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_20.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_22.htmlChapter_23.htmlChapter_24.html
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_10.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_11.htmlChapter_12.htmlChapter_13.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_15.htmlChapter_16.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2shapeimage_3_link_3shapeimage_3_link_4shapeimage_3_link_5shapeimage_3_link_6shapeimage_3_link_7shapeimage_3_link_8shapeimage_3_link_9
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

Life Missions and Responsibility

The Temptation to Think You Didn’t Volunteer In the Pre-Mortal Life to Do Anything Here On Earth

The Temptation to Think You Didn’t Ask to Be Born at This Time

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,

     Whom shall I send,

     and who will go for us?

          Then said I, Here am I;

          send me.  

(Isaiah 6:8)

     Isaiah got to see that he had volunteered for his calling as prophet.  We already know that Jesus volunteered for his role as Savior (see Abraham 3:27).  We know that our Heavenly Father doesn’t force anyone to accept a role they don’t want, so we can conclude that each of us volunteered.

     Not only that, if the Lord asked “Who will go for us?” it would have to be because there was some special work which had to be done at a certain age and in a certain place.  If we volunteered to do that special work, we were also agreeing to the time and place it should be done. 

     We get hints about our special mission in our patriarchal blessing.  However, it usually isn’t something like the TV show “Mission Impossible” where there is one specific goal that is named and after that it is over.  No, it is usually a series of things that the Lord wants us to do throughout our entire life to serve His children, like temple work or missionary work, or making peace, or healing or any number of things.  It may be a series of characteristics we are to demonstrate to others, like patience or cheerfulness or humility or generosity; the possibilities are endless.  Usually there is much more than one thing, and I can guarantee that the reality is so much more glorious than the mere words on the paper.   

     Part of our special missions are all the church callings we are given.  They may or may not be mentioned in a very general way in our patriarchal blessings.  In each calling there is not just one objective to accomplish, but a series of things, and the Spirit will help us with a feeling of what should be done. The Spirit will have us do great things, like brightening people’s day, setting a good example of sticking to our standards, searching for the less active, sharing our beliefs, calling to repentance.  These may not sound very great, but that’s because many of us have grown up knowing these things are expected of us.  Each individual act may not seem very great either, but when we are constantly doing these things, day after day, month after month, year after year, they add up to a great work.  If you were to cheer up just one person each day from the time you turned twelve to the time you turned 70, you would have brightened the days of approximately 21,170 people!  Even better, if you were to tell one person something about the gospel every day from age twelve to 70, you would have shared the gospel with as many as 21,170 people!   

     Many people often think, “If I can just make a difference in the life of one person who goes on to do great things, then I will have fulfilled my life’s mission.”  Actually, the scope is much bigger than that.  The Spirit wants us to be a good influence on everyone we know, so that they become good influences on everyone they know, and so on.  This waaaay more helpful to waaaay more people than a Mission Impossible thing.

  . . .The Lord hath called me from the womb;

from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. 

(Isaiah 49:1)

There’s a startling idea - the Lord called us by our names that we have now, even before our parents named us, and even before we were born.  We have examples of this in the scriptures; Joseph knew that the man who would lead Israel out of Egypt was named Moses.  Nephi knew that Jesus Christ was going to be born to a virgin named Mary six hundred years before it happened.

If our earthly names were foreordained, then surely we have life missions that we are responsible for accomplishing.

Another thing that the first line of the above scripture could be talking about is our life’s calling, and by that I don’t mean church calling, but an occupation by which we can earn a living.  It can show up very early in life.  Mozart started picking out chords on the harpsichord at age three.  Mother Teresa was fascinated at a very young age with stories of missionary work and service.  One of the foremost experts in reading Maya glyphs got his first start deciphering them at the age of eight.  If you notice what your niche is, do everything you can to follow it.

2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword;

     in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me,

and made me a polished shaft;

     in his quiver hath he hid me;

3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.  

(Isaiah 49:2-3)

     I love that scripture; I like to think of it as the Lord saying that we are his secret weapons.  (imagine a booming echoing voice saying, “RELEASSSSE THE SECRET WEAPONNNNNN!!!!” after which you are born into the world) You and I are among his best arrows that he’s saved in his quiver for the decisive end of the battle.  ZOT.  ZOT.

