Transcript from talk presented by Julie L. Spencer on 1/10/2021 at the Mt. Pleasant, Michigan Ward.
What would Jesus do? That’s a great question to ask yourself when considering how to handle particular situations in life. The scriptures give an accurate account of the good and bad things that people did and said to Jesus and how he reacted to those good and bad things. We can use the scriptures as a way of learning what would Jesus do.
Have you ever asked yourself, What would Joseph Smith do?
Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He literally spoke to Jesus and Jesus spoke to him. Joseph didn’t need to consider, What would Jesus do? Because he was able to ask Jesus, What would you have me do? How can I be of service? How should I handle situations where people are saying and doing good and bad things to me?
Joseph wrote down the answers that Jesus gave him and we have those answers in the book called the Doctrine and Covenants. Just like in the Bible where prophets wrote down what Jesus did and said, in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph wrote down the things that Jesus did and said to him. So when we ask ourselves, What would Joseph Smith do? We can read the Doctrine and Covenants.
The cool thing about the Doctrine and Covenants is that Joseph Smith wasn’t just writing down what he would do, but what Jesus wanted him to do. So, just like we turn to the Bible to answer the question, What would Jesus do? We can also get those same answers by reading the Doctrine and Covenants.
What a gift we have in the scriptures, especially during times when our lives are in turmoil. When the world all seems to be wrong, look to the scriptures. Interestingly enough, almost everything going wrong in today’s world has happened before. Wars, plagues, disease, famines, sinful behavior. These things aren’t new. They’re not even surprising. God has even said in the scriptures that he would allow these bad things to happen so that his children might be tested to see how well we will obey his commandments.
Although God has promised to test us, he has told us that we don’t have to do this alone. God hears and answers our prayers. In a moment I’ll tell you about the first time that Joseph Smith asked God for answers and the very cool experience he had that day. But I want to ask you, When was there a time when you asked God for something and he answered you. Not just little things like asking God to bless your food to be nourishing and strengthening to your body, but really big things, What do you want me to do with my life? Sometimes a little closer to home, What do you want me to do today?
I have actually shared this story before but I’m going to paraphrase and tell you a shortened version of something really significant that happened last summer when God answered a prayer in a way that was so shocking to me that it changed the direction of my life.
I had been having a really bad day. I think I’d been struggling with a few things for months and even years. I started crying that morning and kind of got mad at God because he didn’t seem to be answering my prayers and I cried out to him, What do you want from me? What do you want me to do?
The answer was as clear as if he had been standing there in front of me and he told me to devote my day to a particular nonprofit organization that I’d started helping with. I won’t go into details about the organization because that’s not really the point I’m trying to make. The point I’m trying to make is that I stopped what I’d planned to do that day. I took the day off work and focused 100% of my time that day helping with a social media campaign that prior to that morning I didn’t even know existed.
I found out the following day that my friend Shannon, who lives in Oregon, who I hadn’t talked to in several days, had planned to spend her entire day that Wednesday working on this social media campaign. But that she got called into work unexpectedly. She felt guilty the whole day that she wasn’t helping this nonprofit organization after she’d told them she would. She prayed that she’d be comforted, and that the organization would have a successful campaign that day. When she found out later that evening that I’d spent my whole day helping, she burst into tears with gratitude and happiness that God had answered her prayer. I had no idea she needed my help, and she had no idea I had asked God what he needed me to do. But in that instance, he answered both of our prayers at the same time because I asked God, What do you want me to do?
Joseph Smith asked a similar question 200 years ago and had a similar experience. He asked God what church he should join and the answer he got was totally unexpected. God didn’t tell him which church to join; he told Joseph not to join any of the churches. Then God told Joseph, I need you to become my prophet, oh and take countless hours of your life translating 270,280 words worth of scripture called the Book of Mormon. Oh and when you’re done, I need you to take upon yourself my priesthood and organize my church on the earth again. I’ve got a whole bunch of other things I need you to do, but let’s not overwhelm you. We’ll just start with that. Easy, right?
In answering Joseph’s prayer that morning, God provided answers to millions of other people’s prayers as well. Other people also wanted to know which church to join. That was the question I asked right before the missionaries knocked on my door. I was at the bottom of my rope in life and the knot was slipping through my fingers. I was going through a horrible divorce at the time, I was failing every college class I was taking that semester, my little daughter had been hurt by someone she loved and I couldn’t help her. I had no where else to go but to turn to God. I asked God for help and the answer I got was to join a church. I thought, okay. What church? The next day two sister missionaries knocked on my door and told me about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joining this church changed my life for the better in so many ways if I told you all of them my talk would go into next week. Suffice it to say that if Joseph hadn’t asked God which church to join and God hadn’t asked him to organize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then those two sister missionaries wouldn’t have knocked on my door inviting me to church. I could have slipped off the end of that rope. Our church helped me hold on.
I’m so thankful that Joseph Smith asked God which church he should join and I’m really thankful that God answered Joseph Smith’s prayer 200 years ago so that the work God asked Joseph to do was the answer to my prayer 200 years later. I’m glad he wrote down the things God told him in the book we have today called the Doctrine and Covenants so that I can read Joseph’s words. And Joseph’s words were God’s words.
So coming back to the question I asked at the beginning: what would Jesus do? Here are the books that provide my answers:
I testify that the answers are here. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. -Julie L. Spencer