Sunday, March 30, 2008


Joy is an essential component of our Heavenly Father’s plan. As I read many scriptures about joy this week, one passage that is a very familiar one, made me realize even more the importance of joy. It is in fact why we are here. 2 Nephi 2 :22-25 reads:

“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
“And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

Adam fell to allow each of us to enter this mortal realm. And we are here to have joy. The fall was essential to get us here, but also because it brought opposition into the world. As we learn from the above passage as well, we never would know joy without experiencing misery. We are here in this corrupted, fallen world so that we may ultimately know joy.

As I have studied joy this week in the scriptures, I came to the realization that this one line sums up the entirety of the Lord’s plan. “Adam fell, that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” Therein is referenced the fall, our mortal probation, opposition, the principle of agency, the Atonement, our salvation, and ultimately entering into the Lord’s presence.

So if our purpose is to have joy, how are we to attain this joy? Psalms 16:11 says: “…in thy presence is fullness of joy.” Certainly our ultimate goal is to return to the presence of our Father, wherein our joy will be at its fullest, and we must prove ourselves through the testing and trial of our faith in this mortal existence. Surely this is one aspect of the joy referenced in 2Nephi 2:25. But I believe we are also here to have joy in this life as well as in the life to come. And it is interesting to me that the things that will bring us joy here are the same things that will bring us back into the Lord’s presence to experience the fullness of joy that He has.

There are five things that seemed to stick out as recurring themes in the scriptures about joy. These five principles are how we attain joy in this life and the life to come.
1. Keeping the commandments.
2. The Love of God
3. The Lord’s forgiveness
4. Salvation
5. Ask & ye shall receive

“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.” (Mosiah 2:41) We know the importance of keeping the Lord’s commandments if we are to have joy. Just as we as loving parents give our children guidelines to protect them and keep them healthy, safe, and happy, so our Heavenly Father has spelled out those things that when obeyed will keep us both physically and spiritually healthy, safe and happy. As we learn in Alma and soon learn from experience, “Wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10) Keeping the Lord’s commandments also allows Him to bless us, which in turn brings us joy, both from the actual blessing and also as we feel the love of the Lord through those blessings.

Jesus gave us a promise for our efforts to keep the commandments. In John 15:10-11 He says, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Our joy will be full as we keep the commandments because we may thereby abide in the love of God.

In Lehi’s dream he came across a tree, whose fruit was most desirable to make one happy. It also was the most sweet of all fruits and was exceedingly white. “And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy.” (1 Nephi 8:12) In later verses we come to know the meaning of this tree. The angel asks Nephi, “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
“And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
“And he spake unto me, saying, Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” (1 Nephi 11:21-23)

The love of God is the source of exceedingly great joy. It is the purest, sweetest, most desirable above all else. It is where we must look if we are to have true joy. Wherein was the love of God manifest? In that He sent His Son. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16.)

It is interesting to me that when the angels prophesied and testified of the birth of the Savior they always said, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.” The birth of the Savior was truly the beginning of the source of all joy.

This is true for multiple reasons, one of which being that because of Christ’s atonement, we are given the opportunity to repent of our sins. As we fall short of obeying the Lord’s commandments, our joy is taken away. The love of God is manifest through His Son’s sacrifice for us, through which we may be forgiven for our sins. As we are forgiven, our joy is returned, I believe in an even greater measure. Psalms 30:5 JST expresses this in such a beautiful way:

“For his anger kindleth against the wicked; they repent, and in a moment it is turned away, and they are in his favor, and he giveth them life; therefore, weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

This principle is also manifest in the passage referenced in my post about being perfect and the parable of the debtors. As we are forgiven of sin, we come to love the Lord who so fully forgives us. Christ even says, those who are forgiven of the most shall love the Lord all the more. Through the Lord’s forgiveness we come to feel His love more fully and thereby experience true joy.

I love this scripture in Isaiah 12:1-3:

“And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”

Through the atonement of Christ and the repentance made possible thereby, we are able to have joy through His salvation. Not only is this the means by which we may return to our Father’s presence, gaining eternal salvation and fullness of joy. But as we come to understand the atonement and use it in our daily lives and realize our complete dependence upon the Savior for our salvation, we will rejoice at this great gift which He so freely gives. We will feel freed by His ability to save us. Our burden will be lightened, and joy will enter our hearts.

As Christ is preparing His apostles for the time that He shall leave them, he explains that in a little while they shall not see Him and they shall be sorrowful. “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” (John 16:22) I love the thought that when we see the Savior again, we shall rejoice and our joy will never again be taken from us.

Christ goes on in the next two verses to explain a principle with which I was very familiar, but had never really associated with joy. In verses 23-24 He says:

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

We are commanded many times in the scriptures to ask God in faith and we are promised that we will receive. Christ here states that therein will our joy be full. I found this quite interesting. I think D&C 42:61 adds some insight to this.

“If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”

There is much joy to be discovered as we ask of the Lord and receive of His knowledge.

