Monday, October 10, 2011

The Power of Scripture

(find the talk here)

I love the scriptures. Just last night my husband and I were talking and reading to each other from the scriptures and I got excited over them! It felt like when I was in college and I would understand a new physics or math concept and I just got all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that I had just learned something amazing. The feeling I get from reading the Book of Mormon is usually more like an old friend, hearing the plan of salvation explained the way it is over and over again in the Book of Mormon makes my heart leap for joy. But in the same moment, I get the excitement of learning something new, as I did in college when I was learning so many new things.

Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk at October General Conference resonated deeply with me. As you can tell from the title of this blog, My Soul Delighteth, I love the scriptures. I always have. My favorite part about Seminary as a youth was memorizing the scripture mastery verses. Unfortunately, as I graduated and moved on from Seminary, I didn’t keep all of those scriptures memorized – I didn’t refer to them as I should have, and I didn’t add to my “collection” of memorized scriptures. They have faded away, like an old friend we loose touch with.

Elder Scott’s talk inspired me to re-memorize those scripture mastery verses, as well as add new scriptures to my arsenal of memorized scriptures - “packets of light.”

The scriptures are incredibly important in our lives. They are one of the tools Heavenly Father has provided for us to “be successful in our mortal probation.” The scriptures are “a type of handbook.” If you wish God had written a handbook about life, He did – it is the scriptures. If you wish God had written a handbook for parenting, He did – it is the scriptures. The scriptures can enlighten our minds and help us find solutions to all of life’s difficult challenges. Elder Scott said that scriptures “can become the key to open the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.” If you are wondering how to communicate with Heavenly Father, the answer is to read the scriptures. Through the scriptures you can find answers to your problems, and they will open the door to personal revelation and inspiration from Heavenly Father.

“Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world.” Over and over again as Elder Scott spoke of the scriptures, I felt inspired to memorize scriptures. Scriptures that I have memorized have come to my mind at important times in my life, and have been those “friends” that I have needed. I was intrigued by Elder Scott’s declaration that “Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate physical healing.” I knew the first part, sure – that scriptures can help us overcome the challenges of life. However, when he spoke of the scriptures healing emotional challenges and accelerating physical healing, my curiosity was piqued. Really? I have been enduring so many emotional challenges lately, and I desperately need healing. Perhaps as I immerse myself in the scriptures I will receive a more powerful healing.

The interesting thing about life is that our perspective changes every day – nearly every minute. The more we live, the more our perspective changes, just because we are having more experiences. “A scripture that we may have read many times can take on nuances of meaning that are refreshing and insightful when we face a new challenge in life.” Just last night I experienced this as I read the story of Amalickiah and the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon. I was reminded of Governor Bogg’s extermination order in Missouri. I was reminded of Hitler’s attempted extermination of the Jews in Europe, and the brave people who helped Jews hide and escape. And then I gained new insight about the way Satan works to carefully lead us down to @#!*% . I have read this story before, but as I have grown in the gospel, my perspective has changed and my understanding has increased.

One of the scriptures that Elder Scott quoted struck me today. He quoted Samuel who said, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel  15:22) Last night my husband and I were talking about how interesting it was the the descendents of Lehi and Ishamael had the fullness of the gospel on the American continents (even though they still obeyed the Law of Moses) while in the middle east, the children of Israel could barely even keep the Law of Moses. We compared Laman and Lemuel to the children of Israel who saw miracles, and yet continued to harden their hearts. And then, I read the scripture in Samuel which Elder Scott quoted. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” That is part of the fulfillment of the Mosaic law – the sacrifices that the Jews performed under the Mosaic law were symbols of obedience and of the atonement of the Savior. But the actual obedience was the most important part – and that was the part the children of Israel had a hard time with. But it wasn’t a completely unknown truth. I imagine the prophets tried to get the Israelites to live God’s law more fully, and I wonder how heartbroken they were when they realized that the children of Israel were often not even willing to keep the Law of Moses.

Elder Scott said, “the Book of Mormon teaches truth with unique clarity and power.” I also believe that to be true. There is a feeling that I get when I read the Book of Mormon that I don’t really get anywhere else. However, I am realizing that I need to expand my study of the scriptures and search out truth in all of the Standard works. Elder Scott asked, “Do you use all of the standard works, including the Old Testament?” To be honest, I use mostly the Book of Mormon in my study of the scriptures. One of the goals I took away from Elder Scott’s talk was to read all of the standard works. I am going to try to complete the entire standard works before next General Conference. That might be a little ambitious, and I won’t be completely sad if I don’t make it, but I want to make the effort, and I want to read all of the scriptures. I am going to make sure I pick out some verses to memorize from the Old Testament. There is a lot of really good truth in the Old Testament, and I want to make it a bigger part of my life.

My final goal came from listening to Elder Scott talk about his wife, Jeanene. I have a feeling he will probably mention her at least once in every conference talk he gives from now on. How he loved his wife. I admire her a lot, just from the way Elder Scott speaks about her. This talk was no different. “My precious wife, Jeanene, loved the Book of Mormon. In her youth, as a teenager, it became the foundation of her life.” I am not a teenager any more, although the Book of Mormon was a large part of my life when I was a teenager – but it is not too late to make the Book of Mormon the foundation of my life. “For I don’t know how many years, as the end of the year approached, I would see her sitting quietly, carefully finishing the entire Book of Mormon yet another time before year’s end.” This was my final goal from Elder Scott’s talk. To read the Book of Mormon at least once all the way through each year.

I purchase an economy copy of the Book of Mormon each time I read it, so that it is a fresh slate and I can mark it up new again and write in the margins. I put the start date and the finish date. So far in the past several years I have only used two copies (I am almost finished with copy #2). At the end of this year, though, when I finish the Book of Mormon again, I am going to read the Book of Mormon once each year. If I start new in January with a new economy copy, I will be able to judge my progress as the year goes by. I am really excited to start reading the Book of Mormon each year. My husband, who speaks several languages, is going to read the Book of Mormon in a new language each year and I get to surprise him with the language.

In summary, the goals I came away with from Elder Scott’s talk are:
1.) Memorize the scripture mastery verses from Seminary, and add other scriptures, including scriptures from the Old Testament
2.) Read the entire Standard Works (including the Old Testament)
3.) Read the Book of Mormon once every year

How do you study the scriptures? How do you memorize scriptures? Do you keep your memorized scriptures around like an old friend? How often do you read the Book of Mormon? Do you read the Old Testament and the other standard works? What goals have you made concerning the scriptures?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

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