Nov 27

Gratitude – A Commandment

The Lord requires gratitude, and we are better by having it. We can never have too much, in fact. So, I wanted to chat a little about gratitude in my post today.

Let’s see what the scriptures have to say about gratitude. Let’s turn to D&C 59:21 which says:

21 And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.

Pretty clear that we should be thankful for everything that the Lord has given us.

This is consistent with 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which tells us:

18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

It is interesting to note that when Lehi’s sons returned with the plates, the very first thing they did was to thank the Lord. But they didn’t just say a quick prayer and thank Him, they offered a sacrifice and burnt offerings. They may have even built an altar for this purpose. Then, once they had done that, Lehi looked at the plates. But the very first thing they did was to offer thanks. We see this in 1 Nephi 5:9–10, which tell us:

9 And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel.

10 And after they had given thanks unto the God of Israel, my father, Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning.

In Alma 34:38, we are commanded to live in thanksgiving daily:

38 That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.

From the Gospel Topics section of the Church website, under Gratitude, we learn:

“The Lord has promised, ‘He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious’ (Doctrine and Covenants 78:19). Gratitude is an uplifting, exalting attitude. People are generally happier when they have gratitude in their hearts. We cannot be bitter, resentful, or mean-spirited when we are grateful.”

For a further understanding of gratitude, I would highly recommend studying in detail the Gratitude entry in the Gospel Topics section of the Church website. There are plenty of talks, chapters from books and manuals, videos, and a lot more on the topic of gratitude. Take a look:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/gratitude?lang=eng

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Mar 10

Scripture Study: One Deeply Insightful Method

Have you ever wanted to be able to study both chronologically and by topic at the same time?  That is one of the benefits of this method of study.  You progress a little more slowly, but you get a significant amount more out of it than you might otherwise.

Top Layer

Let’s imagine for a moment that we are studying 3 Nephi 11:1, as follows:

3 Nephi 11:1 – “And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude agathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land bBountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the cgreat and marvelous change which had taken place.

3 Nephi 11:1 is going to be our “Top Layer” verse in this example.

The very first thing we are going to do, which is a very helpful for receiving inspiration, is to ask questions.  I will repeatedly bring this up.  Consider this verse:

Doctrine and Covenants 42:61 – “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.

So let us ask questions about the 3 Nephi 11:1.  For example:

  • Why specify that they were at the temple in the land Bountiful?
  • Which other temples were there?
  • Where were the other temples?
  • Why did they gather around a temple?

Doing this prepares your mind to search for answers to such questions.

As we read through, we notice that just before “gathered,” there is a small “a”.  Before the word “Bountiful” a small “b”.  Before “great” a small “c”.  These are our footnote references that will take us to the next layer.  Look down at the bottom of the page at each footnote.  First, we’ll look for 11a.  We see that it refers us to Helaman 3:14(9,14).  Write that down.

Go all the way through verse one.  Look at each footnote and write down every reference that is provided.  Using 3 Nephi 11:1 as our example, we would write something like the following:

These scripture references have now become our second layer.

Second Layer

Look up each of the references for the footnotes that you wrote down from our Top Layer verse (3 Nephi 11:1).  As you ponder each verse or passage, ask yourself how that scripture relates to the main verse.  Ask any other questions you feel are appropriate to your understanding that verse.

As we read Helaman 3:14, we might notice that it refers to the fact that they built many temples.  Apparently, there were so many that they couldn’t write about all of them.  This relates to some of the questions we asked from the Top Layer verse (“Which other temples were there?” and “Where were they?”).

Ponder each verse or passage that you write down from the Top Layer verse.  It is the main point from which we are reaching deeper and pondering more topics and verses.

As more questions come to mind, write them down and really ponder over them.  Think about other scriptures that relate to the topic at hand.  Write them down so that you can look them up.  Ponder about how everything that you are reading relates to everything else that you are reading.  As ideas come, jot them down.

Next, let’s go through each footnote the same way we did with the Top Layer verse (3 Nephi 11:1). Locate each one at the bottom of the page.  Write them all down.  Look them up.  These have now formed the third or bottom layer.

Bottom Layer

Repeat the process here that we did for the second group of footnote references.  Ask yourself questions about how each verse or passage relates to the Top Layer verse.  How does it relate to the Second Layer verse that referred you to read this one?

