Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1 Nephi 17:45 -- On Feeling God's Words

"Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God.  Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder."
1 Nephi 17:45

It is interesting that anyone could see an angel and not be permanently changed.  You would think that the reality of eternity would be overpowering enough that you wouldn't forget it. :) However, we can probably all understand it on some level.  Which of us lives as we believe, and as we know to be true, each and every day?  Reality is that we have ups and downs and get closer to and further away from God daily... hourly sometimes.  Perhaps the goal is to flatten the curve a little, stop the scary roller-coaster drops from great heights. :)
Ah..., but I suppose that sounds fun to some of you, so let me add that you aren't strapped in, and the track probably ends before the ride does... you know. :) Hopefully as we learn, we make more forward progress than backward.  Hopefully we can still hear God when he talks to us. 
I think that it is easy to become desensitized. So many things can take us past feeling into numbness, or blankness, or darkness.  We can't walk around thinking that we're too cool to let things affect us.  The books that we read, the shows that we watch, the conversations that we have... all of it collectively, each day, adds up to whether we are sensitive to the Spirit or not.  We've probably all listened to a song in the car and when we later bought the CD and listened to it without all the background noise, heard more lyrics than we originally heard, or at least understood.  I think the same thing happens with God.  He is singing us the song of salvation... of love, of eternity... and if we turn it up really loud, sometimes some of it gets through as we drive along.  But it isn't until we play it softly with our entire attention that we hear all the words, and are able to receive the whole message.  God does speak very loudly sometimes at critical moments in our lives when we need him the most... but if that is the only time that we ever hear him we are only getting the refrain, and not the intricate and surpassingly lovely lyrics contained in each verse.  Perhaps, if we take some time to listen to God, we will be quicker to remember him, and slower to do iniquity.  We'll be able to feel his words in our lives.  And, you know... our conversations with God will probably be a lot more fun when we aren't screaming over the background noise to each other. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

1 Nephi 17:21

"Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy."
1 Nephi 17:21

In this verse, Nephi's brethren think that he can't build a ship, and they regret leaving Jerusalem in the first place, thinking that it won't really be destroyed as their father predicted.  They actually say in the previous verse "it would have been better that they had died . . . than to have suffered these afflictions." ... And I think what strikes me most about this verse is the "we might have been happy" part.  I think a lot in life we look back on choices that we made and wonder what it would have been like, had we taken another path.  What life would be like if this or that had happened... and as intellectually interesting as that kind of pondering can be, it has absolutely no relation to our real life and the real choices that we did make.  We read in Mormon 9:14 "he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still." ... Sometimes it is good to review the past, to remember what God has done for us, and to try not to make the same mistakes.  But it is our job and our quest to make our lives NOW whatever they can be... no matter what circumstances the Lord has given us.  Instead of wondering what might have been, we need to choose happiness now.  Find happiness... because it is there.  It IS possible.  We just have to find it... and God will help us.  He wants us to be happy.  He's cool like that.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

1 Nephi 17:4-5

"And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness.
And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters."
1 Nephi 17:4-5

I think these verses illustrate the path that God leads us on.  Sometimes it is tempting to get through one huge trial and think that we're good, we've overcome the obstacles.  But life isn't just one hurdle.  You look at Nephi's family here... they were in the wilderness for eight years, and they get to this beautiful place, prepared by the Lord so that they wouldn't perish.  Awesome.  They made it, right? ... if you've read the rest of the story, not quite.  But God does give us rest stops sometimes, and helps us not perish.  :) The next hurdle for these guys is crossing the ocean.  That's huge... and after wandering in the wilderness for 8 years, that seems like a huge task.  But God prepared them for it, and made it possible.  We have things in our lives that seem equally impossible sometimes.  After dealing with one trial for years, God throws us another one.  But these things teach us and help us grow.  We are more prepared and ready to face the next trial.  And truly, God is leading us towards the promised land.  Perhaps it isn't a new geographical promised land for all of us, but it is where God wants us to be.  The perfect place for each of us individually.  Although our trials are sometimes unbelievably hard ("I just walked through the wilderness for eight years and now you want me to do WHAT?") ... God still doesn't give us anything that we can't handle, with his help.  So, let's keep going.  Let's take advantage of those rest stops when they come, and then, renewed and refreshed, let's start building the boat to take us where God wants us to be next.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hebrews 11:39-40