“Men are, that they might have joy.” We are here to experience sorrow that we might know joy. As we experience opposition, we are tested as to whether we will keep the Lord’s commandments. As we do so, we experience the happiness that comes from doing what is right and we feel the love of the Lord and abide in that love as we keep the commandments. This love is the source of all joy. When we fail to be obedient, we can turn to Christ to be forgiven through His infinite atonement. This process of forgiveness brings us to more fully feel joy as we come to know more intimately the source of our salvation, and realize the great gift He offers—forgiveness and joy in this life, and salvation and eternal joy in the presence of our Father in the next. All that the Father hath is offered to us and as we ask, we shall receive.

Ultimately our joy comes from Jesus Christ. One of my absolute favorite scriptures is John 16:33:
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

We can have joy in this fallen world, because Christ has overcome it and offers His salvation to all. It’s as if He is saying to us, “Don’t worry. This life is hard. But be happy. I will save you.” Surely that is something we can all find joy in.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Topics

I have been thinking that it would be fun to have a special group blog every Tuesday. Here is how it would work. Each Tuesday I will give a topic, quote, or scripture for all of us to think about and study for the week and then the following Sunday I will post a blog with my thoughts and everyone can add their insights as well through comments. Everyone should leave their comments by Tuesday, so that when we come back to get the new topic, we can read all the additional insights that have been posted.

I think this will be a fun way for us to inspire each other and learn from one another. I hope you all will join in. We have so many different experiences and perspectives to share, I think we will really edify one another through this process. I look forward to it! Please feel free to let anyone know about it who might also have an interest in participating. Also please feel free to email me any topics you would be interested in studying.

This week's topic will be "Joy." We'll see you Sunday!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Come Spring

Cry not,
Though winter is cold,
Silent and still.
But where is thy sting?
Come spring
Will not the trees be once again
Arrayed in brilliant robes of green
More beautiful than before?
Does not the tulip awake and
Rise once more?
Does not God restore
The beauty of the world around us
Each year?
It is so
And a reminder that
Life does not end with winter.
The spring cometh
When those sleeping shall arise
And in glory live forever.
If worthy God’s world
Are not also His children?

                           By Kristine Tanner

Friday, March 7, 2008

On Being Perfect

I came across a quote in my Young Women's lesson manual that has become one of my favorite quotes. Speaking of coming to Christ it says:

"He wants us to come to him as we are. We do not have to be perfect to go to him. While Jesus was on the earth he associated with publicans and sinners and his disciples asked him why he associated with them, to which question Jesus gave a beautiful and simple answer: 'They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick.' (Mark 2:17.) The Lord does not ask us to heal ourselves of our imperfections before we approach him, but to come to him with those imperfections and he will assist us in overcoming them." (Gospel Doctrine [A Course of Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums, 1970-71], p.57).

I loved this quote. I love the thought that Christ wants us to come to Him as we are. I think sometimes I have felt like I need to be better before I can approach Him, that "temple worthy" is equivalent to close to perfect, and I feel distanced from Him by my own feelings of not being good enough. And yet it makes total sense that we must come to Christ with all our imperfections. We can never be perfect on our own merits. No matter the degree, we all sin and fall short of perfection. If we waited until we were perfect, we would never come to Him. "The Lord does not ask us to heal ourselves of our imperfections..." He wants us to come to Him now just as we are, so that He can heal us.

I love the story in Luke 7:36-50 of a woman, who was a sinner, when she had heard that Jesus was eating at a Pharisee's house, she came with a box of ointment.

38. "And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

39. "Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

40. "And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

41. "There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

42. "And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

43. "Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

44. "And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

45. "Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.

46. "My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

47. "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

48. "And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. . . "

50. "And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."

This Pharisee was also under the misconception that a sinner had no place with the Savior. And yet, it was this sinner who was forgiven, because she had the faith to approach Jesus, in her imperfections, and because "she loved much." Why did she love the Savior so? I love the parable in these verses of the two debtors. One owed five hundred pence and one owed fifty. "And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?" Simon answers, "he, to whom he forgave most."

To me there are two great lessons here. The first is that no matter the amount of debt, both debtors were frankly forgiven. No matter how much we have to be forgiven of, the Lord will forgive us. None of us can repay the debt, no matter how large or small in comparison. We all must turn to Christ, who has paid this debt for all.

The second lesson, and a beautiful one indeed, is he who is forgiven of the most is he who will love the Savior all the more for that forgiveness. I think this is a very comforting thought to know that our acknowledgement of our own weaknesses and our seeking forgiveness will actually strengthen our love for the Savior. Perhaps this knowledge can help us see a purpose in our weaknesses rather than the hopelessness one might feel trying to overcome them alone.

I also find it comforting, as I see some of my loved ones who have made wrong decisions or who struggle with weaknesses, to think that these struggles will only make them love Christ more when they do seek His forgiveness. It gives me a real sense of hope that all the trials, struggles and experiences we have will be for our ultimate good.

We must come to Christ as we are. He will help us to overcome our imperfections, but most of all He will let us partake of His perfection. This ultimate forgiveness, no matter the debt, will forever secure within us a perfect love for our dear elder brother. We do not have to be perfect--because He is. We must simply seek Him in humility and love, with the faith that we can be healed through Him.

John 16:33 says: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Christ's perfection is enough. Whatever weakness, trial, imperfection, or affliction we may suffer, Christ has overcome it all. That is the source of peace and hope. Come to Him as you are and He will make you whole.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Beauty for Ashes--Isaiah 61:1-3

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

"To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:1-3.