The only difference here is that we don’t go further down into the footnotes.  The further you go, the less they have to do with the topics in your original Top Layer verse.  Feel free to go as many layers as you wish.  For me, three layers is sufficient.

Below is an example of how 3 Nephi 11:1 might look while using the Three-Layer Method to study.  Notice that I did not write down every single footnote.  I only wrote down the ones that I felt were directly relevant to what I was studying at that moment.  The notes are merely an example, and are not guaranteed to be absolutely correct.  Also, as other ideas and thoughts occurred to me, I wrote them down.  It is a loose but effective structure that gives you a general way to study and lends itself to learning a great deal.  You truly do get out of this method what you put into it.

3 Nephi 11:1 (Our Top Layer verse)

“And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude agathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land bBountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the cgreat and marvelous change which had taken place.”

Specifies which temple. Why specify which temple if there was only one temple? There were many. See Helaman 3:14.

Why did they gather around a temple?  Maybe this is some kind of pattern.  Take a look at D&C 36:8, Malachi 3:1, D&C 133:2, and 3 Nephi 24:1.  They could have been aware of this pattern.

Footnote a (from 3 Nephi 11:1):

Helaman 3:14 (Middle Level)

“their building of temples” – a hundredth part cannot be contained in this work – discusses plural temples

Footnote b (from Helaman 3:14):

2 Nephi 5:16 (Bottom Level) – Nephi built a temple like Solomon’s
Was done after a pattern that had already been revealed – Consider the concept of “The Economy of Heaven”

Jacob 1:17 (Bottom Level)- Jacob taught in the temple – as assigned and called by the Lord – in other words, with and through the proper authority

Footnote b (from 3 Nephi 11:1):

Alma 22:29 – Discusses a little about the land Bountiful

3 Nephi 3:23 – Discusses a little about the land Bountiful

Footnote c (from 3 Nephi 11:1):

3 Nephi 8:11–14 – Describes the great and marvelous change that had occurred in the land.

Alma 16:13 (related verse) – Alma and Amulek went forth preaching on their temples – again, plural – Lamanite temples.

Alma 23:2 (related verse) – King of the Lamanites sent a proclamation that Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Himni and brethren should have free access to their temples (plural).

Alma 26:29 (related verse) – Ammon and his brethren tell of preaching to the Lamanites in their temples, again.

Additional thoughts that occurred to me:

Our Bodies Are Temples

Of the eight times the word “temples” appears in the Book of Mormon, half of them refer to the concept that the Lord or the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples within the context of a reference to a body or the body. This is consistent with our understanding that our bodies are temples.

Tops of the mountains are also sometimes used as temples when no formal temple structure has been erected and dedicated.

You can see that I adapted my focus to exclude detail on some things, while exploring more about others, mainly temples.  This is a great method because it allows for a lot of flexibility.  As you explore this method remember that it takes quite a bit longer than normal, but you learn a great deal.

If you read for a specified amount of time, rather than a specified distance, you’ll get a great deal more out of studying.  For example, try studying for 30 minutes a day rather than reading a chapter a day.  Take note of how much more you get out of your experience.

The rest of the study of 3 Nephi 11 (as far as I have gotten) can be found here.

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Oct 16

Recommended Reading: Searching the Scriptures – Gene R. Cook

Searching the Scriptures

Searching the Scriptures

While a member of the First Council of the Seventy, Elder Gene R. Cook wrote what seems to be one of the best books available on studying the scriptures. He has a considerable amount of expertise on the topic, being an Emeritus General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  To our good fortune, we have available to us this book, called “Searching the Scriptures.”  The subtitle reads, “Bringing power to your personal and family study.”  No truer description of this book could be conceived.

Elder Cook begins with an in-depth elaboration of what the scriptures are.  He insightfully expounds their importance to each of us.  It feels as though his primary purpose is to enlighten, uplift, and edify readers.  Should you wish to gain a solid foundation of scripture study, this book must become part of your library.

The next 70 pages are spent laying out the whats, whys, and hows of personal scripture study.  Elder Cook explains the different facets of feasting upon the word of the Lord.  His recommendations include asking questions, pondering about what is being read, looking for patterns, applying the scriptures to ourselves, and how to receive deeper understanding.

The balance of the book broadens the scope slightly to instruct us regarding family scripture study.  Elder Cook again goes to great lengths to convey his message.  He begins this third section with an explanation of how we will be blessed by studying together as a family.  His personal experience with this subject affords him a wealth of examples, stories, and suggested formats for family scripture study.

