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Devotionals

Elder Shirley D. Christensen

That [Thy] Name May Be Had in Honorable Remembrance…” - D&C 124:96

President Woodhouse, faculty and students of LDS Business College . I am honored to have this opportunity to speak to you today. I have anticipated this opportunity for several weeks and I am humbled to be in your presence. You are in a formative period of your lives. I commend you for your continuing efforts to strengthen your personal skills through education. I understand full well that perhaps there are other tasks that you could be performing during this hour. Hopefully you have come recognizing that your spiritual and emotional being needs reinforcement in addition to your academic endeavors. You may be assured that your Father in Heaven is pleased that you have chosen to be in this setting this morning. I also am aware of the responsibility that falls upon me in occupying this position today. I appreciate that lovely prayer and the lovely music, which has prepared us for this moment.

I recognize that some of you come from distant lands and speak other languages. Others have served as missionaries in foreign lands or in other ways are familiar with other peoples and cultures. Each of you has made an important educational decision in your lives in order that you might be empowered to eventually accomplish your most cherished dreams. We respect the sacrifice and the efforts of those who have and are supporting and encouraging you. You are an extension of your families and you are fulfilling their dreams as well. They are proud of your accomplishments. They and we honor you.
 
You know full well that you live in a competitive world and that your educational accomplishments will provide you and your posterity a solid foundation on which to build your lives. It will enable you to achieve to the fullest that for which the God of Heaven is preparing you. Your efforts today will bless many lives, yours and others who will in the future come within your circle of influence.

As a young married student I remember the challenge of going to college. The hours for work and study were insufficient and the finances were meager. We were expecting our first child and did not know how we were going to live, pay for school or the costs of that impending birth. We wondered if there would ever be an end or any hope in sight. You may at times have such thoughts.

At such moments you would do well to remember that the Lord has counseled you to, “be not weary in well-doing.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 64: 33) Or, as the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph in his hour of greatest need, “…Peace be to thy soul: thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment,” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7) “…know thou my son, that these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 122: 7) You may still be somewhat doubtful even when the Lord gently reminds you that you “…are laying the foundation of a great work,” and that out of your small efforts today will proceed, “that which is great.” Remember, the Lord has promised each of us that through our willingness and diligence, we “shall eat the good of the land…in these last days.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 64: 34).

That is especially true for individuals like you who are seeking to better themselves through learning and thus acquire an ability to confront the matters of life whenever and in whatever form they may present themselves.

To the administration, faculty, employees and volunteers, I express heartfelt gratitude for your dedication to the grand work of this institution. You perpetuate a tradition that has been established over many, many years by your predecessors and through you will extend well into the future through your positive influence on these and future students.

Today I would like to discuss with you what I shall call “patterns” or “types” that occur throughout the scriptures. You will find them in every book of sacred writ. They are not new. You have no doubt studied them many times in the past and they will continue to be the focus of your study throughout your lives. They will be a part of your daily living and hopefully you will adopt them into your personal lives. You will teach the same principles found in these patterns to your children and to others who will, by observation or through the spoken word, look to you for guidance.

Today we will study together only one example of many such patterns. I hope it will give you new insight as to who you are and some understanding of the manner in which you will be able to bless others in ways that you may not have previously considered.

The 124th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants contains many important instructions and doctrines that the Lord in 1841 wished to convey to the leaders of the church and especially to impress upon the mind of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord commanded Joseph to immediately prepare a solemn proclamation of the Restored Gospel to be sent to kings, presidents, and governors informing them about Nauvoo and inviting them to come to the city. The newly established city in 1841 was comparatively tranquil and the Lord and the Saints were anticipating an influx of people from near and far to enjoy the beauty of Nauvoo.

The Lord gave instructions regarding the building of two houses. One would be the Nauvoo House, an inn for the weary travelers who would in the future visit Nauvoo. If you’ve been to Nauvoo, you’ve see this house near the landing where the boats would come in. The other was to be the Nauvoo Temple , the House of the Lord. The Lord understood the urgency of having the Nauvoo Temple completed inasmuch as the holy ordinances, not yet revealed to the earth, would provide the strength of devotion that would be required of the Saints while they remained in Nauvoo and later on their difficult trek to the West. I find it remarkable how the Lord expressed His concern in this revelation for the comfort and well being of persons both in and outside of the church. This section is also one of the more poignant modern revelations that describe the Lord’s concern for both the temporal and the spiritual welfare of the members of the church then and now.

