In some parts of the country, oxen are used to plough the fields to make the soil ready for planting. Signs, words, and pricks are used to instruct the oxen on what is required. Patience is a prerequisite when you train the oxen. For example, you can't use the word “com” at the middle of a plough line because the ox will turn instead of ploughing to the end of the line. Neither can you use the words “ooh” and “halt” when you want the ox to continue pulling the plough to the end of the line. When you prick the ox it means better work is required otherwise the “driver” will use a whip to compel the ox to do what is required.
For this reason, God declared “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19)
There was going to be pain in giving birth to our children and toil in bringing them up. This was necessary in preparation for the plan of salvation. When hard times come our countenances change, and we quickly start to justify how circumstances are unfair and that affects our ability to lift ourselves. A renowned author stated, “Whether you reach success or failure in life has little to do with your circumstances; it has much more to do with your attitude…with your faithful courage… with your choices! You see, non-achievers blame their circumstances; winners rise above their circumstances. Some concentrate on the blank wall that boxes them in; winners always look for a way to get under it, over it, around it or through it”. (Attitude: The Remarkable Power of Optimism, Nido Qubein, Audio Book, p.5) http://www.simpletruths.com/inspirational-books/attitude-the-remarkable-power-of-optimism.html
In the pursuit to remain God’s preferred people; the children of Israel observed and kept statutes, made and renewed covenants with God, that there was no other God besides Him who should be worshipped. We observe the Sabbath and temple worship. We partake of the sacrament, the most repeated ordinance of the gospel in our lives, to remember and follow the example of the Saviour.
We make covenants with God in our temples to show our desire to live with Him eternally. We cannot do this unless we know the importance of the restoration of the priesthood in our dispensation. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
Latter-day Saints are a chosen generation, a peculiar people because of the continued adherence to covenants and laws of the gospel. The power of the priesthood and temple ordinances define our destiny if we remain faithful and obedient to the “pricks and signs” of the Gospel.
The biggest enemy that we are fighting in this dispensation of time is spiritual and temporal self-reliance. The devil is using this enemy to define direction for those who are feeble in spirit. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Our Father in heaven is generous and provides in His own way. He will provide for those who ask with real intent and will bless those who don’t get answers to their prayers to continue being steadfast in their faith.
The Lord declared, “It is my purpose to provide for my saints' and 'it must needs be done in mine own way.” (D&C 104:15, 16) The First Presidency declared in the introduction of My Path to Self-Reliance, “We invite you to diligently study and apply these principles and teach them to your family members. As you do so, your life will be blessed. You will learn how to act on your path toward greater self-reliance. You will be blessed with greater hope, peace, and progress. Please be assured that you are a child of our Father in heaven. He loves you and will never forsake you. He knows you and is ready to extend to you the spiritual and temporal blessings of self-reliance.” (Introduction to My Path to Self-Reliance p. 1)
The devil may sneak in when there is disbelief and conflict in our faith and less energy in our endeavors. Cain rose against his brother, Abel, when he learned that God had shown favour to Abel because of his offerings unto the Lord. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.' (Genesis 4:6, 7)
Our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, is guiding us in the will of the Lord. His defined direction and wish is to see Zion established in our hearts. I have faith in the counsel he gives us and I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.