Welcome to this compilation of spiritual thoughts, inspired by stories from the scriptures and early Church history. These reflections invite us to explore deep themes—like faith, service, choice, and remembrance—through the experiences of biblical characters, Book of Mormon heroes, and stalwart pioneers of the Restoration. As you read, I hope you find renewed inspiration, insights, and a closer connection to the divine lessons that can guide and enrich our lives.
#1 Becoming a New Being Through The Atonement
There’s a verse in the Book of Mormon that beautifully encapsulates the power of the Atonement. In Alma 7:11-12, it reads:
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
This scripture beautifully illustrates that Jesus Christ not only suffered for our sins, but He also took upon Himself our pains, afflictions, and infirmities. Through this incredible act of love and mercy, He truly understands our mortal experience and is able to provide us comfort and relief in our trials.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul spoke about the transformative power of the Atonement in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can change, grow, and become new.
This knowledge of the Atonement should fill us with hope and gratitude. It underscores the fact that we are not alone in our struggles, for we have a Savior who knows and understands our burdens. In the moments of our deepest distress and the heights of our joy, Christ is there, offering His love, understanding, and the power to overcome. Let’s strive to better understand His Atonement, and make His redeeming power a more significant part of our lives.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
#2 The Perserverance of Brigham Young
Brigham Young, the second President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a stalwart leader who guided the early Saints through many challenging situations. One of the most monumental tasks he undertook was the organization and implementation of the Mormon Pioneer trek westward, leading the Saints from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah.
After the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Saints were being driven from their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois. With little time to prepare and facing a journey of over a thousand miles, they turned to Brigham Young for guidance. He, however, had never been to the Salt Lake Valley. He was leading a group of over 70,000 people to an unknown destination based solely on faith and a spiritual manifestation that this was where the Saints should establish their new home.
The journey was grueling, filled with sickness, hardship, and even death. But through it all, Brigham Young remained resolute and determined. He encouraged the Saints with his unwavering faith and optimism. The words he spoke upon entering the Salt Lake Valley, “This is the right place. Drive on.” have become symbolic of his prophetic vision and leadership.
This story reminds us of a scripture in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Brigham Young didn’t see the Salt Lake Valley before he started the journey, but he had faith in God’s promise that a place was being prepared for them.
Brigham Young’s story is an example of acting on faith, even when the path ahead is unclear. When we face trials and uncertainties in our lives, we can remember his unwavering determination and trust in God. The lesson is clear: just as Brigham Young led the early Saints to their promised land, we too can be guided to our own “promised lands” if we exercise faith and trust in the Lord’s plan for us.
#3 The Parable Of the Ten Virgins
The Parable of the Ten Virgins is a powerful teaching of Jesus found in the New Testament. It provides valuable insights into the importance of personal preparation and spiritual readiness.
The parable is found in Matthew 25:1-13, where Jesus describes ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise and brought extra oil for their lamps, while the other five, described as foolish, did not. When the bridegroom was delayed, all the virgins fell asleep. At midnight, a cry was heard that the bridegroom was coming, so all the virgins woke up to trim their lamps. The foolish ones, finding their lamps going out, asked the wise ones to share their oil. But the wise virgins replied that there may not be enough for both them and the foolish ones, and advised the foolish ones to go to those who sell oil and buy some for themselves. While the foolish virgins were away buying oil, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. Later, when the foolish virgins came back, they found that they were too late and the door had already been shut.
This parable is often seen as an admonition to always be prepared for the Second Coming of Christ. The oil is symbolic of our own spiritual preparation—things like faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, and service—which cannot be borrowed or given at the last moment.
Consider the words in Doctrine and Covenants 33:17, “Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom.”
We can all strive to be like the wise virgins, who were prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom. This means living each day as disciples of Christ, continually adding “oil” to our lamps through acts of kindness, service, and personal righteousness. Our faithfulness and personal preparation will enable us to be ready for the glorious day of the Lord’s coming.
#4 The Power of Forgiveness: Joseph Smith and the Guards in Liberty Jail”
Many stories about the Prophet Joseph Smith’s life can inspire and instruct us. One such story is about his time spent in Liberty Jail, where he was held in harsh conditions for several months in 1838-1839. This episode emphasizes the power of forgiveness and shows Joseph’s resilience in the face of adversity.
While Joseph was in Liberty Jail, he and his fellow prisoners suffered immensely from cold, inadequate food, unsanitary conditions, and constant threats from their jailers. However, it’s a specific incident that illuminates an important aspect of Joseph’s character.