"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."
Hebrews 11:39-40

I don't pretend to know exactly what this means... the first verse is talking about the prophets through the years, and the second verse is saying that without us they can't be saved.  It might be a genealogy thing... that we're all tied together that way, or it might be a prophet thing... they have responsibility for us, and they can't succeed without helping us succeed.  Not sure.  But I do know that it is cool.  That we're tied together in some way, and that we need each other.  Imagine... the prophets needing us.  That's not as mind-boggling as God wanting us, but pretty close.  The beginning of the chapter talks about seeing promises far off... so maybe it is just a history thing. :) We need to do our part, so that all of us, throughout history, can be saved.  Whatever way it is, I'm thankful today that we need each other.  We have to work out our own salvation, but it is kind of cool that we get to do it together... if that seeming contradiction makes sense. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

1 Nephi 15:23-24 -- On the Rod of Iron

"And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?
And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction."
1 Nephi 15:23-24

I really like the ask-answer thing here.  I mean, talk about *clear* symbolism.  We don't have to read Lehi's dream and guess what it means (although I love that sort of thing). bWe read this, and we know.  And I think that it also teaches us about other dreams and visions and that we need to look for the symbolism sometimes.

I also really like what it tells us here.  If we hold fast to the rod, Satan can't get us.  The temptations will still come, of course, but we'll be okay.  It shows us the way to stand firm and withstand temptation.  That is a pretty great thing.  The "never perish" part is probably being symbolic of spiritual death, but hey, if we get translated, that's okay too. :)

Today, let's cling to the rod by holding fast to the word of God.  Let's make sure we give God some room in our lives.  Let's read his word, ponder it, and stick to it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

1 Nephi 14:7 -- On Choosing God's Side

"For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other--either to the convincing them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken."
1 Nephi 14:7

I think it is really interesting that the Lord's work will basically force us to choose sides.  We try to be fence-sitters sometimes, thinking that we can have God in our lives, and still do questionable stuff on the side... but that isn't true, and as time progresses towards its end, it becomes more and more apparent how untrue that is.  God doesn't damn us; if we are damned, we damn ourselves.  All he does is make the choices more and more obvious in our lives.  We see where they will lead... to salvation or destruction... and we choose whether to continue on the path as the destination becomes more and more obvious.
It's kind of like Lehi's dream--God gives us the straight path and the iron rod and a view of the tree... even a taste of the fruit.  But, still, some people feel along the iron rod and walk the path in the wrong direction, trying to find their way to the great and spacious building instead. ... Also, don't you find it rather odd that God talks about "convincing" us about peace and life eternal?  Do you think that we become so cynical that we can't even believe in peace anymore... we start believing it is all just a fairy tale, or a Disney interpretation of the facts?  I mean... we *do* have a choice, but why choose discontent and doubt over peace and love?  But we do exactly that... so, so often.  I think we underestimate our ability to lie to ourselves.  We keep telling ourselves that it will get better, or that this is what we wanted... and we ignore the feeling underneath that we should return to God, because we've invested so much in the wrong path already.
Today... let's stop ignoring and choose God's side.  Traveling further along the wrong path won't ever get us to where we need to go.  Let's work on not letting our hearts be hardened or our minds be blinded. Let's walk the path in the direction that promises happiness... not believing the devil's lie that there isn't anyplace better than the great and spacious building. Let's believe in what God offers us, and even if it takes a painful U-turn, let's allow him to convince us of peace, and life eternal.

