The story of Joshua is one of my favorites.  Joshua was the one who was able to lead the people into the Promised Land, an opportunity that was denied Moses and his generation as those Hebrews lacked the faith and gratitude to be worthy to enter. 

First of all, the parallels between Joshua and Christ are all over the place.  They share a name (in Hebrew, Jesus is Yeshua, which translated is Joshua).  Also, we see Moses' inability to lead the Hebrews to their final destination, which is a symbol or type of how the Law of Moses cannot lead us to the Highest Glory - only Christ can do that. 

But apart from all of that, Joshua is just a really cool guy.  After getting the Hebrews to the place they wanted to be more than ever, he spent the rest of his life reminding them of how they needed to live.  I would venture to say that those of us living in the Promised Land today can use a little reminding every day about Who is responsible for getting us here. 

In the end of his book, Joshua exhorts his people to "choose ...this day whom [they would] serve" (Joshua 24:15), and closes the verse with " for me and my house, we will serve the Lord".  And after that powerful statement, goes on to list all of the things the Lord has done for them, including leading them from bondage, showing them signs, showing them the way to go, driving out their enemies, etc. 

He then makes a covenant with the people and God that they will forsake all other gods and only serve Heavenly Father.  He writes this covenant on a great stone and sets it in a place where all can see it and be reminded of Whom they serve. 

What do we have around our homes that remind us of the covenants we made with Heavenly Father?

We could easily make the same list of things the Lords has done for us such as guiding our forefathers to this place, driving out their enemies, and specifically doing everything good that has guided us all to where we are.  Let us fill our homes with "great stones" that help us remember to be grateful for what we have, and also remind us of the covenants we have made to always serve Him.

Besides, by doing so, we will just find more and more reasons to make that list a lot longer. 

In a Priesthood Leadership Meeting in April of 1986 Ezra Taft Benson discussed the importance of the Scriptures (CLICK HERE). In this talk he mentions how hard the leadership strives to increase sacrament meeting attendance, get more young men to serve missions, improve numbers of those attending and marrying in the temple, and how such striving has a rather simple solution.

He says, "when individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, these other areas of activity will automatically come" (italics added). By immersing ourselves in the scriptures daily our testimonies grow, and we are more susceptible to personal revelation.

As if those blessings aren't enough, President Benson goes on the mention just some of the most important promises if we study diligently.

Study the scriptures to...:

1) Have Prosperity and Success: quoting Joshua 1:8 "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (italics added).

2) Be Healed: from Jacob 2:8 "they have come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea the word which healeth the wounded soul" (italics added).

3) Recognize the Truth: President Benson mentions how when we are so immersed in the "doctrines of the world" it becomes easy to question the "doctrines of the gospel". The Savior promised "And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived" (JS-M 1:37).

4) Gain Direction: from Psalms 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

5) Pull Free from Sinful Tendencies: Helaman 3:29 "...whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil."

May we all do as Spencer W. Kimball said and "discover the scriptures for ourselves--and not just discover them once, but rediscover them again and again..." (Ensign, Sep. 1976, pp.4-5). By dong so we will recognize the paths that lead us to our own Salvation.

Today missionaries are more effective than they have ever been due to the blessing of having the improved teaching manual "Preach My Gospel". It gives each individual missionary the tools they need to be able to teach from their own testimony and experiences.

Recently I decided I wanted to study the scriptures more like I did when I was a missionary. I remember what a blessing it was to jump out of bed, get ready, and then immerse myself in the scriptures every morning. In order to restore my "super powers" I went to the manual, and studied Chapter 2 (which I highly recommend to everyone by the way!).

The following are the tips I gathered that will make your morning devotional the best vitamins you could ever have.

1) Exercise & shower before study. Being alert is key to effective study.

2) Study at a desk or table (not lying down) where you have access to writing tools.

3) Begin study with a prayer. According to the manual "study is an act of faith requiring the use of personal agency". We must actively hunger and desire for revelation and knowledge, and ask the Holy Ghost to give us the inspiration we need.

4) Keep a scripture study journal or use your regular journal. Spend time reflecting and pondering, and jot down ideas as they come no matter how simple they seem, and never say to yourself, "oh, I'll remember that, I don't need to write it down". Write down tasks and goals as they come, then:

5) Live the revelation you receive. For revelation and inspiration to keep coming you must act upon the information you receive.

I was once taught about the importance of writing down EVERYTHING you are inspired to do while studying by a teacher who basically said, "the Lord will only continue to give you revelation if He knows you will continue to receive it". Carelessly discarding information may cut us off from future personal guidance.

