attitude. I was, frankly, finding it hard to just keep pedaling.

My route would take me past a fried chicken shop, and I felt like I would be a lot less hungry and tired if I could pause for a piece of chicken on my way home. I knew they were running a sale on thighs or drumsticks for 29 cents each, but when I checked my wallet, all I had was one nickel. As I rode along, I told the Lord my situation and asked if, in His mercy, He could let me find a quarter …

What the New Missionary Ages Really Mean

Today we had a regional stake conference, in which Elder Holland spoke. He ended his talk with what lowering the missionary ages really means and how missionary work affects all of us:

1. The change had nothing to do with convenience for young adults and everything to do with the large labor before us. The world needs more missionaries!

2. Time spent at the MTC has been cut down a third. The real MTC is the home, and preparation must start earlier. (I feel strongly about this, as I wrote in my post "This Is My Sacred Duty.")

3. Just as we want our children to have successful missions wherever they go, so do the parents of the missionaries sent to our area. We need to help them.

4. Tracting is no longer a reality today. We have to be the finders. Missionaries are simply the teachers.

Discussion: What can we do to make missionaries successful, both ones we send out and ones we receive?

Conquer Despair through Hope

One of today’s great challenges is learning to conquer fear and despair in order to overcome trials and temptations. It takes only a few moments for us to open a newspaper, scroll the web, or hear a news broadcast on radio or television to be confronted with distressing accounts of crime and natural calamities that happen every day.
Understanding the promises in scripture concerning how the Lord will conquer evil and how truth will conquer error can help us face the future with hope and optimism. In today’s world we see war, natural calamities, and economic crises. At times these events are not just things we observe from a distance but are things that affect us personally. . . .
We should all face the future with hope because we know that the forces of evil will be overcome. We should all maintain a positive outlook as we face challenges because today we have the scriptures, the teachings of living prophets, priesthood authority, temples, and the support of each other a…

Teach by the Spirit

I love to teach. My favorite Church calling was as a Sunday school teacher my freshman year at BYU. I asked for the calling and got it. I felt I was a great teacher and had much to offer my fellow peers. While I may have had good teaching skills from a professional perspective and put great time and effort in preparing my lessons, I lacked the Spirit. No matter how qualified I thought I was, it didn't matter without having the support and guidance of the Holy Ghost.

President Richardson, second counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, said in General Conference October 2011:
Those who teach after the manner of the Spirit understand they teach people, not lessons. As such, they overcome the urge to cover everything in a manual or teach all they have learned on the subject and focus instead on those things that their family or class members need to know and do. Parents, leaders, and teachers who mirror how the Spirit teaches learn quickly that real teaching involves much…

General Relief Society Meeting September 2012

I got to watch the General Relief Society Meeting Saturday night, something I have not had the privilige of doing the last couple years. I was excited to meet the new presidency, and they are wonderful! They are so loving and sweet, so meek and mild, and very tenderhearted. I enjoyed and learned from each of their talks.

Linda K. Burton, President, talked about cheerfully keeping our covenants. She also shared an excellent analogy on self-worth another woman shared with her: a $20 bill, though it may be torn, dirty, worn out, wrinkled, and used, is still worth $20.

Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor, talked about being wide awake to our duties. She shared an experience she had on a pioneer trek she did with the youth. On a part of the journey called the women's pull, the women had to push the handcarts up a hill without the men's help. A young woman who had already pushed her cart up came back down and helped Sister Stephens and her companion with their cart. But when Sister …

Follow the Savior's Example

Part 3 of my sacrament talk (read Part 1 and Part 2):

With so much responsibility to teach by good example, show love, and learn along with and from our children, it is important that we have good examples to follow. Heavenly Father gave us the best example: His Son, Jesus Christ. “What manner of men ought ye to be?” asked the Savior. “Even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27). We will never fail by doing what He did. Sometimes it is hard to emulate the Savior because He was so perfect, so he has given us other examples to follow: Christ-like Church leaders and family members. If we ever do not know how to act in a situation, we can watch and imitate them, and in turn be imitating Christ. Our children will also be inspired to follow good examples as they see us strive to do the same and see the happiness and peace it brings to our lives.

Being an example in our homes and following the example of our Redeemer fulfills His call for us to be a light unto the world and a standard unto the nations. Those…

Teach Your Children through Love

Part 2 of my sacrament talk (read Part 1 and Part 3):

A good example by itself is not enough, however. It must be joined with love. An incident in President McKay’s life illustrates this point: When one of [President McKay’s] sons, David Lawrence, was a young boy, he accompanied his father in a horse-drawn carriage. “We forded a swollen river in a thunderstorm,” David Lawrence later recalled, “and got caught between that river and a mountain torment. I thought the end of the world had come, and started to cry. Father held me on his lap in his arms all night until we were rescued in the morning. It’s hard to disobey a man who loves you and puts his arms around you.” David Lawrence remembered that David O. and Emma Ray McKay made their expectations clear to their children and that they, as parents, “were so self-disciplined that we were never confused by seeing them behave in a way different from the way we were supposed to behave. . . . Our parents’ expectations provided the path for us t…

"Be Thou an Example of the Believers" at Home

Today, my husband and I spoke in sacrament meeting. Here is the first part of my talk (read Part 2 and Part 3):

“The effect of our words and acts is tremendous in this world. Every moment of life you are changing to a degree the lives of the whole world.” Those are the words of President David O. McKay.* If we have such an astounding influence over the world, we need to be examples of righteousness. As Paul counseled, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. . . . Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in so doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:12, 16). The Lord said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also” (John 14:12). So to be an example of the believers is to do what the Lord has done so that we can “save [ourselves], and them that hear [us].” We usually apply this principle to missionary work, but it also extends into fam…

Jesus: An Example of Balance in Life

Guest post by Sal, a member of the LDS Etsy team.

