Friday, January 30, 2015

God's Hand in The Formation of The USA

Freedom has always been principle of God and a necessity in order for God's children to grow and experience in a way that will allow them to be able to be tested and become what Christ would have them become. ( 2 Nephi 2:25 ) Because freedom is so vital to God's plan we can see throughout history examples of God providing his servants with deep belief in freedom, thus becoming instruments in His hands to protect it. Those whom understand God's plan understand how vital freedom is in God's plan, thus they are willing to lose their lives to sustain the furthering of His work and coming forth of His Kingdom. 

We see this spiritual gift in Captain Moroni as we read in Alma 46. As we see Moroni rip his coat and create the Title of Liberty, we see the true principle shine forth in followers of Christ. It is not coincidence that Christopher Columbus was directed to find the " New World" and it was not coincidence that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were firm believers of Christ. Below are some examples:

                                                                                Christopher Columbus

Columbus held firm a strong conviction that he was led by God. “I could sense his hand upon me,” wrote Columbus, “so that it became clear to me that it was feasible to navigate from here to the Indies, and he gave me the will to do it.” 
                                                                                                                                                   Raccolta pt.1, vol , ii , p.79 

 In a letter to the monarchs he wrote: “The eternal God our Lord gives to all those who walk in his path victory over things that seem impossible. And this is notably one; for, although men have talked or written of these lands, all has been conjecture. … All Christendom ought to feel delight and make great feasts and give solemn thanks to the Holy Trinity with many solemn prayers for the great exaltation they shall have in the turning of so many people to our holy faith.”
(  Cristobal Colon, Textos y documentos completos : Relacionesde Viajes, cartas y memoriales, ed. consuelo varela ( Madrid : Alianza Editorial, 19889   pp.263-64)

During his fourth voyage, Columbus received another divine assurance during an extremely perilous moment when he was about to abandon all hope. “Exhausted, I fell asleep, groaning,” he reported to the sovereigns. “I heard a very compassionate voice, saying: ‘O fool and slow to believe and to serve thy God, the God of all! … Thou criest for help, doubting. Answer, who has afflicted thee so greatly and so often, God or the world? … Not one jot of His word fails; all that He promises, He performs with interest; is this the manner of men? I have said that which thy Creator has done for thee and does for all men. Now in part He shows thee the reward for the anguish and danger which thou hast endured in the service of others.’ I heard all of this as if I were in a trance, but I had no answer to give to words so true, but could only weep for my errors. He, whoever he was, who spoke to me, ended saying: ‘Fear not; have trust; all these tribulations are written upon marble and are not without cause.’” (  “Letter of Columbus on the Fourth Voyage,” in The Four Voyages of Columbus, tr. Cecil Jane, 2:90–92.)
( Columbus and the Hand of God - De Lamar Jensen , Ensign Oct.1992 )
John Adams
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.1
Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company: I mean hell.
The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.3
Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!
I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world.
                                                              ( John Adams, Works, Vol. X, p. 85, to Thomas Jefferson on December 25, 1813)
Samuel Adams
I . . . [rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.
The name of the Lord (says the Scripture) is a strong tower; thither the righteous flee and are safe [Proverbs 18:10]. Let us secure His favor and He will lead us through the journey of this life and at length receive us to a better.
I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world . . . that the confusions that are and have been among the nations may be overruled by the promoting and speedily bringing in the holy and happy period when the kingdoms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace.
He also called on the State of Massachusetts to pray that . . .
  • the peaceful and glorious reign of our Divine Redeemer may be known and enjoyed throughout the whole family of mankind.
  • we may with one heart and voice humbly implore His gracious and free pardon through Jesus Christ, supplicating His Divine aid . . . [and] above all to cause the religion of Jesus Christ, in its true spirit, to spread far and wide till the whole earth shall be filled with His glory.
  • with true contrition of heart to confess their sins to God and implore forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior.

( From the Last Will & Testament of Samuel Adams, attested December 29, 1790; see also Samuel Adams, Life & Public Services of Samuel Adams, William V. Wells, editor (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1865), Vol. III, p. 379, Last Will and Testament of Samuel Adams. 
 Letters of Delegates to Congress: August 16, 1776-December 31, 1776, Paul H. Smith, editor (Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1979), Vol. 5, pp. 669-670, Samuel Adams to Elizabeth Adams on December 26, 1776.
 From a Fast Day Proclamation issued by Governor Samuel Adams, Massachusetts, March 20, 1797, in our possession; see also Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908), Vol. IV, p. 407, from his proclamation of March 20, 1797.
 Samuel Adams, A Proclamation For a Day of Public Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, given as the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, from an original broadside in our possession; see also, Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908), Vol. IV, p. 385, October 14, 1795. 
 Samuel Adams, Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer, March 10, 1793. 
Samuel Adams, Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer, March 15, 1796. )

Benjamin Franklin
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and His religion as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.
The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and guilding, lies here, food for worms. Yet the work itself shall not be lost; for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more beautiful edition, corrected and amended by the Author. (FRANKLIN’S EULOGY THAT HE WROTE FOR HIMSELF)
(Benjamin Franklin, Works of Benjamin Franklin, John Bigelow, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904), p. 185, to Ezra Stiles, March 9, 1790.)

