The Blessings that come from Daily Scripture Study

For the last year my Church calling has been teaching Sunday school for the 14 to 18 year olds. At the beginning of this year I felt strongly to share with my class the many blessings that come from being diligent in our daily scripture study. As I prepared my lesson I came to see two specific promises that the Lord has for all of His children who desire to seek after him. I shared these promises with my class and encouraged them to take on the challenge of reading their scriptures for an entire year.

I don’t know whether my students took to heart my lesson, but it had a profound impact on me. We are four months into the year, and I have missed but one day. Sadly, on February 26th I waited to read my scriptures in the evening and fell asleep early due to the exhaustion of the day. I woke abruptly at 3 am the next morning and the first thought that came to me was that I had failed in my goal to not miss a day. I was upset at myself and it was a hard lesson I had to learn. Yet, now I know I need to read in the morning, so not to take any chances.

It may sound trite, but I am thankful for failing at my goal to read this entire year. My mistake allows me to further understand repentance, and not just give up because I didn’t achieve what I set out to do.  The Lord is well aware of our imperfections and that we will stumble, hence why he provided us a Savior who suffered much so that we could pick ourselves up and continue on.

I’ve transcribed my lesson below for any that want to further understand the promises and power that comes from daily and diligent scripture study. Hopefully, it will move you to take up the challenge of daily reading so that you can witness, more fully, the Lord’s great power in your own life! ~Paul

THE POWER OF YOUR SPIRITUAL OIL

The Lamp of Spiritual OilIn Matthew 25 the Savior shares a story about ten virgins (or bridesmaids) who were given the honor of attending a wedding. Each carried a lamp as they awaited the coming of the bridegroom. Five of the virgins were wise and had brought sufficient oil for their lamps. Five were foolish and had not.

The bridegroom was delayed until late into the night; when it was announced that he would arrive shortly the foolish virgins asked the wise ones for oil. However, the wise virgins could not, stating that there would not be enough for both if they did so. While the foolish virgins left to find more oil, the bridegroom arrived. The wise virgins were there to welcome him and the foolish ones returned too late to be accepted into the wedding.

Just as the five wise virgins had oil for their lamps for the coming of the bridegroom, we can have spiritual oil to prepare us for when we meet the Lord. There are many ways to fill our lamps with spiritual oil, such as saying our prayers; providing service to others; and following the commandments. The more we strive to provide oil for our lamps the more our oil wells are filled with the richness of righteousness, and the brighter our light will shine.

One powerful way to fill our lamps with oil is by having daily scriptures study. Meaningful scripture study will not only prepare us to meet the Lord, but it will exalt our lives with love and beauty.

Therefore, creating a habit of daily scripture study, which persists throughout our lives, should be one of our highest priorities. By striving to make scripture study a daily concern, the Lord will endow us with his Spirit and we will be able to call upon the powers of heaven. Jacob from the Book of Mormon shares that “we search the prophets. . . and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.” (Jacob 4:6; Hel. 10:4–5.)

Jacob understood the celestial power that comes from “search[ing] the prophets,” as have all prophets, both ancient and modern, who boldly testified of the strength and peace found within the words of the Lord. From these prophetic testimonies, I provide you the following two promises: 1) If you strive to prayerfully read your scriptures the Lord will be a continual guide throughout your life, and 2) If you study the scriptures every day the Lord will bless you with the spiritual and temporal desires of your heart.

With both of these promises you will find great blessings that will enrich your life. In regards to the first promise the Lord promises us that He will always be there for us. Even in our darkest times, when we desire to not be near the Lord, He is there. David of the Old Testament learned this after his serious transgression with Bathsheba:

“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

We can see that even when we have made our “bed in hell” that Lord is with us. Therefore imagine the great power that will come when we try to become one with Him!  In Jesus’s intercessory prayer in John 17 we learn his desires that we be like him and be one with his Father:

“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.”

Later in his prayer we learn the blessing that comes by being one with God:

“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”

By prayerfully studying the gospel and coming closer to our Father we are protected from the evil the world. Obviously, we still reside in the world and may witness much wrong, but by filling our lamps with the spiritual oil of the scriptures we will be protected and be given a light to guide us through the darkness of this world.

With consideration to the second promise—your spiritual and temporal desires—I want to show just how the Lord will bless you. Our Father in Heaven is not a God of ambiguity, rather He longs to bless you with the specific desires of your heart.

We learn the truthfulness of the Lord’s desire to bless us by first reading in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 14: 7:

“Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

We find this same sentiment also in the Bible in 1 John 5:14–15:

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.”

To unearth the desires of your heart I encourage you to ponder on the different spiritual and physical changes you want in your life. Write down each of these desires and then prayerfully decide on the greatest spiritual and the greatest temporal change you want to see in the upcoming year. I testify that if you will do this and then faithfully study your scriptures each day for an entire year that the Lord will bless you with the fulfillment of these specific desires.

These promises are not mere words contrived from my own mind, but rather we can find both these promises in the scriptures:

Promise 1: “. . .Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).

Promise 1: “. . . [the iron rod] was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Nephi 15:24).

Promise 2: “O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these records are true. . . and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes. And now, my sons, I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers” (Mosiah 1:6–7).

Promise 2: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalms 37:3–5).

Both Promises: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).

Furthermore, the Doctrine and Covenants teaches us, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10). When you live a life of meaningful study and prayer the Lord is bound to keep the promises he has made to you.

Your life will be deeply blessed, much like the five wise virgins, if you allow your spiritual oil to accumulate day-by-day, drop-by-drop, until your lamp is burning bright with the words of Christ. In so doing, you will not only uncover the many blessings the Lord wants for you to have, but you will begin to understand the deep love He has for you personally.

BYU Church History Symposium: Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World (7-8 March 2013)

The title of this year’s symposium is “Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World.On Thursday, March 7, the conference will begin at 9:00 a.m. with the keynote speaker, Richard L. Bushman in the Herold B. Lee Library auditorium on the BYU Campus in Provo. The symposium will continue in the same location until 4:30. Papers will be given addressing Joseph Smith’s reading of ancient Jewish and Christian texts, his interactions with the scholars of his day, and his interest in the ancient Americas. At 7:00 p.m. the plenary session, held in the Joseph Smith Building (JSB) auditorium (south end of BYU campus), will feature remarks by Elder Steven E. Snow, the new Church historian and recorder, and a plenary address by David F. Holland, professor of history at UNLV.

On Friday, March 8, the conference will continue in Salt Lake City at the LDS conference center’s little theater. It will begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude at 3:00 p.m. Presentations will address Joseph Smith’s study of the Bible, contemporary biblical commentaries, and biblical languages, and his relationship to 19th-century Egyptology.

The Symbolism of Numbers Found in the Scriptures

Here is what I have written in my scriptures from my seminary days:

Number Scriptural Symbolism
1 God, Genesis, beginning
2 Christ, opposition, deliverance
3 Holy Ghost, Godhead, solid, divine protection
4 Earth (North, South, East, and West; 4 elements; divisions of day; seasons, and etc)
5 Grace (4+1)
6 Man’s imperfection (6 times, Savior is charged with having a devil inside, serpent in Hebrew has 6 names)
7 Oath, spiritual perfection
8 Abundance, Covenant, beginning, new
9 Judgment
10 The Law, Order (10 Commandments)
11 Discord, disorder (12-1)
12 Priesthood authority, governmental perfection (quorum of 12 holds all Priesthood keys)
20 Expectancy (i.e. 20 years Jacob waited to get wives and payment)
30 The right moment
40 Probation, trial, renewal (40 days ark)
200 Insufficiencies