Are You Tired?

My grandson Bryson recently started first grade. I’ve been a little worried about how well he would adjust; going from a half-day kindergarten to a full-day schedule. His Mom works late nights and so he isn’t used to getting up early in the morning. After his first day of school I called him to find out how it went. Boy did I get an ear-full. He didn’t like how long the day was nor did he like all the work he had to do. He complained for several minutes and finally I asked him “Wasn’t there anything you liked about school?” He replied “Well, there were four recesses”.

Sometimes I wish I had four recesses a day, especially at this time of year. I love gardening, but by the first of October I am usually plumb tuckered out. I have almost twenty fruit trees, grow vegetables and sell berries of all kinds. With all the picking, canning and weeding I’ve seldom had time to even cook dinner. Plus with all the health issues I’ve been having, this year has been extremely difficult. I have learned a new definition for the word courage. It takes courage to pull myself out of bed in the morning and courage to do even minimal tasks. Some days, I find it takes even more courage to just stay in bed all day. I grew up in a family with a strong work ethic and it’s difficult for me to admit that I simply can’t do everything that needs to be done. It isn’t that I don’t love everything I do, it’s just that I am physically exhausted and in pain most of the time. I would love to have someone tell me “Becki, it’s time for recess”.

Today, in a way, God did tell me it was time for recess. He speaks to me through His Word and I read in Psalm 23: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Reading these passages restored my soul and slowed me down. It also reminded me of my life before I met my Savior. For almost three decades I was absolutely miserable because I could not find any rest for my soul. Year after year was spent pleading with Heavenly Father to forgive my many sins. I believed and trusted the words of my prophet Spencer Kimball. He claimed that gaining forgiveness depended upon my works and my ability to do everything required of me. But despite years and years of working for it, I did not receive the “positive assurance that the Lord had forgiven me”. My burden became too heavy to bear and I lost hope.

After that, it was another nine miserable years before I heard the wonderful message that God had already forgiven me through my Savior. Jesus had carried my burdens and in my place, had done all the works required of me to gain eternal life. I was dumbfounded when I learned that no one can gain forgiveness through their works of obedience! And, I learned that forgiveness is only obtained as a gift from Heavenly Father, given freely to the unworthy. All those years of pain and misery were unnecessary! But I didn’t know it, because I had believed the words of a false prophet; words that contradicted God’s Word. The Apostle Peter testifies that a person receives forgiveness through belief in Jesus. He also claims that all of God’s prophets bear witness to this truth! (Acts 10:43)

I now understand what my Savior meant when He said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” All sins were forgiven when our Savior shed His blood and paid for our sins. When I learned this truth, my burden truly was light. I found rest for my soul through faith that what Jesus had done for me was sufficient! Now, instead of doing works to try and qualify for forgiveness, I am free to joyfully serve my Lord, simply because I love Him.

I can’t wait to enter God’s eternal rest and be with my Savior for all eternity. My dearest friend Linda died about a month ago. She is now in the arms of our dear Savior, resting from her life of service to God. John the Beloved wrote about how blessed she is: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

All who trust solely in Jesus will spend eternity in the very presence of God Almighty, in constant wonder and awe. I am looking forward to it, because “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

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Standing Before God on Judgment Day

Today I was listening to a favorite song which stirred up some strong emotions regarding Judgment Day. It is a beautiful reminder of the before and after picture of my life. “Before” I knew I had been forgiven and “after” I received this forgiveness through faith.

Most of my life I dreaded Judgment Day. I believed there would be this huge movie screen which played scenes from each person’s life. It terrified me that every thought, emotion and action from my entire life would be displayed for all to see. I envisioned standing before God as Jesus called my name. As I stood before Him, Jesus would begin Judging my works as they were displayed on the screen. I knew that my eternal destination hung in the balance of my worthiness. I always imagined that Jesus would frown, shake His head and turn His back on me.

The following words from the song remind me of these years as a Mormon:
“I was dreaming about Heaven
Dreamed I was standing at the pearly gates
We were all there and I was so scared
Standing in the presence of One so great.
I felt so very unworthy I felt like running away.
I bowed my head and I turned to go.”