The above expectations of the Lord could only be accomplished with the collaboration of supportive and diligent leaders. Although at a later time some of the men mentioned in that section would turn against the Prophet Joseph, it is enlightening to read what the Lord said about the leaders He named who would assist Joseph. Contemplate how you might feel if you heard the Lord express similar feelings about you.

Robert B. Thompson , (he who was called by the Lord to assist the Prophet in writing the proclamation mentioned previously)- “I am well pleased with him…. I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings…he shall be great in mine eyes.”

Lyman Wight , (who would be in charge of raising funds and construction of the Nauvoo House)- “I will bear him up as on eagles wings…he shall beget glory and honor to himself and unto my name that when he shall finish his work I may receive him unto myself...”

George Miller , (who would assist Lyman Wight)- “…is without guile; he may be trusted because of the integrity of his heart…I, the Lord love him.”
Isaac Galland - “…I, the Lord, love him for the work he has done, and will forgive all his sins.”

Can you imagine the feelings you would have if you heard the Lord speak such words about you? My sense is that we would be thrilled beyond expression.
Could the Lord say of us that He loves us because of the integrity of our hearts and because we love to do always those things that are right before Him? Is there a need to alter our lives in order that the God could speak of us in such remarkable way?

As will always be found in the Holy Scriptures, or in the counsel of modern day prophets, there are promises made by the Lord to His children when commandments are given, understood, and then obeyed. That too is a pattern we would do well to appreciate as we study the scriptures or listen to our modern prophets. It should also be obvious to us as we seek answers from the Lord to our personal prayers.

This revelation also reveals the profound love the Lord had for Hyrum Smith. Of Hyrum the Lord said, “I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me.”

Hyrum and Joseph Smith were not only brothers but also very close friends and associates throughout many events of their lives and, as we know, they were not separated in death. Just 3 ½ years before their martyrdom, the Lord in this revelation released Hyrum who had previously been serving as a counselor to his younger brother, Joseph, in the First Presidency of the church.

Near the end of the section, we find a specific counsel mentioned by the Lord that when seriously pondered should help each of us appreciate who we are and give us a glimpse of our divine potential. Although it is a reference to Hyrum Smith in his role as the Patriarch to the Church and in a special calling as the Assistant President of the church, it also describes traits that we would do well to emulate in our lives. Ponder what the Lord expected of Hyrum and see if it could, in principle, have application to you as well.

As the patriarch, he was to, first, “hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people.” Secondly, Hyrum through his priesthood and calling was to bless and bind on earth with the promise that it would likewise be bound in heaven. Next, he was to be together with Joseph “… a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church.” Continuing, the Lord said that he was to “act in concert” with and to “receive counsel” from Joseph who would school him in his new duties as the Assistant President of the Church.

Then in verse 96 the Lord expressed the desire that Hyrum would “bear record of the things that I shall show unto him, that his name may be had in ‘honorable remembrance’ from generation to generation, forever and ever” (D&C 124:96).

I hope that in these verses you have caught the significance of what the Lord said to Hyrum. Even more importantly, do you have a greater understanding of what the Lord expects of each of us in our future roles? He, of course, has spoken to you individually through the blessing given to you when the patriarch laid hands upon your head. If you have not recently reviewed and pondered your patriarchal blessing, I would invite you to do so soon. If you have not yet received your patriarchal blessing, it would be well make an appointment with your bishop and begin the process that will enable you to receive that blessing.
 
If we are listening, the Lord also speaks to us daily as He answers our prayers. In principle, our understanding of who we are and the role our Heavenly Father would have us play in His divine plan is no different than that which the Lord outlined to Hyrum on that occasion.

You are in one of the most important decision making periods of your lives. Regardless of where you were born or your present status in life, I submit that there is no more important time in your lives to consider the personal application of the pattern revealed to Hyrum through his brother, Joseph. It is imperative that each of us today do all of which we are capable to assure that we will abide by the principles taught in these and other scriptures. As we do so, our names too will be “had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever.”

I think it is significant that this revelation was given to Hyrum as he was embarking on a new assignment in his life. I understand from President Woodhouse that many of you are away from your homes and families for the first time. On a new assignment if you will.

Hyrum certainly had observed his father, Joseph Smith Sr. as he acted in his role as the Patriarch to the Church. As such, Hyrum had a basic understanding of what the Lord expected of him in his ecclesiastical role. However, I believe that the Lord had more in mind than just familiarizing Hyrum with his calling and the events immediately before him. The Lord wanted him to have a much broader view of the way in which he would not only pronounce Patriarchal Blessings upon the heads of the Saints in his day but also the manner in which his service and his example would be a blessing to himself and to his posterity.