     And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword. . .and made me a polished shaft - There’s a characteristic that Isaiah seems to want to emphasize when he compares us to a sharp sword and a polished arrow shaft wielded by the Lord.  Both swords and arrows are sharp and pointy.  In fact, the sharper and pointier, the better.  How do we get that way?  Well, we have to be sharpened by experience.  This suggests that the Lord is responsible for the experiences that we had in the pre-mortal life and during this life which have sharpened our skills and polished our talents.  Then when rubber hits the road, we are ready to do the Lord’s work.  (Furthermore, each work we do prepares us for some work that comes afterward!) 

     The other thing in this particular line is that Isaiah says the Lord made his mouth like a sharp sword and a polished arrow.  This doesn’t mean that Isaiah had sharp pointy teeth, it means he spoke the word of God, which was sharp against sin.  “. . .give heed unto my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow. . .” (Doctrine & Covenants 6:2)  If we want the Lord to use us to preach the gospel to the world, we must sharpen our knowledge of the gospel.  It also wouldn’t hurt to sharpen our speaking skills in a speech class.

     [I]n the shadow of his hand hath he hid me. . .in his quiver hath he hid me - This is like saying the Lord doesn’t pull us out until He needs us. 

The Temptation to Hide Your Talents or Keep Quiet about Your Beliefs

Shake thyself from the dust. . .

loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. 

(Isaiah 52:2)   

     I assert that burying your talent (in the dust) keeps you in captivity.

     When we hide our talents and abilities, nobody knows that we have them.  If nobody knows that we possess a talent, they can’t ask for our help when they need it.  If no one asks for our help, we don’t have any opportunities to share our talents and increase our abilities.  Sometimes that also means we don’t get a chance to even practice them.  If we don’t have opportunities to use our talents for others, we can’t use them as freely as we could otherwise.  If we aren’t free to use our talents, we are in a sort of bondage and buried in obscurity.

     I know someone who is so good at playing the piano that she doesn’t like to play for people in church because she is afraid that the only callings she’ll be put in as a result will be callings as primary pianist or relief society pianist or choir pianist or ward organist.  She is afraid that she will become a slave to those callings, but in reality she is denying herself the opportunity to freely share her talent with people.

     Don’t let anything hold you back from sharing your talents.

     There’s something else we can get from this phrase “shake thyself from the dust”.  Imagine you’ve been lying on the bare ground for a while and you decide to get up.  What’s the first thing you’d do after standing up?  I think I would brush myself off to get rid of all the dust and dirt on me.  What does the dust and dirt symbolize here?  The dirt can symbolize the filthy sins of the world.  Isaiah could be trying to tell us that we need to shake the world from our souls and be separate, different, clean.  We do that by repenting.  That’s certainly necessary if we are to fulfill our responsibilities.  loose thyself from the bands of thy neck – Why does Isaiah use this peculiar expression “bands of thy neck”?  What is important about the neck ?  The neck holds up the head.  It also holds our vocal cords.  Hey!  Cords are like bands, aren’t they?  Isaiah must be saying that we must loose our vocal cords and not be afraid to tell people what we believe. 

     I know this can be very difficult.  There are many times when I want to share an insight with people and but I don’t feel comfortable bringing it up, and then I feel like I am strangled silent.  However, Isaiah teaches us here that the only thing keeping us captive is ourselves.  If there isn’t a gag in our mouth, we are free to talk all we want about religion with people.

The Temptation to Hide Your Light Under a Bushel

And he said,

It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob,

and to restore the preserved of Israel:

     I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles,

     that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.    

(Isaiah 49:6)

     Isaiah makes some crazy puns sometimes.  In this scripture it is all about light.  The gist of this verse is that the Lord says the responsibility of gathering Israel is such a light (easy) task that He is giving us another job just to keep us busy.  That job is being a light (good example) to the gentiles.

     Right now you may be wondering, “Why does the Lord say that gathering Israel is easy?  It doesn’t seem very easy to me.”  I wondered the very same thing as I was studying this scripture, and I had to think about it for a while before I figured it out.

     Gathering Israel is easy, because “Israel” is all the people who want to be gathered and who accept the gospel.  It’s easy to teach people who want to be taught.

     Being a light to the gentiles (who don’t intend to accept the gospel) is harder, because our example doesn’t seem to have much effect upon them.  They know we are good people, because of what they see us do, but they aren’t willing to do it themselves.  It is hard to reach people when they don’t want to be taught.  However, it’s not like we won’t have help.

