“March 8–14. Doctrine and Covenants 23–26: ‘Strengthen the Church,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 (2020)
“March 8–14. Doctrine and Covenants 23–26,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2021
Record Your Impressions
After the Church was organized, the Saints faced a new challenge—to spread the gospel and strengthen those who had already united with the Church, all while persecution continued to increase. Emma Smith witnessed the opposition firsthand. In June 1830, Emma and members of the Knight family wished to be baptized. But enemies of the Church tried to disrupt what should have been a sacred experience. First they destroyed the dam that had been built to provide deep enough water for the baptisms. Even after the dam was repaired, the persecutors gathered to shout threats and mock those being baptized. Then, just as Joseph was about to confirm the new members, he was arrested for upsetting the community by preaching about the Book of Mormon. It seemed like an unpromising start for the Lord’s newly restored Church. But in the midst of this uncertainty and upheaval, the Lord provided precious words of counsel and encouragement, which represent His “voice unto all” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:16).
Today, almost 200 years after the restored Church was organized, the need “to strengthen the church” continues (Doctrine and Covenants 23:3–5). And this work is not just for Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, or our current Church leaders—it is for all of us. Throughout your study of Doctrine and Covenants 23–26, ponder the counsel the Lord gave early Church members to help them strengthen the Church. What do you feel the Lord wants you to do to participate in this effort?
Leading the Church during a time of intense persecution must have been a heavy burden for Joseph Smith. Look for the Lord’s words of encouragement to him in Doctrine and Covenants 24.
What do the following scriptures suggest to you about how the Savior can lift you out of your afflictions?
How has Jesus Christ lifted you out of your afflictions? What can you do to continue to seek His help during difficult times?
When Emma Hale married Joseph Smith, she likely knew she would be making sacrifices. She was going against the wishes of her father and trading a relatively comfortable life for a life of uncertainty. She might have wondered what the Lord expected of her in the work of the Restoration. Look for the answers the Lord provided in Doctrine and Covenants 25. Note the Lord’s words in verse 16—do you find anything in this section that you feel is His “voice unto [you]”?
When members receive callings or priesthood ordinations in the Church, we have the opportunity to formally sustain them by raising our hands as a show of support. The principle of demonstrating public support and agreement is called common consent. As President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, “The procedure of sustaining is much more than a ritualistic raising of the hand. It is a commitment to uphold, to support, to assist those who have been selected” (“This Work Is Concerned with People,” Ensign, May 1995, 51).
Doctrine and Covenants 23:6.Why does the Lord want us to pray “in [our] family, and among [our] friends, and in all places”? What does the song “Love Is Spoken Here” (Children’s Songbook, 190–91)—or another song about prayer—teach us about the power of prayer?
Doctrine and Covenants 24:8.Would it be helpful for your family to talk about what it means to “be patient in afflictions”? If you have young children, it might be fun to re-create the experiment that President Dieter F. Uchtdorf described in “Continue in Patience” (Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 56; see also the video on ChurchofJesusChrist.org). What does Doctrine and Covenants 24:8 teach us about patience? How does the Lord help us be patient in our afflictions?
Doctrine and Covenants 25:11–12.Perhaps you could sing each family member’s favorite hymn or song and talk about why it is his or her “song of the heart.” How are these songs like “a prayer unto [God]”?
Doctrine and Covenants 26:2.It might be helpful to look up “Common Consent” in the Guide to the Scriptures (scriptures.ChurchofJesusChrist.org). How do we show our support for our leaders?
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
The Lord’s words to Emma Smith recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 25 reveal how He felt about her and the contributions she could make to His work. But what was Emma like? What do we know about her personality, her relationships, her strengths? One way to get to know this “elect lady” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:3) is to read the words of people who knew her personally.
Emma Smith, by Lee Greene Richards
“With what unspeakable delight, and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma—she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth; and the choice of my heart. Many were the re-vibrations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through. The fatigues, and the toils, the sorrows, and sufferings, and the joys and consolations from time to time had strewed our paths and crowned our board. Oh! what a co-mingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, Again she is here, even in the seventh trouble, undaunted, firm, and unwavering, unchangeable, affectionate Emma.”1
“She was then young, and, being naturally ambitious, her whole heart was in the work of the Lord, and she felt no interest except for the church and the cause of truth. Whatever her hands found to do, she did with her might and did not ask the selfish question ‘Shall I be benefited any more than anyone else?’ If elders were sent away to preach, she was the first to volunteer her services to assist in clothing them for their journey, let her own privations be what they might.”2
“I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal and patience, which she has always done; for I know that which she has had to endure; that she has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty; that she has breasted the storm of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, until she has been swallowed up in a sea of trouble which [would] have borne down almost any other woman.”3
Emma’s patriarchal blessing, pronounced by Joseph Smith Sr., who was serving as patriarch of the Church:
“Emma, my daughter-in-law, thou art blessed of the Lord, for thy faithfulness and truth: thou shalt be blessed with thy husband, and rejoice in the glory which shall come upon him: Thy soul has been afflicted because of the wickedness of men in seeking the destruction of thy companion, and thy whole soul has been drawn out in prayer for his deliverance: rejoice, for the Lord thy God has heard thy supplication.
“Thou hast grieved for the hardness of the hearts of thy father’s house, and thou hast longed for their salvation. The Lord will have respect to thy cries, and by his judgments he will cause some of them to see their folly and repent of their sins; but it will be by affliction that they will be saved. Thou shall see many days; yea, the Lord will spare thee till thou art satisfied, for thou shalt see thy Redeemer. Thy heart shall rejoice in the great work of the Lord, and no one shall take thy rejoicing from thee.
“Thou shalt ever remember the great condescension of thy God in permitting thee to accompany my son when the angel delivered the record of the Nephites to his care. Thou hast seen much sorrow because the Lord has taken from thee three of thy children: in this thou are not to be blamed, for he knows thy pure desires to raise up a family, that the name of my son might be blessed. And now, behold, I say unto thee, that thus says the Lord, if thou wilt believe, thou shalt yet be blessed in this thing and thou shalt bring forth other children, to the joy and satisfaction of thy soul, and to the rejoicing of thy friends.
“Thou shalt be blessed with understanding, and have power to instruct thy sex. Teach thy family righteousness, and thy little ones the way of life, and the holy angels shall watch over thee: and thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God; even so. Amen.”4
Emma Smith with her children. Time to Laugh, by Liz Lemon Swindle
Emma’s Hymns, by Liz Lemon Swindle