Monday, September 15, 2008

1 Nephi 13:39

"And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true."
1 Nephi 13:39

One of the things that I like in this verse is the plural... books.  Mmm. I love books. ... And the books convince people that the records (mostly speaking about the first book which is largely the Bible here) are true.  I think that is so cool.  Reading this, I want to sit down and read those books, and get that additional information, you know? ... Fortunately, we have some of those books now.  Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Mormon... some great stuff in there.  And, if it is to convince us that the other records are true... we should read the other records as well, and find out for ourselves what they say.  Amazing things.  I figure if we master the books we've got already and prove to God that we're ready for some new ones, he'll give us some. :) What do you say?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 29:7

"And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;"
Doctrine and Covenants 29:7

I like this... someone quoted it in Sacrament meeting today, and I was thinking about it, and you know... the "elect" always sounds like this elite club where probably Moses and all the cool prophets go to hang out... they are the elect, but me... er... not sure about that.  I'm just average joe mormon: trying, but not always doing everything right.  But as I was thinking about the verse, and looking it up, and reading it, it kind of seemed to me a little more accessible than some of the other "elect" scriptures... because, in a way, it tells us how to be one of the elect, doesn't it?  It says that the elect hear God's voice, and they harden not their hearts.  So... if we *do* that... then, hey... maybe we get to be elect too. :)  Seems like a pretty good deal.  And, if we read the rest of this section, elect sounds like exactly what we want to be.  So, today, let's work on hearing, and not hardening our hearts... if we practice enough, maybe we could all be elect together. :)  How cool is that?

Jeremiah 13:23

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil."
Jeremiah 13:23

You know this one kind of stung me today.  Just opened this up during Sunday School, looking through for something else... and I was like, WOW... so, might as well give up.  If I have a bad habit, looks like I am *stuck.* ... and hey, that is a horrible message for Scripture of the Day!  So why am I using it?  Because whenever we run into scriptures like this, there is always a reason. ALWAYS. ... It is easy to pull verses out of context, and it is easy to feel a little overwhelmed or chastened by some of this... and that is okay, sometimes we need those lessons.  But, the truth is, we know God better than that.  We need to know him a lot more, but we *know* that God doesn't go around telling us we can't change, and that we might as well give up.  So, what else is here? In this case, two verses later, and part of this same thought process, we get "this is thy lot . . . because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood." ... And you know what?  If someone can part the sea, move a mountain, and walk on water... you BET that they could change their skin or spots.  If God was working with them, and it needed to happen.  YES.  Definitely.
And that is what we need to remember here.  It is obviously very hard to break out of evil habits... and God warns us of that here so that we will know that, and work on avoiding them.  But, truly, it isn't a message telling us to give up hope.  God never sends us messages of despair.  If we are willing to change, and have the determination to work at it, then God will help us so that we can succeed.  We're only trapped if we forget God and trust in something else.  If we have him working with us, we can change ourselves... hearts, minds, souls... inside and out... because God will help us do it, no matter how impossible it seems.  People do overcome incredible obstacles... horrible, devastating addictions... deep, black sin.  And so can we, with God's help.

Friday, September 12, 2008

1 Nephi 12:12:18

"And the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, and the Messiah who is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record, from the beginning of the world until this time, and from this time henceforth and forever."
1 Nephi 12:12:18

Isn't this interesting?... I think the whole we-build-our-own great and spacious building thing is fascinating. Our pride and our imagination ... used unwisely I surmise, since imagination can also be a good thing... creates this division, and probably causes the great gulf as well in some ways.  Justice couldn't divide us unless we did something unjust, right?  We start out having access to God, and we build our own walls to divide ourselves from him.  Isn't that scary?  I think sometimes it is easier to blame things on other people or circumstances, but in the end... we choose where we end up.  Just like in the dream... Laman and Lemuel stood in the same place that Sam and Nephi did, and Lehi called to both groups, asking them to come and join him... but one group chose the tree and one group chose the building.  Maybe today we should really look at ourselves and find out if we're already starting to build walls between ourselves and God.  If we're resisting him because we think that buildings offer more shelter than trees... or whatever reason.  And if we are, let's start tearing down those walls before they get great and spacious... and if we see anything dividing us, let's repent or whatever it takes so that division doesn't turn into a gulf.  We need God... without him nothing else makes sense.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