Now let us consider once again the Lord’s pattern given to Hyrum. However, we will do so now in light of how that pattern might apply in our individual lives today and in the future.

The keys to the blessings that would be pronounced upon the heads of the Lord ’s people.

First, Hyrum held the keys to the blessings that would be pronounced upon the heads of the Lord ’s people. Young men, you who hold the Priesthood of God; many of you have already observed that power and authority active in your lives. Not in a patriarchal blessing sense as was Hyrum’s call but as an honorable son of God acting in the office and calling that has come to you through your priesthood ordination. If you are married, you may already have begun to catch a glimpse of the privilege that is and will be yours in your sacred role as husband and father. If the blessing of marriage is still in your future, let me say that there awaits you one of the most wonderful and enduring partnerships that you can imagine and that the Lord has given to mankind.

Young women, through your righteousness and your pleading prayers you will bring about miracles in the lives of those who surround you, now and in the future. When you properly understand who you are and the power of your personal righteousness you will come to more fully understand your divine potential and the magnitude of the influence you will have on those who will follow you. Your diligence and example will determine not only what you will achieve but will in large measure also determine the height to which others around you will rise.

Bishop Richard C. Edgley and I share a common link in our family history. He describes Della Whitehead Crockett as the only grandmother he ever knew. His grandfather married Della after Bishop Edgley’s grandmother passed away while Bishop Edgley was a very young child.

I knew Della Crockett as my mother’s “Aunt Della.” Aunt Della never had any children of her own. However, there are hundreds of people in our family and I am certain in many other families as well who knew and loved her because of the kind and caring influence she had on their lives. She was one of the most Christ-like people I have known. I still have the letter she wrote to me when my grandmother, her sister, died unexpectedly in an automobile accident while I was serving as a missionary in South America . I shall never forget the words of comfort they were to me in that difficult moment in my life.

So it was with Aunt Della and thus it will be with you wonderful women if you will recognize today the manner in which you too can bless others through your righteous living.

Bless or Curse; Bind or Loosen

Now, just like Hyrum, your decision-making today may well determine whether your example will bless your posterity or curse them. Whether they will be “bound” to righteousness and loving service through your example that will lift and exalt them or whether they will lose their way and wander off into darkened paths that could ultimately destroy. Consider what we already know about Hyrum’ s posterity. His wife, Mary Fielding Smith, is a legend in the church because of her devotion to the principles of the Restored Gospel following her husband’s martyrdom. She simply would not be deterred in righteous living. Her faith, her personal testimony of the Living God and her personal righteousness carried both Mary Fielding Smith and her posterity to spiritual heights that would have been unattainable had it not been for the teachings and example of she and her martyred husband, Hyrum. 

Consider their son, Joseph F. Smith and grandson, Joseph Fielding Smith. Is it not obvious that the faithfulness of their father and grandfather resulted in a spiritual strength that not only blessed them personally but that continues to bless their posterity and the entire church even today? There may well be some of you here today who are a part of that righteous and blessed heritage.

Just as it was important for Hyrum, and Mary Fielding, and Joseph F, and Joseph Fielding Smith and their descendants to be able to say “I am clean”; so it will be for each of us to so declare to the Lord when we stand before Him to give our report. What will be our report when we stand before Deity to respond?

Prophets and Seers

Just as Joseph and Oliver were to be Prophets and Seers to the church, each of you is positioned to become among the most revered and beloved in your family line. You are determining today to what extent those who will come after you will hold your name in high regard and reverence. Just as prophets are called to give direction to the Church and to society today, you are called with that same responsibility in your family, now or in the future.

Every family has stories of faithfulness and devotion that blesses each succeeding generation. One such story in our family is of my great-grandfather, Lars Christian Christensen. Because of the intense persecution in their homeland, he emigrated with his family from Denmark in the 1870’s and settled in the Hyde Park area of Northern Utah . His devotion to gospel principles is legendary in our family. He was particularly devoted to Sabbath Day observance. He knew that Sunday was special in the sight of the Lord and because he loved the Lord, he too showed an intense respect for the Lord’s day.

Great-grandfather was a farmer as were most of those early immigrants. One particular year he had signed a green pea contract with a vegetable company. The contract required him to harvest his peas and deliver them to the local de-viner or processing point when the peas were mature and ready for harvest as determined by the company representative who closely monitored the maturity of the crop.

