Friday, October 31, 2008

2 Nephi 12:20-21 -- On Idols and Bat Chow

"In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which he hath made for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them and the majesty of his glory shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth."
2 Nephi 12:20-21

This chapter is talking about the last days, and some of the things that will happen, and that it will be obvious to people who God is, and idols won't be valued. And you have to wonder, if people are tossing idols made of silver and gold aside rather than melting them down, how the financial situation is. :) ... I know that the last days are scary, but there seems to be something cool about tossing really valuable things aside because we're ashamed that God won't like it. ...that everyone will be there, thinking like that. And wherever we are today, maybe we should look around at our stuff and evaluate... what things do we have right now that we would toss to the bats if the Lord was on his way over? :) Maybe if we clean house now, we can buy some purina bat chow to store instead, which would be a lot better to throw to the bats in the last days... for the bats, and for us, because if we get over our idol thing now, maybe we can learn some cooler things then, right?

Friday, October 24, 2008

2 Nephi 9:33

"Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day."
2 Nephi 9:33

This struck me as strange today kind of.  I know that circumcision is symbolic in the scriptures of a covenant between God and his people, but then in the New Testament it says that circumcision and uncircumcision don't matter... it is having love, becoming a new person that matters.  And I looked it up, and it is applied to the heart (as in this verse), to lips, and ears, and spirits... and I'm thinking that the overall symbolic meaning is unholy... not dedicated to the Lord.  The whole idea of natural man vs. spiritual man... what is the difference?  It is us, taming ourselves in a way.  Resisting the urges of the natural man, and letting the spiritual man have control... channeling needs and desires in righteous ways.  And we can definitely do that with our hearts. Our hearts are all over the place sometimes... chasing some nice looking person down the street... getting too wrapped up emotionally in things where we need to step back and be objective. Venting that excess emotion in a good way and being able to do the right thing anyway... that is having a heart dedicated to God. Same with lips and ears, and spirits.  We have to "bridle" our passions as it says... and what we say, listen to, and believe in need to be tempered as well. God asks us for a broken heart, and I think that is part of it. We're not pure, and we need to purify ourselves, little by little, getting rid of the bad and keeping the good. In our society we hear "follow your heart" pretty often. But perhaps we just need to follow God, and he'll teach us how to cleanse our hearts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Deuteronomy 12:8

"Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is aright in his own eyes."
Deuteronomy 12:8

In this scripture, God is getting ready to bring the Israelites into the promised land, and clearing the land of the idolatrous people who lived there previously.  He gives them his law, instructions on how to live, and in the course of dong that, this verse.  I think that it is pertinent to us today because God does the same things in our lives in a lot of ways.  He has individual plans for each of us... he leads us to promised lands, he clears the way for us, and he gives us instructions about how to live.  This scripture was also a cross-reference from yesterday's scripture about kindling your own sparks.  And I've been thinking about that a little bit more.  Maybe kindling our own sparks is sort of a humility thing... doing things God's way, keeping that thought in mind all the time.  It is easy to get into little spats with the people we hang out with everyday, or be appalled by the rudeness of someone where we're shopping or eating or walking... but doing things God's way means even in those situations, we need to have the spirit, love other people, and remember who God asks us to be.  Today, let's try to do what is right in God's eyes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2 Nephi 7:10-11

"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light?
Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand—-ye shall lie down in sorrow."
2 Nephi 7:10-11

The first verse asks a question, and the answer is "no one."  I think it is meant to be rhetorical.  And if we look at our lives closely, I think that we'll find it is true.  When we're doing what we should, we never walk in darkness.  Bad things still happen, darkness still comes, but it doesn't have power to take us over, to become part of us.  We still have light to walk by and we can see enough to be able to cope.  The next verse goes on to talk about sparks and walking in the light of "your" fire... which brings to mind the "strange fire" of the old testament.  The point here, I think, is that the light we need, the light that will show us the way... it is God's light.  The light we are supposed to set on a hill, the light that should emanate from us... not our own light, but his.  And it isn't that we aren't allowed any personal style.  I think that God loves our individuality and personalities.  It is only that if we are building a Zion people, we can't all be tour guides for our personal Suzanne-lands and John-lands and Tonya-lands.  Cool theme parks, perhaps, but our job is to lead people to Christ... to Zion.  And that is our destination as well.  If we lead people to us, they might gorge themselves on cotton candy and have a great old time, but they won't get to where they need to go, and they won't be happy in that lasting, eternal-type way. :)  So, today... let's remember to broadcast God's station. Shine *his* light. And let's look forward to the day when we all meet at our final destination. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