I was listening to a church lesson on Wednesday and loved how the teacher explained a scripture. It left such an impression on me that I would like to share it with you.

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." -Luke 2:52
This is one of the only scriptures we have mentioning the Savior's childhood years. I love that it mentions that he had to increase and grow too, just like all of us. What surprised me is when the teacher drew on the white board a diagram similar to this one:


He then went on to explain that, as the scriptures says, Jesus deveolped and grew in four areas:
1. Wisdom 2. Stature 3. Favor with God 4. Favor with man
We too must strive to grow in all of these areas. It is really easy to get fixated on one, however. For example, some people spend too much time in the "stature" area and focus mainly on their appearance or physical fitness. Some people spend too mu…

Called to Serve Where He Wants Us to Serve

Two years ago I wrote a post about our attitude toward mission calls. Yesterday, I read this passage from Elder W. Christopher Waddell's General Conference talk, "The Opportunity of a Lifetime," in October 2011.

We have a Father in Heaven, who knows us—our strengths and weaknesses, our abilities and potential. He knows which mission president and companions and which members and investigators we need in order to become the missionary, the husband and father, and the priesthood holder we are capable of becoming.

Prophets, seers, and revelators assign missionaries under the direction and influence of the Holy Ghost. Inspired mission presidents direct transfers every six weeks and quickly learn that the Lord knows exactly where He wants each missionary to serve.
A few years ago, Elder Javier Misiego, from Madrid, Spain, was serving a full-time mission in Arizona. At that time, his mission call to the United States appeared somewhat unusual, as most young men from Spain were…

Scripture Trivia Games

A great way to learn scripture trivia is to combine it with a game. The whole family can have fun and spend time together while also learning more about the scriptures. Here are some game ideas:
Play Jeopardy! Categories could include the ten commandments, Latter-day prophets, and Book of Mormon stories. Play as individuals or in teams.Play Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? This idea works well for couples and for families with children of various ages—play in teams and have the younger children answer the easier questions and the older children answer the harder questions.Play Wheel of Fortune using scripture phrases or names. Make a small spinning wheel by inserting a brad into a cardboard circle on top of a cardboard square. An easier option is to play Hangman.Make your own board game. Use the board from a board game you already have, like Candyland, find some dice, and let everyone write a stack of questions and answers. Make your own rules or change them every time you play.Insert s…

Accept Unanswered Questions

From "Keeping the Faith in a World of Confusion" by Bishop Gérald Caussé, in the August 2012 Ensign.

In our search for truth, we can be tempted to want to understand everything right away. However, the intelligence of God is so infinite that “it is impossible that man should find out all his ways” (Jacob 4:8). We must accept living for a time without answers to all of our questions. Like Nephi, we faithfully acknowledge that God “loveth his children; nevertheless, [we] do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17). The Lord, nevertheless, supplies us with the knowledge necessary for our salvation and exaltation. He promises, “Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you” (D&C 88:64). We receive these answers progressively, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30), depending on our needs and our capacity to comprehend. It is up to us to distinguish between questions t…

The Plan of Equal Opportunity

Feminism has brought many blessings to women. However, sometimes it seems that feminist views are not about being feminine at all, but about being masculine. The glory of womanhood--motherhood--is demeaned and attacked. Being masculine is more prized. How is that "equality of the sexes" if the characteristics and purposes of only one sex are praised and encouraged and the other is still viewed as inferior?

Both the brain and the heart are vital organs. Although they have very different responsibilities, neither is better nor more important than the other, for without either one, the body cannot live. Both are necessary for a fully functioning, healthy body: the brain tells the heart to pump, and the heart pumps blood to the brain so it can work. The same principle applies to family life. In General Conference April 2011, President Packer said,
“The great plan of happiness” centers on family life. The husband is the head of the home and the wife the heart of the home. And mar…

Do Your Duty

President Monson said in the August 2012 Ensign,
Are you ever guilty of murmuring when a calling comes to you? Or do you accept with thanksgiving each opportunity to serve your brothers and sisters, knowing that our Heavenly Father will bless those whom He calls?

I would hope that we would not lose the real objective of our cherished opportunities to serve. That objective, that eternal goal, is the same spoken of by the Lord and found in the Pearl of Great Price: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” May we ever remember that the mantle of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a cloak of comfort but rather a robe of responsibility. Our duty, in addition to saving ourselves, is to guide others to the celestial kingdom of God. . . .   I pause when I think of the words of President John Taylor (1808–87): “If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you migh…

Keeping Your Testimony

Receiving a testimony of the gospel and its specific principles is not a single event. It is something that happens repeatedly as our spirituality changes. We are familiar with Alma's analogy of faith, and thus a testimony, as a seed that we plant and care for as it grows. But once the seed becomes a tree do we stop nourishing it? Alma counseled:
. . . And now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.  And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.  But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and whe…