Let us remember that almost every significant revelation Joseph Smith received was preceded by scripture study and reflection upon that study...

I realize I haven't posted for awhile - school and performances have dominated my life for the past month or so. I have gathered a lot of thoughts and look forward to putting them down here soon. Until then, here is a video I thought went right along with the season. Enjoy!

According the the dictionary, grace is "favor or good will". Its origins come from the latin word "grātia" which means favor, kindness, or esteem. When we receive the Grace of God, He directs His favor and good will toward us.

The restored gospel teaches us even more about grace. Elder Faust taught that "the Savior’s grace is activated in our lives through the Atonement, which purifies us and can perfect us". The Atonement is the ultimate symbol of Christ's Grace as it saves all of mankind, and exalts those who choose to live righteously.

Others have stressed grace as an action word. In other words, grace is not something that happened, but is happening to us. Elder Bednar called grace a "strengthening and enabling power". He also said that "the enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity".

If we actively seek out God's grace in our lives He favors us by strengthening us and showing us good favor. He also opens our eyes to new ways of being good. This active seeking of ways to be righteous goes right in the face of those who would have us be only as obedient as "is necessary". Those who get as close to the line as they can without falling over it. We are taught that we can unlock real power if we proactively seek out opportunities to be righteous and obedient.

The Bible Dictionary defines grace as a "divine means of help or strength given through the bounteous mercy of Jesus Christ".

So how do we take part in this good favor and strengthening from the Lord? Besides obedience, according to the Apostle Paul "we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (emphasis added).

What is most interesting to me about what Paul teaches is that in order to receive the active form of grace that we so crave we must have confidence and faith that it is already there. We are blessed for our rejoicing with more of the same, and we also receive the abundance that comes with it.

Certainly every gift we have is a representation of God's Grace. With more gratitude, obedience, hope, and faith the Lord will show us even further evidences of His love, and maybe allow us to be tools of showing His Grace to others.

Just to share - here is a fun video of Il Divo singing "Amazing Grace" CLICK HERE

In searching for scriptures on prosperity I am no longer surprised by how often I find the process of gaining abundance to be a very proactive one on our part. The multitude of blessings the Lord has in store for us are all in our reach, we just have to actively seek them and work for them. Of course, even more wonderful is the fact that the process of working toward them is such a joyful one.

Early on in the restored church I am sure Joseph Smith must have struggled with teaching the Saints to not wait for his instruction but to receive their own revelation and act on it. (Incidentally, the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints teaches its membership to actively seek inspiration from Heavenly Father and act on it shows the trust its leadership has in its members and the power of Spirit. Otherwise who knows which direction we would all be headed!)

In Doctrine and Covenants 58, Joseph hints to this frustration, and also tries to motivate the Saints:

Vs. 26: "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward."

Not only do we put undue pressure on our leadership, we cut ourselves off if we wait to be told everything.

Vs. 27 & 28: "Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward."

What does it mean to be anxiously engaged? How can we be proactive about bringing to pass much righteousness? If you have any thoughts, please share.

President Monson gave a wonderful talk in which he quoted D&C 58, and then went on to talk about why people decide to partake in the miracles that come from making changes and following the Savior. He says the reason for the changes are:

"First, men have been shown their eternal possibilities and have made the decision to achieve them. They cannot really long rest content with mediocrity once excellence is within their reach.

"Second, other men and women and, yes, young people have followed the admonition of the Savior and have loved their neighbors as themselves and helped to bring their neighbors’ dreams to fulfillment and their ambitions to realization.

"The catalyst in this process has been the principle of love."

In order to be anxiously engaged we must 1) seek a vision of our eternal possibilities, and 2) love our neighbors. I love this idea of bringing our "neighbors' dreams to fulfillment and their ambitions to realization." In other words, when someone you love wants something, want it for them even more then they do.

If we love others and send our focus outward we will be anxiously engaged.

Psalms 1 describes the fate of the ungodly vs. a person whose "delight is in the law (also translated as teaching, direction) of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" (verse 2).

One of the first principles I was taught on my mission before I left for the field was the idea that we gain real power when we change our focus from how close we can get to the line, to actively finding more ways to be obedient. David teaches us here that to delight in the teachings of the Lord is to consider them day and night, and find ways in which we can celebrate His laws in our lives.

When we do this, the blessing is that "we shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (verse 3).

When searching the scriptures we can all find ways to be more obedient, and be more confident in following Heavenly Father. The payoff for doing so is prosperity in all that we do.