Monday, June 30, 2008

2 Peter 3:9

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9

God doesn't allow bad things to continue in the world because he is uncaring... I think this verse illustrates this.  God is longsuffering... allowing others to make choices and encounter the consequences, and suffer, and ... all of it, because he wants everyone to have a chance to repent.  And not just one chance, but chance after chance after chance.  We make bad choices as well, and although some people might want to stop some of the bad things that *we* do immediately, God allows us to continue... and it is for the same reason.  He loves us, and wants to give us a chance.  He isn't being a bad God up there letting the things that we do, or the things that others do happen.  He is just trying to help us learn and grow and become better.  Sometimes things seem extreme, and we wonder why anyone has to suffer them.  Perhaps some of the things aren't quite as bad as we think, because we are scared of change and loss, and from an eternal perspective, those things are very temporary.  Other things really are horrible, and seem intolerable, but still... God has a reason why he allows it, and no matter what it is or who it is, he will make things alright in the end.  More than alright.  Utterly healed or solved.  We will all be whole and at peace. 
Today, as we look forward to God's resolution, maybe we can use the in between time to be patient with the people around us who need to change... and maybe even take the opportunity to do some changing of our own. :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

2 Peter 1:16

"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty."
2 Peter 1:16

With all of the conspiracy theories out there and the things that seem downright crazy to believe... it is good to remember that God isn't one of them. :) No matter how strange it can sound to other people when we talk about what we know of God, or how hard it is to find meaning sometimes when everything seems disconnected and falling apart... he is the one thing that never goes away, and that actually makes all the rest of it make sense.  I think we limit ourselves a lot when we try to make God fit into our tiny little imaginations that only allow things that we can see and touch. ... God is much more than that, and we limit what he can teach us if we refuse to try to see and go farther than that.  There is no fiction as amazing as the reality that is God, and if we think that he is something that any human on earth could dream up, then we are definitely not seeing him clearly.  God surpasses fiction... and is actually what Fiction has always wanted to be.  So, today, let's rejoice in a little reality.  I love fiction... don't misunderstand me... but it is NOTHING compared to the reality that is God.

Friday, June 27, 2008

1 Peter 4:15 -- On Staying Out of It

"But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters."
1 Peter 4:15

I know that it is serious, but this one sort of made me laugh this morning. Busybody in the same list as murderer. I guess it drives home how serious God is about forbidding it. Let's do our best to stay out of other people's business today. Not that we shouldn't help, or listen, or support when asked... but we shouldn't be worrying about their problems. We have enough of our own. Sort of the Mote-Beam idea, right? Let's work on clearing our own vision today, keeping the spirit, and giving other people a chance to be who they are, not what we say about them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

1 Peter 4:12-13

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
1 Peter 4:12-13

I do this so often... think: why is this happening?  What did I do wrong?  (Or, sometimes I know *exactly* what I did wrong, but I still feel sorry for myself.)  When, really... it isn't anything strange or out of the ordinary.  Just life.  We're supposed to be tested, and if I always got tests that it was easy for me to deal with, then I wouldn't be growing and learning, right?  Today, let's work on rejoicing... no matter what is going on with us.  Suffering helps us learn... not just knowledge, but wisdom.  Sincerely, if we look back at our lives, which of us can say that our sufferings haven't made us better people than we were before?  God's lessons are always designed for our growth, and ultimate happiness.  So, let's be glad that God cares about us enough to not leave us alone, where we are... but cares enough to spur us on to better things... a better self. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

1 Peter 3:3-4

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
1 Peter 3:3-4

I like the "hidden man of the heart" part.  I have this mental image of a tiny little man peeking out... kind of a "man behind the curtain" sort of a thing. ... And, you know, that seems fairly accurate.  The person we are inside is often different than the person that we portray to other people.  It doesn't work that way with God.  With God, we are the tiny little man or woman behind the curtain.  He doesn't care about the trimmings and the trappings... the glitterati part that we show to others.  He just cares about who we are inside, and of course how that inside person translates into action.  We could have perfect hair, jewelry, clothing, and still not be who we need to be inside.  Today, let's work on that inside self, the one that God looks at.  Let's work on sprucing *that* person up, dusting him off, getting him a little sun, and enhancing the meek and quiet spirit.  Let's be loving, not argumentative, and totally devoted to God. :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Psalms 106:7-10

"Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.
Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.
He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.
And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy."
Psalms 106:7-10

I think we are very much like the Israelites.  It would be nice, of course, to think that we have learned from their example... and maybe we have in some ways, but I read this today, and I'm thinking we do the same things.  We lack understanding about what God does in so many cases.  We forget what he has done for us in the past.  We provoke him... and, still, he saves us, and redeems us.  Isn't that amazing?
All the things the Israelites did, we do. Instead of a Golden Calf, maybe it is a house, or a car, or a job, or a person that we worship more than God. ... Instead of wandering in the wilderness, maybe we're wandering in Suburbia.  But there are lots of parallels. :) ... Today, let's try to learn from their example.  Let's work on understanding God's work.  Let's work on remembering what he has done for us... and let's trust his judgment and try not to provoke him.  I have no doubt that God still loves us and still wants to bless us, and if we let go of the Golden Calf and all the other souvenirs of hell.... maybe we'll get to see our own version of the promised land. :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

1 Peter 2:15-16 -- On Choosing Good

"For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God."
1 Peter 2:15-16

I like the idea here that we're helping Good triumph over evil, just by staying within the law. I also love the idea of using our freedom wisely. We think of freedom as the power to do whatever we want... and so it is, to a certain extent, but a better way to think about it is the power to choose our own consequences, as part of choosing the action.   Choosing to harm others rather than to help them carries natural consequences, short term and long term.

Today, let's make sure that we are choosing the things that help good to triumph.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Alma 37:33

"Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ."
Alma 37:33

We hear a lot about withstanding temptation, but less so on *how.*  I like this scripture, because it gives us some insight into that question.  The instructions are simple, but important... mainly it is faith.  If we are trying to withstand temptation alone, that is half the problem.  We NEED God's help, and his support.  Getting and keeping the spirit will help with that.  Repentance and humility help with that. 
We need to be meek and lowly in heart.  I think in part that means that we need to recognize our need for God's help.  Keeping the spirit will help us to be sensitive to its loss... and recognize our need to get it back.  That helps us with temptation right there... if we're constantly talking to God and aware of how far away we are from him and our relationship to him, it is a lot harder to fit temptation in... and a lot easier to scare it off.
Prayer is also an act of faith.  Believing in God enough to act on it and talk to him.  That's a great start.  Today, let's work on our faith any way we can.  If we don't have any other ways handy, let's pray. :) ... And as we work on our faith, we'll also be working on our temptation resistance.  Great how everything fits together that way. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

James 5:16-17

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months."
James 5:16-17

I like the confess our faults to one another part. ... Instead of hiding our weaknesses from other people, maybe if we expressed them and didn't conceal them, we would get a lot more help in learning to make them strengths... and also, really, understand so much clearer how similar we all are.  We'd have a support system spanning the planet if we really talked to each other about what is going on in our lives, and prayed for each other, as the scripture also asks. :) Prayer matters.  And the next verse emphasizes this point, as well as the point about us all being in the same boat.  Everyone gets tempted... and God is listening to all of us.  We can make a difference in the world.

Friday, June 20, 2008

James 4:13-15

"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that."
James 4:13-15

This whole chapter talks about being submissive and humble, and these verses seem to explain the whole idea behind that.   Our lives are a vapor.   We really don't know what will happen from one day to the next, and we can't predict things.   I think we rail against that sometimes, because we really want a sense of control over our lives... we want to be able to plan for tomorrow, and have things our way.  Unfortunately, in some ways, it doesn't work that way.  But fortunately in some ways too.  I look back at my life and I wonder how completely wrong my life would have gone at certain points if it were really controlled by me. :) Instead of looking at our lack of control as a bad thing, maybe we can see it from the other side today.   The fact that God is guiding our lives is SO much better than if we were... right?   We make plans and put down roots, and God comes and digs them up, and we panic.   We have no idea what comes next, or how we're going to deal with this unpredictable situation.  But God knows what will come next, and he knows we can handle it, or he wouldn't give it to us.  He knows what we will learn and what we will become, and how much stronger and better we can be. ... And, sincerely, being able to let go of some of that control is freeing.  We don't have to be stressed about having control, or worry about what will happen tomorrow.  We can relax, and let God have control of that.   When we do make plans, the wise advice of the third verse helps us.   We should say "If the Lord will."   That not only reminds us to counsel with the Lord in everything that we do, but reminds us that we don't have to be stressed about tomorrow.   No matter what happens, good or bad, it is all part of the journey God is taking us on to our own personal promised land.  We don't know the way, but he does. ... And as we listen to him and accept his guidance, he will make us strong enough to face the daily challenges of the journey.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