6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness,

and will hold thine hand,

and will keep thee,

and give thee for a covenant of the people,

for a light of the Gentiles;

7 To open the blind eyes,

to bring out the prisoners from the prison,

and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

(Isaiah 42:6-7)  

     This scripture testifies of Christ, but it is also about us!

     I the LORD. . .give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles – This is as close as Isaiah gets to saying “We’re God’s gift to all mankind”.   And it’s true.  Our righteous words and deeds are meant to bless everyone.  Most importantly, our examples are supposed show everyone that keeping the commandments really does bring everything the Lord promises—happiness, eternal life, peace, holiness, safety, enlightenment, power, and so on.  Our lives are supposed to demonstrate that God doesn’t lie.

     I’ll put it another way.  You wouldn’t want to buy a car or computer until you had examined a working model to see that it does everything the maker promises, because it costs a lot of money.  In the same way, we’re supposed to be the Lord’s working models of a gospel life to show everyone that it does everything the Lord promises, because it takes a lot of effort and time (and even 10% of our money) , and it is essentially a complete overhaul of life!  There are so few good examples in the world today and so many bad examples that every one of us is desperately needed.

     But what if you live in a place where there are more LDS people around than you can shake a stick at?  In these situations the Lord needs us to be extra fabulous, enthusiastic examples to get them out of complacency, out of the spiritual rut, and get them to aspire higher.  Righteous people need examples too.

     To open the blind eyes - We are supposed to open the eyes of those who are spiritually blind by showing everybody what real righteousness is and what the blessings attached are.  We also do this by sharing the gospel light with them.  (I’m trying to do my own little part by helping you to understand Isaiah better.)  You will also use the priesthood to literally restore sight to the blind.

     [T]o bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house  - We can fulfill this in many different ways.  When we share the gospel with people, we open the prison of ignorance and darkness so that they can leave.  You may find yourselves teaching the gospel to prison convicts, as I have.  When we do temple work for the dead, we are releasing them from spirit prison.  After we die, we also preach the gospel to the spirits in spirit prison so that they will be willing to accept the ordinances done for them in the temple.  These are all ways that we can release people from darkness and captivity.

     Why does Isaiah really like these metaphors of bringing light and loosing from captivity?  He uses them all over the place.  There must be something about them that can teach us about the gospel.  Let’s see.  Without light, we can’t see where we are or where we are going.  If we’re captive, we can’t do what we could do if we were free, and we are kept from moving.  So Isaiah must be telling us that learning and knowing the gospel helps us see where we are and where we’re going, and also that it makes us free from sin and free to do things that we couldn’t do otherwise. 

The Temptation to Think that Nobody is Watching Your Example

2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,

and gross darkness the people:

     but the LORD shall arise upon thee,

     and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

3          And the Gentiles shall come to thy light,

           and kings to the brightness of thy rising. 

(Isaiah 60:2-3)

     This is saying that because the world will be so dark with wickedness, the light of righteousness that we radiate will be much, much more visible to everyone to the point that even kings are drawn to it.  That’s pretty cool.

     You can’t be a light to the world if you are just trying to fit in with whatever level of commitment to God (or lack thereof) happens to be the norm around you.  Again, the more different from the world we are, the more obvious our light will be.

     How can we draw people to our example?  Under what circumstances are they most attracted?  It doesn’t really happen every day that someone says to us, “Why are you so happy?  How do you do it?”  It usually happens at a time of crisis, when our actions depart so far from the norm in a positive way that it astonishes people and they have to ask why and how we can do it.  What are these crises?  They are the times when things look so dark and hopeless and no relief is in sight.  A tragic death in the family.  Painful health problems.  Crippling accidents.  Devastating setbacks.  These kinds of things will happen to us and if we can take the suffering with cheerfulness because of our faith in Christ, those who expected us to be cast down will want to know what the source of our strength is.  This is when we can share the gospel with them, and the crisis becomes a missionary tool.  It is especially effective when nonmembers are suffering with us and can see a difference between our positive attitude and their own poverty of faith and inability to cope.  This will also cause them to ask how and why we can still be so happy when X, Y, and Z happened to us.  This is the time to teach them the truths of the gospel that give us strength.  Ammon used the sheep-scattering crisis as a tool to win the hearts of the Lamanite servants (see Alma 17:29-31) and succeeded in impressing them so much that they and the king mistook him for the Great Spirit.

