Chapter 9 – Chastity
Chapter 10 – Obtaining Joy and Satisfaction
Chapter 11 – Fashion  and Modesty
Chapter 12 – Rebellion
Chapter 13 – Church Meetings
Chapter 14 – Hypocrisy (Sunday-only Mormons)
Chapter 15 – The Sabbath
Chapter 16 – PornographyChapter_9.htmlChapter_11.htmlChapter_12.htmlChapter_13.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_15.htmlChapter_16.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2shapeimage_2_link_3shapeimage_2_link_4shapeimage_2_link_5shapeimage_2_link_6shapeimage_2_link_7shapeimage_2_link_8shapeimage_2_link_9
Chapter 17 – The Media 
Chapter 18 – The Word of Wisdom 
Chapter 19 – Responsibility
Chapter 20 – School and Learning 
Chapter 21 – Friends and Peer Pressure
Chapter 22 – Stewardship
Chapter 23 – Idolatry
Chapter 24 – Consecration
PDF VersionChapter_17.htmlChapter_18.htmlChapter_19.htmlChapter_20.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_22.htmlChapter_23.htmlChapter_24.html
Chapter 1 – Understanding Isaiah
Chapter 2 – Leaders and Role Models
Chapter 3 – Gangs
Chapter 4 – Fasting
Chapter 5 – Victims of bullying
Chapter 6 – Bullying
Chapter 7 – HomosexualitY
Chapter 8 – DatingPreface.htmlIntroduction.htmlChapter_1.htmlChapter_2.htmlChapter_3.htmlChapter_4.htmlChapter_5.htmlChapter_6.htmlChapter_7.htmlChapter_8.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2shapeimage_4_link_3shapeimage_4_link_4shapeimage_4_link_5shapeimage_4_link_6shapeimage_4_link_7shapeimage_4_link_8shapeimage_4_link_9

The Temptation to Look For Peace and Happiness Outside the Gospel

O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments!

     then had thy peace been as a river,

     and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:

(Isaiah 48:18)

     This verse is both easy and hard to understand.  It is easy to see that if we keep the Lord’s commandments, we’ll have peace and righteousness.  But it is hard to see why Isaiah compares the peace we will have to a river, and why he compares the righteousness we will have to waves of the sea.  Is he just doing it because it sounds pretty?  It is easy to think so.  I thought that was his intention, until recently, when I started to realize that Isaiah made these comparisons to teach gospel principles. 

     [T]hen had thy peace been as a river - I was always somewhat puzzled by this phrase, because I never thought of a river being very peaceful, since it is always moving.  But then I figured out something about keeping the commandments that made it clear.    Obeying one commandment brings one certain blessing.  We know that from Doctrine & Covenants 130:20-21.  But not only do we get a blessing, we also get a feeling of peace.  So what happens if you obey a bunch of commandments?  You get a bunch of blessings and feel a bunch of peace, right?  Of course right!  Then what happens if we are continually obedient to the commandments?  We’ll get a constant stream of blessings and feelings of peace from God, right?  That’s peace flowing to us like a river.  You’ve just learned from Isaiah that peace flows to us like a river when our obedience continually flows like a river.         

     [T]hy righteousness as the waves of the sea - What qualities of waves can be compared with righteousness? 

     They both wear down barriers over long periods of time.  The more you keep the commandments, the more of an example you are to the people around you, and the more people will become curious about the gospel because of how they have seen you act.  Their barriers to the gospel will be slowly broken down by your righteous influence.

     Also, just like one wave follows another onto a beach, one godly character trait after another will come to us when we continually keep the commandments.  That’s righteousness coming to us in waves.

     If we want peace and righteousness (both very much like happiness) we must keep the commandments.  I know this is true.  The more obedient to the commandments I’ve become, the happier I am. 

The Temptation to Overdo Temporal Things You Like

The Temptation to Under-do Things of the Spirit

2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?

and your labour for that which satisfieth not?

     hearken diligently unto me,

          and eat ye that which is good,

          and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

(Isaiah 55:2)

     Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? - When we spend money to buy something we need (like food or clothing) we feel satisfied.  However, it is easy to get confused about what exactly caused that feeling of satisfaction and think that it came from the act of purchasing, and not from purchasing what was needed.  If we keep buying what we don’t need, we will feel guilty.  Isaiah is asking why we spend our money on something we don’t need. 

     Here’s another example.  When we are hungry and we eat enough, we will feel satisfied.  But if we eat too much, then we feel stuffed and uncomfortable.  Eating more than we need is not satisfying. 

