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Come with Me to Relief Society!

Today, I taught the lesson in Relief Society at church.  Would you like to join me in the Relief Society room and hear what we discussed?  

The stake has asked that once a quarter we teach a lesson based off of one of the talks given at the Women’s Session of conference.  We are to glean from the talk the doctrines of the temple, and write out our lesson and distribute it to all of the sisters in the ward, including those who are not in Relief Society on Sundays.  The following is a lesson based on the talk, “Filling Our Homes with Light and Truth,” by Cheryl A. Esplin, from the April 2015 General Conference.

We Need to be Filled with Light and Truth to Withstand the Pressures of the World

In the Women’s Session of conference this spring, Sister Cheryl A. Esplin told about a visual demonstration she once saw.  Two soda cans, one full, and one empty, were squeezed.  The full can did not change, but the empty can collapsed. 

Sister Esplin explained: 
“We likened this demonstration to our individual lives and to our homes and families. When filled with the Spirit and with gospel truth, we have the power to withstand the outside forces of the world that surround and push against us. However, if we are not filled spiritually, we don’t have the inner strength to resist the outside pressures and can collapse when forces push against us.”
What was the difference between the two cans?  The only difference was that one was filled, and one was not. 

◦The cans were made out of the same material, just as each of us is a child of God

        ◦Pressures come to all
Matthew 5:45 says, “. . . for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
◦Those that were filled survived unscathed; those that were not, collapsed

We Fill our Lives and Homes with Light and Truth through Scripture Study, Prayer, and Personal Revelation

◦ Scripture Study
President Howard W. Hunter has said: “When we  read and study the scriptures, benefits and blessings of many kinds come to us. This is the most profitable of all study in which we could engage.” (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 64.)
What blessings have come to you through scripture study?
David O. McKay said: “I would have all men, and especially the young people of the Church, feel so close to our Father in heaven that they will approach Him daily—not in public alone, but in private. If our people will have this faith, great blessings will come to them. Their souls will be filled with thanksgiving for what God has done for them; they will find themselves rich in favors bestowed. It is not imagination that we can approach God and receive light and guidance from him, and that our minds will be enlightened and our souls thrilled by his Spirit.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church:  David O. McKay, Ch. 8.)
Not only can prayer fill us with light and truth, it can result in strengthening society.  President Gordon B. Hinckley promised in 1991:
“Can we strengthen society and make it a better place in which to live? Yes, by strengthening the virtue of our family life through kneeling together and supplicating the Almighty in the name of his Beloved Son. A return to family worship, spreading over the earth, would in a generation largely lift the blight that is destroying us. It would restore integrity, mutual respect, and a spirit of thankfulness in the hearts of people.
The Master declared, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek,and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”(Matt. 7:7).
I give you testimony that if you sincerely apply family prayer, you will not go away unrewarded. The changes may not be readily apparent. They may be extremely subtle. But they will be real, for God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” ”(Heb. 11:6). (“The Blessings of Family Prayer,” Ensign, Sept. 1991)

What blessings have come to you through prayer?
◦Personal revelation
As we study the scriptures and pray, we will be prepared to receive answers to our prayers, and learn what the Lord would have us do.
Sister Esplin quoted President Dieter F. Uchtdorf :
“The Everlasting and Almighty God … will speak to those who approach Him with a sincere heart and real intent.
“He will speak to them in dreams, visions, thoughts, and feelings.”
 “God cares about you. He will listen, and He will answer your personal questions. The answers to your prayers will come in His own way and in His own time, and therefore, you need to learn to listen to His voice.”

What blessings have come to you from personal revelation?

Temples are Templates for our Homes

Though Sister Esplin spoke specifically about homes in her talk, just as we can fill our lives with truth and light in our homes, we can also fill our lives with truth and light in the temples.

President Boyd K. Packer told of the significance of temples and homes: “Temple. One other word is equal in importance to a Latter-day Saint. Home. Put the words holy temple and home together, and you have described the house of the Lord!” (“A Temple to Exalt,” Ensign, August 1993)

In the Bible Dictionary, “temple” is described in the following way: “It is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”

Our homes should be places of learning, peace, and refuge, just as the temples are.