1 Nephi 11:21-23

"And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul."
1 Nephi 11:21-23

It is pretty amazing that God tells us clearly what the most desirable thing in the world is... and as an added bonus, it is also the most joyous to the soul. :) And, it makes sense to me.  Love is a powerful thing... both the presence of it, and the absence of it.  People do crazy things to try to capture it, and desperate things to try and keep it.  Perhaps it is the primary need of a human being. :)
So, along with that... the two great commandments fall into place.  If love from God is the most desirable thing, and love is our primary need... then Loving God and loving other people are the most important things that we can do. :) Even the scripture "if ye have not charity ye are nothing" becomes clearer.  And, I submit, even when we feel like nothing... God's love is what keeps us going.  His love is what can fill those empty places in our souls.  No matter how we keep trying to fill the emptiness with other things, his love is the only thing, in the end, that will ever work.
So, today... let's focus on the *most* desirable thing, and the most joyous to the soul... and seek the love of God by reading, praying, and learning of him.  The scriptures don't lie. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

1 Nephi 10:18-19

"For he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round."
1 Nephi 10:18-19

I like especially the part that says that if we diligently seek, we will find.  There is no chance of looking and looking, and never finding... we just have to keep at it.  God wants us to find him, and he also wants us to learn.  Sometimes the search teaches a lot.  I also like that the way is prepared for everyone.  That there is a way already there, already custom made for us by a loving and wise father, who knows us better than we know ourselves.  There is a way out of whatever dark places we lose ourselves, and a way back to our father's arms.  And it has always been so... God gives each of us the same blessings and opportunities, in that each of us, individually, has our way prepared... there is nothing that we can't escape from, nothing that we can't overcome... because God has built the way, made ladders out of every pit, and made bridges to every fountain of knowledge.  So, today... let's look for the opportunities and blessings that God has placed all around us. He has prepared the way; all we need to do is find it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

1 Nephi 9:6

"But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen."
1 Nephi 9:6

I know that some people I have run across think that the fact that God knows everything means that the universe is somehow predetermined, and forcing them into a certain situation.  And I can understand that fear.  If God already knows whether you are going to succeed or fail, then it seems hard to fight against the outcome... but the truth is, *we* don't know the outcome.  That's one reason we've got the veil drawn and have lost our premortal memories, right? ... And the truth also is that we ALL have a chance to make it, no matter where we stand right at this moment.  We can choose the right path TODAY.  And it is also true that God wants us to succeed: that he will do everything in his power to help us and encourage us to choose the right.  He isn't somehow fighting less strongly than Satan for our souls.  He is fighting harder... allowing us our choices, and the only time that we can't hear him anymore is when we choose not to listen.  God doesn't give up on us... we give up on ourselves.
God's promise to Nephi, and his promise in this verse, isn't just for huge things like getting the brass plates, or moving a mountain... it works for anything that God says or asks of us.  If he asks us to go to church, then there will be a way to get there.  If he asks us to read our scriptures, then there will be a way to fit that into our day. ... And he does ask those things, and there is a way, just as there is always a way for us to get back on track and work our way to him, no matter what.  It is just as easy to assume that we're preordained to achieve heaven as it is to assume hell, isn't it?  Just because God knows it doesn't mean that we don't have our own choice... and it definitely doesn't mean we have an excuse to give up and not try anymore. :) So, today... let's try, knowing that God will prepare the way, and make anything he asks of us possible... and since he asks us to make it to heaven, and to be perfect... let's go for it. ;)