     [A]nd your labour for that which satisfieth not? – When work needs to be done, and we do it, we feel satisfied, but if we try to keep working when nothing needs to be done, we will feel annoyed and useless. 

     Here’s an example of this.  I love to organize.  Every once in a while I go through my stuff and sort out things that I don’t use anymore and things that I don’t foresee needing, and I give them away.  It is so enjoyable and satisfying that when I am done I wish I could do it some more, but I can’t, because there is nothing else to do.  Once I tried to keep organizing when nothing needed to be organized and I became miserable.  From that I learned this - when I am done I just have to cool my jets and be happy with what I did. 

     Do you see a pattern here?  Isaiah is pointing out that meeting our needs satisfies us, but trying to do more than what is necessary is harmful. 

     BUT!  He then makes one exception to this when he says “hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness”.  He’s talking about spiritual food here.  He’s saying it is not possible to stuff ourselves with too much doctrine; the more we learn, the more satisfied we will become.  Isaiah wants our spirits to become obese with goodness, righteousness, gospel knowledge, and testimony.  (Imagine a spiritual Weight Watchers group in which the goal is to become as spiritually FAT as possible!)

     When I was a squirt of a teenager, I was mature enough to understand that hearing the gospel satisfied me, but I could only take so much before I started to get tired of it.  The first time I really experienced feeling spiritually fat was at Especially For Youth (EFY), which is like a youth conference that lasts for five days.  I went to classes throughout the morning and afternoon and into the evening, learning about things of the spirit, learning about doctrine, learning how to keep my standards high.  I would get done with one class and think, “That was great!”.  Then I would go to the next class and learn more and when it was over I would think, “I thought I was satisfied before, but I am really satisfied now!”  Then I would go to the next class, and when it was over I would just be brimming with happiness, thinking, “I thought I was satisfied before, but I feel even more satisfied now!”  This kept happening over and over until I was so happy I felt like I was going to spontaneously combust any minute!  This was how I discovered that it was possible to keep “feasting on the word” even after I’d already been satisfied, and that instead of being tiring, it was exhilarating and joyous.  I had been delighting in spiritual fatness. 

The Temptation to Doubt That the Best Things In Life Are Free

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,

and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat;

yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

(Isaiah 55:1)

     [C]ome ye to the waters. . .buy wine and milk without money and without price – Here’s some more food symbolism.  We know it has got to be symbolism, because elsewhere Isaiah spends a lot of time blasting the drunkards and their wine (see Word of Wisdom chapter), and we doubt Isaiah would be inconsistent.  But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here, let’s start at the beginning of the verse and analyze “water”. 

     What characteristic of water could Isaiah be trying to highlight to teach us a gospel lesson?  Water is clear.  The gospel is clear, and easy to understand.  Water is also refreshing, especially on a hot day.  The gospel is spiritually refreshing too, especially when you’re in the heat of temptation.

     What characteristic of milk could Isaiah be trying to highlight?  Milk does a body good, right?  It’s nourishing; it builds strong bones and teeth.  In the same way, the gospel is spiritually nourishing and builds our spiritual foundations.

     What characteristic of wine could Isaiah be trying to highlight?  Wine is... intoxicating, right?  So... maybe Isaiah used the idea of wine to symbolize how there are also doctrines that will fill you with such intoxicating joy that you will start to do things that the natural man thinks are really foolish, such as.. turning the other cheek.  Or consecrating.  Or sacrificing.  One of the most extreme cases of being drunk on doctrine and the Spirit of the Lord of which I’ve heard is the Lamanites burying their weapons of war, and then allowing themselves to be killed by their enemies.  What doctrine(s) do you suppose they were intoxicated with? 

     [B]uy. . .without money and without price - The good news is the gospel can be obtained “without money”, meaning it is free, and “without price”, meaning it is priceless.  It’s still as true as it ever was that the best things in life are free.

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness,

and hidden riches of secret places,

     that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name,

     am the God of Israel.

(Isaiah 45:3)

     Did you notice it said “I will give thee treasures” (emphasis added) and not “I will make thee pay through thy nose for treasures”? 

     The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is one fulfillment of this scripture.  It was a book of gold plates, hidden in a secret place. The angel Moroni gave it to Joseph Smith.  And the real, hidden riches were what were written on them.  The meaning would have been completely hidden without the help of the Urim and Thummim. Its whole purpose was to be another testimony of Jesus Christ, “that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.”  

