This is a talk I gave in Sacrament meeting today, October 22, 2006.

The other day I was reading in the Book of Mormon the story of when Nephi took his family and fled from his brethren the Lamanites. This was the first physical division between the Nephites and the Lamanites.

Reading from the 5th chapter in 2nd Nephi:

Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Same, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me…And we did take our tents and whatsoever things were possible for us, and did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days. And after we had journeyed for the space of many days we did pitch our tents.

And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses. And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.

And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords…And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance. And I, Nephi, did build a temple…And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.

And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.[1]

It really impressed me how Nephi and his followers took everything with them that they could. Upon finding a place to dwell, they began planting seeds and raising animals. They built swords to defend themselves. They built buildings and a temple. They were industrious and labored with their hands. Above all this they kept the commandments of the Lord. And all this brought them happiness.

I was asked to speak today on a scripture found in Doctrine & Covenants 88 verse 119:

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

Isn’t this what the Nephites were doing? They organized themselves. They prepared for the future. They established a house…or rather many houses.

We have a responsibility to do this today…in our own homes.

In General Conference in Oct 1980, Victor L Brown gave a talk on preparedness. I would like to share a few excerpts from his address.
May I … share some individual examples which are indicative of a growing problem?
A few months ago a young couple decided to cancel their health insurance. They felt they just could not afford it. The high cost of graduate school, in a time of rampant inflation, led them to disregard the counsel of the Brethren. Then came a baby—premature, with serious complications resulting in incredibly expensive care. Heartsick and frightened, they turned first to their families, who responded with substantial help. That not being nearly enough, they then turned to their bishop, who, from the fast offerings, supplied additional help. They would have been almost self-sustaining had they retained their insurance.
A young man decided that trade school was too demanding and too expensive. He dropped out of school, got married, and took a low-paying job in a grocery store. When a baby came, he found that his income was not adequate even for the family’s basic needs. Too embarrassed to approach his parents, he turned to his bishop for help.
Another family chose Monday night sports on television in preference to family home evening. For weeks and months there was no family prayer, no gospel discussions, no reading of the scriptures, no other meaningful family activities. Now a teenage daughter has run away from home, and the parents have turned to the bishop for help.
In each of these examples, the central problem could probably have been avoided if the members had applied the principles of personal and family preparedness.[2]

In Matthew Chapter 24, we read:

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars…For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.[3]

Do we see these things happening in the world today?

Are we prepared for when these things might affect us personally? The Lord has said, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”

Someone has said it was not raining when Noah built the ark. But he built it, and the rains came.

Now is the time to prepare.

Elder Brown quotes a talk given by Brigham Young in July 1868. President Young is talking to the saints of the Mill Creek Ward during the grasshopper infestation. It is a bit of a chastisement, but I think that a lot of the principles apply to us today.

Quoting President Young:

I believe the Latter-day Saints are the best people on the earth of whom we have any knowledge. Still, I believe that we are, in many things, very negligent, slothful and slow to obey the words of the Lord. Many seem to act upon the faith that God will sustain us instead of our trying to sustain ourselves.

I remember saying in the School of the Prophets, that I would rather the people would exercise a little more sense and save means to provide for themselves, instead of squandering it away and asking the Lord to feed them.

Some may say, ‘I have faith the Lord will turn them [the grasshoppers] away.’ What ground have we to hope this? Have I any good reason to say to my Father in heaven, ‘Fight my battles,’ when He has given me the sword to wield, the arm and the brain that I can fight for myself? Can I ask Him to fight my battles and sit quietly down waiting for Him to do so? I cannot. I can pray the people to hearken to wisdom, to listen to counsel; but to ask God to do for me that which I can do for myself is preposterous to my mind.

Look at the Latter-day Saints. They are in want and in trouble, and they are perplexed. They do not know what to do. They have been told what to do, but they did not hearken to this counsel.[4]

This reminds me of Lehi pleading with his sons to live righteously, to awake and shake off the chains of sin. He reminds them of the Lord’s promise, “Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.”[5]

What a wonderful reminder. We need to do our part. The Lord will continually bless us (more than we can ever repay), but we must keep his commandments to ensure future blessings. He is always watching over us. He wants us to be happy and have joy. Keeping the commandments will help us to see the joy in our everyday lives.

Elder Brown follows President Young quotation by saying, “I do not want to leave the impression that nothing has been done. There are those faithful Saints who have their year’s supply and are taking care of themselves. They know of that peace which comes from being obedient and being prepared.”[6]

1 Nephi 20:18 reads, “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.”

I love the phrase “thy peace…as a river.” When I think of a river, I think of continually flowing waters. What a wonderful promise if we keep the commandments. We can often get bogged down with the everyday craziness of life. Sometimes we forget to pause and reflect on the peace the gospel can bring into our lives.

Let me read again the commandment in the Doctrine & Covenants 88: 119.