These are but few of the witnesses that freedom has been and can be protected and achieved when individuals have faith in Christ and follow His wills.  The Book of Mormon affirms that Christopher Columbus was led by God; In vision as, Nephi “looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it … wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” (1 Ne. 13:12.)

Prophets have declared that this land for His people to be free in if we keep the commandments:
   It is also my conviction that His protective hand is still over the United States of America.  I know, too, that if we will keep the commandments of God – live as He directed and does now direct, through His prophets – we will continue to have His protecting hand over us.  But we must be true to the eternal verities, the great Christian virtues that God has revealed.  Then, and only then, will we be safe as a nation and as individuals.”
  - Ezra Taft Benson
  (This Nation Shall Endure, p.145)

I am incredibly thankful for men like Captain Moroni, and those who believed so deeply in freedom of religion, so strongly that they were willing to die for it. I wanted to write and keep all of these things in my journal so that I will not forget their sacrifices and so that my children can remember the connection between the faith that founded this country; and after what works will keep a land and a people safe.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. amen. 

"Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their home, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create, is still intact."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reaching Out To Spiritual Leaders

As we read in Alma 43 we are introduced to one of the most heroic persons in the Book of Mormon. At only twenty-five years old we see Moroni called to be the Chief Captain over the armies of the Nephites. As we continue on learning about the service that Moroni gave to these people we learn that:

" If all men had been, and were and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold the very :powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men." ( Alma 48:17)

Given how incredibly spiritual that Moroni must have been in order for him to be exemplified this way, we can learn so very much about humility, and what servants of God do in trying times, as we read in Alma 43:23:

" But it came to pass, as soon as they had departed in the wilderness Moroni sent spies into the wilderness to watch their camp; and Moroni, also, knowing of the prophecies of Alma, sent certain men unto him, desiring him that he should inquire of the Lord whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves against the Lamenites. "
From this example we learn the importance of appealing to spiritual leaders during time of difficulty, or in our case perhaps our Bishop.

Although we might not be in the danger of war which includes the risks of losing lives, we do enter a spiritual battlefield upon this earth each and every day as we go out into the world. Whenever our spirituality is at risk of dying, or one of our family members spirituality is failing them; we should follow Moroni's example and seek out help from our spiritual leaders and Bishop. 

This does not mean that we should run to our Bishop for every problem that we have. Nor does it mean that we should sit back and do nothing until the Bishop gives us his advise, as we see Moroni did all that he could do sending spies out into the wilderness to watch their camp as well ( Alma 43:23 ) , but he also reached out for help from his spiritual leader. 

President Boyd K. Packer said in his talk  " The Bishop and His Counselors ", April 1999:

" Revelation is the one credential that all Bishops have in common. Bishops come from many cultures, many occupations, they vary in experience , personality, and age, but they do not differ in the right to be guided spiritually."

I am impressed that we even have the example of the only perfect person ever, Jesus Christ appealing for us to His Father. In John 17: 1-26. In these scriptures we can read about Jesus Christ Himself praying, thus showing forth that even perfection is in need of help.

We also can see Jesus Christ showing a great deal of humility as He recognized that He needed support on the Mount of Transfiguration for Peter to receive the " Keys of the Kingdom " , as Moses and Elias appeared there upon the mount and Jesus was transfigured before them.  ( Matthew 17: 1-9 )

If we have the example of Jesus Christ needing help and support; surely we should all know there will be times in our lives that we will need support from a father for a Priesthood blessing, from a Bishop to reconcile sins, from a Patriarch to receive direction as to what choices we should make in our lives, etc.

I am so thankful for this example that Moroni left with us. I am thankful for his diligence in doing what is right. I am thankful that I do have Priesthood leaders, and Bishops that I can go to for help. In my life I have visited with Bishops many times, both for guidance and to reconcile my sins. I can promise anyone whom wonders if they should go speak to their Bishop about something; the answer is that you should, and you do not need to fear because the Bishop is always full of love and support no matter what your concern is. 