     The thing that makes the Book of Mormon such a treasure is that it makes known to us in purity what we must do to obtain eternal life.  Why is this so great?  Eternal life is a fullness of joy and it is also considered “true riches”.  All the happiness we can feel here is only a teaser for what’s to come if we stay faithful.

     You may feel disappointed that I don’t say that the scripture above means Heavenly Father will give us lots of hidden money.  I am obligated to tell you that the Lord’s idea of riches and the world’s idea of riches are not the same.  “Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich” (D&C 11:7).  Isaiah uses the words “treasures” and “riches” to reflect this definition that the wisdom of God that will bring us eternal life is what makes us rich. 

     I also want to tell you that Isaiah doesn’t just mean the things that are found in the scriptures, but also mysteries of godliness, things that are so amazing that they are only reserved for those who have reached a certain level of purity and are seeking for more.  “For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.  Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.  And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.  Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.  And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.  For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man” (D&C 76:5-10).  All these things will bring great happiness, causing us to delight in spiritual fatness.

     I know that these things are true, because I have begun to experience them. The few things I have learned from Isaiah have made me so happy, and I know that there is more to learn and will make us happier than we can ever imagine.  I so want you to be able to experience it too!

The Temptation to Think That Missionary Work Will Not Bring Happiness

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me;

because the LORD hath anointed me

     to preach good tidings unto the meek;

     he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

          to proclaim liberty to the captives,

          and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

(Isaiah 61:1)

     [T]he LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings - It is impossible to tell people good, happy news without becoming happy too.  Because every member is a missionary, every one of us is allowed to teach the good news of the gospel, the Plan of Happiness.  This is such good news that Isaiah says that it binds up the brokenhearted, and sets free the captive.  This shows that it is the best news ever, and as such it also has the power to give the person who tells it the most happiness ever!Recently my husband and I got to go with the missionaries to teach one of the discussions to a woman and her family.  The missionaries taught, and I got so excited that I couldn’t help but add my own testimony of what they were teaching.  It was such an exhilarating, exciting, inspiring experience!  And she got baptized! 

     Most of us have no idea how happy missionary work will make us.  Even Ammon in the Book of Mormon had no idea.  He said in Alma 26: 1, “…could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?”  In Alma 26: 27, Ammon even told how at the beginning they were depressed and they were about to give up and go back home, but the Lord told them to be patient and go ahead.  In Alma 26:30 Ammon says, “we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.”  They didn’t know for sure, but they suspected they would be happy if they could just save some people.  And the fabulous result of the mission?  In Alma 26:35, Ammon exults, “Now have we not reason to rejoice?  Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God…”  He was so happy, he didn’t think it was possible that anyone in the world from the beginning up to that point had ever felt as happy as he did!  That’s how happy missionary work makes us!  I know this is true, because I’ve experienced it.

The Temptation to Think That the Lord Has Forgotten You and Doesn’t Care

. . .for the LORD hath comforted his people,

and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

14       But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me,

     and my Lord hath forgotten me.

15                  Can a woman forget her sucking child,

          that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?

          yea, they may forget,

               yet will I not forget thee.

16                              Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;

               thy walls are continually before me.

(Isaiah 49:13-16)

     [F]or the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted - Notice the tense of the verbs, “hath comforted” and “will have mercy”.  It’s the past tense and the future tense, right?  Isaiah reminds us that the Lord has comforted us in the past, and based upon that he assures us that He will continue to be merciful to us in the future.  How does he know?  From reading scripture stories about the miracles the Lord did for his people.  The Lord gave us those records so that we can remember everything He’s done for us, so that we’ll be inspired with the faith that He will continue to be just as nice to us today.

     Not only that, but our journals should be full of stories of what the Lord has done for us personally when times have been tough.  I have written this kind of stuff in my journal often enough that I sometimes go back to reread my old journals to remind myself.  As I read, a feeling of gratitude (which seems pretty dang close to happiness) falls on me like a spiritual anvil dropped from on high, and the conviction comes to me that if the Lord helped me through my troubles then, by golly He’ll help me now, and if I got through it then, by the grace of God I’ll get through it now.

     If we neglect to read our scriptures and write in our journals about what the Lord does for us, we tend to do something very bizarre - we tend to accuse the Lord of forgetting us, when it is really us that have forgotten Him!  (“But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me”)  Even Zion, the people who are the most blessed, tend to forget!  The only cure for forgetting is to give ourselves daily reminders by reading the scriptures and then to record in our journals frequently what the Lord has done for us so that we can reread and remember.  We also take the sacrament to remember the Atonement.

     Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee - My mom has forgotten one or another of us kids from time to time and left us behind accidentally.  Once, while on vacation, one of my brothers was left behind at a campsite in Idaho.  Fortunately, we remembered him just as we were about to drive away from the campground for good.  It is nice to know that even if our earthly parents might forget us occasionally, our Heavenly Parents NEVER do, and NEVER will.

     Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands - Sometimes people write on their hands if there’s something they need to remember and they don’t have any paper “handy” (pardon the horrible pun).  Christ did more than that; look at it from the perspective of Christ’s crucifixion.  He has the scars to prove that He has always been thinking of us, and they’re not only on His hands, but also on His feet, and in His side.

The Temptation to Think That Encouraging Others, Setting a Good Example, and Being Optimistic Won’t Make You Happy

3 Strengthen ye the weak hands,

and confirm the feeble knees.

4 Say unto them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not:

(Isaiah 35:3-4)

     Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees - There are two ways of looking at this line.  1) You can physically strengthen someone by relieving them of the burdens they carry so that they can rest.  2) You can spiritually brace someone up by being a good example and encouraging him or her to do the right thing.

     I learned my lesson about this in the following way.  My family and I visited my cousins in California during Christmas vacation one year, after having not seen them for an interval of four years.  I was shocked and somewhat dismayed to find the cousin my age, Mitch, had pierced his lip and was dressing in grungy clothes.  Fortunately, I knew what he was like on the inside.  I figured he had done it to get attention, so I asked him about it and asked him how it felt like to get it and asked him whether he ever had problems with it, all with affectionate curiosity.  I even joked with him about it, and proceeded to forget about it.

     It wasn’t until a year later that I learned from a Christmas letter my uncle sent us what effect my brother and I had had upon our cousin.  We knew that soon after our family’s visit Mitch had decided to serve a mission, but we didn’t know what had brought him to this decision.  The letter said that my brother and I had been a Christ-like example to him.  It also mentioned that Mitch had been impressed when he had seen my brother and I each say little silent blessings on our food when our families ate together at a restaurant.   

     When I met my cousin, I never thought, “I’m going to be a good example to my cousin and fix him”; I was just doing what I usually did.  It filled me with such joy to find out that my and my brother’s example had strengthened our cousin in the gospel to the extent that he wanted to go on a mission.  I felt like a hero, like I’d been able to help save a person’s life!  It was an incredibly satisfying feeling.   Say unto them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not – The opposite of fear is faith.  When we can build someone up with faith to the point that they don’t fear anymore, we have made it possible for them to be happy, and that is a reason for us to be happy. 

     Another way you can spiritually strengthen people is by being optimistic in the face of difficulty when the yogurt has really hit the fan.  If you can say, “Don’t worry”, and look on the bright side and help people count their blessings, you make their troubles look less vexing and make life seem not so tough.

     Example: One day I talked to my little sister on the phone and she was distraught over having lost a check for $200.  I did my best to be encouraging.  I asked her if she had prayed about it (a traditional first question in our family when anything important gets lost).  She was ahead of me; she had already prayed.  (Excellent girl!)  I then worked on cheering her up as best I could with optimistic statements such as “at least it wasn’t stolen, so there’s a chance you can find it” and “at least it wasn’t a $1000 check that got lost”.  If I had been there with her I would have helped her look for it.  By the time I finished talking with her she was cheery again, which made me happy.  (I was also glad that I hadn’t lost a $200 check.  My own troubles seemed more bearable in comparison.)

     Here’s another example.  One day my husband Devon and I went on a little road trip to try and find some ancient drawings on rock said to have been done by Native Americans of Yore.  The road was very rocky, and somehow my husband’s tire was punctured and went flat.  As we got out to look at it, I suggested that we say a prayer for help, which we did.  Then we went to the trunk to get out the jack and the spare tire.  Imagine our consternation when we saw a thumbtack imbedded in the spare tire, which was flat.  And it was starting to rain.  How did I react?  Well, I could have had a tantrum.  I could have pouted.  I could have made all sorts of snippy comments that would have made it a miserable experience.  Instead, I laughed.  Hard.  For five minutes straight.  I thought it was so funny that after praying, the situation had been shown to be worse rather than better.  The blessing from the prayer was that while the situation seemed to go from bad to worse, my attitude went from okay to better.  And all through the struggle over half a day to find someone who would help us, having a positive attitude buoyed not only me up, but also my husband, and everyone else to whom we appealed for help.  It made a disaster into a fascinating adventure!  

