I know that I am not unique in saying that 2016 was incredibly difficult for me; but, there was a particular time when I was sitting in church, just trying to keep it together but was so downtrodden and overwhelmed by all of the important things in my life going south. Whenever the Sunday School instructor would ask us a simple question, it would stump me. It was weird, they would ask something as simple as, “Why do we need to be baptized?” I had been baptized and yet could not answer to my actions. I sat there thinking, “Do you even need me for this conversation?” I then had this prompting, that said, “Julianne, if you don’t change something, you will lose everything you have.” I was so #woke when I heard that. So, what happened? What had to change?
Joseph Smith set an example on how to use the scriptures to receive revelation.
There are many things that set members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints apart from the world, even from other Christians. One, among many being, that we seek and receive continuing, personal revelation. We have the light of Christ and have a member of the Godhead as our constant companion. Through the Restoration, we know that God never ceases to talk to His children.
Many say the Restoration began with a prayer in a grove of trees; but, it started much earlier than that. All Joseph Smith wanted to know was, what should he believe? What church should he join? Very simple, but important and valid. Church after church, he could have settled but being unsatisfied, he turned to the scriptures, and came across James 1:5 that “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of god, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
You see, the Restoration began with a boy’s searching and likening the scriptures to his life, putting it into action. It was from the scriptures, he got his answer to a question he should have been asking, that when he does have questions, he should turn to God. How would Joseph Smith even know he could ask a supreme being anything, let alone a supreme being whose identity was debated among his neighbors if he had not been studying the scriptures? How could he have known that God would answer him, us, if we simply ask, if he had not been studying the scriptures?
We can learn much from Joseph Smith’s example of first turning to the scriptures and then asking Heavenly Father for additional guidance. For example, Heavenly Father often sends answers when they are most needed, not necessarily at the time when we are most worthy of them. He can still answer your prayers, even if you don’t feel worthy. The Restoration and the Book of Mormon are filled with examples of Heavenly Father in His mercy speaking to His children. Think about Lehi, Alma, Alma the Younger, and the Brother of Jared. They had their imperfect moments; yet, in their imperfections, “we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.” (Alma 26:37). God continues to work with imperfect people; it is all He has ever had to work with.
Elder Robert D. Hales said, “When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures.” Like Joseph Smith, when we search the word of God, we can also find inspiration, refuge, and power.
Studying the scriptures each day will answer today’s questions.
I had been preparing for many years to receive my own temple ordinances but a couple years ago, I decided to take my preparation more seriously. Many would tell me – leaders, close friends, all endowed – to “just go already, you’re more than ready!” Although I could tell they meant well and were just trying to encourage me, I did not feel that same confidence in myself and could not act on it. I continued to do a lot of self-reflecting and had repented of anything serious I could think of to ensure my life was in order and yet, it was not enough. Back to my first story, as I sat in church, the spirit told me, “Julianne, if you do not read your scriptures, you will lose everything you have.” Turns out for me, rather, it was not that I was doing anything I should not be doing, but I was not doing enough of the things I should be doing. I decided that if I was going to make more covenants, I needed to be better at the simple but important things.
I had a wonderful bishop who counseled my ward that if we would read the Book of Mormon daily, it would answer today’s questions. I thought this was all nice and everything but it only took one try to realize he was telling the truth. While reading the scriptures during any part of the day is great, when I began reading the Book of Mormon, particularly in the morning as the first thing I do, it gave me answers to questions I would encounter throughout the day. It prepared me for questions I had not yet realized.
The words of God, particularly in the Book of Mormon, will guide you and tell you all things. Without continuously studying the Book of Mormon, we regress and will ultimately, lose what we have. In Mosiah 1:3-7, it says, “I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God…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.”
As I became more familiar with how the Spirit spoke to me while reading the Book of Mormon, I was able to distinguish between my thoughts and the Spirit. While the scriptures did not directly tell me if I was ready or when I should go to the temple, it did teach me how and when the Spirit confirms a true teaching. That same Spirit, served as a personal guide for me because if the feeling of going to the temple felt the same way when I read the doctrine in the Book of Mormon, I knew it was the Spirit and that it was my time to go.
After receiving my own temple ordinances, it emphasized the truths found in the Book of Mormon and likewise, the Book of Mormon brought out the significance of the temple. For example, the Book of Mormon tells us that the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ are connected; that the Fall of Adam of Eve was a positive step forward reaffirming that through Christ’s Atonement and using our agency righteously, we can return back to God; that men and women are different and unique but are equal; that the power of the priesthood can cast out Satan and the adversary, and that the Savior loves us by giving all of Him, even His life.
As you study the Book of Mormon, you can receive heaven’s help in your life, receive guidance, and answers to your questions. I know that if you read them daily, particularly in the morning, it will answer today’s questions.
Studying the Book of Mormon inspires us to reject Satan and lead Christ-like lives, immunize us against the gripping plague of mind numbing addictions, and will help us make better decisions daily.
President Russell M. Nelson said, “I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.”
I was reading 1 Nephi 17 this morning, where Laman and Lemuel persecuted Nephi as he is struggling to build a boat, saying it would have been better for them to stay in Jerusalem with the people that they thought were righteous. Nephi preaches to his brothers to trust the Lord. He used the example of Moses and the Israelites, as they too fled from bondage and destruction, and spent many years in the wilderness on their way to the promised land, appropriately like them. Moses told the Israelites to look at a snake to be healed after being bitten by a snake. Many would not look at the snake because they did not see how this could heal them and they painfully suffered; but, those who did look were healed. Laman and Lemuel shortly repented and believed Nephi.
What I took away from this was 1) this is an example in the Book of Mormon that someone used the scriptures to answer today’s questions and 2) we often underestimate and disregard something as simple as a book to cleanse us from our sins and weaknesses – but it can! Applying the doctrine in the Book of Mormon will change human behavior, because it is the word of God and it is true.
My culminating career has been around consuming lots of media and information, find the truth, make sense of it, and then present it to a client. However, it has exposed me to a gross amount of garbage out there. At times, it has taken over my life. But, as I have read the Book of Mormon, it decreased wasteful time on social media and helped me discern between truth and deceit. Maybe you struggle to live the law of chastity, are too tired or skeptical of praying, rationalize consuming subtle but toxic entertainment and media, are holding a grudge against someone for perhaps a justifiable reason, or are disenfranchised by how lack luster your ward is and avoid engaging with other members. Whatever it may be, I know that reading and applying the Book of Mormon to your life, will quell the strong but wrong desires that entice you and will put you back in control.
The Book of Mormon inspires us to reject Satan and lead Christ-like lives. It will turn us to Christ to then give up the natural man and free ourselves.
But reading the Book of Mormon can do more than give you direction in your life and immunize you against Satan and temptations. It is a tangible tool that will enable you to be perfect like Christ. Studying and applying the doctrine in the Book of Mormon is about how we must live to return to God, emphasizing our need for a Savior. There are many wonderful promises given by the prophets when we study the Book of Mormon; but, I know you will find even more tender mercies, personal blessings to you fulfilled, as you study it and apply it to your progression towards eternal life.
President Russell M. Nelson said, “Whenever I hear anyone, including myself, say, ‘I know the Book of Mormon is true,’ I want to exclaim, ‘That is nice, but it is not enough!’ We need to feel deep, in ‘the inmost part’ of our hearts, that the Book of Mormon is unequivocally the word of God. We must feel it so deeply that we would never want to live even one day without it.”
Reading the Book of Mormon daily will answer today’s questions.