Monday, September 8, 2008

1 Nephi 8:8-10

"And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.
And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.
And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy."
1 Nephi 8:8-10

I think it is weird that we spend so much time searching for happiness in this life, and rarely finding it.  Lehi, who is the speaker above, knew how to get off the roller-coaster ride.  He found the happiness.   Because it didn't look like happiness to some of his sons, they never tried it to see how it tasted.  Perhaps they thought that happiness had to come in a different form... that it doesn't grow on trees. :) But it does.  It isn't something that can be packaged in multi-colored boxes or marketed in a 30-second commercial during the super bowl.  It isn't man-made.  It's a natural result of following the gospel path to the end, of discovering Christ for ourselves, in our own lives... and applying that knowledge through obedience and love.  When we find ourselves in the darkness, we can pray to find the tree.  Happiness is there.  Now, if we can just stop looking in other places... :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

1 Nephi 5:17-19

"And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed--
That these plates of brass would go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed.
Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time. And he prophesied many things concerning his seed."
1 Nephi 5:17-19

I wonder if this is talking about the writings on the plates of brass, or the plates of brass themselves.  And do you think that they will go to his seed only, or everyone?  It would be cool to see the plates of brass, and to see how much they differ from the Bible... because, hopefully at that time there weren't many (any?) mistranslations, but it was a pure source.  Comparing it to our current Bible would be very instructive.  I think it is cool as well, that having the Spirit is always connected with prophecy.  It reminds us of the things that we need to do in our lives to gain and keep the companionship of the Spirit in our lives.  There are SO many things to learn out there... so many things that we already have, that we don't have to find or have re-discovered.  The plates of Brass would be amazing... but do we even know the scriptures that we have already?  Have we been listening to the Spirit to find the truths that are all around us now?  I think that when we are ready for more, that the Lord will be more than willing to offer more... I just don't think that we are yet using what we already have to advantage.  We doubt the truths we already know, and we neglect the opportunities all around us to gain more.  So, today... let's get ready for the plates of brass, and all the other amazing things that are in store... let's try to get a handle on what we have now, and endeavor to listen to the Spirit to guide us to any truth we have to find around us. :)

Friday, September 5, 2008

1 Nephi 4:18

"Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword."
1 Nephi 4:18

This has always been an interesting scripture to me, and although it isn't any more harsh than anything in the Old Testament, it still is hard to understand sometimes, especially since the Book of Mormon was written for our day, right?  Why there are exceptions to huge things like "thou shalt not kill?"  I think one of the reasons that we have it is to show us that God is the author of the laws.  He knows absolutely and without question what is right and what is wrong, and how things work.  And maybe it is also to show us that we need to listen to the spirit.  Following the letter of the law isn't always going to work, even though it is a great guideline.  We have to get to the point where we are actually communicating with God every day and following his promptings, no matter what.  And really, until we get to that point, we have no idea where the exceptions are.  We have to assume we are part of the rule unless God tells us otherwise.  It's kind of like learning another language perhaps.  You learn a lot of rules and phrases and how to put them together, and so you are living the letter of the law... or at least attempting to, as far as you are able.  But until you immerse yourself in the culture, and hang out with people who are speaking the living language every day... you don't know many of the exceptions... you don't even know what is funny and what isn't. :)  And, it might take a lifetime to actually get to the point where you can make up a new word, or break rules at the right time and the right place to get a laugh or actually communicate an idea better.  God, as the original native speaker of the language, knows which rules he can break, and what things are hilarious, and what things are serious.  We're trying to pick it up as we go along... but the more we talk to God as the native speaker, the more we will understand how the language of the Gospel works, and where there are double meanings and start to understand the poetry and the beauty of the whole thing... and when we have God there as translator, then we will understand— even when the information coming in doesn't quite make sense to us as students in Gospel 101.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

