Saturday, May 31, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 58:3-4

"Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand."
Doctrine and Covenants 58:3-4


I think it is good to remember that we have to go through a lot of tribulation.  That hard things teach us, and help us to grow... that they have a purpose.  It is sometimes hard to understand, especially when we are right there in the middle of a challenge, why we're going through it.  But we DO get through it, and no matter the problem or obstacle, nothing is insurmountable, with God.  And the blessings part is important to remember as well... part of the being able to see past it thing.  We can overcome it, AND things will get better.  Blessings and peace, and hope... they still exist, even when all seems dark. ... The hour is not yet, but it IS close.  Today, let's remember, and hang in there. :)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hebrews 4:1-2

"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
Hebrews 4:1-2


There are some interesting things in here... it kind of reminds me of the parable of the sower.  We all hear about the gospel, but so many of us react to it differently... and some of it is because there is no faith mixed in, and ... the recipe never comes out very well without the faith.  It is one of those must-have ingredients.  And what we should be afraid of is losing that sensitivity to the word that faith gives us.  Of becoming so attached to someone or something else, that we don't... can't... listen to God anymore.  Nothing makes it through the static being created by whatever alternate we have placed there.  And it is *so* easy to let happen... we've probably all seen the slow decline in others, watching something else displace God in a person's life.  It's hard to watch... and hard to come back from if we let it happen in ourselves.  So, today, let's be vigilant.  Gospel PLUS faith.  Mix well.  Apply generously to our lives. :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hebrews 2:1-3

"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?"
Hebrews 2:1-3


... This is great stuff.  We do need to give earnest heed to the things which we have heard... at least those that we know are of God. :) It is easy... really easy... to let things slip, and be a little less diligent.  To relax our defenses a little, and think that things are fine, that we're good... we can coast for a while. ... Not true however.  Keeping the spirit with you takes effort, every day.  It doesn't have to be stressful or burdensome... but we have to keep it up: reading our scriptures every day, praying every day.  Those things that seem small are HUGE when it comes to keeping the Spirit, and retaining peace of mind.  They provide protection for us, as we use them consistently and well.  When we start to slack (or slip), we start falling away from God, tiny bit by tiny bit... and we really can't afford to let that happen.  We *really* need him, as illustrated in the second and third verses presented today.  He is there to help us escape from our own mistakes, misjudgements, and outright rebellions. ... And we all know that we need that.  I think that every one of us, if we think back, will realize that those times in our lives when we've been without God have been the hardest and scariest.  And that, even when really bad things happen, as long as we have God there with us, those things are diffuicult, but manageable... maybe because we have a little bit more hope. ... So, today, let's work on not slipping.  Or, if we have slipped, let's get back on track. Okay? :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

3 Nephi 12:29-30

"Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart;
For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell."
3 Nephi 12:29-30


This scripture is talking about looking on women lustfully... but I think it also applies to a lot of other things as well. You know, like lusting after that donut. :) ... or Raspberry Mochachinos, or that cool car or super-fast laptop that you want SO, SO much, but definitely can't afford. ... and, really, that is the point. We can't afford to look at things, and think about things, and ponder things, and try to justify thing that we shouldn't have. ... Thinking is at least half, and probably more like MOST of doing.  Thinking about it, in almost all cases, is the precursor to doing it. Yesterday, in fact... I was sitting at my desk, all innocent.  Doing my work even, not playing on the Internet or anything... and I started thinking about the vending machine in the break room.  Yikes. ... ate some fruit leather. Drank some water... then "vending machine" again... more fruit leather, more water... unfortunately I ran out of fruit leather around 2:00. ... so, yeah, I ended up getting some Cheetos. See?? Those thoughts. So, today, I am going to stop those Cheetos thoughts before they get anywhere... and I urge you to do the same. I know, I'm joking around about it, but in many ways, this is deadly serious. We like to play mental games with ourselves sometimes, and we think... oh, it is okay to think about it and enjoy the thought... we won't actually DO it... but the point here is, ... yes we will. We need to stop it when it is still in the thought stage, and not risk serious sin, or serious financial consequences, or whatever it is. As the scripture says, it IS better to deny ourselves sometimes, no matter how compelling the thoughts... rather than be cast into hell... including financial or guilt-trip hell, but even more so for the REAL Hell. Let's work on avoiding those thoughts with bad consequences today, okay? :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jacob 4:13

"Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old."
Jacob 4:13


I really, really like this. God is clear. He doesn't try to confuse us or lead us astray, ever.  I know that reading some passages of Scripture can seem like that, but his intent is never to confuse.  That is one reason that we have the same concepts and ideas talked about in many different places in the scriptures, and why we have the Book of Mormon... the different passages serve to clarify one another, and help us understand different concepts more perfectly.  Because we learn line upon line, little by little, there are going to be concepts that we don't understand yet, or aren't ready for yet... but that is the same with everything.  We can't learn Shakespeare before we learn to read.  We have to trust God on some of the things, until we get to that level, and learn the concept. ... Which is okay.  He's much more trustworthy than anyone else I can think of. ;) ... Keeping the spirit with us aids the process.  We can learn things every hour of our lives, and refine ourselves as we go along.
So often we want things one way, and find that God has other plans, and it is easy to feel adversarial about the whole thing at those times.  But God *wants* us to understand him and his works. ...He wants us to learn and grow, and become like him.  We might not be able to handle it all today, but he is working *all* the time to help us understand more and more, and see more and more clearly.  Let's keep the spirit with us today, listening closely, and see how much we can see. :)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hebrews 13:1-3

"Let brotherly love continue.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."
Hebrews 13:1-3


This is great stuff. I think sometimes we get distracted in life and get too insular.  We stop reaching out to people outside our families, or an already-established circle. ... So here is God to remind us.
We need to reach beyond our little islands, and remember to care about other people.  Remember our friends, remember random other people.  Strangers aren't all bad.  We're supposed to entertain them. :) ... We're encouraged to consider other people as ourselves.  Not just people we already know and care about... but going further.  People we don't already know, and don't already care about... and perhaps even harder... people we might know, but don't really care about.  Or people we don't know and don't really want to know.  Today, let's work on seeing things the way another person might see them... understand someone else's point of view, as though it were ours.  That way, we'll have more compassion for everyone.  And ... let's let brotherly love continue, as we remember that everyone around us is actually our brother or sister.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hebrews 1:1-2

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."
Hebrews 1:1-2


Sometimes I don't think we realize how amazing this is.  God sometimes seems so distant.  We read of prophets, we learn about things that he has done for people... but we rarely expect him to come down and walk beside us.  Which is basically, through his son, what he did.  And not only that, not only the face-to-face interaction, reinforcing his earlier teachings, but fulfilling the old law, instituting a new, and ... suffering for our sins.  Doesn't that just totally blow you away?  Which of us can even give up our bad habits for God?  And he gave his son.  And Christ gave himself.  All for us.  So that we don't have to suffer eternal consequences for the things that we've done wrong... so that we can grow and actually become PERFECT.  That is incredible.  Someone who IS perfect, suffering so much to help us very imperfect people to become like he is. ... Today, let's remember that he still speaks to us, every day.  He is *still* helping us toward that same goal.  And let's allow that fact to make a difference in how we approach the day, and in who we are.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Titus 1:15

"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled."
Titus 1:15


I think that this is interesting, that purity rests largely within our perspective.  When we are doing well, then we are more likely to see the good all around us, and rejoice in it, and see the good in other people... but the worse we are doing, the more we are unable to see through the dark cloud, and we doubt the goodness around us, and see the bad in other people.  When we sin we damage our perspectives as well, and that is a hard thing to overcome... just like the sin itself.  It's hard to teach ourselves to see better.  When we feel better about ourselves... pure and clean... it's easier to feel good about others and feel good about life and God and all his creations. :) It is easier to see the hope and know how to improve.  Today, let's try to be pure, and keep the spirit with us, with a clear mind and conscience, so that we can see more clearly.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

2 Timothy 3:14-15

"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 3:14-15


In this chapter, Paul describes a lot of things that will happen in the last days, and that a lot of people will be deceived and fall away. ... This is his cure.  I know that it covers the "typical" Sunday School answers for things, but... sometimes the typical answers are right, and we need to re-focus on the basics, rather than the mysteries. :)
I like the first verse because it makes me think of those times in my life where I've had communications with God that really stand out... that were so obviously from God and not from me that I could never, ever, make the mistake of thinking that was just in my mind. :) ... I think remembering those times, and remembering all the things that God has taught us our whole lives... that is important.  That helps keep us on track, and mindful of how much we truly need him.  The second verse emphasizes the scriptures, and I really love the phrase "wise unto salvation." ... If we read the scriptures, and have faith in Christ and the things that are happening in the scriptures, they are able to make us wise enough that we can receive salvation.  That is remarkably cool. :) ... It is also an *excellent* reason to dive in and read some more today.  So those are the words of the day: Remember and Read.  Remember God, and Read the Scriptures. ... I think that will get us all through the day successfully, no matter what challenges we face. :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

