Sunday, July 27, 2008

John 14:2

"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."
John 14:2

I'm moving this week, so I'm probably preoccupied with it... but that's what this scripture made me think of.  It is so scary and stressful to move to a new place... even when it is a great place.  Especially when it is very far, you're leaving people you love behind, and you don't know anyone, or the area at all.  And someone going before you, to prepare the way, to find a place to live, to make things ready for your arrival... that would make ALL the difference.  Instead of stressing out about a new place, you would have a built-in friend, and a place to stay, and nothing to be concerned with beyond the necessity of change. :) ... And yes, this scripture is about death... but it is similar.  Death is not as horrible as we sometimes think... it is a journey to an amazingly cool place.  ...But it *is* scary, and it *is* very far away, at least in terms of our perceptions.  Christ went before us, to prepare things for us, so that we won't be lost, and so that things will be okay.  When we get there, we don't have to find our own space, or worry about sleeping on the floor, because he's taken care of the preparations for us.  I love that he does that for us, and that he has done that for the people I care about who have gone before.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Moroni 7:42-43

"Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart."
Moroni 7:42-43

You know, I am more and more convinced that nothing in this world is coincidental.  Everything works together to teach us and to bring us closer to God... and yeah, we get off track, and yes, sometimes we encounter choices where God doesn't give us the answer, because it really is up to us and either way will get us to a good place.  But the whole time, we're encountering these chances to learn some faith, to learn some hope, and to learn some humility. ... The part I think that is really interesting here is "without faith there cannot be any hope" ... we *need* to believe, or despair is just waiting to drag us down.  God gives us that perspective to see beyond our limitations, and past the dark clouds that threaten to engulf us at times.  And when we are meek, and recognize his place of supremacy in our lives, and we trust him... it is easier to have that hope and faith, because infallible God is helping us out, and we aren't left to our fallible selves. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

1 John 2:27

"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
1 John 2:27

You know, this scripture was confusing me a little bit. The part where it says "ye need not that any man teach you" seems strange.  Other places in the scriptures it talks about teachers and learners coming together and basically learning together, and so when I read this it kind of threw me.  I looked up the footnote, and that one is worded even more strongly: "Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach..." (D&C 43:15).  So, my conclusion was that there are some things that we need to learn from the spirit... not listening to the world, because the world knows nothing about them.  In those cases, *we* are the teachers, sent by God through his spirit to teach, and not to learn.  We are learning directly from God, and we really don't need anyone but him as a teacher in those cases. :) All the world can do is confuse us, but God offers clarity.  I think getting a testimony is like that.  No matter how many people talk to you about it, that testimony is between you and God.  We don't have a testimony of what someone says *about* God... we have a testimony of God himself, and of our interactions with him.
That doesn't mean that we should shun all instruction, especially Sunday School teachers or our instructors when we're trying to get a degree. :) There are circumstances where it is *really* better to step back and learn rather than assert yourself and teach.  I think as we work to build Zion, that is a safe place where everyone learns from each other, and we all learn from God.  And definitely, we should be open to the truth around us, wherever it is.  But when we're out there in the world, we need to be careful that we aren't listening to people that tell us that the truth is a lie, or that God isn't really there, or doesn't really matter.  With regard to our relationships with God, we should listen to God first and only, in order to keep ourselves safe from those that would lead us astray.  What God himself has taught us can't be contradicted by any mortal, and we shouldn't let anyone poison prayer for us.  That communication we have individually with God matters, and it helps.  Let's not listen to anyone who tries to get us to ignore that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Zephaniah 3:9

"For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."
Zephaniah 3:9

How amazing would it be if there were no language barriers... if we could all speak the same language?  This scripture is talking about the second coming, and that after a lot of destruction-type things, that God will give us all a pure language... imagine that.  Not that we don't love French, and Russian, and English... I mean, I was an English major; I *love* words and the cool things you can do with them... but just think: everyone speaking the same language, and a PURE language... one where your meaning is apparent, no having to say things 19 times to try to express your thoughts. :) Think of the poetry you could write, because the exact word *will* be there when you need it. :) On the down side, I will have to replace all of my refrigerator magnetic poetry magnets... but on the upside... maybe men and women will finally be able to communicate. :)
Seriously, to be able to say exactly what you mean... and to be able to talk to anyone, anywhere, without that extra barrier of language... that is amazing.  The spirit already breaks down barriers, but this is huge... and think of how many barriers will have to come down before we can build a common community... before we can become one as a Zion people.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 70:14-16

"Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.
Now, this commandment I give unto my servants for their benefit while they remain, for a manifestation of my blessings upon their heads, and for a reward of their diligence and for their security;
For food and for raiment; for an inheritance; for houses and for lands, in whatsoever circumstances I, the Lord, shall place them, and whithersoever I, the Lord, shall send them."
Doctrine and Covenants 70:14-16

I love the "and this not grudgingly" part here. :) God is going to bless us temporally as we serve him, and serve the people around us (which is really part of serving him, but I thought I would add it for emphasis).  He is going to make sure we are fed and clothed, that we have a place to sleep and provide for our needs, and even some of our wants.  He blesses us abundantly as we work at blessing other people and serving him.  And then he has to warn us about "grudgingly." ... :) Hilarious that we are so caught up in the temporal wealth game, when it's God that gives it to us anyway.
Zion communities are built out of Zion people.  We need to learn to give, to share... and to accept what other people have to offer... here and now, so that someday we can get there.
I know it is hard... almost everything in society teaches us ownership... this is mine, and this is yours... and it is easy to believe somewhere subconsciously that good people have enough, and bad people don't.  But some people who have plenty of faith and goodness are poor... and some people who have neither are rich.  God will take care of us as we serve him... and God will take care of others through that service as well.  Like love, the more we give, the more we get… in a spiritual sense *and* in a temporal sense.  We have to stop looking at everything as a non-renewable resource.  God has plenty, and as we share our abundance and provide for others, God will provide for us.

Friday, July 18, 2008

1 Peter 2:11

"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
1 Peter 2:11

... I think that you can get a little war going on within yourself pretty easily. ... or a BIG war, of course.  Any "fleshly lust" ... which I take to mean not only sexual addictions, but any addiction at all that drives you to an inner war.  Because, of course, a lot of the scarier addictions are trying to fill the lack of some of the more basic needs... human contact, love, meaning, etc.  We sometimes try to fill these needs through drugs or sex... or food, or sleep, or television... :) Whatever it is, whenever we try to satisfy a physical need in an inappropriate (as defined by God) way... then we throw ourselves into an inner turmoil, because our *spiritual* needs aren't being met.  And when we try to fill our physical needs with something that doesn't really fill them (as above), then our physical needs aren't being met *either.* ... Which can lead to a pretty scary war within, especially if we continue to solve our problems with more problems and fill our inner voids with emptiness.  It only exacerbates the problems, and makes the war bloodier.  Spiritual and Physical both crying out in pain, and more and more of whatever your chosen addiction to try to stifle the cries.  We may not know immediately how to fill the need in a good way, but I think it is pretty plain that the addiction (whatever it is) is not the answer.  And, when we recognize that we are in an addictive cycle, then we can try to pull out of it.  Avoid attempting to solve our problems in a way that has never worked... and start praying our guts out for something that *will* solve them.  Instead of destroying ourselves from within, let us "Look to God and live." ... He has the answer to every question, and the cure for every ailment... as always. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

1 John 3:20-21

"For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God."
1 John 3:20-21

I love this stuff. These scriptures seem to illustrate so well how much God loves us, no matter where we are in terms of spiritual preparedness. ... If we haven't been doing very well, and our heart condemns us, and we KNOW we need to do better, God reassures us here... God is greater than our heart, and he knows that we can come through okay.  We don't have to feel like failures or slugs.  He will assist us, and we *can* get back on track, no matter how impossible it seems.  We can ask God to step in and help us out, and he WILL. ... With God, there is *always* hope.
And then, in the next verse... if our heart doesn't condemn us, then we have more confidence when we talk to God and ask him for help as well. ... So the point here is God loves us SO much, and he wants us to be happy and come closer to him, no matter where we are today.  He doesn't want us to wait around for a while, suffering.  He wants us to come to him, talk to him, and start getting that help today.  No matter how impossible things seem, God makes them possible to handle.  Today, let's do a heart evaluation, see whether we stand condemned in our own estimation. ... And no matter what we find, let's talk to God about how to make it better.