A description from DeseretBook.com:

One of the most valuable purposes of the scriptures is to serve as a tool to help us hear the voice of the Lord. But, as Elder Gene R. Cook emphasizes in his book, that blessing doesn’t come through casual effort.

In Searching the Scriptures, Elder Cook explores how we can effectively ponder, question, and mark the scriptures and understand how they apply to our lives. He also shares his testimony of the power and blessings that come from knowing God’s word. And he gives suggestions on how to organize family study and how to use the scriptures as a way to bless each family member. Relating personal experiences to show what has worked and what hasn’t, Elder Cook shares ways to motivate everyone in the family to participate and work to invite the Spirit to be present at reading time.

Elder Cook’s hope is to help Latter-day Saints gain a deeper understanding of what scriptures really are and how they apply to us today, and thereby have a desire to learn more from them.

Whether a seasoned scriptorian or someone who just wants to gain a solid foothold on mastering the Gospel, I highly recommend “Searching the Scriptures” by Elder Gene R. Cook.  It spends little time on my own bookshelf, as I gain a deeper understanding of scripture study every time I read it. This book is fully deserving of the spot it has earned in our Recommended Books section.

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May 05

LDS Scripture Study

We’ve got a way to completely overhaul your scripture study. Take a look at what our study journal has to offer.

The Gospel study journal:

  • provides you with the full LDS scriptures online
  • allows you to quickly retrieve notes and thoughts that you have recorded.
  • you can print your journal notes out at any time.
  • makes it easy to share thoughts and ideas with others.
  • makes it easy to remember the entire thought you had when you made the note.
  • allows for new inspiration – not bind you to only what you’ve already learned.
  • helps keep your scriptures from wearing out because of over-marking them.
  • helps prevent losing all of your notes should your scriptures get lost.
  • provides some structure without being overly rigid.

The journal entries you create can be linked together. You can tag them with keywords. You can link scripture references to them. Entries may also contain citations from other books which you feel are relevant.

Take a look at the QuickStart Guide or watch this video to see how easy it is to use:

We want to your feedback!

Please leave thoughts, comments, and suggestions on our Contact Us page.

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Apr 22

Online Scripture Study Journal

Would you like an LDS Scripture Study journal? Take a look at what our study journal has to offer.

The Gospel study journal:

  • gives you the full LDS scriptures online
  • allows you to quickly retrieve notes and ideas that you have recorded.
  • makes it easy to share these ideas with others.
  • makes it easy to remember the entire thought you had when you made the note.
  • allows for new inspiration – not bind you to only what you’ve already learned.
  • helps keep your scriptures from wearing out because of over-marking them.
  • helps prevent losing all of your notes should your scriptures get lost.
  • provides some structure without being overly rigid.

The journal entries you create can be linked together. You can tag them with keywords. You can link scripture references to them. Entries may also contain citations from other books which you feel are relevant.

Take a look at the QuickStart Guide to see how easy it is to use.

We want to your feedback!

Please leave thoughts, comments, and suggestions on our Contact Us page.

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Jan 15

The Work Continues

Just about seven major events such as holidays and birthdays have taken up a bunch of time in the past two months.  It’s incredible how much time important things take up these days!
This past week we were working on some design mock-ups of how the Gospel Study Journal will look.  Though it is taking longer than expected, the design looks nice.  We want to provide something that is very simple to use, is visually appealing, and yet is able to do everything it is meant to.
Expect regular posts from now on, as the Christmas Holiday rush is now behind us.

Podcasts

I can’t wait to share with you some of the wonderfully uplifting and educational podcasts that I’ve been listening to on my way to and from work. I’ll write a post on the two that have been the most thought-provoking, educational, and inspirational in the next couple of posts.  It would be impossible to relate all of the new and wonderful things I have learned by listening to them.

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Dec 21

Free Gospel Study Journal

We’ve got a way to completely overhaul your scripture study. Take a look at what our study journal has to offer.

The Gospel study journal:

  • provides you with the full LDS scriptures online
  • allows you to quickly retrieve notes and thoughts that you have recorded.
  • makes it easy to share thoughts and ideas with others.
  • makes it easy to remember the entire thought you had when you made the note.
  • allows for new inspiration – not bind you to only what you’ve already learned.
  • helps keep your scriptures from wearing out because of over-marking them.
  • helps prevent losing all of your notes should your scriptures get lost.
  • provides some structure without being overly rigid.