2 Nephi 7:1

"Yea, for thus saith the Lord: Have I put thee away, or have I cast thee off forever? For thus saith the Lord: Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement? To whom have I put thee away, or to which of my creditors have I sold you? Yea, to whom have I sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away."
2 Nephi 7:1

This is a very cool, very telling scripture. I think sometimes when things go wrong, or when we're struggling, we wonder if it is too late.  Maybe we made a bad choice when we were young, and now it's too late... we can never go back.  Never "fix" things... that God has given up on us, and that's it.
Here, God questions that assumption.  He asks whether he has cast us off... he has gotten rid of us.  And the answer is NO.  He hasn't cast us off or told us to go away... ever.  He hasn't given up on us.  He never will.  The truth is that the gulf that we feel... the God-shaped hole within us is something that we have created.  We walked away... and we can walk back.  It isn't always easy to walk back.  Takes humility.  Takes some sore repentance sometimes... but the *first* step is easy.  We need to get down on our knees and talk to our Father.  He loves us more than we can comprehend.  He understands perfectly what we're going through.  He *is* listening. ... So, no matter where we are today, near or far, let's start walking closer to him.  Lessen the distance... because he hasn't moved.  We have.

Monday, October 13, 2008

2 Nephi 1:23

"Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust."
2 Nephi 1:23

This verse is in the middle of Lehi's speech to his sons, encouraging them to do good, to listen to Nephi, to be righteous. I think there was a lot of jealousy there, and they laid a lot of the blame for their situation on their father, as well as on Nephi. ... And so it is with us sometimes. It is easy to blame our situation on other people, on events beyond our control. But God asks us to perfect ourselves where we are. He asks us to learn to be happy NOW... not after we get out of this or that situation, or away from this or that person. And that is what Lehi is saying to his sons here. ... wake up. Do what you need to do to ensure your personal righteousness, which shouldn't be affected by anyone else's righteousness. Get rid of the sin in your life, the addictions, the jealousies... all the things that keep you from loving people and from having your mind single to God. Stand up; be a light to other people through example and service. Don't wallow in self-pity. Lehi's message applies to us today, whether we are as rebellious as his sons or much less rebellious. :) We all have a little in us, and it is very easy to be jealous or resentful, or to try to slide responsibility for our happiness onto someone else. So, today, let's come forth out of obscurity, and be the people we were meant to be... the people that can succeed, that can change the world, and that can overcome anything life hands us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

3 Nephi 12:6 -- On Spiritual Nourishment

"And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost."
3 Nephi 12:6

We've heard this before... but today the "hungering and thirsting after righteousness" thing got me thinking.  Hunger and thirst are spurred by physical requirements, and I think that this is the same sort of *need* ... just a spiritual one.  I think that we all have that internal need, and need that empty placed filled.  And perhaps we don't realize what it is or what will fill it at first.  Maybe we have to realize what that need IS... not a matter of ignoring it or dampening it, but recognizing what it is, and what it isn't.  That hunger, that thirst... we throw things at that void trying to stay sane, trying to fill it with whatever we can think of, but really in the end what we find is that it is a need for God, and we can only fill it the way described in this scripture. ... That is the only thing that will make us whole.  So, today, perhaps we should try to fill the void a different way.  Search the scriptures.  Pray. ... And yeah, perhaps that sounds like an easy answer... but believe me, getting the spirit and keeping it is not always easy.  We have to go back out into the world sometimes, and it is too easy to get annoyed with someone or think an unkind thought, or anything.  The reward... that feeling of wholeness and oneness with God... is worth every effort, but that spiritual need is something we have to remember all the time so that we don't get spiritually sick and malnourished.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

1 Nephi 22:4

"And behold, there are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem. Yea, the more part of all the tribes have been led away; and they are scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea; and whither they are none of us knoweth, save that we know that they have been led away."
1 Nephi 22:4