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

Keeping an organized home and preparing every needful thing will help us in many ways. We will be blessed because we are keeping the commandments, but it is more specific than that. If everything is chaotic around us, it is so much more difficult to live righteously and focus on the good. Whereas if things are in order, we are not worried about the chaos and we can focus more on serving the Lord.

In April 1993, Elder Joseph B Wirthlin gave a talk outlining this particular scripture. I would like to share some excerpts from his talk.
To make our homes become houses of prayer and fasting, our families should gather for family prayer morning and night. In addition, we should offer our own individual prayers for our personal needs.
We can make each home a house of faith by believing in the goodness of God and believing that we can live gospel principles and live in peace and security. We need to have the faith to be obedient, to keep trying, and to keep a positive outlook.

The ideal way to transform your home into a house of learning is to hold family home evening faithfully.

Home can literally become a house of glory.

To instill order in our homes, parents should be in charge and exercise parental authority in righteous dominion and establish acceptable standards of behavior for their children, setting limits and adhering to them consistently. They are to teach and guide their children “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness … reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love.”

If you will make your home a house of prayer and fasting, faith, learning and glory, and order, it can become a house of God. If you build your homes on the foundation rock of our Redeemer and the gospel, they can be sanctuaries where your families can be sheltered from the raging storms of life.”[7]

President Hinckley in a conference talk in October 2005, said:
We can so live that we can call upon the Lord for His protection and guidance. This is a first priority. We cannot expect His help if we are unwilling to keep His commandments. We in this Church have evidence enough of the penalties of disobedience in the examples of both the Jaredite and the Nephite nations. Each went from glory to utter destruction because of wickedness.[8]
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a sales training. One of the presenters gave an analogy that I really liked. It went something like this…

Imagine that you’re at the grocery store loading up your cart. You grab the essentials—fresh milk and eggs, warm bread from the bakery. Maybe you add some ice cream for a treat. You double check your list and make sure that you’ve grabbed everything that you need. You take your cart up to the registers, leave it there and walk out the exit to your car.

Now would you ever really do this? I don’t think so! What would happen to that cart of food? Wouldn’t the milk curdle and the ice-cream melt, the bread get hard and crusty?

The sales trainer then likened this experience to having all the tools to be successful at our disposal, but not using them.

I would extend this to every member of the church. Don’t we have every tool necessary to living a happy and fulfilled life? Do we sometimes forget to apply the things we’ve learned in the scriptures and from the modern day prophets to our everyday lives?

In Ephesians chapter 6, we are told to put on the whole armor of God.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand 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; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.[9]

Wearing the whole armor of God and keeping our shopping carts full, isn’t that the same as organizing ourselves, preparing every needful thing, and establishing a house—even a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, order, glory, and God?

To reference Aesop’s fable of the Grasshopper and the Ants, I’d like to read a poem that I found on the Internet.

A grasshopper lazed in the summer sun,Watching the ants as, one by one,They stored away seeds, leaves and grass,And grasshopper laughed: "Dear me, alas!"How foolish are these ants to toil,When the summer sun is on the boil,Why don't they enjoy the heat with me?"And he kicked up his heels so carelessly.But when the summer sun had gone,And grasshopper shivered upon a stone,He cried aloud: "Oh, dearie me!I'm frozen stiff and so hungry!"Oh, ants, dear ants, pray let me in,My nose is blue, and I'm so thin,It's cold out here, please let me in do,"But an ant peeped out and shouted: "Shoo!"Silly grasshopper, you sang and hoppedTill summer's warmth and heat were stopped,You should have thought of winter's chill,No food, and the wind blows fit to kill."So grasshopper crept into a hole,Which he shared all winter with a mole.Spring came; he said: "I must remember,To make proper plans for next December."[10]

I’ll put this before you…are we, as Latter Day Saints, going to take the role of the grasshopper or the ants?

The work that must be done is not always easy. Sometimes it is very difficult to keep things organized and in order. It takes time and a lot of effort. But we will be blessed if we strive to live this commandment as best we can. We are all human and we will all make mistakes, but it is important to keep trying.

In 2 Nephi 25:23, Nephi says, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

Striving for perfection, and doing all that we can, is our best hope for exaltation in the worlds to come, and it is my testimony that striving to keep our lives organized and in order will help us to focus on serving the Lord. By serving the Lord, we will come to know Him better and love Him more. It is my prayer that we will be able to go forth and “Organize ourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house.”[11]

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] 2 Nephi 5: 6-7, 10-11, 14-17, 27
[2] Brown, Victor L, “Prepare Every Needful Thing,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 79
[3] Matthew 24: 3-4, 6-7, 10
[4] Brown
[5] 2 Nephi 1:20
[6] Brown
[7] Wirthlin, Joseph B, “Spiritually Strong Homes and Families,” Ensign, May 1993, 68
[8] Hinckley, Gordon B, “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 60
[9] Ephesians 6:13-18
[10] http://www.4to40.com/poems/index.asp?article=poems_thegrasshopperandtheants
[11] Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

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