Monday, July 14, 2008

1 John 1:3

"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
1 John 1:3

This one struck me today because of the religious controversy I find myself in the middle of in real life. :) I'm one of the Community Coordinators for a website (and thus, theoretically, unbiased), and some of the users have been asking us to "encourage" the Messianic Jews, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, etc. to post somewhere else besides in the Christianity area... because (apparently) they aren't real Christians. ... Yeah.  So, it is disturbing me somewhat... and I really appreciated this verse today because of that.  To me, it says ... listen, we're sharing our experiences with you so that we can understand each other better, so that we can hang out together and see each other's perspectives.  We don't share our experiences and beliefs to further an argument or to tear each other down... but to grow closer to God.  Today, let's work on not using the gospel as a club, to beat other people who disagree with us down, but rather as an instrument of peace, to further the cause of fellowship, and help everyone stand taller, all of us joining in the love of God.

Friday, July 11, 2008

1 John 3:10-11 -- On Active Love

"In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."
1 John 3:10-11

I like this, but am also a little concerned. I like it because... how easy to tell who the children of God are. :) People who do good things and who love each other.  I'm concerned because... am I that person?  Do I do righteous things, or do I just kind of avoid the bad things? :) Do I love other people, or do I just kind of try to avoid offending them?  This scripture sounds a lot more active than I sometimes am... and later in this same chapter it says "let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth." ... Which just kind of hammers it home.  Today, I am going to try to be more action-oriented with my righteousness and my love. I invite you to do the same. :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Alma 5:54

"Yea, will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another; yea, will ye persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the holy order of God, wherewith they have been brought into this church, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and they do bring forth works which are meet for repentance—--"
Alma 5:54

This "supposing that ye are better one than another" part is interesting.  I think that is pretty rampant... but it is false.  We don't need a "valid" reason to claim better-ness, because no matter what someone else is like, we can find something to criticize.  Every time we compare ourselves and think that we are better, maybe we are trying to boost our self-esteem, but the plain truth is that we *aren't* better, no matter the reason... race, schooling, amount of sin, beauty... whatever.  God says, right here, that we aren't better than anyone else... and that he wants us to stop believing it.
One way to overcome this is to stop comparing.  It is hard sometimes when we feel intimidated... we almost feel a need to compare, so that we can go back to being better. :) But if we stop comparing, we'll learn other ways to boost our confidence.  And unlearning that comparison trick will definitely be worth it.  It is really hard to make friends of our competitors.  Instead, maybe we can learn a lot from other people.  We're all more open when we aren't competing. :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

1 John 4:18

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out all fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
1 John 4:18

Went Visiting Teaching last night, and in the course of our conversation we talked about favorite scriptures.  This was one of the ones that was brought up.  I think it is interesting... it is basically saying that love equals confidence, right?  I find that to be true in several ways.  We can see it even in interpersonal relationships.  If we have a really good friend or significant other around, we face the world with a little more boldness... no underlying fear of non-acceptance, or rejection, because we have some back-up.  Someone who we KNOW is on our side.  When we love, and when we are loved, it drives out uncertainty, fear, and a lot of things... we're confident in that area. ... It works with Job interviews too.  If we love a subject or a task, even if we are scared to death... focusing on that topic or task, we can talk animatedly and well about why we love it, what we love about it... it skips past the conversational awkwardness, and gets right to what you love to do.  With God, it seems like all of those things can only get better... knowing we are loved by God, knowing how much we love God, and focusing on Godly things... these all help us avoid fear, uncertainty, and those gaping black holes we find within ourselves sometimes.  I really think that, no matter how scary those are sometimes, this scripture gives us an idea of how to fill them.  Find something to love.  A hobby, a person, a cause... those things definitely fill us up, and God creates a limit, so the pits of despair are no longer bottomless... and we can find hope, and love, where before there was a *lot* of fear, and a lot of emptiness.  Today, let's work on loving the things and people around us.  Let's work on accepting love as well... and as we learn to love the things and people around us, and accept love in return, our relationship with God will improve too, which is great, since he basically IS love, and we can't get more confident than when he is on our side. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Job 8:8-10

"For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:
(For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:)
Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?"
Job 8:8-10

This is a great scripture, and true.  (Incidentally, I wonder if this is where the phrase "born yesterday" comes from.)  In a lot of ways we *are* but of yesterday and know nothing... which is why we need the scriptures, and why we need other people, especially the older generation, who can help us figure things out.  History matters.  We don't have to learn all of the lessons over again.  Instead, we could learn them from the past, and then build upon them.  Wouldn't that be better?  To have that advantage, because we learned from the past?  So, today, let's try it.  Let's talk to people who have been there.  Let's reach into the Scriptures and read about how people dealt with things in the past... let's talk to the people around us and gather information.  Let's learn more about God and the world, and apply that knowledge to our lives. :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Job 28:28