2 Timothy 1:12-14

"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that  day.
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us."
2 Timothy 1:12-14


Sometimes we suffer because of our religion and our faith in God.  Some people think that only the deluded and unintelligent are religious.  Others believe that our particular religion is led astray into a belief in something unchristian.  We're shunned by different groups or individuals for very different reasons, and sometimes it affects our jobs, our relationships, and our peace of mind.  We talked the other day about a scripture that urged us not to return evil for evil... so what can we do in those situations where we suffer because of our belief? ... I think this scripture tells us.  We might suffer, but just like 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, the suffering can't destroy us.  If we know our Father, and his Son, and trust them, then we won't be ashamed of what we believe.  He watches over our souls, and even our lives, as we commit ourselves to him.  The second and third verses tell us some things that will help.  Hold onto sound words.  Sound meaning not twisted or corrupted.  We don't need to argue silly, meaningless questions.  We need to remember our faith and the love we have for, and from, God.  He will explain even the biggest mysteries in time.  And we need to hold onto the precious knowledge and goodness that God has given us, by remaining close to the Holy Ghost, and allowing him to influence our lives and decisions.  No matter what we suffer, if we stay in communication with God, and strive to follow him, things will be okay.  We'll learn and grow more and more... despite *and* because of the challenges we suffer.

Monday, May 19, 2008

John 14:21

"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
John 14:21


I think this is interesting... it is so easy for us to say that we love God, and think of it as a simple emotion. ... Same with anyone else, really.  If we say that we love someone, but don't act that way, then what good does that emotion do anyone?   It is an easy word to assume that we know a lot about... but love isn't just a feeling, and with God, as with other relationships, it requires a lot more effort than just the feeling.  Here, God tells us how he can tell if someone truly loves him... that person will not only listen, but take action.  In earthly relationships it is a little scary to hear "if you love me you'll do what I say," but we have to be careful to not assume fallible qualities with God.  With him, it is appropriate. :) If we really love God, and understand our relationship with him, we know that he wants what is best for us.  He isn't a fallible being who will hurt us or lead us astray.   If we keep his commandments, our lives will only get better.  I like the very first part as well... we need to have his commandments as well.  Do we know what they are? ... And at the end of the verse, the rewards are great as well.  As we love Christ, we will be loved of the Father and Christ, and Christ will manifest himself to us. ... That is a huge blessing, and one that we can look forward to as we learn to live the commandments.  Inspiration, revelation, and so much more will come to us as we work on understanding and showing our love for God.

Friday, May 16, 2008

1 Timothy 6:17-19

"Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
1 Timothy 6:17-19


Yesterday we talked about gain versus godliness, and this seems similar... worldly riches are uncertain, but God gives all things to us, which are the riches we should be looking for.  Richness in good works is better, richness-wise, than a zillion dollars.  And we go on to the real point... eternal life.  Everything we do leads us there... and really, what kind of worldly riches could we possibly get that would make up for not getting eternal life?  No amount of money... no cool secret buried treasure... no amazing Grand Prize... *nothing* could possibly make up for that.  Our true riches come as the result of giving to others, communicating, and building community... caring about people and doing good.  And I'm definitely not saying that managing our finances doesn't matter.  It is good to get out of debt, to take care of our families, etc.  But money isn't the main goal.  Eternal life is.  It is easy to get sidetracked, especially living here in this world where it sometimes seems like the most important thing.  Today, let's work on heading towards Eternal Life... the real goal, that no amount of money could ever buy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

1 Timothy 6:5-6

"Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
But godliness with contentment is great gain."
1 Timothy 6:5-6


I like this. It is a good point that gain is not godliness... but even more I like the part where it talks about Godliness *with* contentment is great gain... that being content with it is part of the process.  We can't just do the right thing and be uncomfortable or resent it.  We have to do the right thing, and understand why it is right, and how it is better than doing the wrong thing.  We don't have to get there immediately, but we do eventually... and that is the goal, and what we really gain. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Job 37:14

"Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God."
Job 37:14

 
The footnote to this scripture directs us also to Psalms 46:10 (Be still and know that I am God...).  I like the idea here... to know who God is, to know his works.  Sometimes life seems complicated and pretty harsh, and we're so caught up trying to handle all the things that are thrown at us, that we never stop, to "smell the roses" as they say, or to contemplate God and all that we really have to be grateful for.  Job was in an impossible situation... he was being righteous and still everything bad that could happen to him did... and this was some good advice for him, just as it is for us.  Sometimes we need to just stop... wherever we are, and remember the amazingness of God.  All that he is, all that he has made, and all that he does for us *every* day.  Plus, it has the side benefit of bringing us closer to God... which is always good, for our souls, and for help with whatever we're doing.  Today, let's stop for a minute.  Stand still (or sit still), and really commune with God.  Consider all that he is, all that he does, and then, after we take some time and drink it in a little... let's chat with him about what is going on right now in our lives.  He wants to hear about it, and he wants to help.  Let's take that step and ask for his influence and his help in our lives.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

2 Thessalonians 2:10

"And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
2 Thessalonians 2:10


This chapter talks about a time of apostasy and a "strong delusion" that has happened/will happen before the Second Coming.  This verse is the one that was most interesting to me, though.  The reason that people were/will be deceived is because they received not the love of the truth.  So, what seems so cool is that we're protected *if* we do work at receiving the love of the truth, right?  It seems so easy sometimes to be deluded... to find "pleasure in unrighteousness," as one of the later verses talks about.  It isn't good to yell at the guy who cut you off in traffic, but it offers that little bit of satisfaction.  It isn't good to return evil for evil, as we discussed yesterday, but it is very easy to yell back and someone who is yelling at you, and probably feels more satisfying to do the prideful thing rather than the humble thing in a lot of situations.  In the end though, we're going to have to love the truth more than we love those pleasures.  Today, let's work on receiving that love of truth... on doing the right thing even when it isn't our first inclination... and finding out on a deeper level why it works better to do it the Lord's way.  If we take that leap of faith even with the smallest issues, God will return the trust.  He'll show us why it is better, and why we'll be happier in the end.  He's cool like that. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men."
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15


I like how this addresses some of the problems that we have building community.  We are all interconnected, and because of that, we need to help each other succeed.  Sometimes that means listening to people around us who give us feedback about our behavior or attitudes.  Sometimes that means giving other people feedback as well.  And, of course that means in a very nice way, not as superiors, but as equals... being very aware of possible beams in our own eyes.  The goal is to get someone to think about what we say, not get defensive.  And that is an art form, not something you should just hurl at someone. :) I love the part about none rendering evil for evil. ... Now, I don't mean to set a bad example, but I frequently watch television with my brother, and when something happens to the bad guy I cheer "Yeah... you totally *deserved* it, you jerk!" or something remarkably similar.  And, you know, it probably isn't all that bad with fictional characters... but that attitude, once learned, can carry over into other areas of my life... of our lives, if you guys ever do that too. :) If anyone really deserves anything bad, that is for God to decide, and to work out.  For us, if someone hands us evil, we return good as change.  That is the *only* way to change the world for the better.  We can't walk around doing any evil at all, no matter how much we think anyone deserves it.  Doing good (and only good) is the way to make a difference.  The negative cycles have to stop somewhere, right?  So, let's stop them cold wherever we are... something bad comes along, and we mix it up... extract the bad, add in a few lumps of good, bake at 375 for 5 minutes, and serve. ... Not saying it is easy.  But, hey... worth a shot today, right?  Let's see if we can make the world a better place, one reaction at a time.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Isaiah 30:15

"For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not."
Isaiah 30:15


You know, I think this actually happens a lot.  Isaiah's prophecies happen cyclically anyway... some of the destruction he predicted that has already happened is symbolic of destruction that is yet to come, for instance... but even apart from any historical significance, I think this happens to us in our lives.  We often tend towards the dramatic. :) God tells us... hey, just chill.  Things are going to work out.  (That's just a paraphrase... he probably uses much more godlike language.)  But we won't accept that.  Chill? What?  No!  We have to "handle" it... we have to get on our horses (which they do in the verse after this) and ride off... to escape it, or to solve the problem ourselves, and invariably make it worse instead.  Even on an even smaller level with interpersonal problems, we do this.  We can't give it a rest. :) We can't stay still, remain quiet, and listen often enough.  We jump in and (again) make things worse. :) So, today, let's try.  Try to listen instead of jumping in, returning rather than trying to run away, and find that confidence that comes through quietness, and intently listening to the spirit.  It isn't always easy... we want to be *right* and we want to take *action* and we want ... a lot of things.  But if we stop for a while, and clear all of that ambient noise from our heads, and really listen... who knows.  Maybe we'll learn something.  God's timing is always better than our own.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Colossians 3:8-10