The Temptation to Think That Service to Others Won’t Make You Happy

17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace;

and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

18 And my people shall dwell

     in a peaceable habitation,

     and in sure dwellings,

     and in quiet resting places;

(Isaiah 32:17-18)

     And the work of righteousness shall be peace - This line implies several things, but the main and most important thing is that serving others (doing “the work of righteousness”) brings peace to others and yourself.

     [A]nd the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever - This line adds an extra promise that the quietness and assurance we feel from doing service will last forever.  How does it last forever?  It will last in mortality as long as we remember the good things we have done.  (This is why we should write them down in our journal, so that our mortal brains can remember.)  I promise you that you will treasure the memories of service you’ve given more than jewels.  I know I do.

     The quietness and assurance will last in eternity, because after we die we will have a perfect remembrance forever of all the good we have done, and it will stick with us when we receive our bodies again in the resurrection.  The resurrection is when we will receive a fullness of joy.  Jacob expresses this idea fabulously when he says: “...and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness” (2 Nephi 9:14).   And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places - This describes the effect on a family when every member of it works on strengthening the others with service and encouragement.

     When I was a teenager I noticed my home seemed a lot more restful and peaceful and happy when my siblings and I did our best to help Mom and Dad the first time they asked us to do something.  Our house was a “sure dwelling”, because we said “sure” when we were asked to help.  Our house was a peaceable habitation when we didn’t try to argue our way out of having to do something.  Our house was a quiet resting place when everyone’s helping made things get done faster and there was more time for fun and rest afterward. 

     I challenge you to make your house a peaceable habitation and a sure dwelling with willing service.

     Thanks to Isaiah, we’ve learned that the following things bring true happiness and joy and satisfaction in our lives:

1) Continuous obedience to the commandments (Peace will flow to us continuously like a river when our obedience to the commandments flows continuously like a river.  And we will gain one godly character trait after another. )

  1. 2)Having our needs satisfied

  2. 2)Feasting upon the word of God as much as you can until you become spiritually fat

  3. 3)Sharing The Plan of Happiness with others (missionary work)

  4. 4)Remembering all the things the Lord has done for us (as recorded in the scriptures and in our journals)

  5. 5)Strengthening others by bearing their burdens, encouraging them to choose the right, and cheering people up

  6. 6)Giving service

Chapter 1 – Understanding Isaiah
 Chapter 2 – Leaders and Role Models 
 Chapter 3 – Gangs
Chapter 4 – Fasting 
Chapter 5 – Victims of bullying
 Chapter 6 – Bullying 
Chapter 7 – HomosexualitY
Chapter 8 – DatingPreface.htmlIntroduction.htmlChapter_1.htmlChapter_2.htmlChapter_3.htmlChapter_4.htmlChapter_5.htmlChapter_6.htmlChapter_7.htmlChapter_8.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1shapeimage_6_link_2shapeimage_6_link_3shapeimage_6_link_4shapeimage_6_link_5shapeimage_6_link_6shapeimage_6_link_7shapeimage_6_link_8shapeimage_6_link_9
 Chapter 9 – Chastity
 Chapter 10 – Obtaining Joy and Satisfaction
 Chapter 11 – Fashion  and Modesty
  Chapter 12 – Rebellion 
Chapter 13 – Church Meetings
Chapter 14 – Hypocrisy (Sunday-only Mormons)
 Chapter 15 – The SabbathChapter_9.htmlChapter_11.htmlChapter_12.htmlChapter_13.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_15.htmlshapeimage_7_link_0shapeimage_7_link_1shapeimage_7_link_2shapeimage_7_link_3shapeimage_7_link_4shapeimage_7_link_5shapeimage_7_link_6shapeimage_7_link_7shapeimage_7_link_8
 Chapter 16 – Pornography 
 Chapter 17 – The Media
 Chapter 18 – The Word of Wisdom 
 Chapter 19 – Responsibility
 Chapter 20 – School and Learning 
 Chapter 21 – Friends and Peer Pressure
Chapter 22 – Stewardship
Chapter 23 – Idolatry
Chapter 24 – ConsecrationChapter_16.htmlChapter_17.htmlChapter_18.htmlChapter_19.htmlChapter_20.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_22.htmlChapter_23.htmlChapter_24.htmlshapeimage_8_link_0shapeimage_8_link_1shapeimage_8_link_2shapeimage_8_link_3shapeimage_8_link_4shapeimage_8_link_5shapeimage_8_link_6shapeimage_8_link_7shapeimage_8_link_8