Year after year I felt impending doom whenever I thought of Judgment Day. I was tormented and racked with guilt and shame because I knew I was not worthy to spend eternity in Heavenly Father’s presence. What’s amazing is that these emotions are what finally forced me to seek a Savior. As soon as I sought Him I found He had been seeking me! The Holy Spirit brought me to faith! He bore witness to me that Jesus came to earth to bestow forgiveness on sinners just like me! Thus began my “after” years. On Judgment Day I will have no sins to be judged because all of my sins have been forgiven!

The ending words of the song so beautifully describe the “after” picture of my life:
“Dreamed I was standing at the pearly gates
When I heard someone say
“Father this one’s with me, part of the family.
One of the reasons I died on Calvary.
Father welcome him in, I paid the price for Him.
Father, oh Father this one’s with me.
When I looked up the gates were open wide
And in the distance I saw Jesus
Our eyes met and I began to cry”

Every time I hear this song I get teary—it is a powerful reminder of what Jesus did for me! Now, I can’t wait for Judgment Day because on that Day I get to run to Jesus and put my arms around Him in thankfulness! Do you know that Jesus did this for you too? Jesus died for every person who has ever lived. You are “one of the reasons” Jesus died on Calvary. He paid the entire price for you. The work of your forgiveness was completed over two thousand years ago. You have been forgiven for every sin you will ever commit! If you believe this, on Judgment Day you will hear Jesus say “this ones with me”!

But if you trust in false leaders who testify that the work of your forgiveness is not complete; that it hangs in the balance of your own works—you reject what Jesus did for you! On Judgment Day Jesus will say “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23). Anyone who points to their own works as a reason they should be allowed to dwell with God will be sent to live eternally with Satan.

Lesson 20 A Heart Full of Love and Faith: The Prophet’s Multiple Wives?

LDS Belief:

In order to obtain the highest degree of heaven a person must be married in the Temple. Through Joseph Smith God commanded plural marriage. Anyone who rejected this covenant would not be permitted to enter into God’s glory. LDS women today are protected from sharing their husbands with “sister wives” because Polygamy was abolished. In 1890 the US Government forced the LDS Church to end polygamy and abide by the laws of the land that it had been violating for fifty years.

LDS Words

Found in lesson 20, page 246:
The Prophet Joseph told Emma that he was “a true and faithful friend to [her] and the children forever,” and he thanked her for her “warm and true-hearted friendship

Found in D&C 132:
(Heading) Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet…as also plurality of wives… Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831.
Verse 1: “…Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines
Verse 52: And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph…and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.”
Verse 64: “…if any man have a wife…and he teaches unto her…as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her…

Found in D&C 131:1-3:
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

Found in D & C Declaration 1, Manifesto:
“The question is this: Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue—to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the Temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein, both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people (all of which of themselves would stop the practice); or, after doing and suffering what we have through our adherence to this principle to cease the practice and submit to the law, and through doing so leave the Prophets, Apostles and fathers at home, so that they can instruct the people and attend to the duties of the Church…”

Link to Lesson:

TofP Lesson 20

The Bold Truth:

All who have faith in Jesus will dwell in the highest degree of heaven with Heavenly Father—no matter whether they were married or single. Heavenly Father has commanded that marriage is between one man and one woman. Having more than one wife is committing the sin of adultery. Anyone who has ever practiced plural marriage sinned against God’s Holy law and suffered earthly consequences.

I recently watched a you-tube video called “Emma Smith — A Woman of Faith”. It emphasized several traumatic events from Emma’s life with background music repeating the words “How much can one heart take?” This video didn’t mention what I believe was the most difficult thing Emma’s heart endured—the unfaithfulness of her husband.