James 3:1-2

"My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."
James 3:1-2

The Joseph Smith Translation for the first verse says "strive not for the mastery." ... Still kind of confusing when I read it this morning. What does that mean? I don't know for sure, but here is my take on it. Maybe it means that we shouldn't seek out high positions... not "lust for power" and that sort of thing, because having more responsibility means more condemnation when we screw up... as we all do, noted in the next verse. We all offend, in many things. We're not perfect, and we've got plenty to work on... so maybe we don't fight our way to the top... we try to solve problems where we are. Not to say that we should walk away from any calling at all, because if God gives us something to do... inside *or* outside the church... that is what we should go and do. We just don't need to be better than everyone else... plus, if we let go of the competitiveness and the hunger for power, we'll be a LOT more satisfied with wherever God wants us to be, whether that is a "high" or a "low" position in the eyes of anyone else. If it is where God wants us to be, that is all that matters.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Luke 6:30-31

"Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."
Luke 6:30-31

This is great stuff.  Seriously... I love it when the rules are so interesting. :) "Give to every man that asketh of thee" (and I am sure that he means women as well.)  So, if someone asks me for something, then I give it.  Am I okay with that?  Hmm.  It makes you think about how attached you are to your earthly possessions, and how much you trust God. :) This whole thing is about faith... if someone takes your stuff, you shouldn't ask for it back.  What?? :) How much do we trust God?  And then, we should treat people as we would like to be treated.  This is a huge thing... do we really do this, ever?   Do we treat our Boss as we would like to be treated?  Our families?  Our co-workers?  The people who are mean to us?  The people who take our stuff? :) Do we have the faith to really try to live this way in our lives?  I think it is awfully cool.  It is a great way to treat life, and so relaxing to not be attached to your stuff. :) If someone wants it, you can let it go.  The Lord might have a more important use for it somewhere else. :) Can we do it?  Maybe not at first, and not for things that are essential to our lives (I'm talking about the oxygen tank, NOT the chocolate bar, by the way)... but let's try it today.  What a great day it will be to let go of some of that ownership stress and really share with others... part of our journey to becoming a Zion people, right? :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

James 2:2-4

"For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?"
James 2:2-4

The Joseph Smith Translation for verse 4 says "Are ye not then in yourselves partial judges, and become evil in your thoughts?" ... I think that clarifies it nicely.  Too often we judge people by superficial things: Grooming, smell, clothing... etc.  We tend to dismiss people who don't fit into our "class" or our sphere of experience.  We might think this person is dirty, so he or she isn't like us, or this person is rich and isn't like us, or this person is ... whatever.  And it doesn't really matter what it is that makes us think of that person as OTHER, or unlike ourselves... in that instant we have judged them and excluded them from our circle in some way.  I think we all do it to a certain extent.  If we don't include them in our circle because they are married or because they are single, or because they smell of cigarettes, or because they wore jeans to church, or because are poor, or because they are rich... we're not even giving people a chance.  If we treat people differently before we even have a chance to know them, then we really have "become evil" in our thoughts.  I need to work on this.  At church, at work, and just wherever I go during the day, there are definitely people that I consider more like myself and less like myself, and I think I do treat them differently to a certain extent.  I'm going to work on that this week, and I invite you to do the same.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 46:30

"He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh."
Doctrine and Covenants 46:30

This is very cool... a scripture that tells us how to get what we ask for. :) Of course, it isn't that simple.  If we really want a new car, we can't just get into spiritual mode and ask for it, and *poof* new car. :) Part of having the spirit with us is being in tune with God and wanting what he wants... now, sometimes, God WILL want a new car for us.  Especially if we just have a two-door and have 12 children. 
God has granted material blessings to me in the past when I had a real need.  I think it happens... but the idea here isn't to just get rich and have more toys than everyone else.  The idea is that if we work on having the spirit, God will be able to do as we ask, because we won't ask for anything inappropriate.  So, today, let's work on having the spirit with us, and being on the same page with God.  Then, we can ask for what we truly need.  Asking is a great thing, and we should have that kind of dialogue with God, who wants us to ask, and who wants us to seek good things.  Two verses after this, it reminds us to give thanks as well.  Another good idea. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