According to records, the guards would often boast about the violent actions they had taken against the Mormons, attempting to provoke and demoralize Joseph and his companions. One evening, they described the terrible things they’d done to the Latter-day Saint women and children, using particularly graphic and unsettling language.
Hearing this, Joseph rose to his full height, radiating a divine authority. He rebuked the guards, declaring, “SILENCE, ye fiends of the infernal pit… I will not live another minute and bear such language.” The guards quailed before him, begging his forgiveness.
This story illustrates Joseph’s firm resolve in defending righteousness, his courage in the face of persecution, and his ability to forgive those who sought to cause him distress. It reminds us of the scripture in Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Joseph Smith’s time in Liberty Jail shows us the remarkable strength of character that can be forged in the crucible of adversity. It teaches us that we too can stand up for what is right, no matter the circumstances. Most importantly, it demonstrates the divine power of forgiveness, reminding us that we should always strive to forgive others, just as we seek forgiveness from God.
# 5 Choosing Joy: The Example of Nephi in the Wilderness”
In The Book of Mormon, we find countless examples of people who demonstrated admirable qualities, even in challenging circumstances. One of the most prominent is Nephi, a prophet-leader who consistently chose to have a positive attitude and trust in God despite adversity.
Early in the Book of Mormon, Nephi’s family leaves their comfortable home in Jerusalem to travel through the wilderness at God’s command. This journey was fraught with difficulties, including hunger, physical discomfort, and interpersonal conflict.
One critical moment occurs when Nephi’s brothers, Laman and Lemuel, complain and rebel against their father, Lehi, and his visions that led them into the wilderness. In contrast, Nephi seeks understanding and confirmation from God and responds to the same circumstances with faith and optimism.
Nephi’s attitude is summarized in his well-known expression of faith in 1 Nephi 3:7, where he states, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
Nephi didn’t deny the challenges and trials of their journey. However, he did choose to see beyond those difficulties, acknowledging the divine guidance that led them and maintaining a steadfast and optimistic trust in God’s plan for him and his family.
This attitude can be seen as an embodiment of the teaching in Proverbs 17:22: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
Nephi’s example reminds us that while we may not be able to control our circumstances, we can control our attitudes towards them. By choosing to approach our trials with faith, optimism, and a ‘merry heart’, we can better see the Lord’s hand in our lives and find joy, even in the wilderness of our own challenges.
#6: “A Heart of Service: The Story of Ruth and Naomi”
In the Old Testament, we encounter many inspiring individuals whose stories embody valuable principles. One such figure is Ruth, whose life illuminates the transformative power of love, loyalty, and service.
The story of Ruth centers around her relationship with her mother-in-law, Naomi. After the death of Naomi’s husband and sons (one of whom was Ruth’s husband), Naomi decided to return to her homeland of Bethlehem, expecting to face her old age alone. However, Ruth made a remarkable decision. She chose to stay with Naomi, uttering the beautiful words in Ruth 1:16, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
Arriving in Bethlehem, Ruth, a Moabite woman, was a stranger in a strange land. Despite the potential for prejudice and exclusion, she devoted herself to serving Naomi. She labored in the fields, gleaning leftover grain to provide for their sustenance. Her humble service, dedication, and love for her mother-in-law eventually led to her marriage to Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of Naomi, securing a future for both Ruth and Naomi.
Ruth’s story is a testament to the power of serving others. Her selfless acts not only uplifted Naomi in her time of need but also led to Ruth becoming the great-grandmother of King David, placing her in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5-6).
Galatians 5:13 counsels us to, “through love serve one another.” This instruction embodies the essence of Ruth’s actions. She served Naomi out of love, turning an initially bleak and despairing situation into one of hope, joy, and divine promise.
The story of Ruth encourages us to look for opportunities to serve others, not out of obligation, but out of love. Such acts of service, big or small, can have far-reaching effects, bringing blessings to others and enriching our own lives in ways we might never have anticipated.
#7: “Choosing the Better Part: Mary and Martha’s Lesson on Agency”
In the New Testament, the story of Mary and Martha presents a compelling example of the exercise of agency in our spiritual lives.
Jesus, during his ministry, visited the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany. While Martha busied herself with the tasks of serving, Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His words. Distressed by her sister’s apparent lack of help, Martha complained to Jesus, expecting Him to urge Mary to assist with the chores.
Instead, Jesus gently corrected Martha, saying in Luke 10:41-42, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
This account reminds us of the vital role agency plays in our spiritual growth and progression. Both Mary and Martha made choices. Martha chose to focus on serving, which in itself is not wrong. However, in her preoccupation with her tasks, she neglected the opportunity to learn from Jesus directly. Mary, on the other hand, chose to prioritize the spiritual feast over the physical one, demonstrating her understanding of the lasting value of Jesus’s teachings.