The journal entries you create can be linked together. You can tag them with keywords. You can link scripture references to them. Entries may also contain citations from other books which you feel are relevant.

Take a look at the QuickStart Guide to see how easy it is to use.

We want to your feedback!

Please leave thoughts, comments, and suggestions on our Contact Us page.

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Oct 23

Exciting New Technology Coming Soon!

As Latter-day Saints, we diligently strive to gain a mastery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no more important body of knowledge to apply to ourselves as human beings. Consider the following quotation of Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior…. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Nov. 1986, p. 17).

We find that this proposition is based upon scripture:

“And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just–yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them–therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.” – Alma 31:5

My life is a testament to the soundness of this principle. As I spend time straining to understand the Gospel, studying and pondering the Scriptures, and writing down things that come to my mind, my very core behaviors change. If only slowly, my own perceptions of myself and the world around me become more positive.

The purpose of Gospel Study Journal is to enhance Gospel study and further Gospel scholarship through technology. This will be accomplished primarily with a specially-designed Gospel Study Journal. There is no cost to you should you decide to create one. Your entries are your own, and are kept private.

As you study the Gospel, you may have inspiration that you wish to write down. Even while doing completely unrelated things, impressions may come to you. You may have an experience that you may wish to record. This Study Journal will offer to you a central location to record all such notes, thoughts, and impressions.

In addition, the study journal will allow you to:

  • link together entries that are related.
  • tag entries with keywords describing the content.
  • link related scripture passages to your entries for easy reference in the future.
  • include relevant citations to other uplifting books that are not in the Standard Works.

As I have spent a great deal of time considering different scripture marking systems, some of them seem to have certain drawbacks, for example:

  • Scriptures wear out – Over time as you mark your scriptures, they begin to look tattered and become difficult to read. There is no longer room for new notes.
  • Lost scriptures mean lost notes – Should you lose your set of scriptures, all of your notes are lost, too.
  • Storage and Retrieval of Thoughts – How many times do you say, “Now, where did I mark that thought or idea?” Many systems fail to provide a good way to retrieve thoughts.
  • Difficult to share with others – Sharing thoughts and notes isn’t as easy as handing them a copy.
  • Forgetfulness – To save space, we sometimes use symbols to mark our scriptures. This means we have to remember what the symbols mean. We run the risk of forgetting what we wrote down.
  • Skew of Meaning – Let’s say you write a thought out to the side of a verse that touched your heart one day. The next time you read through that passage, you may see that note and mistakenly tell yourself, “I already know the meaning of that verse.” This is more common than you might think, and you may not even realize it’s happening. The idea is to have a clean slate where you are able to receive continued revelation, even on verses you may have read many times.
  • Either too much or not enough structure – With many systems, you are either told exactly how to use the system, and it is in a rigid format (such as a book). The huge drawback with books are that they are linear. You read them front to back, and cannot access many pages or pieces of pages at once. You are tied into the structure of the book and cannot move things around as you want.

The Study Journal offered on this site will overcome all of these problems. You will be able to link journal entries to each other, tag them with keywords, link them to scripture passages, or even add citations from other books into your notes, among other things. The benefit of an immersive, intensive study of the Gospel is a tendency towards self-improvement. These are all things that have contributed to the creation of this site.

A preliminary version of the Gospel Study Journal will be available on http://www.ldsscripturestudy.com/ very soon. We will keep you posted on the progress!

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Oct 16

Scripture Study Session Format

When studying the scriptures, one of the primary goals is to learn about the Gospel.  As it is the Holy Ghost that instructs us, it raises the question: How can we best study such that we have the Holy Ghost with us?

As studying the scriptures itself brings the Holy Ghost, that is one thing we will already be doing.  Singing a hymn also brings the Holy Ghost.  Before you study next time, sing all of the verses of “I Am a Child of God.”  Then take note of the feelings brought to you through the presence of the Holy Ghost.

What else is very simple that we can do to feel the Spirit as we study the Gospel?  What if we said a prayer asking the Lord to pour out the power and influence of the Holy Spirit upon us as we study and ponder His holy teachings?

It is my experience that a hymn followed by a prayer as a prelude to studying the Gospel brings a much richer experience in my studies of the scriptures and Gospel scholarship as a whole.

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