"And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."
Job 28:28

I like the "to depart from evil is understanding" part because it reminds me that *action* is part of the learning process.  I can study and gain a lot of things intellectually, but until I put it into practice, my learning isn't complete.  We can't just think about what is good and what is evil, we have to do it.  And I'm not sure that fear means horror-movie fright, but perhaps a healthy respect for the superiority of the Lord.  Recognizing that he is in charge, and if we ignore him, there will be unfortunate consequences. ... Most of all though, I just like the idea that as we depart from evil we gain understanding.  We don't get much understanding in the midst of evil... but when we leave, we see so many things that we never had before, and our minds become clearer, and the light starts driving away the vestiges of the darkness.  You learn a lot as you take action to get out of evil situations.  So, today, if we're wallowing in some evil, let's get out.  And if we're not... let's recognize the beauty and clarity of the day, and remember not to fall back in. :)

Friday, July 4, 2008

2 Corinthians 5:7

"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)"
2 Corinthians 5:7

I was talking with a friend this past week about a big decision in my life... and I told her all the reasons, all of the things other people had said, all of the ideas that were swirling around in my head, and she made a really interesting comment about everything that I had been thinking... she called it background noise, and told me to get on my knees.  And she was right.  God does want us to study things out in our minds... in terms of this verse, he wants us to see.  He isn't telling us to blind ourselves or ignore anything.  But he IS asking us to put his will before our own.  What we can see is limited, and even our most logical thought processes are nothing compared to what God can see, and what God knows.  And, if we trust God, that can actually lower our stress level a little bit on these big decisions.  Instead of second-guessing what he has given us, or giving in to panic because the future is totally uncertain, we can put the uncertainties in God's hands.  He knows what needs to happen, and he knows what will come.  We could never prepare ourselves for the unknown, the unforseen. ... But God will.  He will give us the exact things in our lives that will pepare us for whatever comes, and he'll stregthen us so that we can bear it, and learn from it.  Today, wherever we are, no matter how confused the road ahead is, let's work on that faith that can prepare us for the unseen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Alma 41:14-15

"Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good restored unto you again.
For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all."
Alma 41:14-15

I think this is interesting, maybe also a little scary... this chapter is talking about the resurrection and how it works... the soul is restored to the body, etc... but part of that seems to be this.  That whatever you have done in your life will be restored to you as well.  If we have been good and kind and merciful then we will have that restored to us... and if not, we will have whatever we have been restored.  I guess it goes along with the scripture in Mormon 9 talking about the afterlife... "he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still."  I have been learning this stuff most of my life, but it doesn't always hit you how real it is... how badly we need repentance, and how badly we need the atonement.  I think that this principle brings it home to me.  We have to learn to be good NOW, in this life.  We can't just live whatever way and then say sorry... not that God won't accept our apology if sincere, because he will. ...he loves us.  But Deathbed repentance can't change a whole life into something else.  That whole lifetime is going to be restored to us in the resurrection... habits and addictions and obsessions take time and effort to overcome, and even more to build better habits and a better focus to our lives.  We all do ugly things in this life at times... but we never want ugliness restored to us.  We need to learn to do beautiful things, and send out only things that we want returned... because it all will be.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

1 John 2:9-11 -- On the Darkness of Hatred

"He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."
1 John 2:9-11

Here we are at the light and darkness theme again... and I think that this is a really good example of how we blind ourselves sometimes.  We can be praying, reading our scriptures... attending church... and think that we are doing pretty well.  But if we have hatred in our hearts, then we're really sabotaging our own efforts.  And, really... we aren't seeing reality.  If you could see into the souls of the people around you, do you think that any of them would be unlovable?  Every person on this earth has something good inside.  Something good to offer.  And everyone has something bad inside too... something they need to clean out of themselves.  If we focus on the bad parts, then we'll never have good relationships with anyone.  If we focus on the good parts, then we can learn from anyone around us, and help them as well.  We're all in this together... this test of life.  If we help each other, maybe we'll do better on the test then we could do individually.  And... maybe the whole helping each other thing is *part* of the test. :) So, let's not darken ourselves with hatred... but see clearly in the light of love.  Let's see the true goodness in the people around us, and try to draw it out.

Total Pageviews