1 Nephi 3:13

"And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee."
1 Nephi 3:13

You know, this is a hard situation. Your dad (a prophet) tells you to do something that God has asked you to do... you try in good faith to accomplish it, and you utterly fail. That stinks. It is hard not to have some doubts at this point. We get kind of mumbly.  Wait... er... but ... God said so?  You might not even be sure of that at that moment, because when God asks you to do something... aren't you supposed to be able to DO it?  All this to say that this story makes me think that we probably give up *way* too quickly sometimes. It's like some of the settlers I read about who were settling Arizona after being commanded to by Brigham Young. They were in the desert with no water for too long, and they almost died. Finally they just all got down on their knees and prayed for water. ... And they got some. They were thankful, filled up their water supplies and came back. When they got back, Brigham Young listened to the story, and then asked a man in his office what he would have done in those circumstances. The man said that he would have continued, and prayed again. :) ... That guy is the guy who ended up accomplishing the task. Sometimes I think we do the same thing. We listen to God, and we try once, and when it doesn't work, we assume that we heard wrong... that God really didn't ask that, because we tried and it didn't work. But here in the Book of Mormon it took a lot of creativity and time and some divine intervention to get there. We need to be willing to really invest in what God asks of us, and not give up at the first setback. Not saying it is easy... I quit too quickly myself. Just that I am going to work on this today... and I invite you to do the same. :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

1 Nephi 2:11-12

"Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness.  And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.
And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them."
1 Nephi 2:11-12

I wonder how many of us do this same thing... I know it isn't pleasant to relate to the bad guy, but seriously.  You live in this beautiful mansion with all the worldly possessions that you could ever want and your father says that he had a dream that you have to go camping... forever.  Leave your house, not even sell it or anything... just leave.  Wouldn't you wonder what was up as well? ... I think it is actually pretty natural to wonder, and probably be a little freaked out.  The crux of the issue is the second verse here though... they knew not the dealings of God.  Well, neither do we really, right? ... but Nephi was there too, and he wondered too.  And instead of freaking out all the way, he got on his knees and he asked God what was up.  We can do the same thing in our lives when there are things that freak us out and concern us.  We *can* know the dealings of God, at least as they concern us personally.  And asking is the key.  If we don't ask, but just assume that our dad is crazy... we might be wrong.  And sometimes we don't ask because we can't accept the answer.  Maybe there is a little bit of that here too.  But either way, the answer is the same. We have to be humble, go to God, and be willing to accept whatever he tells us.  That acceptance part is hard sometimes. In this case because they were giving up their whole lives... friends, stuff, activities... and sometimes God asks that of us too.  We have to give up everything for him. ... But there is always a promised land as well, waiting for us in the end.  Something better than we lost. ... Just like Job. :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

1 Nephi 1:1

"I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days."
1 Nephi 1:1

I usually kind of rush through this verse trying to get started, but today I read it a little more slowly, and there is a lot of cool stuff here.  The first thing I notice is that there seems to be a cause-effect relationship between having goodly parents and being taught.  Perhaps somewhat less true today, with public education available to most... but still very important.  Having parents who teach you what they know is a blessing.  Another interesting thing I notice is that Nephi says that he has seen many afflictions, and also that he has been highly favored.  I think that is important as we look at our own lives... or at least as I look at mine. :) Sometimes when the afflictions come I take them as signs that I'm not highly favored, or why would these things happen?  I know, crazy, but still... I do think stuff like that sometimes.  But here we're shown quite clearly that afflictions and favor go hand-in-hand.  I truly think that if there were easier ways to teach us that God would do it... but in learning to become like he is, he can't spare us from the hard lessons: knowledge of our own self-deceptions... those Abraham-like choices... the taking up of our individual crosses.  We have to learn these things, confront these things, if we expect to progress.  And the last thing I notice is Nephi coming back to knowledge.  He started with the knowledge of his father, and here he talks about the knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God.  Great stuff, part of being highly favored.  And sincerely, here he is, offering some of that knowledge to us.  Let's take him up on the offer and learn all we can. :)

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