Sunday, February 19, 2012

Joseph Smith and a Personal Relationship with Christ

Today the Relief Society lesson was Chapter 4 from The Teachings of George Albert Smith manual. The entire lesson was about Joseph Smith and the restoration, and it was a really good lesson for me. I have always believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and when I was a teenager I think I started understanding the significance of the First Vision a little more, but I never really had a “missionary” testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. You know – when the missionaries teach about the First Vision and the spirit is so strong it almost knocks you off your feet. I’ve always been able to feel the testimony of others, but never been really able to feel that testimony coming from within. You know the difference.

A few weeks ago I was looking at the lessons in the manual and checking out which lessons I would be “teaching” in Relief Society (I feel it’s more like leading a group discussion than actually “teaching” – especially because I am one of the youngest members of our ward’s Relief Society). I noticed that last week was a lesson on the Savior and then my lesson was going to be on Joseph Smith, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed. I wanted to lead discussion about the Savior! I love the Savior! I feel like I know Him! What a great topic!

But I had to teach about Joseph Smith. This somewhat mysterious man to me (even though I have read biographies about him, and I even took a History of the Church religion class at BYU – and I still didn’t really feel like I knew him very well) I would have to teach about and talk about for about 45 minutes. I didn’t think I could do it.

Then I started reading the manual. Wow. Talk about good stuff. And did you know that the Spirit will guide you as you prepare lessons? Just sayin’.

My favorite part of the lesson (after the part where I read Joseph Smith History 1:10-19 and had to choke back tears because the Spirit was so strong) was the part where President George Albert Smith said,

It was a very natural thing that Joseph Smith should seek the Lord. He came of a … people who believed in our Heavenly Father, in the divine mission of the Savior, in the efficacy of prayer, and that God would hear and answer his people if they went before him with a proper spirit. It was easy for this young man to believe, because he had been born and reared in a believing household; and when he went out into the woods in response to the injunction of the scripture (James 1:5): “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,” he believed that his prayer would be answered, and our Heavenly Father has promised his children from the beginning, that, “by faith ye may know all things.”

This brought back a flood of memories of things that I had learned about Joseph Smith’s family. He came from a very faithful family – on both sides. His ancestors and his parents were men and women who believed in God and had great faith.

And then I thought, “Would it be (is it?) natural for my children to seek the Lord when they have a question? Do they have faith that Heavenly Father loves them and will answer their prayers?”

I realized that I am not doing nearly a good enough job raising my children in a “ believing household.” Sure, we have family prayer and read the scriptures together, but do I tell my children every time the Lord answers my prayers? Do I lead by example by going to the Lord when I need help or answers?

From Rob Gardner’s “Joseph Smith the Prophet”

I have a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that he is a prophet of God. I know that he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in the sacred grove, just as he said he did.

On a different note, if you checked out the Sunday Study link-up yesterday, you’ll know that I was going to study this (somewhat ancient) talk by President James E. Faust. Well. I did. And wow. Now you need to go read it.

If you struggle with your personal relationship with Christ, go read that talk. President (well, then Elder) Faust has some great instruction to help you figure it all out. I want to have a more personal relationship with the Savior, and this talk has helped me clearly see the way I can do that.

Also, Chocotania’s post today about becoming something better than you are, three weeks at a time, was really well written and very motivating. I am going to follow her example and change one habit for three weeks, every three weeks (hopefully for the rest of my life). Can you imagine the impact that could have on your life? There is always something we can change, and as I mentioned in the comments on that post, I have been on a “personal improvement plateau” for the past year or so. I mentioned that my “status quo” has been pretty good. I read my scriptures daily, study the gospel mostly daily (in addition to the scripture study), I prayed daily, I basically did all the “basics”. But that’s not enough. I need to be moving forward. If you’re not moving toward the Savior, you’re moving away from Him, right?

So my plan is to change a habit or start a new habit for three weeks, every three weeks. I am going to spend this week praying about what to do first, because it has to be small and simple – line upon line. But I want to make sure that it is a really significant thing, and because my goal this year is to find out what Heavenly Father wants for me, I am going to make sure that I get His input on my first task.

How do you change habits or make new ones? How do you develop your personal relationship with the Savior? What is your testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith?


  1. Very good post. I enjoyed reading it and it was very inspiring.

  2. Becca
    I love this post. One of my last teachings in the RS was to teach about Joseph Smith's martyrdom. That was so hard. So the First Counselor suggested that I show a short animated film that summarized his life and stop it just before the scenes of his death. I would then bring out some of the personal testimonies of those people who knew him. We did not want the sisters to sorrow, but to be joyous. But then during the class the spirit was so strong, I could hardly speak. I was impressed to share with the sisters the account of Jesus on the road to Emmanus and how he met up with his grieving disciples after his death. They did not recognize the Savior until he began to speak. The disciples were so moved, they said "Didn't our hearts burn when he spoke to us?" And I asked the sisters to remember their own tesitimony of Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God. Did not your hearts burn at his testimony of the Savior? There was not a dry eye in class. I felt then that my own testimony had been strengthened.
    I love your blog design

  3. Love this post!

    It took me a while to really gain a testimony of Joseph Smith. For a long time, I had a default testimony of Joseph Smith - because I knew that the Book of Mormon was true. But I just didn't really put much thought into Joseph Smith. I don't know why.

    About ten years ago, a good friend of mine served a mission in Nauvoo. She was there when they were building the temple. It was such an exciting time. I was able to write to her often, and she wrote a lot about Joseph Smith. I remember her bearing testimony to me several times.

    Later on, I went to Palmyra, NY with my family. I've been there before, but this time it was different. Visiting the Sacred Grove, the temple grounds, and his home - I felt the power of my friend's testimony and the power of the testimony that I had in the Book of Mormon. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. And I'm so grateful for him. I know that we are led by a living prophet. It makes me happy - It reinforces the fact that God loves us and He remembers us.

    Thanks again for the nice post. :)

  4. I LOVE what you have to say about Joseph Smith being brought up in a believing family. I have always noticed and loved that about his family and want to raise my family to be that way. I have a couple youth that lately don't believe all that I have believed (17 yo boys) and I have contemplated that a ton and wondered why. You pointed out the very thing which has come to my mind... talking about my faith openly and regularly. I think I get my feelings out on paper so much that I may not TALK about my testimony enough. My blogging friends and future journal readers may know more of what I think and feel than my own children. OUCH! It is exciting though, to identify something that I can do to build a more believing family. Thank you so much for your beautiful thoughts! :)

    As far as changing habits goes, my husband and I have a goal to get back to having a monthly theme that we follow to teach and work on Christ-like virtues as a family. My family did this for a time while I was a kid and it was an amazing growing time for me. To focus on the same concept long enough to really internalize it and apply it to your life is a very exciting thing! :D I will have to read your friend's post; thanks for sharing it and getting me excited and reminded to get back on track with that again!
    Corine :D


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