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. amen. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Spiritual Clothing

When reading Alma 39 we learn that the Lamenite army of Zerahemna was in fear to come upon the Nephites, upon recognizing how prepared they were to come to battle.
 Alma 39:19 : " And when the armies of the Lamenites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing.
 Alma 39:21 " But they were not armed with breast plates, no shields, therefore they were exceedingly afraid of the armies of the Nephites because of their armor, not withstanding their number being so much greater than the Nephites." 
 Although the fear of the Lamenites was in relation to the literal clothing that the Nephites were wearing; I am certain that these Nephites were given support and strength provided by the Lord as a result of their spiritual preparation, or spiritual clothing. 
 Our Father in Heaven works symbolically with us as he understands how strong of a connection that our literal clothing can have on our minds in relation to our spiritual preparation and bringing our minds into remembrance of what actions that we must take, in order to be spirituality supported and safe. 
 We are given an example in the Epistle of Paul. Paul teaches us what actions we must take in order to be spiritual clothed.
 Ephesians 6: 11-18:
 " Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the whiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against the flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the rules of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the while armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. "
 Furthermore, today our Father in Heaven so lovingly has given us a very sacred and symbolic clothing, such as the Holy Garments. When we wear these sacred articles of clothing we are reminded of these same instructions given from the apostle Paul, and more. I am so thankful that I have the blessing of wearing these sacred articles of clothing. All day long I am worshiping and reverencing my God as I keep the privileged and all they mean sacred in my heart. 
 From the Mormon News Room we can read about these Temple Garments:
 "To those outside a particular faith, the rituals and clothing may seem unfamiliar. But for the participants they can stir the deepest feelings of the soul, motivate them to do good, even shape the course of a whole life of service.
The nun’s habit. The priest’s cassock. The Jewish prayer shawl. The Muslim’s skullcap. The saffron robes of the Buddhist monk. All are part of a rich tapestry of human devotion to God.
Not all such religious vestments are on public display. Some are seen only in places of worship. Temple robes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as the robes of the holy priesthood, are worn only inside Mormon temples and reserved for the highest sacraments of the faith. White symbolizes purity. There is no insignia or rank. The most senior apostle and the newest member are indistinguishable when dressed in the same way. Men and women wear similar clothing. The simple vestments combine religious symbolism with echoes of antiquity reflected in ancient writings from the book of Exodus.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are no outer religious vestments in ordinary worship services.
However, many faithful Latter-day Saints wear a garment under their clothing that has deep religious significance. Similar in design to ordinary modest underclothing, it comes in two pieces and is usually referred to as the “temple garment.”
Some people incorrectly refer to temple garments as magical or “magic underwear.” These words are not only inaccurate but also offensive to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is nothing magical or mystical about temple garments, and Church members ask for the same degree of respect and sensitivity that would be afforded to any other faith by people of goodwill.
Temple garments are worn by adult members of the Church who have made sacred promises of fidelity to God’s commandments and the gospel of Jesus Christ in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
To Church members, the modest temple garment, worn under normal clothing, along with the symbolic vestments worn during temple worship, represent the sacred and personal aspect of their relationship with God and their commitment to live good, honorable lives.
The Historical Background of Temple Garments
Biblical scripture contains many references to the wearing of special garments. In the Old Testament the Israelites are specifically instructed to turn their garments into personal reminders of their covenants with God (see Numbers 15:37-41). Indeed, for some, religious clothing has always been an important part of integrating worship with daily living. Such practices resonate with Latter-day Saints today."
 I know that as I wear the Holy Garment while remembering what it means to me and keeping them and my promises sacred, I am prepared spiritually and literally, as they can be a literal protection, just as the clothing that the Nephites wore; keeping them safe from the Lamenites.
 I say this in the name of Jesus Christ.Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2015

All Things Common

In Alma 43 we are reminded of the people of Ammon, whom after being converted to the gospel, buried their weapons of war in order to show forth a symbol of their covenant with God that their hearts had changed, and they had been converted to Christ's church. Because of this covenant they made with God they were put into a dangerous situation, as it reads, " if they should fall into the hands of the Lamenites they would be destroyed, " ( Alma 43:11 ) a result of their covenant that they would never take up arms again- even in self-defense because of such sorrow for their sins that the weapons represent to them. 

We learn that the " Nephites would not suffer that they should be destroyed; therefore they gave them their lands for their inheritance, and the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies, and thus the Nephites were compelled to stand alone to withstand against the Lamenites." ( Alma 43:13 )

We can see the love that these members of Christ's church had for each other in this example.
All throughout history we see great sacrifices of love in the name of Christ and the building of His kingdom. This senerio was not the first or the last time that followers of Christ would give up their land, or even their lives in order to support each other, and newly converted saints - nor will it be the last.