I find it interesting that God led away so many people to different places.  I wonder if all of them went to their own "promised land" as Lehi and Nephi did.  God did all of it for a reason, of course... just as he leads us to different places in our own lives, and we learn lessons and grow along the way.  But these bigger things... moving groups of people, and the promises in the scriptures about them coming back.  You can't help but wonder how dramatic it will be, and if we will see the reasons plainly... and whether they knew the reasons all along, and have been waiting for this, or how it will all work out.  Nephi was one of many, and he knew the others were "lost" ... apparently in the sense that they were lost to the knowledge of the central group, not lost as in lost in the woods. :) I look forward to hearing the stories of how the others were led away as well... won't that be cool? :) I think also it shows something fairly simple, but that made me think today... nothing is ever lost to God.  We feel lost sometimes, and we are confused about where to go next, or what our ultimate goal is... but God always knows.  Let's remember to turn to him to find our way. :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 112:11

"I know thy heart, and have heard thy prayers concerning thy brethren.  Be not partial towards them in love above many others, but let thy love be for them as for thyself; and let thy love abound unto all men, and unto all who love my name."
Doctrine and Covenants 112:11

This chapter, which also has the statements "Be thou humble" and "Exalt not yourselves," seems to be telling us how to treat people.  That we shouldn't prefer anyone (especially ourselves) over anyone else.  I think it is natural to do so... to prefer people within our comfort zones (people we already know... family, friends) over people we don't know.  To have tiers... this group is preferred, and this group is less preferred. :) ... But perhaps that is the point.  It is natural, as in "natural" man.  We need to rise above that, difficult as it might be, and love everyone... the strangers we meet every day.  We may have caught a taste of this before... maybe on a mission, or in a testimony meeting, or during a disaster, when the feeling is there; everyone has gathered together for a purpose, and they are united in some way, and you can look around and truly say that you love everyone there, whether you know them or not. ... We need more of that, without the crutch of a disaster to bring us together.  But we also need more of loving people without bias after we get to know them.  I find this difficult.  If someone has argued with me frequently in the past... whether or not that person apologizes and we get past it... I find myself less likely to treat that person with grace and kindness than someone else, even a stranger.  And I think that God is saying here, and in other places... we can't group people like that.  We can't put people into the okay category and the not okay category... we have to make an effort to treat everyone with equal care and kindness.  Especially when we consider how often we have argued with God... how many times we have rebelled against him.  Will he be biased against us because of past trials?  No... because he truly does love everyone, and he sees past the trials and loves us anyway. ... I know how hard it is.  I do... but today, let's try to love as he does.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

John 15:7

"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
John 15:7

This is an incredible promise. Asking for and getting whatever we ask. It's a little scary too, because learning what to ask for and being careful with our desires is part of what we need to learn here on earth. ... But hopefully if we are abiding in God, and his words are abiding in us, we're there. We've learned what to ask for, and we accept the consequences of those requests. :) I think we've probably all asked for things in the past and then found out that we didn't really want them later. So, today... let's work on staying close to the Lord, on keeping his words in us, and dwelling in his spirit, so we can get this incredible promise. But also, let's watch what we ask for, and make sure that God's will comes first.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Alma 37:23

"And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations."
Alma 37:23

I think this is so interesting.  The stone part reminds me of the Urim and Thummim... or even the stones of the Brother of Jared. Cool, mysterious stuff.   Is it just me, or is it harder to imagine someone walking on water than touching a stone to make it into a lamp of sorts?  That is amazingly cool... both are, of course, but... wow. :) Anyway, I had read this verse before many times but I don't think I ever *really* read it, if you know what I mean.  This stone showed other people basically what was up with the secret combinations.  A stone that could show you the truth of what other people were doing.   Can you imagine?  I mean, I think that we have that a little bit, all of us, as we have the spirit with us, God will help us to see through deceptions and seek out the truth... but can you imagine having that stone in the world today?   You'd probably faint if you pointed it at Washington DC or at almost any government around the world.  We don't have it (as far as I know) today... but the goal remains clear. Let's keep the spirit with us, and make sure we seek the truth and the goodness in life, and do what we can to shine light into all "secret works of darkness." ... I think that is what walking in the light is... NOT hiding things from people, not working in darkness. And the first step is our own lives.  If there are things that we think we need to hide, let's let them go, or show them clearly. There is no place for hidden parts of us when we open ourselves to God, and when we join as a Zion people.  I'm not saying it happens overnight, or that it is easy, but it is a good goal.   To walk in the light.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

1 Nephi 21:14

"But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—-but he will show that he hath not."
1 Nephi 21:14

I think this is interesting because it is sometimes easy to think that God has forgotten us... that he isn't paying attention or something.  It is also patently absurd, of course... but still, easy to feel that way.  We look at whatever our current problems are, and they seem huge.  Even insurmountable sometimes.  We understand that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle... but we don't really *want* to handle the current issue, and can't figure out anything that we are really learning from it either. :) ... And in the context of this verse, it is even worse.  This is talking about the last days, when we know there is going to be destruction and calamity and hardship... a lot of it, and for everyone.  But even then... when our world is literally falling apart around us... even then, God cares, and he will show us that he hasn't forgotten us.  Let's not forget him either.  He is right here, available to talk to whenever we want to.  Let's take the time today... and stick close.

