Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sustaining the Prophets

My dear brothers and sisters, if the Restoration did anything, it shattered the age-old myth that God had stopped talking to His children. Nothing could be further from the truth. A prophet has stood at the head of God’s Church in all dispensations, from Adam to the present day. Prophets testify of Jesus Christ—of His divinity and of His earthly mission and ministry. We honor the Prophet Joseph Smith as the prophet of this last dispensation. And we honor each man who has succeeded him as President of the Church.
When we sustain prophets and other leaders, we invoke the law of common consent, for the Lord said, “It shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.”
The ways of the Lord are different from the ways of man. Man’s ways remove people from office or business when they grow old or become disabled. But man’s ways are not and never will be the Lord’s ways. Our sustaining of prophets is a personal commitment that we will do our utmost to uphold their prophetic priorities. Our sustaining is an oath-like indication that we recognize their calling as a prophet to be legitimate and binding upon us.
The calling of 15 men to the holy apostleship provides great protection for us as members of the Church. Why? Because decisions of these leaders must be unanimous. Can you imagine how the Spirit needs to move upon 15 men to bring about unanimity? These 15 men have varied educational and professional backgrounds, with differing opinions about many things. Trust me! These 15 men—prophets, seers, and revelators—know what the will of the Lord is when unanimity is reached! They are committed to see that the Lord’s will truly will be done. The Lord’s Prayer provides the pattern for each of these 15 men when they pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
President Monson continued: “Despite any health challenges that may come to us, despite any weakness in body or mind, we serve to the best of our ability. I assure you that the Church is in good hands. The system set up for the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve [Apostles] assures [us] that it will always be in good hands and that, come what may, there is no need to worry or to fear. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, whom we follow, whom we worship, and whom we serve, is ever at the helm.”

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Lesson Schedule

January 4       
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 2: Pray Always
January 11     
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 1: The Great Commandment—Love the Lord
January 18     
Ward Conference
January 25     

February 1    
Presidency Lesson
February 8  
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 3: Freedom of Choice, an Eternal Principle
February 15
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 4: Living Joyfully in Troubled Times
February 22
“Lord, Is It I” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

March 1      
Presidency Lesson
March 8      
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 5: Principles of True Repentance
March 15    
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 6: Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Redeemer
March 22  
“Rescue in Unity” Chi Hong (Sam) Wong
March 29    
Bishop selects topic

April 5        
April 12      
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 7: Joseph Smith, Instrument in the Hands of the Lord
April 19      
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 8: The Powerof the Word

May 3        
May 10      
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 9: The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion
May 17      
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 10: Flooding the Earth and Lives with Book of Mormon
May 24
The Music of the Gospel, Wilford W. Andersen
May 31
Bishop selects topic

June 7
Presidency Lesson
June 14
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 11: Follow the Living Prophet
June 21
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 12: Seek the Spirit in All You Do
June 28
On Being Genuine, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
July 5    
Presidency Lesson
July 12
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 13: Priceless Blessings of the House of the Lord
July 19
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 14: Marriage and Family—Ordained of God
July 26
We'll Ascend Together, Linda K. Burton

August 2
Presidency Lesson
August 9
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 15: The Sacred Callings of Fathers and Mothers
August 16
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 16: The Elderly in the Church
August 23
The Gift of Grace, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
August 30
Bishop selects topic

September 6
Presidency Lesson
September 13
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 17: Keeping the Law of Chastity
September 20
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 18: Beware of Pride
September 27 Latter-Day Saints Keep on Trying, Dale G. Renlund

October 4
October 11
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 19: Leadership
October 18
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 20: “Feed My Sheep”
October 25
Stay by the Tree, Kevin W. Pearson

November 1 
Presidency Lesson
November 8 
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 21: Principles of Temporal and Spiritual Welfare
November 15 
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 22: Carrying the Gospel to the World
November 22 
November 29 
Bishop selects topic

December 6 
Teachings for Our Time
December 13 
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 23: “Strengthen Thy Stakes”
December 20 
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Chapter 24: A Christ-Centered Life
December 27 
Teachings for Our Time Lesson (From October Conference)

The Great Commandment, Love the Lord

President Benson taught that we manifest our love for the Lord by our willingness to do the Lord’s will. He said: “I wish that every Latter-day Saint could say and mean it with all his heart: ‘I’ll go where you want me to go. I’ll say what you want me to say. I’ll be what you want me to be’ [see Hymns, no. 270]. If we could all do that, we would be assured of the maximum of happiness here and exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God hereafter.”

When I think of charity, I … think of my father and that day he was called on his mission [see pages 4–6 in this book]. I suppose some in the world might say that his acceptance of that call was proof he did not really love his family. To leave seven children and an expectant wife at home alone for two years, how could that be true love? But my father knew a greater vision of love. He knew that “all things shall work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). He knew that the best thing he could do for his family was to obey God.

To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—to a love of the Lord.

When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.

Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life.

Excerpts taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 1.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pray Always

“All through my life the counsel to depend on prayer has been prized above almost any other advice I have received,” said President Ezra Taft Benson. “It has become an integral part of me, an anchor, a constant source of strength, and the basis for my knowledge of things divine.

“‘Remember that whatever you do or wherever you are, you are never alone’ was my father’s familiar counsel to me as a boy. ‘Our Heavenly Father is always near. You can reach out and receive His aid through prayer.’ I have found this counsel to be true. Thank God we can reach out and tap that unseen power, without which no man can do his best.”

President Benson followed this counsel in every aspect of his life. When he was appointed to serve as the United States secretary of agriculture, he “prayerfully and carefully” selected a group of men to work with him, “asking God to give [him] a spirit of discernment.” At their first meeting, he asked “if anyone objected to opening their meetings with prayer. No one dissented. And so began a practice that [he] perpetuated for eight years. He invited each staff member to take turns offering the invocation.”3 His associates came to appreciate this practice, even though they may have been uncomfortable with it at first. One staff member later admitted that some of the men had not prayed aloud since they were children. “We stumbled and fumbled for words,” he said. “But the Boss [President Benson] never let on that he noticed. And after a few trials everybody was at ease. Has it helped? Well, I’d say that when you start a meeting that way, people aren’t stuck up with the pride of their opinions. You pretty quickly come to an agreement as to what ought to be done in any situation.”

We need as families to kneel in family prayer, night and morning. Just a few words added to the blessing on the food, which is becoming the custom in some parts, is not enough. We need to get onto our knees in prayer and gratitude.

It is my testimony, my brothers and sisters and friends, that God does hear and answer prayers. I have never doubted that fact. From childhood, at my mother’s knee where I first learned to pray; as a young man in my teens; as a missionary in foreign lands; as a father; as a Church leader; as a government official, I know without any question that it is possible for men and women to reach out in humility and prayer and tap that Unseen Power; to have prayers answered. Man does not stand alone, or at least, he need not stand alone. Prayer will open doors; prayer will remove barriers; prayer will ease pressures; prayer will give inner peace and comfort during times of strain and stress and difficulty. Thank God for prayer.

Excerpts taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 2, Pray Always.