In Acts, as Peter and John are about their work of building the kingdom upon the earth, or in other words teaching, gathering, and organizing the church, we see even new converts to the church giving all they had to be divided among the saints in order that all things would be common among them, we can read: " Neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." ( Acts 4: 34-35 )

We also have the example of Latter-day Saints giving of their land, in order to live the Law of Consecration; where they too would have everything in common. ( D&C 105:29 )

Another example was when President Young established the Perpetual Emigration Fund to assist poor Latter-day Saint immigrants. The fund helped some 30,000 immigrants from the British Isles, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands reach America- more than one-third of the total Later-day saint immigrants  were from Europe during that period. This fund also provided land and all these early saints needed. Much like the people of Ammon needed to be kept physically safe, these early saints needed to be kept spiritually safe, and come to gather with the saints where their testimonies could flourish and Zion could be established. 

What a beautiful work that we have the opportunity as Members of Christ's church to be a part of, and what a beautiful witness yet again that Christ's church is the same across time, both in the Bible, The Book of Mormon, and the record of the early saints in the Doctrine and Covenants. I personally can not wait to give of everything that I have in not just time and talents, but also in physical possessions, in order that it may be divided among us; that we may all be equal. What a blessing to be able to have God reveal to you through his prophet, that you have exactly what you need; and that you are not holding back on what you could be giving to the poor and other saints that need help; as it was divided equally among everyone. 

And what a wonderful witness these things are to me that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. ( Mormon 9:9 )

I am so thankful to be a member of Christ's church on the earth, and I hope that I can be worthy to be with Him again. 
In the name of Jesus Christ.amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Acknowledge His Mercy

In Alma 38, Alma teaches his son Shiblon to " acknowledge his unworthiness before God at all times." ( Alma 37:14 ) 

To be humble is a requirement for all spiritual development according to many prophets and apostles.

"All progress in spiritual things is based upon the prior attainment of humility." Bruce R. McConkie

“Brothers and sisters, this mortal experience through which we are passing is one in which beauties abound; subtleties and delicacies are all about us, waiting to be noticed. Wonders are everywhere to be seen. It is, however, the observing meek, who will contemplate the lilies of the field, will ponder the galaxies and see God moving in His majesty and power. It is also the meek who will notice, and then lift up, those whose hands hang down (see D&C 81:5).
Peter waxed poetic when he urged “the Ornament of a meek and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). The meek and quiet spirit, which Peter recommended, is essential to our happiness here and hereafter, men and women alike.” Neal A. Maxwell, Meekly Drenched in Destiny, BYU Devotional Address, September 1982

Humility is that quality that permits us to be taught from on high through the Spirit or to be taught from sources whose origin was inspiration from the Lord, such as the scriptures and the comments of the prophets.  Humility is the precious fertile soil of righteous character.  In it the seeds of personal growth germinate.  When cultivated through the exercise of faith, pruned by repentance, and fortified by obedience and good works, such seeds produce the cherished fruit of spiritual direction.  Divine inspiration and power then result – inspiration to know the will of the Lord, power to provide the ability to accomplish that inspired will. – Elder Richard G. Scott, “The Transforming Power of Faith and Character,” Ensign, November 2010, p. 43-46

The greatest example that we have of humility is our Savior Jesus Christ. Even though He is our Savior; and he suffered incomprehensible pain and suffering on our behalf; He always mentioned His Father when he was here on the earth. He was always directing us on whom we should give the credit too. I love His great humility and example of how we should be that He left us. 

John 6:44 " No man can come unto me, except he doeth the will of my Father who hath sent me."

Matthew 19:17 " And He said unto me, why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God."

John 14:28  " Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I said I go unto the Father; For my Father is greater than I. " 

I want to become more humble. I have so many blessings that I do feel in constant awe of how the selfish individual that I used to be could have ever deserved any of my many blessings? Even now as I am not as selfish, but still working on it,  I know that there is nothing that I could do in my life to ever make up for all the mercy that He has shown me in the past, and continually shows me in my life each and every day. My Father in Heaven is so incredibly patient with me. I do hope that I can become better at being more humble, and become better at showing Him how thankful that I am for all the many wonderful blessings that He gives me, through my daily choices, and through choosing correctly what to spend my time on, in order to serve Him better. I love Him so very much. I hope that I can make Him happy. 