James 1:13-15

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
James 1:13-15

I think this illustrates how much we're responsible for our own sin.  Sometimes we want to pass the responsibility off on someone or something else... anything to make it not our deal.  The truth is, most sin springs to life in our own minds... we need to work on keeping our thoughts good, so that they don't turn into unmanageable monsters.  I think it also emphasizes the seriousness of sin. ... Sin "bringeth forth death."  That is pretty clear.  Today, let's work on retaining some life... on avoiding sin, and trying not to tempt ourselves so much.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

1 Nephi 20:18

"O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea."
1 Nephi 20:18

I really like this one because I think that it shows what God really wants.  He isn't about obedience for the sake of power or feeling superior.  He doesn't need that sort of silly build-yourself-up-by-slamming-others stuff.  The reason that he asks our obedience is so that we can be at peace.  So that we can be pure, and holy... he asks it for OUR benefit. 
That matters a lot to me... probably because I have a problem with authority in a lot of cases. :) ... But not with this kind of authority.  Leadership should be about building other people up, and not tearing them down.  This is a clear lesson, in this scripture and elsewhere. ... Today, let's listen to God's commandments because we love him, and because he wants only good things for us, and try to remember that God *never* abuses the trust we place in him.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hebrews 12:27

"And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain."
Hebrews 12:27

This scripture is talking about the shaking of the earth, actually, but to me it kind of struck me in a spiritual sort of way instead.  I think that is part of the process for us, as well as the earth... we need to get rid of any parts of ourselves that can be shaken and thus destroyed... leaving only the unshakable solidity of utter confidence.  Takes a lot of thought and study and time... and FAITH... to get there, but I think that is where we all need to end up eventually.  Doubting nothing, right?  Today, maybe a good thing to do is evaluate our shakiness.  Where are we having doubts?  Where are our concerns?  And then we can get in there and learn more, and pray for help with understanding, so that we can become more unshakeable. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Daniel 12:10

"Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand."
Daniel 12:10

I've talked about this scripture before, but you know... it just hit me again today.  If there is no other reason at all for being righteous and being on God's side... it is this.  The wise shall understand, and the wicked won't.  In fact, in this scripture, "wise" is the opposite of "wicked" ... wise equals good, or righteous.  As we do what God asks us to, we gain wisdom and understanding.  And as we fall away from God, we actually lose those things.  I think that is the scariest part of the whole thing... losing some of who you are.  And it is an *important* part.  The part that seeks truth, the part that loves knowledge.  When we give up God, we give up SO much, because God is who offers it to us.  Today, let's remember... God is about knowledge and clarity.  When we are confused or lost... that usually means we need to get back in touch with him.  He wants us to find the truth, and embrace it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Helaman 13:11

"But if ye will repent and return unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not."
Helaman 13:11

This comes right after a part in this chapter where God talks about how the Nephites are going to be faced with utter destruction if they don't repent.  Completely destroyed, wiped out... Zzzzt.  But, even after that kind of a warning, for some pretty serious things... God offers repentance.  If we stop and turn around, and return to God, things can be alright.  He *wants* to forgive us.  He wants us to get back on track. 
If we think of ourselves as the children or students, we can see that the last thing that God as the instructor or parent wants to do is not communicate with us anymore... or withdraw assistance.  That is totally against who he is, what he stands for.  They only reason an instructor or parent would withdraw might be if we are destroying the learning environment for other students or harming others. ... But even if that is our situation, there is a way out.  We have to understand what we are doing that is harmful, and agree to stop doing it.  Not just for others, but for ourselves too.  We'll never learn and grow and accomplish the things that we want to otherwise.  We shouldn't just stop and never learn to walk just because we are frustrated.  And we shouldn't flunk out of Kindergarten because we're angry with some other kids.  We need to keep going and get some of the basics down ... clear our lives through repentance, so that we can move on to bigger things. 
Today, let's work on letting go of our frustration and getting back to work.  The lessons are difficult sometimes for us, because we're still very young in terms of growing up and becoming like God. ... But they are essential.  And God is ready to welcome us back at any point, forgive us, hug us, and get us going again.  Let's be humble enough to accept his help.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hebrews 11:13-14