This story brings to mind the scripture in Joshua 24:15, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Agency is a divine gift that allows us to choose whom we will serve and how we will prioritize our lives.
In a world full of distractions, we, like Mary, have the agency to choose the ‘better part.’ We can decide to put spiritual matters first, recognizing that these will bring us lasting peace and eternal blessings. It serves as a reminder to focus on what’s essential and choose activities and attitudes that bring us closer to God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
#8: “Remembering the Source of Our Blessings: The Story of the Israelites and Manna”
The Old Testament contains a wealth of teachings about human nature and our relationship with God. The account of the Israelites in the wilderness provides a profound lesson on the importance of remembering our blessings and the Source from whom they come.
After being freed from bondage in Egypt, the Israelites found themselves wandering in the desert, uncertain and afraid. They quickly began to doubt and complain, forgetting the miracles God performed to liberate them. In response to their grumbling about the lack of food, God provided them with manna, a nutritious substance that appeared each morning like dew on the ground.
This manna from heaven was a daily reminder of God’s care and provision. Yet, the people were instructed to gather only what they needed for each day (except the day before the Sabbath, when they were to gather for two days). This was an exercise in trust and remembrance, acknowledging their dependence on God’s daily blessings.
Exodus 16:19-20 recounts: “And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.” Those who attempted to gather more than they needed found their surplus rotted, emphasizing the need to trust in God’s daily provision and remember His commandments.
Remembering God’s blessings and His commandments is crucial in our spiritual journey. In Deuteronomy 8:11-14, we read, “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God…lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God…”
The story of the Israelites and the manna reminds us to avoid spiritual amnesia. It urges us to remember daily our dependence on God, to honor His commandments, and to recognize Him as the Source of all our blessings. Remembering the Lord and His goodness will keep our hearts grateful, humble, and open to His guiding hand in our lives.
#9: “Withstanding Temptation: The Example of Joseph in Potipar’s House”
The Old Testament story of Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers, provides a powerful example of how to resist temptation. Despite numerous trials, Joseph remained faithful and honorable, particularly when confronted with a significant temptation in the house of Potipar.
After being sold into slavery, Joseph found himself serving Potipar, an officer of Pharaoh. Recognizing Joseph’s integrity and capabilities, Potipar entrusted him with considerable responsibility in his household. However, Potipar’s wife took notice of Joseph and tried to entice him to sin.
Despite her persistent advances, Joseph remained firm in his integrity. He refused her, saying as recorded in Genesis 39:9, “how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” When she tried to force him, Joseph literally fled from the situation, choosing to leave his garment behind rather than compromise his principles.
Joseph’s story reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s counsel in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Joseph’s decision to flee from Potipar’s wife showed his commitment to maintaining his righteousness, even if it meant losing his position or facing false accusations. He knew the importance of avoiding situations where he might be tempted to do wrong and had the courage to act decisively when such a situation arose.
We can take inspiration from Joseph’s example when faced with our own temptations. Like Joseph, we can make the conscious choice to distance ourselves from tempting situations and stand firm in our values. Remembering our commitment to God can help us resist temptation and stay true to our principles, even when it might be easier to give in.
#10 Unwavering Faith Amid Uncertainty: The Story of Elijah Abel”
Among the lesser-known figures in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elijah Abel stands as an inspiring example of faith, determination, and perseverance amid trials and uncertainty.
Elijah Abel was baptized into the Church in September 1832. What made this event unusual for the time was that Abel was Black, a race subjected to significant prejudice and discrimination in 19th century America. Despite the social climate, Abel’s faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ was unwavering.
Abel was not only a member of the Church, but he was also ordained to the priesthood and later called to serve three missions. This was a remarkable accomplishment, especially considering the challenges and potential hostility he would have faced as a Black missionary in the 1830s and 40s.
Despite the trials he faced, Abel’s dedication to the gospel never faltered. When the Saints were driven from Missouri, he relocated with them to Nauvoo, Illinois. And when the Saints were driven from Nauvoo, he migrated with them to Utah.
Elijah Abel’s story highlights the importance of steadfast faith in the face of adversity. It underscores the principle taught in 1 Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
Abel’s life serves as a powerful reminder that faith is not merely a belief but a commitment to live according to the teachings of Christ, even when faced with significant trials and uncertainties. His example encourages us to remain steadfast in our testimonies and commitments, irrespective of the challenges we face. Like Abel, we can press forward with unwavering faith, finding strength in the gospel of Jesus Christ.