This year, the course of study for Sunday School is The New Testament, which my study of Jesus the Christ brought into focus. Relief Society emphasizes Teachings of the Prophet: Ezra Taft Benson, Daughters in My Kingdom, Ensign, and Conference Sermons. My personal goal is to re-read The Book of Mormon and The New Testament as well as memorize 12 hymns and The Living Christ (I've worked on TLC before but never completely accomplished it). There is plenty of material here to keep me going and growing. Today, along with my personal goals, I studied TEACHINGS OF PRESIDENTS OF THE CHURCH: EZRA TAFT BENSON CHAPTER 1: THE GREAT COMMANDMENT—LOVE THE LORD for this post. All quotes are from this lesson unless otherwise noted.
"The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it. The great commandment of life is to love the Lord...The fruit that Lehi partook of in his vision and that filled his soul with exceeding great joy and that was most desirable above all things was the love of God...To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—to a love of the Lord...Why did God put the first commandment first? Because He knew that if we truly loved Him we would want to keep all of His other commandments....When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities. We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives...Joseph [of Egypt] was put in prison because he put God first...One of the most difficult tests of all is when you have to choose between pleasing God or pleasing someone you love or respect—particularly a family member...
God loves us; the devil hates us. God wants us to have a fulness of joy as He has. The devil wants us to be miserable as he is. God gives us commandments to bless us. The devil would have us break these commandments to curse us...Daily, constantly, we choose by our desires, our thoughts, and our actions whether we want to be blessed or cursed, happy or miserable. One of the trials of life is that we do not usually receive immediately the full blessing for righteousness or the full cursing for wickedness. That it will come is certain, but ofttimes there is a waiting period that occurs, as was the case with Job and Joseph. In the meantime the wicked think they are getting away with something. The Book of Mormon teaches that the wicked 'have joy in their works for a season, [but] by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return,' (3 Nephi 27:11)."
"Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," Joshua 24:14-15.
With all my interests, I must remember who is my main priority. Serving God even unto sacrificing my comfort, is my greatest goal. In part, serving Him includes learning of Him and improving my personal relationship with Him. Temptations and worldly pursuits can easily cloud godly pursuits if I don't keep my attention focused and head clear.