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country."
Hebrews 11:13-14

Fascinating stuff, seriously. I like the whole idea of seeking a country, or a homeland, here.  I think we're all missing that in some ways.  Spiritually more than physically probably... but still.  I sometimes feel lost in this world.  It doesn't always feel like home to me.  I don't know if that is a common feeling, but I suspect that we all feel like that occasionally. ... And the homeland that we're seeking is God's country, where we will go to the place that he has prepared for us.  We're all going to feel like strangers and pilgrims here sometimes because we belong to God (by choice), not to the Earth the way it is now.  Which doesn't mean we should leave the Earth behind... I'm sure we still have plenty to do here.  But it is good to remember sometimes that we're seeking for something better.  A truer home.  That helps us to trust God and his promises, that we don't always see immediately... but we know what our goal is, and that everything that we do for God brings us closer to that goal.  To home.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 50:21-25

"Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?
Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you."
Doctrine and Covenants 50:21-25

I like the whole connection here between truth and light.  This scripture starts out with an education theme, talking about ideal learning and teaching... that when the Spirit of truth is present, everyone gets it. :) We don't have to explain it over and over again, or hear it over and over again.  It is there, and everyone understands, and is uplifted by the experience.  Obviously not all learning experiences are that ideal, but I think it is interesting that *truth* makes the difference... when we are willing to tell the truth, and when we are willing to hear the truth... and believe me, the truth is hard to present *and* hard to accept sometimes... that's when the Spirit can come in and translate it directly to our souls.  And then the scripture goes on and starts the truth/light analogy... that which doth not edify is darkness.  Darkness of understanding certainly, but perhaps also darkness of emotion... darkness of soul.  Continuing... what God presents to us is light, and the more light we receive, the more he gives... until the perfect day... when, presumably, we will be filled completely with light... like Moses when he came back from talking with God, his face was so bright the children of Israel didn't want to look at him... :) Another cool thing is that there will *be* a perfect day when we know all the truth, have received all the light... that will be spectacular. :)
Then, this last verse, which is actually leading into more stuff in the section, but it says that knowing the truth can chase darkness from us.... the more light we have, the less darkness... like the scripture that says "light and truth forsake the evil one" ... the more good we have, the less bad... and seriously... who wants the darkness?  It feels like hell, literally.  And I wonder... if truth is light... is it as easy to tell the difference between truth and falsehood as it is between light and darkness?  How much do we deceive ourselves?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Isaiah 28:9-10

"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little."
Isaiah 28:9-10

This is interesting. Sometimes I get ahead of myself, and want God to tell me all the really intricate hard-to-understand things, when usually, I haven't even gotten the basics down.  It is hard for us sometimes to realize that we can't just skip up to college when we are in second grade... those things seems way way more interesting.  But we'll never be able to cope with all the things that we are presented with in college until we learn the basics.  And some of the basics are pretty tough.  We have to pass Faith 101 way before we can take the graduate level Faith 980... the class that the Brother of Jared took in order to move Mount Zerin.  We're all at different levels, because God teaches us individually.  We can't expect to jump into Holy Ghost 723 before we pass remedial Holy Ghost 99.  So, we need to know our level better, and one way to do that is to ask the Lord to teach us that particular thing... he will always give us a lesson that will challenge us, and help us to pass the current class. :)
Also, because we are all on different levels, we can't hold anyone to our personal standards as we are trying to build each other and help each other.  We can only encourage general gospel standards... and even then, we need to be careful.  The gospel says, "Keep the Sabbath Day Holy." So, we can talk about what we are each trying to do in that area, but we're almost certainly in different classes on most subjects.  We shouldn't try to hold someone to Sabbath Day 450 when they are struggling with Sabbath Day 101.  It won't help.  And, you know... if you are in some 101 or even remedial classes, don't despair... so are we all.  We can't major in everything. :) We're good at different things, and that's one of the reasons we need each other... so that we have someone to teach, and someone to learn from, every step along the way.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hebrews 11:1

