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Friday, April 17, 2015

EQ Lesson 8: The Power of the Word

I've been trying to prepare this post for a week and a half now, but every distraction that could distract me has distracted me! I began reading reading the lesson last week, but had very little ability to get past the first two pages. It was as if I were being blocked by every Earthly hindrance. Upon pondering the problem, I was reminded of the First Vision. When Joseph Smith began his solemn prayer to Heavenly Father, Satan immediately set upon him in an attempt to stop this latter day work from coming forth. I'm no Joseph Smith, but I can testify that Satan will do everything in his power to keep men from doing the work of God.

Upon that enlightenment, I have dedicated myself to the study of this lesson, as I know there are things therein I (and my students) need to learn. So, this can't be any normal lesson, now can it?

As I began studying this lesson I was struck by the fact that this was no ordinary lesson. This lesson was from a special Leadership Training, and President Benson felt that his message to the Leadership was important enough to be printed in the next Ensign, for all the membership to see. As I read, I had an unshakable sense that these words, from the Prophet of God held a great weight, and that in them were promises which if followed, could bless the lives of many.

I also got the sense that the promises made by President Benson fit under the edict found in D&C 130:20-21, that doing as he said would yield very specific, and very powerful blessings.

So, what did President Benson promise? In short, he promises that immersing ourselves in the scriptures daily will give us protection against the adversary, and help us to resist the temptations of our times.

This promise is even more important to us today than it was in 1986. The tempestuous paths our membership can get into today make the 1980's look like simpler, easier, and safer times. Heck, the 80's look innocent in comparison.

So what is it about studying scriptures that makes them so powerful? Here are a few things:

The Word of God

The scriptures are the word of God, but reading the scriptures themselves isn't enough. You can read the scriptures cover to cover and never read anymore than facts and stories. To get the most out of the scriptures we have to have the Holy Ghost with us. This of course, requires prayer. It also requires us to "meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein." (Joshua 1:8) When we meditate on the word of God, it is then that the Lord can "put [his] law in [our] inward parts, and write it in [our] hearts." (Jeremiah 31:33)

Similarly, Moroni instructs to read, ponder, and pray. (Moroni 10:3-5). However, I like to think that meditation has a deeper connotation than pondering. Meditation connotes the making of a spiritual connection to the object of our focus.

The Holy Ghost

For just a moment, I'd like you to think about the scriptures just a little bit differently than you have previously. Think about them as a tool. Not a tool to be more Christlike, repent, or live the Mormon life. No, not even a tool for you. The scriptures are a tool for the Holy Ghost to use on you. Without the Holy Ghost the scriptures are just a collection of rules, stories, and genealogies. With the Holy Ghost however, the Master Carpenter can use the scriptures (as a tool) to form you into something amazing, for it is only the Holy Ghost that teaches our spirits.


The scriptures give us faith to live the gospel. When we read the scriptures we read what the Lord has done for those who came before us. He parted the red sea. He brought Lehi and his family safely across the ocean. He protected Abinadi as he testified against King Noah. He caused a mighty change of heart in Nephi the Younger. If the Lord has done all these things for others, can he not do the same for us?


One of the common questions I get asked from patients is, "What do I have to do to get out of here?" (I work in inpatient psych.) Usually they're looking for concrete answers, and quite often our staff provide those answers, "Go to groups, take your meds, follow the rules." In my head I'm yelling, "You're missing the point!" The answer is to, "Improve your health, learn to control your actions, increase your hope, and learn how to better manage your life and your illness."

Like my patients, we often lack insight into our spiritual health. "How do I get to the Celestial Kingdom?" "Have faith, repent, be baptized, endure to the end." As nice as it would be, our place in the celestial kingdom will not be held depending on how many check marks we checked on the list of righteousness. We will be judged by our intangibles.


There are of course many more things that can be added to this list. What this lesson comes down to is gaining a testimony of the power of the word of God, not just in the scriptures, but from our modern prophets, and through personal revelation, then acting on that testimony and reading the scriptures, and seeking personal revelation every day.

I want to add my testimony to President Benson's. I have seen great blessings from studying the scriptures often. I am more patient, and kind. I make better decisions based on the promptings of the Spirit. I think less about myself, and more about others. I am better guarded against the world, and better able to live righteously, My decisions are easier to make, because I have a pattern by which to make them. And most of all, I am more receptive to the Holy Spirit, so am able to be guided better by it. In Jesus' holy name, Amen.