     I just told you in the paragraph above that it doesn’t often happen that under normal circumstances people ask us why we are so happy, but strangely enough it happened the day after I wrote that.  My boss asked us how we were and I replied “Happy!”, because I had just discovered what “loose thyself from the bands of thy neck” meant, and then she asked me why I was so happy!  I was not ready for that, and I only said in a vague way that I had figured something knew out, but afterward I thought to myself, “Oh!  That was what I wrote didn’t happen often, and I just messed up!”  I felt bad about that and I felt I needed to redeem the chance I lost, so I turned to my friend Jessica (a coworker), who was sitting nearby and I told her about that line of Isaiah that I had just figured out. 

     So now I know that it can happen more often than we expect, and that we always need to be ready to tell what we’re happy about and relate it to the gospel.  We can say something as simple as “I’m happy because the Lord is so good to me!” and then tell what the Lord has done.

And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles,

and their offspring among the people:

     all that see them shall acknowledge them,

     that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed. 

(Isaiah 61:9)

     Not only will everyone see your great examples, but also everyone who sees you will acknowledge that you are amazing and incredibly blessed by the Lord.

     One of my roommates at BYU grew up in California, and she told me that in her hometown everyone knew all the Mormon kids, because they were all so clean and such good examples.  (I love to hear stories like this!)  Those Mormon kids were part of the fulfillment of that prophecy.  Yet being known and acknowledged as “blessed” isn’t the last of it.  Even better is the following:

Behold, I and the children

     whom the LORD hath given me

          are for signs

          and for wonders in Israel

     from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.

(Isaiah 8:18)

     This suggests our lives will be chock full of miracles, large and small, that happen because of our faith in keeping the commandments.  Then we can testify to others as living witnesses that if we hadn’t kept the commandments, those miracles wouldn’t have happened.  In this way, we become a “sign” directing people to the gospel, just like a road sign gives directions to travelers.

     A small example.  My little sister went to EFY and at one point she was reading some of the prophecies of Isaiah that Nephi quotes and she was puzzling over it.  She happened to find another scripture in her study that explained to her in plain terms what it meant.  She was so excited about her discovery that she had to tell everybody in her group, and it just so happened that one of the other girls in her group had been wondering about the very same scripture, and when my sister explained the scripture to her group, it answered that girl’s question.  Do you think that girl took that as a sign that the Lord wanted her to understand Isaiah?  Do you think my sister took that as a sign that the Lord wanted her to share her scriptural insights with people?  Not only that, but I took it as a sign that my efforts to transmit my interest in Isaiah to my sister were succeeding and yielding good fruit.  That’s three different signs the Lord showed to three different people, all with one little miracle!

     Here’s a bigger example.  As you’ve read through this book, you can see that it is chock full of stories from my life of times when the Lord has blessed me for keeping the commandments.  My life is a sign and wonder, a living witness to all of you that keeping the commandments brings happiness.  I know that as you keep the commandments, you will similarly become a sign and wonder to those around you.

The Temptation to Think that Your Example Won’t Make Any Difference

26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth:

and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all nations.

27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed,

     and who shall disannul it?

and his hand is stretched out,

     and who shall turn it back? 

(Isaiah 14:26-27)

     This scripture is talking about the Lord’s purposes and work, of which we are a part.

     This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all nations –When you go on a mission, you will be part of the Lord’s work, which can’t be annulled or turned back.  Furthermore, anytime you do any part of the Lord’s work, whether a calling or setting a good example or doing service, your influence will have the Lord’ power behind it.  The effect may not be what you imagine it should be, but it will be good.

The Temptation to Avoid Leadership Positions

6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, and shall say:

Thou hast clothing,

be thou our ruler,

and let not this ruin be under thy hand:

7 In that day shall he swear, saying:

I will not be an healer;

for in my house there is neither bread nor clothing:

make me not a ruler of the people.  

(2 Nephi 13:6-8, compare to Isaiah 3:6-8)

     The problem with avoiding leadership and responsibility (especially in the church) is that if too many people start avoiding it, they can’t get anybody to do it.  Then nobody knows what it takes.  They start thinking they have to have the right clothes or right food or live in the right kind of house to be a leader, which is very silly.

     Leadership is not a mystery.  It’s service.  It’s depending on the Lord.  The Lord gives you a vision of what can happen if you work, and then you share that vision with everybody and you all work together to accomplish it.  And the Lord molds you into what He needs you to be. 