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1

This is a scripture that I have heard a lot over the years, and I wonder if some of the wonder and impact of this scripture is lost because we hear it so often. ... Think about hope.  What do we hope for?  Health, peace, a nice toy for Christmas... lots of things. :) And the hope is pretty intangible.  It is nice to hope for something, but it isn't real to us without something else mixed in.  The scientist studies a disease for years, hoping to find a cure, or a way to battle it... hoping for a lead, for something to work with.  One day, the breakthrough comes, and suddenly that hope turns more immediate... more tangible.  I think that is the way it works with the gospel too.  We merely believe a lot of things... and sometimes it is a big thing, sometimes it is gradual, but afterward, there is a whole other dimension.  Faith is tangible.  It is imminent.  A connection between hope and reality... one that leads one to become the other. ... And that is *amazing* ... being able to *feel* the truth.  Being able to make our hopes into realities. ... Learning more about the incredible depth and power of God.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mosiah 4:3

"And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them."
Mosiah 4:3

King Benjamin rocks. :) I love how he explained the gospel to the people and helped them learn some personal responsibility... and part of that was repentance.  Repentance is hard... but this verse shows why, even in the hardest cases, repentance is completely worth it.  Read that... joy.  Peace of conscience.  Christ stands ready to forgive us, if we will do the work of repentance.  Part of that is admitting that we were wrong, and God is right... which is sometimes the hardest part.  It is hard to let go of wanting things a certain way, even when we know it is impossible.  But when we do sincerely let go of our sins, and turn to Christ, he is always there, loving us, and helping us back on the path.  And that joy and that peace are the end result of that process.  Sometimes very difficult and painful... but in the end, always always worth it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mosiah 4:16

"And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish."
Mosiah 4:16

It is easy to get wrapped up in ourselves during the day... after all, we've got things that we legitimately need to focus on in order to fulfill our responsibilities to God, family, work, etc.  As we go, though, we often encounter other people, definitely including strangers, outside our circle of attention.  And some of them need our help as well.  As we come across people today on our path, let's work on breaking out of our little "me" mindsets for a moment... work on noticing people around us, whoever they are, and helping them as there is need. ... Just as God helps us, even though we just ask and ask and rarely give anything back.  We need his unconditional love and blessings... so let's spread it around to others as well. :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Psalms 10:4

"The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts."
Psalms 10:4

I like the idea of God being in all our thoughts.  We know we need to pray, and we have heard about praying "always," but do we actually do it?  Do we know what that means? ... I'm not sure I always do, but here is my best guess... I think that sometimes I really do have God with me throughout a long period of time, by kind of letting him have the background of my mind.  I can still take care of things at work, have other conversations, but ... he is always there to come back to, and even to flash a thought at during sometimes. :) Not in the sense that God is ever wholly absent from our lives... even when we aren't paying attention, he is trying to help us, but I mean, more as a conscious knowledge of his presence, and an effort on our side to be present with him.  That's when we have the spirit, and God is the first thing that we turn to mentally, in any situation. ... A good thing to work for today.  And the scripture gives us another clue about how to get there.  Pride prevents it... so humility must make it easier. :) Let's work on humbly inviting God into our thoughts today, and keeping him there as we live our lives.  He wants to be part of it... and, as a bonus, God always makes things better.  So, it will be an especially good day. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hebrews 6:15

"And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise."
Hebrews 6:15

A good reminder this morning.  Enduring isn't just about suffering through... whining all the way. :) It is about patience, trust, and hope.  Like in the Book of Mormon where the people in slavery submitted *cheerfully* ... that's amazing.  And so is this... this verse is talking about Abraham, who went through a lot.  But he did it patiently.  He trusted God, and he hoped for more than he saw around him, through God.  Today, I'm going to try to endure and hope, without whining about it. :) Please join me. :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hebrews 5:8-9

"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."
Hebrews 5:8-9

This helps me remember that Christ showed us the way.  He wasn't just automatically perfect... he had to make choices and learn just like we do.  He made the correct choices, of course... unlike us in a lot of cases, but still... he learned through suffering too.  He went through what we go through... and more, and learned what it was like to be human, to be who we are.  He understands us better than we understand ourselves. :) I think the scripture also makes it clear that suffering comes whether we sin or not.  Some, of course, is the result of our choices... but even if we are doing things exactly right (as Christ did), we're still going to suffer.  Why?  Because that is how we learn.  That is how we grow closer and closer to who we can be... to perfection.  Obstacles, challenges, and suffering in this life are tools... things that can help us learn and grow and reach the next life in much better shape.  It isn't always fun, but it is always valuable, always something that helps us refine ourselves and becomes better and brighter and stronger and shinier. :) Let's try to remember that today, and not despair of our sufferings, but recognize their value.

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