Every woman should put themselves in Emma’s place. How would you feel if your husband told you he had received a revelation from God commanding plural marriage? He then “obeys” God by “marrying” several women and consummates those marriages. Imagine lying alone at night knowing that the man you love is in the same house sexually involved with another woman whom he claims was given to him by God. Would you believe him and submit to his priesthood authority? It appears Emma tried to object, but Joseph claimed God told her to “receive all those that have been given unto” him or she would be “destroyed” (D&C 132:52, 64).

Reading Joseph’s love letters to Emma in this Lesson and knowing that he was being sexually intimate with other women was not easy for me. It’s hard to understand how any man could declare his love and loyalty to his wife at the same time destroying the intimacy he had with her by giving it to other women. While it’s hard to understand, I know it happens because the man I married in the temple did this to me.

Since Emma believed her husband was a Prophet she must have been conflicted about what was truly right. If she would have turned to scripture she would have learned that Joseph was wrong. Nowhere does Heavenly Father command plural marriage. When we read about men with multiple wives these are passages which merely describe what’s happening. (For instance, God did not command men to have sex with harlots, even though scripture describes that Judah committed this sin, Genesis 38:15).

What is the truth about plural marriage? God’s Apostle instructed Bishops and Deacons they were to be husbands of but one wife. The Bible clearly shows the painful and natural consequences of the unnatural union of polygamy. Whenever women shared a husband we read of favoritism, rivalry and bitter jealousy. The sins of the father were “visited” upon his children and grandchildren through horrendous consequences including banishment, slavery, rape, betrayal, murder and rebellion. This was true for Abraham, Jacob, Hannah, David and Solomon’s families (Isaac and Moses did not practice polygamy).

Jesus testified that marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman, who become one flesh. They are no longer two, but one! In addition, a marriage founded on God’s love is even more rewarding and awesome! It’s a lovingly intimate relationship where two people forgive each others faults because they have received this forgiveness from Jesus! When Christ is at the center of a marriage, that marriage flourishes!

As painful as Joseph’s revelation concerning plural marriage was to Emma; it is not his most damaging revelation about marriage. He revealed that to gain the highest kingdom one must be married and both the husband and wife must be worthy to enter. A single person or a person whose marriage partner falls short will spend eternity as a “ministering servant for those who are worthy of a far more” exceeding eternal glory.

Eternal Consequences

Don’t place your faith in LDS prophets who claim you must have a marriage relationship to dwell with Heavenly Father. The only relationship that matters is your relationship with Jesus!

Is He your Savior from the sins that entangle you — even the ones you can’t seem to forsake? Do you trust completely that His blood covers all your sins and leaves you spotless? Are you so grateful for everything Jesus did for you that everything you do is for Him?

Or, does Jesus merely give you the gift of resurrection and the opportunity to dwell with God if you do “all that the Savior commands”? If so, on Judgment day you will stand before God in your own imperfect and soiled righteousness.

Additional Testimony of the Bold Truth:
Polygamy forbidden:
– Deut 17:17
– Lev 18:18
– Mal 2:14-15
– Matt 19:4-5
– Mark 10:2-8
– Titus 1:6
Evil Effects of plural marriages:
– Deut 21:15-17
– Gen 16
– Gen 21:9-16
– Gen 29:30-34
– Gen 30:1-23
– 1 Samuel 1:4-7
– 2 Chr 11:21
– 1 Kings 11:4-8
Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham, not God
– Genesis 16: 1-6
Marriage is for earthly life, not eternity
– Matt 22:29, 30
– Mark 12:24, 25
Sins of the Fathers
– Exodus 20:5
Bishops can have only one wife
– 1 Timothy 3:2, 12
Additional LDS Words

Found in Gospel Principles, page 255:
“The atonement of Jesus Christ assures each of us that we will be resurrected and live forever. But if we are to live forever with our families in Heavenly Father’s presence, we must do all that the Savior commands us to do. This includes being baptized and receiving the ordinances of the temple.”

Found in D&C 132:16:
Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. 17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.

