Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ephesians 4:17-19

"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."
Ephesians 4:17-19

This one is a little bit scary to me, because I recognize some of those things, and am scared of becoming like that.  I think it is easy for us to slip away from God, little by little, until we do blind our hearts, and darken our understandings.  That is so frightening... to lose the light within us, and to forget the amazing things that we *know* right now.  I read this stuff and to me it seems like slowly going blind... both mentally and emotionally.  Walking around and the world getting more shadowed every day, till you can't see anything at all.  We actually lose knowledge, and lose range of emotion. ... So, today, let's take this as a warning, and move a little closer to God, rather than a little further away.  Let's keep our minds and our hearts open to him, so that we stay *well* away from the whole "past feeling" thing... yikes!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ephesians 3:17-19

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19

This is the middle of a prayer that Paul wrote to the Ephesians (comprising verses 14-21 if you want to read the whole thing).  What caught my eye initially this morning is the "rooted and grounded in love" part.
When I was little, my mom would stick toothpicks into Avacado seeds and put them on the windowsill in a cup of water... and they would grow (here is a picture of what it looked like, kind of:  I thought it was amazingly cool.  Anyway, that is the image that came into my mind... but instead of water, love.
And, really... isn't that how we grow?  Without love, we shrivel and die.  But with it, we grow, and flower and bloom and become stronger... deeper roots than any tree, and abundant confidence in everything that we do.  And that is part of what Christ offers us.  When we have him with us, that love... that so permeates everything that we are, allows us to be filled "with all the fulness of God" ... which seems like a lot. :) Probably no room for any emptiness anymore.  So, today... let's work on keeping Christ close... dwelling in our hearts as the scripture says. ... And let's let that love fill us, and make us strong and able to handle anything that comes along... overcome any obstacle to our happiness... because we *are* loved, more than we can possibly imagine.

Monday, April 28, 2008

2 Nephi 10:23-24 -- On Pie Versus Rocks

"Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves--to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved."
2 Nephi 10:23-24

Everlasting death... eternal life... everlasting death... eternal life.  Gee.  It's like choosing what to have for dessert: pumpkin pie or a mud-splattered rock.  What a hard choice. :)  In reading these verses, the choice seems a lot clearer than it is when we're trying to talk ourselves into that everlasting death side.  I think that, a lot of the time, in order to make those kind of choices, we mentally block out God (and probably a lot of our brains...).  How else could we actually choose the horrible over the amazing, the bad over the good? 

Things are SO clear when we have the spirit... it is like we have to drive it away in order to consider other choices.  I think that is what the second verse is getting at... we have to reconcile ourselves to one side or the other.  We have to talk ourselves into it, because we are torn... some part of us (natural man) wants that immediate part with the icky black consequences.  Wants it now, and tries not to think about the icky black part. ... And part of us (spiritual man) wants God... always wants God, every day, every minute.  So, in some very real ways, we want both.  I guess part of life is realizing that no matter how hard we try, we *can't* have both.  We have to choose God, or Not God. ... And that is a painful realization sometimes.  Also a necessary one, in order to continue and actually do the reconciling.  Part of us, no matter what, is going to be disappointed... at least temporarily.  So Jacob, in this verse, urges us to make the right choice... reconcile yourselves to the will of God. 

Even Christ had to do this.  Part of him definitely wanted to avoid suffering and death and causing his family and friends pain.  But he reconciled himself to the will of God... and so must we, in order to fulfil our individual purposes in this life, and in order to fulfil God's great plan of happiness. ... Which, incidentally, includes happiness for all parts of ourselves as well. :) ... Let's work on the reconciling today.  It isn't always *immediately* fun... but it is always the best choice in the end.  Rocks have the yuckiest aftertaste... ugh.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Galatians 5:1

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1

I think this scripture is so interesting. First of all it is interesting that Christ makes us free.  There are many people in the world that think belief in Christ restricts us or limits us... that we're repressed or something…, when the truth is just the opposite.  Christ makes us *free* of the sins and addictions that trap us and limit us.  Instead of being enslaved to those things, he breaks the ropes binding us and turns us loose. … He shows us a way out of the deepest traps, the most compelling addictions,… and we're not just talking illegal substances or rare problems here: just… envy, pride... some of the basics.
Second of all, just the basic message of the scripture:… Christ did all of this for you, so… make a stand and BE free.  Don't dive headfirst back into the things that he freed you from.  I was thinking about that this morning...… how easy it is to slip back into habits or temptations that don't seem so bad… except that even a little entangles you, even the smallest threads of sin start to bind you up, until Satan can start pulling you around with those little threads like a puppet. … True freedom… is the freedom to improve, and not to stagnate and rot in one place, trapped in one habit that you can't break free of.  So, let's do what the scriptures ask.  Let's walk away and choose freedom instead of slavery.  The freedom God offers is from the pain and guilt of sin, and from the sticky threads of Satan, trying to entrap us... but it is also freedom to change, to grow… to fulfill our potential as children of God.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ephesians 4:1-3

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Ephesians 4:1-3

This scripture urges us to first, be worthy of our vocation... and interestingly, says that we are called to our vocations.  I don't think that only means our church callings, but really our whole lives... whatever we are called to do.  Investment banker, gardener... it is all the same to the Lord.  He just wants us to work at being worthy of what we do, at home, at school, at church, at work... and everyplace in between. ... I think that will change my attitude today, and I hope it does yours as well.  I should complain a lot less about what I am called to do, and focus on doing it well... of being worthy of the honor of what God has given me in terms of vocation.
Further in the scripture, God asks us to be lowly and meek, to be longsuffering and forbear one another "in love." ... "working to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."  That's cool language.  If we keep the spirit with us, then we are united with God... *and* more so with other people around us.  We are able to be more patient, more sane. :)  Peace should be really, really high on our to-do lists... definitely higher than proving who is right and who is wrong.  No matter how hard the day is today, think about what helps you keep the spirit, and what drives it away.  Let's work at being forbearing, and on uniting with others and promoting peace.  If the scriptures can make a difference in our lives, even just for today, and make us more peaceful, and more united with the spirit... then let's make sure it happens. ... And then we'll keep reading our scriptures and see how tomorrow goes. :)  A good experiment.

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