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Spirit Prison

In Alma 40 we learn that Alma's son Corianton is concerned with what happens to men in the space between their death and resurrection. In Alma 40, Alma explains that the state of the soul between death and the resurrection:

" Behold it has been made known unto me by an angel that the spirits of all men as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea the spirits of all men wether they be good or evil are taken home to that God who gave them life, and then shall it come to pass that the spirits of those who are righteous are received in a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care and sorrow, and then it shall come to pass that the spirits of the wicked, yea who are evil, for behold they have no part nor portions of the spirit of the Lord, for behold they chose evil works rather than good, therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them and take possession of their house and these shall be cast into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and this because of their own iniquity being led captive, by the will of the devil. Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea in darkness and a state of awful , fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them. Thus they remain in this state as well as the righteous in paradise until the time of their resurrection. "

We have a witness of this state " betwixt " or in between the time of death and Resurrection ( Alma 40:6 ) from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of a prison, that He was also referencing " Spirit Prison " in his teachings. 

Matthew 5:25 Jesus teaches: " Agree with thine adversary quickly whiles thou art in the way with him, lest any adversary deliver thee to judge and the judge deliver to the officer and thou be cast into prison; Truly I say unto you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny."

Another witness is when Peter teaches in 1 Peter 3:19-20 that Christ went :
" By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing were in few, that is eight souls were saved by water. 

An interesting note about the word prison used in both of these scripture passages is that translated into their original form of Greek, the word "Phulake" means , persons being watched or a place where captives are kept ( Greek Lexicon ) adding a witness to Joseph Smith's revelations about the gospel being preached to the dead.

I am very thankful for my knowledge at this time about the space between life and death. I am thankful that I also know that those whom did not have the gospel preached to them, will have the chance to hear it in the next life. 

It is important to remember that this time in between is not for the purpose of giving a second chance for salvation. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

" The foolishness of believing that a person can reject the gospel in this life, accept it in the next, and still inherit celestial glory. “This life is the time and day of our probation. After this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
“For those who do not have an opportunity to believe and obey the holy word in this life, the first chance to gain salvation will come in the spirit world. If those who hear the word for the first time in the realms ahead are the kind of people who would have accepted the gospel here, had the opportunity been afforded them, they will accept it there. …
“… Those who reject the gospel in this life and then receive it in the spirit world go not to the celestial, but to the terrestrial kingdom.” (“The Seven Deadly Heresies,” in Speeches of the Year, 1980 [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1981], pp. 77–78.)

Affections of thy Heart

Affections of thy Heart
In Alma 37:36 it states, " Yea, and cry unto God for all they support; yea let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and wither-so-ever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever."
I believe that an easy way to know where the affections lie, is by paying attention to what we talk about and what we spend our spare time on for enjoyment? Years ago I was a runner. I was highly involved with a team and coach that I was required to race with every Sat. during racing seasons. It was very clear at this time in my life where my affections were. Even during the time that I was not running, I was either talking about running or reading about racers or running literature. Now, as my love for the Lord has grown by leaps and bounds since that time in my life; I now find myself spending any free moment that I have to research, study or find His words that speak to me in the scriptures. As I used to prepare for races with workouts and look forward to them; I now try to prepare daily to be the best servant that I can be for Him; and I look forward for the times during the month that I will attend the temple. 
I am somewhat hesitant to express the changes that I  have made in regards to the affections of my heart, because I do not wish to share these things in order to glory in myself for my improvements. I only desire to share the witness that I have. The witness that when we  make the Lord our number one priority; to serve Him daily through our behaviors and interactions with those around us; and through our diligence in the things that He has asked us to do; We are blessed with an inexpressible joy that comes from a feeling of pleasing Him. You can receive a joy that comes from the feeling of what it is to be like His partner and friend. It is such a incomparable place of happiness. A  happiness that will not come from any other love that you could choose. I am thankful to share what I have experienced by making the changes that I needed to make in my life; in order to give Him my whole heart. My prayer and daily hope is that I can continue to love Him more fully than I did the day before; and that my brothers and sisters in His church with me will too desire to MAKE HIM FIRST in their hearts.
Lastly, I would like to share a quote written by a prophet of God regarding these things:
"Men captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. To paraphrase President Harold B. Lee, they set fire in others because they are on fire. (See Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 192.)
Their will is swallowed up in his will. (See John 5:30.) They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.) Not only would they die for the Lord, but, more important, they want to live for Him."
Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians. They stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places. (See Mosiah 18:9.) They have Christ on their minds, as they look unto Him in every thought. (See D&C 6:36.) They have Christ in their hearts as their affections are placed on Him forever. (See Alma 37:36.)
 Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, July 1989
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.