Links to Additional LDS Words:
Emma Smith, A Woman of Faith: How Much Can One Heart Take
You Tube Video Clip
Joseph Smith obeyed the command of plural marriage
Gospel Topics
Gospel Doctrine Teachers Manual, D&C Chapter 31
Address by President Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto
Doctrine and Covenants Official Declaration 1, Manifesto

Lesson 18: Beyond the Veil: Life in the Eternities

LDS Belief:

Heaven consists of three kingdoms and people will be assigned to one of these kingdoms based upon their obedience to God’s law.

LDS Words (J. Smith)

Found in Lesson 18, pages 219-220:
“My text is on the resurrection of the dead, which you will find in the 14th chapter of John—‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’ [John 14:2.] It should be—‘In my Father’s kingdom are many kingdoms,’ in order that ye may be heirs of God and joint-heirs with me. … There are mansions for those who obey a celestial law, and there are other mansions for those who come short of the law, every man in his own order.”

But,’ says one, ‘I believe in one universal heaven and hell, where all go, and are all alike, and equally miserable or equally happy.’ “What! where all are huddled together—the honorable, virtuous, and murderers, and whoremongers, when it is written that they shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body?

Additional Testimony of the Bold Truth:

Jesus:
– Matthew 13:37-43
– John 5:28-30

John the Baptist:
– Matthew 3:2

John the Beloved:
– Revelation 20:10-15
– Revelation 21:7-8
– Revelation 21:27

The Apostle Peter:
– 1 Peter 4:17

The Apostle Paul:
– Romans 2:6
– Titus 1:15

The Prophet Daniel:
– Daniel 12:2

The Psalmist:
– Psalm 1:1-6

King David:
– Psalm 11:5

The Prophet Ezekiel:
– Ezekiel 18:20

The Prophet Malachi:
– Malachi 3:18

The Bold Truth:

The very Son of God believed in one universal heaven and hell!

Jesus taught that there were only two eternal destinations for all peoples of the world. He claimed that Heaven is where God and His eternal family will dwell and Hell will be the domain of Satan, his demons and the wicked. Jesus also grouped all peoples of the world into only two broad categories-the righteous and the wicked. According to the Son of God, you are either righteous, or wicked.

Our Savior gave us a very vivid picture of this truth in Matthew 25. On Judgment Day all the nations of the world will be gathered before Him to have their works judged. But even before He begins the Judgment, God’s angels divide everyone into two groups. Those on Jesus’ right are called righteous because they did good to others in need. The wicked on His left are there because they didn’t do good to those in need. Notice that these wicked people aren’t even charged with doing what we humans might call grievous sins like murder or adultery. They are simply accused of committing sins of omission. Jesus condemns them as “cursed”—then sends them into everlasting fire to live eternally with Satan and his angels. This picture certainly shows Jesus’ belief in one universal heaven and hell. It also shows us that Jesus divides the whole world into only two broad categories.

Many Mormons have said to me “Heavenly Father is a loving God—He would never send someone into eternal punishment”. But Jesus testified that Heavenly Father will do just that. God has given Jesus the authority to judge the world on Judgment Day. Jesus (not Joseph Smith) will determine who is worthy to receive a mansion in the Kingdom of Heaven. To be Righteous a person must have kept God’s law perfectly. Falling short of God’s law, in even one point, makes a person wicked. God does not “grade sins”. Each and every sin is disastrous because it is rebellion against God. Jesus shows that not doing the good things God commands will cause a person to live eternally in hell with Satan.

Yes, Heavenly Father is a merciful and loving God and wants every person to live eternally with Him. That’s why He offered His Son as a sacrifice to ensure this could happen when Jesus paid the demands of Justice. Jesus’ shed blood truly covers over the sins of the entire world. All who believe that Jesus kept God’s law perfectly for them, are righteous because their sins have been removed. On Judgment Day, God’s angels will gather these true believers to sit at the right hand of Jesus—before He begins judging anyone’s works. Every believer will receive a reward in God’s celestial glory.

Eternal Consequences

Please don’t reject Heavenly Father’s offer of complete forgiveness through Jesus’ blood. If you do, this means you don’t have faith in what Jesus did for you and you will sit on His left! “Then shall he (Jesus) say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”