15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth:

thou shalt thresh the mountains,

and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.

16     Thou shalt fan them,

       and the wind shall carry them away,

and the whirlwind shall scatter them:

          and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD,

          and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.

(Isaiah 41:15-16)

     A “new sharp threshing instrument” to me implies advanced technology.  We are to be part of the advanced technology the Lord uses to “thrash the nations” (D&C 35:13) with the word of God.  But this time the word of God is not just the Bible, but The Book of Mormon as well.  The Book of Mormon must become a part of us, and when we use it, it gives teeth to our message that the gospel has been restored to the earth.  When we share the gospel with people they must choose whether to accept it or reject it.  (That’s the threshing, because it is separating the wheat from the chaff) The people who reject it are like the chaff.  Once they reject the gospel, any wind of false doctrine will carry them away into error and cause them to sin.     But notice!  Even though verse 16 says the whirlwind shall scatter those that don’t accept the gospel, WE will rejoice in the Lord. 

     Sometimes we try to finesse people into accepting the gospel, trying to find the perfect technique that will cause everyone that hears to accept.  We hesitate to speak plainly.  We need to realize that we are not responsible for whether people accept the gospel or not; we are only responsible for sharing it.  Everyone has to make their own choice, and this scripture of Isaiah says that our message will have one of two effects on people.  It may thresh a mountain (a person with a huge ego) and beat them small so that they realize their ignorance of spiritual things and become meek and teachable as a child, wanting to know more.  Or it may thresh a hill (another person with a big ego) who doesn’t like the message and who gets carried away like a piece of straw on the winds of criticism and unbelief.  But even if our gospel message isn’t received well, it still isn’t the end of the world.  The Lord is merciful and He calls many times, and it may be that unresponsive person will accept the gospel later after having heard it a number of times. 

     The ideal scenario for conversion is one in which a person hears the gospel at the earliest age possible and accepts it the first time they hear it.  In order to give people the best shot at the ideal, we need to share the gospel with them as early as we can. 

The Temptation to Think It Doesn’t Matter If You Don’t Finish What You Start

     A few words about enduring to the end...  Every once in a while throughout your life you will get a brilliant idea for a personal project you want to do, or a righteous goal that you want to achieve.   If you’re like me, you’ll get enthusiastic about it, and tell people what you’re going to do, and you’ll get started on it, but at some point you may get discouraged.  In fact, it is guaranteed that you will struggle with discouragement in the process of pursuing worthy goals.   Sometimes it hits right at the very end just before you are about to succeed.  Why?  Satan fears your success, because then you’ll know that you can do anything you put your mind to, and nothing will stop you, so he hits you with discouragement to try to prevent that.  Not even Ammon, that great missionary, was immune to discouragement.  Alma 26:27 says their “hearts were depressed” and they were “about to turn back”.

     What if you give up and say, “Well maybe I didn’t want it anyway”?  Watch out.  You aren’t the only one who was anticipating your success while you were working on your goal.  The Lord anticipates your success too, and Isaiah has a very interesting metaphor to describe how the Lord feels about people who don’t finish what they’ve started.

17 Like as a woman with child,

that draweth near the time of her delivery,

is in pain,

and crieth out in her pangs;

so have we been in thy sight, O LORD.

18 We have been with child,

we have been in pain,

we have as it were brought forth wind;

we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth;

neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. 

(Isaiah 26:17-18)

     I was reading this scripture and I thought to myself, ’brought forth wind’.  What a peculiar expression.  I started to think through the image.  Pregnant woman.  Lying down on the delivery table about to have a baby.  Yelling in pain.  Bringing forth wind.  Wind...   Reminds me of the expression ‘breaking wind’.  Holy COW!!!  ‘Bringing forth wind’ is talking about passing gas!  Is that a surprise, or what?!

     So there you have it.  Isaiah said that if we don’t finish what we start, the Lord finds us just as offensive as we would find a pregnant woman in the delivery room who yells in pain, and at the moment of highest anticipation... merely passes gas.  And then goes home with a flat stomach and no baby.  It means we were just full of hot air.

     When I realized what this scripture meant, I was just beginning to write this book.  This scripture hit me with particular force.  I decided that I absolutely had to finish writing this book, whether I got discouraged or not.  What project are you working on right now that you are responsible for finishing?