The day before the peas were ready for harvest, the company representative informed great-grandfather that he was to begin his harvest the next day. Grandfather reminded the man that the next day was Sunday and informed him that he, grandfather, did not work on the Sabbath. He probably indicated he would instead be ready to begin the harvest early the day following, Monday. The company representative reminded my grandfather that if he did not harvest the next day, Sunday, his contract would be voided and he would not receive payment for the crop he had so meticulously cultivated the entire year.

Certainly grandfather was depending on the income from the harvest of those peas; however, to him there was a more important principle to which he vigorously adhered. His daughter reported in her history of her father, that he informed the company representative that rather than cut the peas on the Sabbath, he would cut them and feed them to his cattle. I have heard others recount that while the company representative stood by, grandfather walked over and opened the gate into the pea field from the pasture where his cattle were grazing and herded his cows into the pea field. The peas were used that year for pasture rather than to harvest. His commitment to the Lord and to the Sabbath Day was more important to him than the year’s income from his crop.

You will have similar opportunities to teach by your example how much you love the Lord and respect His commandments. I promise you those opportunities to teach by your example will come in the future if you have not experienced them already.

Acting in Concert with Joseph

Next, Hyrum was also counseled to act in concert with his brother, Joseph... The Lord referred to Joseph as, “his servant” and instructed that Hyrum should “receive counsel” from Joseph and that Joseph would show unto him whereby he [might] ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing and glory, and honor, and priesthood that had been held previously by Oliver Cowdery in that same calling.

I doubt there has ever been a time in the history of the earth that there has been a more urgent need for mankind to “act in concert with” and to “receive counsel” from the prophet of the Lord. The Family, A Proclamation to the World and the The Living Christ, the Testimony of the Apostles are but two examples of such counsel. Consider the blessing that those two documents have been in each our lives and the blessing they would be to the entire world if people would only accept and live the principles taught therein.

Two years ago I overheard a conversation in a doctor’s office between two office employees. One apparently was a member of the church and the other identified herself in the conversation as a member of another faith. It was the day after General Conference and the lady, not a member of the LDS Church , asked her friend what President Hinckley had said in his conference address the previous day. What caught my attention more than anything else was the response of the second lady who after hearing her LDS friend’s reply about President Hinckley’s counsel said, “I love President Hinckley (She called him President Hinckley). I could listen to him for hours. He thrills me every time I hear him speak.”

There is a great lesson there for Latter-day Saints and for the entire world. Many are coming to recognize President Hinckley in his proper role as the Lord’s prophet to the world and they, too, are thrilled to hear him speak.

Bear Record of the Things the Lord has shown unto you.

How well do we bear record of the things the Lord has shown to us? What have you learned from your predecessors? What is the legacy you are leaving for your posterity? Are you expressing and recording your testimony for them? Does it have meaning to you and what will be the depth of that meaning to your descendants in the future?

Honorable Remembrance

Finally, the Lord promised Hyrum that as a result of bearing record of the things he heard from Joseph, his name would “be had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever.”

Each succeeding generation builds upon the foundation laid by the previous generation. Undoubtedly you are seeking to be more spiritual and righteous than the generations that preceded you. You may rightly expect that through your diligence and encouragement, your children and posterity will not deviate from the example you have provided. Just as Hyrum held the keys to success for his generation and his family, you too, are the light that your posterity will follow.

Do not feel that you cannot succeed. Do not be discouraged that there are competing or conflicting influences in your lives. What you may be experiencing today is not unlike what men or women have experienced in the past.

I honor you for who you are and what you represent both now and in the future. I believe that we can best understand who we are and achieve our divine potential when we view ourselves in the same context that the Lord sees us and when we truly understand what we may become.
 
President David O. McKay, using the example of a sculptor, reminded us, “… each of us is carving a soul this very minute—our own. Is it going to be a deformed one, or is it going to be something admirable and beautiful?
 
“Yours is the responsibility. Nobody else can carve it for you. Parents may guide, and teachers may help with suggestions, but each young man and young woman has the responsibility to carve his own character.”

(Teachings of the Presidents of the Church- David O. McKay, p. 215).

God our Eternal Father lives. He knows you and loves each of you. You are each His son or daughter. Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He lives and because He lived and died for all mankind; all mankind shall live again.

President Gordon B. Hinckley is the Lord’s prophet today. We see him as the prophet of the Lord. The world, too, is coming to respect him as their prophet. For which we may all be grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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