"The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit,
the greater your capacity to create."

~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday, December 5, 2009

JOSEPH SMITH’S FEELINGS ABOUT HIS PROPHETIC MISSION

Time for another lesson summary from Relief Society this month...


“I have no desire but to do all men good.”


FROM THE LIFE OF JOSEPH SMITH

From the beginning of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s ministry, his life was often in peril. Though the Lord delivered him many times from his enemies, the Prophet knew that once he had completed his earthly mission, he could die.

The Prophet was well aware that he and all of the Saints living in Nauvoo were in an increasingly dangerous situation. As Nauvoo grew larger, some of the people who lived in the area began to fear the growing political and economic power of the Saints, and mobs began again to harass them. The Prophet was in particular danger, for authorities from Missouri made repeated efforts to capture him, and apostates from the Church became increasingly hostile in their efforts to destroy him.

In the sermons and writings of the last few years of the Prophet’s life, there is a sense of urgency in his words. Knowing that his time was short, he labored earnestly to teach the Saints the things that God had revealed to him and encouraged them to prepare to receive these truths. He also expressed his great love for the Saints, even declaring that he was willing to lay down his life for them.

It is remarkable that while the Prophet was enduring so much persecution and was pressured by the constant demands of the growing Church, he found time to show that he cared for each Church member as an individual. Many Saints in later years remembered the love and kindness the Prophet Joseph showed to them.

Aroet L. Hale recalled: “The Prophet … frequently used to come out of the Mansion [House] and play ball with us boys, his son Joseph being near my age. [The Prophet] Joseph would always conform to the rules. He would catch till it came his turn to take the club, then, being a very stout [strong] man, would knock the ball so far that we used to holler to the boy that was going for the ball to take his dinner. This used to make the Prophet laugh. Joseph was always good natured and full of fun.”

Margarette McIntire Burgess recalled another experience with the Prophet in Nauvoo: “My older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph’s brick store. It had been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got fast in the mud, and could not get out, and of course, child-like, we began to cry, for we thought we would have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. Then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavy-laden shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing. Was it any wonder that I loved that great, good and noble man of God?”

Why do you think he was able to maintain such a cheerful, caring attitude?

What can we do to remain happy and loving during times of trial?
• Reach out to supportive friends/family
• Attend the temple
• Pray for guidance/comfort
• Fast
• Give service to others


PROPHETS TEACH WHAT GOD REVEALS TO THEM;
WE STRIVE TO UNDERSTAND AND GIVE HEED TO THEIR WORDS.

“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger [a piece of corn bread] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle [a wooden mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand.”

“I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen [see D&C 121:40].”

What can interfere with our ability to receive more truth?

What can we do to be “prepared to receive the things of God”?
• Follow the commandments and teachings of Church leaders
• Pray for guidance/knowledge
• Be worthy
• Take the sacrament
• Attend the temple


ALTHOUGH PROPHETS ARE MEN WITH HUMAN FRAILTIES,
THEY ARE CALLED OF GOD TO TEACH AND LEAD HIS PEOPLE.

The Prophet’s journal for November 6, 1835, records: “I was this morning introduced to a man from the east. After hearing my name, he remarked that I was nothing but a man, indicating by this expression, that he had supposed that a person to whom the Lord should see fit to reveal His will, must be something more than a man. He seemed to have forgotten the saying that fell from the lips of St. James, that [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, yet he had such power with God, that He, in answer to his prayers, shut the heavens that they gave no rain for the space of three years and six months; and again, in answer to his prayer, the heavens gave forth rain, and the earth gave forth fruit [see James 5:17–18]. Indeed, such is the darkness and ignorance of this generation, that they look upon it as incredible that a man should have any [dealings] with his Maker.”

“When did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand? When was I ever confounded? I want to triumph in Israel before I depart hence and am no more seen. I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught. Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught?”

“Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing: the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if He were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against Him—they all watched for iniquity in Him.”

What counsel could you give someone who refuses to follow a Church leader because the leader has some kind of character flaw?
• Pray for patience/understanding
• Study the scriptures
• Speak to the leader directly
• Fast, ponder, and pray
• Remember the Church is perfect, but the people are not

Joseph Smith’s journal for October 29, 1842, records: “I … went over to the store [in Nauvoo, Illinois], where a number of brethren and sisters were assembled, who had arrived this morning from the neighborhood of New York. … I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities.”

How does this statement apply in all our relationships?


DESPITE OPPOSITION, PROPHETS FULFILL THE MISSIONS GIVEN TO THEM BY GOD.

“I speak boldly and faithfully and with authority. … I know what I say; I understand my mission and business. God Almighty is my shield; and what can man do if God is my friend? I shall not be sacrificed until my time comes; then I shall be offered freely. … I thank God for preserving me from my enemies; I have no enemies but for the truth’s sake. I have no desire but to do all men good. I feel to pray for all men.”

“I prophesy and bear record this morning that all the combined powers of earth and hell shall not and cannot ever overthrow or overcome this boy, for I have a promise from the eternal God. If I have sinned, I have sinned outwardly; but surely I have contemplated the things of God.”

“When men come out and build upon other men’s foundations, they do it on their own responsibility, without authority from God; and when the floods come and the winds blow, their foundations will be found to be sand, and their whole fabric will crumble to dust.”

“Did I build on any other man’s foundation? I have got all the truth which the Christian world possessed, and an independent revelation in the bargain, and God will bear me off triumphant.”

What experiences have you had in which God has helped you to fulfill your responsibilities in your family or in a Church calling?


PROPHETS LOVE THOSE THEY SERVE AND DESIRE TO LEAD THEM WELL,
EVEN IF DOING SO REQUIRES REPROVING THEM.

“… I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know that it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more. …”

When have you tasted the sweetness of the truth?

“I have intended my remarks for all, both rich and poor, bond and free, great and small. I have no enmity against any man. I love you all; but I hate some of your deeds. I am your best friend, and if persons miss their mark it is their own fault. If I reprove a man, and he hates me, he is a fool; for I love all men, especially these my brethren and sisters.”

How can we rejoice in the words of a prophet or other Church leader even when he reproves us for our misdeeds?


SUMMARY

“I will from time to time reveal to you the subjects that are revealed by the Holy Ghost to me. All the lies that are now hatched up against me are of the devil, and the influence of the devil and his servants will be used against the kingdom of God. The servants of God teach nothing but principles of eternal life, by their works ye shall know them. A good man will speak good things and holy principles, and an evil man evil things. I feel, in the name of the Lord, to rebuke all such bad principles, liars, etc., and I warn all of you to look out whom you are going after. I exhort you to give heed to all the virtue and the teachings which I have given you. …”
• The good feelings of the Spirit will reveal the truth to our hearts.

“I cannot lie down until all my work is finished. I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of my fellow-man. When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all.”
• If we wait until then to discover the truth, we will be too late!

How has this chapter influenced your testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith?
• I felt a very strong Spirit in reading this lesson; I am encouraged by the strength of his resolve to do what God expected of him.

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