     [W]e have not wrought any deliverance in the earth - Isaiah uses “deliverance” here as a sort of pun.  He uses it in the sense that finishing a long, difficult project is like delivering a baby - it gets most difficult at the very end.  He also uses “deliverance” in the sense of being a savior on Mount Zion, which can mean several things to us - missionary work and vicarious temple work for the dead.  It’s being a spiritual hero.

     If we let ourselves get distracted by less important things in life, we won’t save anybody!  That would be very sad!

     [N]either have the inhabitants of the world fallen - This phrase doesn’t make much sense unless you tack “under condemnation” onto the end of it.  Then it is perfectly clear.  (That idea came to me in a sudden flash of insight, after wondering about it for about ten minutes.)   If we don’t fulfill our responsibility to do missionary work and cry repentance to those around us, they won’t fall under condemnation and be held responsible for their sins; we will!  Yikes!  

The Temptation to Think You Failed Even Though You Tried Your Hardest

4 Then I said,

I have laboured in vain,

I have spent my strength for nought,

and in vain:

     yet surely my judgment is with the LORD,

     and my work with my God.

5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant,

to bring Jacob again to him,

Though Israel be not gathered,

     yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD,

     and my God shall be my strength. 

(Isaiah 49:4-5)

     I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God - Isaiah felt like he wasn’t getting anywhere and that all his teaching was in vain, because no one was listening and no one was obeying, but he knew that the Lord would be the ultimate judge of his success, not man.  The Lord had told him so.

     The same thing is true for us - no one is the judge of whether we are successful or not in our life’s mission, except the Lord.

     I’ll use myself as an example.  Even if no publisher accepts this book I’m writing for publication, even though it might look to everyone else like my work was for nothing, the Lord is the judge of my work.  Even if it affects no one else, it affects me.

     Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength – Remember this scripture when you go on your mission and when you have leadership callings.  This is saying that even if you’ve done your best and Israel decides to be stubborn and not be gathered, the Lord will think you’re awesome for working your little tail off, and in His eyes you will be “glorious”, a glorious example and a great candidate for celestial glory.  You will have proved yourself to be celestial material.  Why?  Because you will have learned how depend on the Lord and the Lord will have become your source of strength.  Those are celestial character traits we all need.

     I’ve used this scripture to give me comfort many times.  I use it when I invite people to church and they don’t come.  I used it when I had a visiting teaching companion that wouldn’t open the door when I came to get her to go visiting teaching.  I used it on a few occasions when I planned activities as a leader and no one came.  I use it when I bear my testimony to people about the gospel and they don’t listen.  That scripture helped me keep from becoming bitter and kept me from shirking my responsibilities, because I kept the eternal perspective in sight.  I know it will help you too.

     What have we learned from Isaiah about our responsibilities? 

  1. 1)We volunteered for and accepted certain assignments to do on earth.  We also accepted the time and place we would live in order to do what we promised to do.

  2. 2)The Lord knew what our names would be before we were born, and we were fore-ordained.

  3. 3)The Lord helps us prepare for our life’s mission by giving us certain experiences that sharpen our skills. 

  4. 4)The Lord saves us for when He needs us.

  5. 5)Burying your talents keeps you in captivity.  Freely sharing your talents makes you free to use them.

    6)We are the one allowing ourselves to speak freely of the gospel.

  1. 7)We’re supposed to gather Israel and also be a light to the gentiles.

  2. 8)It’s easy to gather and convert Israel, because you see the results.  It’s hard to be a good example to the gentiles, because they don’t seem to be affected.

  3. 9)We are to be models to everyone around us of a working gospel life, to show that the Lord keeps His promises. 

  4. 10)Because of the wickedness of the world around us, our goodness will be all the more obvious.

  5. 11)The gentiles WILL be impressed and attracted by our good examples.  They will wonder why we are so good.

  6. 12)People tend to try to avoid leadership positions, thinking they are not qualified to do it.  However, God has given us the advanced tools we need to carry out His work. 

  7. 13)The Lord wants us to finish the projects we start, especially our missionary work, so that the world will either be saved by the gospel message, or be condemned by it.

  8. 14)Even if we think we’ve failed after trying our hardest, we’ve made ourselves glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and we will deserve honor in heaven.

 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_10.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_11.htmlChapter_12.htmlChapter_13.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_15.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_8
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_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_8shapeimage_7_link_9
 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_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