Wednesday, August 24, 2005

2 Nephi 7:4

"The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season unto thee, O house of Israel. When ye are weary he waketh morning by morning. He waketh mine ear to hear as the learned."
2 Nephi 7:4

I'm not sure that I am interpreting correctly, but when I read the second sentence in this verse about God waking morning by morning, what it makes me think of is a father who is so worried about his little kid that he can't sleep... he keeps waking up, and it is the first thing on his mind, all the time.  It reminds me how much God loves us... how much he wants us to succeed. 
It's easy to slip into guilt-trip mode and think of God as just someone who is waiting for us to screw up... who metes out justice pretty heavy-handedly, and who uses threats to get us to listen.  And I am not denying God's justice... but I think that getting into that guilt-trip mode is just another weird twisting of half-truths, the same way Satan tries to deceive us all the time.  And you know what blows the whole fa├žade apart?  The fact that God loves us.  That changes everything.  It is why he does everything that he does, and why we can still find overwhelming hope, no matter how far into guilt-trip mode we've gone.  Mercy exists as well... and God wants us to succeed.  More than that... he's given us the tools and the opportunities we need to succeed. ... and even if God doesn't wake up in the middle of the night worrying (does he even need to sleep?)... he loves us that much, and more.  A good reminder today. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

1 Nephi 15:8-9

"And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?
And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us."
1 Nephi 15:8-9

These verses are a dialogue between Nephi and his brothers.  His brothers were having problems understanding their father the prophet, and what he said about some of the scriptures.  Nephi asks them if they have asked God, like it is the most obvious thing in the world... and maybe it is. :)
I think that I get into the same trap sometimes, and complain about not understanding things in my life, when I haven't taken the time to ask God.  I assume, like Nephi's brothers did, that God isn't interested in clarifying things for me. :) ... And, you know, sometimes you have to learn to deal with ambiguity. It's part of life; however, God does want us to understand his plan, and to believe in it and stand behind it.  It can't hurt to ask... and God will answer, even if sometimes the answer is "no," or "Let's talk about this later, when you are a little more ready to understand." :) 
Later in the chapter Nephi explains what we need to do in order to get answers: "Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you."  That could be a scripture of the day all on its own. :)  But I like a couple of things here especially.  We can't harden our hearts.  I think that is a major, major point.  We have to be sensitive to the spirit.  We have to have faith, believe, and we have to be doing our best to live the commandments. ... in other words, we have to be putting forth some effort on our side.  We can't just sit back and expect God to make our understandings (and our lives) perfect without looking into it ourselves. :)  How else will we learn, after all? :)

Monday, August 8, 2005

1 Nephi 4:34-35

"And I also spake unto him, saying: Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord? Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us.
And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth."
1 Nephi 4:34-35

First of all, did you guys know that the entire church has been challenged to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year?  They read a letter from the First Presidency over the pulpit yesterday... guess they did it last week too.  (I must have been late; I didn't hear about it last week.)  I think that is amazingly cool... and I imagine that it will create a huge sense of unity, and that we're going to get a huge dose of the Spirit poured out on all of us.  I remember when we were challenged in the MTC to read the Book of Mormon all the way through while we were there (and I was only there 3 weeks). ... I think that was probably my favorite time reading the Book of Mormon.  I remember seeing connections that I never knew were there before... connections between 1 Nephi and 3 Nephi that I never saw because I had never read those two books in anything like close proximity before. :)  So... join in. I just re-started the Book of Mormon and I am going to read it all the way through. It will be great. :)
Anyway, this scripture... Zoram has always intrigued me. His whole life uprooted in one night--and yet, it seems that he gains some measure of freedom that he didn't have before, and basically becomes another member of the family.  I wonder about him... did he know how wicked Laban was prior to this? When he made his oath this night, was he just saving his life, or did he know he was doing the right thing?  Most of our life-changing experiences seem a lot more clear-cut than this one was, seemingly, for Zoram. ... I imagine if the same thing happened to someone today, they'd say that Zoram had Stockholm Syndrome or something. :)  In any case, I have to believe that Zoram felt the spirit, and knew what to do... and, of course, that Zoram was part of the plan. :)  His life wasn't just a footnote to the rest of the lives here... I'm sure that his being there made a difference.  I think that Zoram is a great example of courage as we choose to make huge, permanent changes in our lives.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

1 Nephi 1:4-6

"For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.
Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.
And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly."
1 Nephi 1:4-6

You know, this struck me today... it talks about prophets plural, and after Lehi had heard the prophets, that he became one himself basically. ... that is awesome. :)  Sure, we can only have one prophet that speaks for the whole church... more than one would be kind of confusing.  Ideally, though, we could all be prophets in the sense that they are spoken about here.  When we hear the prophets say something, then we pray about it and receive that same spirit in our lives... because God speaks to us all, and his spirit offers the same messages to everyone.  We're of course going to have different perspectives, and see things differently because of that, but the miraculous thing here, and I think really in all of the gospel, is that God wants us all to have that deep, personal connection to him.  None of us have to be passive believers, just relying on other people to tell us the truth.  Every single one of us can go to the source and get it first hand.  God offers the truth to everyone, with no boundaries or bias. ... I know, it is a simple tenet of the faith that we learn even from the very first telling of the Joseph Smith story, but it is amazing still.  We are God's children... his potential equals.  He is there, ready to teach us anything that we can learn about how to be more like him... all we have to do is ask.  The lesson might not be easy.  But then again... I can't imagine that you can learn to be like God through osmosis. :)

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