Temples Give Us a Deeper Understanding of Scripture Study, Prayer, and Personal Revelation

Elder Neil L. Andersen, in a conference talk from April 2014, said: “. . .in the temple you will learn more about the Creation of the world, about the patterns in the lives of Adam and Eve, and most importantly, about our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Elder Russell M. Nelson explained, “ Each temple is a house of learning. . . . Teachings of the temple are beautifully simple and simply beautiful. They are understood by the humble, yet they can excite the intellect of the brightest minds.” (“Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” April 2001 General Conference)
Just as I can read scriptures over and over and gain new insight every time, the same is true in the temples.  When I truly ponder, I find connections and ideas that I hadn’t considered before.  I can receive direction for my life and help with challenges.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson said: “You are never lost when you can see the temple. The temple will provide direction for you and your family in a world filled with chaos. It is an eternal guidepost which will help you from getting lost in the ‘mist of darkness.’ It is the house of the Lord. It is a place where covenants are made and eternal ordinances are performed. “(“Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples,” April 2009 General Conference)

There is Power in Covenants

This week, I read again the account in the Book of Mormon of Ammon defending the flocks of the king. When men threaten to scatter the sheep, Ammon confronts the men. The men start to attack Ammon, but he is able to chop off every arm that is raised against him. He protects the sheep, and continues his work.

I wondered why this particular story is included in the Book of Mormon. It occurred to me that the lesson is a spiritual one. Let’s look at some of the verses of the account, and notice what it teaches us about covenants.
Alma 17

33 And those men again stood to scatter their flocks; but Ammon said unto his brethren: Encircle the flocks round about that they flee not; and I go and contend with these men who do scatter our flocks.
 34 Therefore, they did as Ammon commanded them, and he went forth and stood to contend with those who stood by the waters of Sebus; and they were in number not a few.
(Ammon is willing to stand alone against many.)

 35 Therefore they did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not that the Lord had promised Mosiah that he would deliver his sons out of their hands; neither did they know anything concerning the Lord; therefore they delighted in the destruction of their brethren; and for this cause they stood to scatter the flocks of the king.
(Ammon knew of the Lord and His promises.)

 36 But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power;
(Ammon was empowered by the Lord as he acted in faith.)

Remember, in Doctrine and Covenants section 82, verse 10, we learn:  “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”

There is power in making and keeping covenants.

Temple Worship Brings Blessings of Strength and Peace

President Thomas S. Monson has promised: 
“The world can be a challenging and difficult place in which to live. We are often surrounded by that which would drag us down. As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary we will find peace; we will be renewed and fortified.”
(“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” April 2011)
I always leave the temple uplifted and encouraged.  I have more patience and love, and feel up to the tasks before me.
The Temple is for All

The scriptures are filled with verses showing that the Lord is anxious to have us draw near to Him:
            “. . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings. . . “ (Matthew 23:37)

            “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:63)

            “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” (Isaiah 9: 12, 17, 21)

            “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

He stands ready to bless us as we are ready to receive those blessings. Even if we are not yet prepared to enter the temple, we can feel of the spirit of the temple grounds. On a sign on the gate of the Los Angeles Temple grounds is the invitation, “Visitors Welcome.” Yes, a temple recommend is required to enter the temple, but the temple grounds are open to all. A beautiful visitor’s center also is open to all who wish to enter.

If you have a recommend, come inside the temple. If you do not currently have a temple recommend, talk to the bishop about obtaining one. In the meantime, come to the temple grounds. Tour the visitor’s center. Bring your family, so they can also feel of the spirit there.

I hope that we can all commit to making the temple an important part of our lives, no matter where we are on the covenant path. As we study, pray, act upon personal revelation, and attend the temple, we will fill our lives with light and truth, and we will be able to withstand the pressures of the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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Thanks for the blessings of the gospel. 

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