Friday, October 3, 2008

1 Nephi 22:26 -- On Pruning the Evil

"And because of the righteousness of this people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth."
1 Nephi 22:26

This is incredible to me... that people could be so righteous that Satan has absolutely no power.  And what is even more incredible is that this is our future.  Whether we individually live to fulfill this prophecy on the earth or not, this type of person is who we become in order to inherit the Celestial kingdom.  This is what we are striving for.  In a lot of ways, it is more than the triumph of the individual... it is the triumph of the community.  Together, we create a place where Satan has no space to breathe... because we are united in serving God.  Imagine living in this community.  Absolute safety. No need for locked doors, no need for fear of fellow man.  No political struggles at the office.  No backstabbing, no evil speaking... no hurtful communication.  Isn't that something to live for?  Isn't that something to strive to become?  Today, let's take a step towards that.  We don't have to overwhelm ourselves and become instantly perfect, but there is something we can do today to turn the balance in our own lives in favor of God.  Whatever that is today, let's do it... pruning little by little, until there is no evil left at all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

1 Nephi 20:10

"For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."
1 Nephi 20:10

This strikes me this morning I think because it comes right after a couple of verses where God says that he knew that the person (seems to represent his chosen people Israel) wouldn't hear, that they would be sneaky and bad... but still, he won't destroy them.  He still chooses that person/those people.  Now, I'm not sure if everyone can relate to this, but I think this sounds incredibly cool and forgiving, the way I am thinking of it today. 
Perhaps we think often of the whole affliction part and wonder... well, gee, but you could choose me some other way, couldn't you? ;) But the point is, no... he couldn't.  He knew that we needed this refining, this affliction, in order to change from those stubborn, disloyal, sneaky people into the devoted, open, and honest people that we *need* to be to be a part of him and who he is.  The affliction is part of the deal... part of becoming that Zion people, or achieving that perfection and that point where we want to be with God more than we want to slink off somewhere else and hide.  We have to change into those sorts of people.  It doesn't mean that God doesn't love us the way we are... at all.  It only means that he knows, as our father, just how far we need to grow up before we are ready for the "real" world (afterlife). :)
So, yeah, I'm not saying that I am going to jump into some extra affliction today because it is so yummilicious. ... Only that I think affliction is a measure of God's love for us.  That he is helping us to change and to learn.  Maybe we can catch that perspective today, and have a little more patience with our challenges, which are really opportunities to improve. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

1 Nephi 18:12 -- On Progression

"And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work."
1 Nephi 18:12

I like the idea here that we can't progress when we don't behave righteously.  I think the Lord sends us that message over and over and over again, but, like Laman and Lemuel in this story, we often don't listen, or try to justify our actions.

Both sides of every conflict typically think of themselves as the good guys.  Laman and Lemuel likely felt that way until 4 days later when they finally realized that God was trying to send them a message to let their brother go.  And while it is uncomfortable to think of ourselves as the Laman and Lemuel in the story, I think that is probably who we are more often than we like to think... we get in the way of our own progression more often than other people get in our way.

As an oldest child, I can kind of relate to Laman and Lemuel.  I mean, wow... little brother trying to boss me around?  It's hard to be humble when it is turning your world upside down like that. ;)  And I guess that's my point here.  We need to take a step back sometimes and realize that there aren't convenient gospel exceptions for the things and people that bug us. :)  God didn't ask us to love other people *unless* they cut us off in traffic or vote for the candidate that we don't like or take that promotion that we wanted, or try to boss us around.

When Christ asks us to love and serve and be good, he means even right now, even in traffic, and even when it is super hard.  And our lives are not going to progress as they should unless we clear some of those things out of our way.  The more we clear out resentments and the little mean things we sometimes do, even to friends and family, the more our lives will open up and we'll be able to progress in our journey to our own promised land. :)  Today, let's work on making sure we aren't getting in the way of our own progression.

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