"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."
Colossians 3:8-10


This chapter is so great.  I have verses 2-3 up on the wall in my room, and I keep coming back to it lately.  There is so much here to talk about.  I guess that is the way of the scriptures though... they just pull you in and make you think. :)
I like the old man/new man thing here.  Paul is talking about people who are already in the church, so it isn't just about conversion from outside to inside the gospel.  It's about conversion from one version of yourself to another... kind of like Software.  Maybe right now I am Suzanne version 4.8, but no matter what version any of us are, Paul urges us to go forward and become new.  Whatever I am as I sit at this desk typing away, when I get up to leave to go to work, I want to be that new person that Paul talks about here.  Someone who never lies to others because it is convenient, someone who isn't angry, who doesn't have malice towards others, who doesn't say cruel things, ever.  Suzanne, version 5. ... We're renewed in knowledge *because* of Paul's reminder to us... to become new.  To do the things that we know we should. ... And yeah, no one is saying it isn't hard.  Someone who knew us back in the 2.0 days will probably expect a lot less of us, and it will be easy to fall back into old habits and our new software will seem buggy and threaten to crash... but guess what?  We're not Microsoft products.  We're GOD products.  We don't have to crash... we can overcome the obstacles, and become new.  Eventually, we'll become so new and cool and shiny, that we'll be ready to run on the Celestial OS. :) ... I know, I know.  Taking the analogy too far.  But you get me, right? ... We can do it.  Today, let's work on being that new person. :)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Alma 37:45

"And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise."
Alma 37:45


Alma here is comparing the Liahona that Lehi and his family used to reach the promised land with following the words of Christ.  We get those words through prayer, through reading our scriptures, and through the words of our modern-day prophet and apostles.  Prayer is huge, and it is the one that we have with us all the time, no matter what.  Earlier in this same chapter, Alma says "counsel with the Lord in all thy doings" ... that is all the time, every minute.  God doesn't want us to just talk to him about things when they get too big to handle... he wants to be part of it all, everything that we do.  He loves us, and wants to be part of our lives... all the time.  The scriptures and the words of modern prophets and apostles are available to us.  They are published in print and online, and other places as well... we have so many choices. :) There are things to keep us on track... similar to the Liahona.  A compass to point the right way.  It is easy to get lost sometimes when we're trying to walk alone.  Easy to let people irritate us, easy to be cynical about things that never seem to change.  But even at the worst times... in the middle of traffic, in the middle of a crowd, or when we're feeling completely and totally isolated, there is still a way to tune into the God frequency, and find our way out of the negativity again.  We have things that will help to guide us, and we can always talk to God about *anything* ... big or small.  No matter what it is, we can talk it out with him.  And, then, if we keep tuning in, and stay on track with that guidance... we'll eventually reach our promised land.  Maybe not literal earth for each of us, but ... we'll get where God is leading us.  And *that* destination is way better than any trip we could dream up for ourselves. :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Colossians 2:2-4

"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words."
Colossians 2:2-4


I like this idea of being comforted.  The first verse talks about our hearts being knit together in love... which definitely seems comforting to me, but it goes even further.  "The full assurance of understanding" ... I absolutely love that.  So often I wonder if I will ever understand some things... especially myself. :) Having that full assurance of understanding sure helps... and I don't think it has to be *now.*  It basically assures us that it will happen at some point, and that is comforting all by itself... knowing that we'll understand those basics.  It's just a bonus that we get all the extra mysteries and treasures of wisdom and knowledge thrown in as part of the deal. :)
As for the last verse, I like this one because it emphasizes something that happens all the time. People talking about religion like it is some childish thing that you couldn't possibly believe unless you are blind and unintelligent.  The truth is, though, that God wants us to understand all knowledge and wisdom, and though that process is slow, and though we are all blind and unintelligent sometimes, looking to God is the only way to that "full assurance of understanding."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Colossians 3:14-15

"And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."
Colossians 3:14-15


The first verse here seems to say that Charity is what binds us to perfection.  I think that is a cool thought.  As we love... that unselfish, perfect sort of love that is Charity... we are living in perfection.  It is only when we lose that feeling and that spirit that we venture into imperfection. :) I like that idea... it makes perfection seem so much more attainable... in reach.  We feel that feeling somtimes, where we have the spirit, and we are filled with so much love that we truly, truly love everyone around us.  And, at least in those moments, we *are* perfect.
This is not to perpetuate the lie that a lot of media tells us that if we love someone, that is all that matters.  Definitely not.  Forever matters.  Heaven matters... and that selfish kind of love/lust that would make you give up God and eternity for immediate gratification isn't what the scripture is talking about here.  Instead, Charity is the sort of love that wants what is truly, *eternally* best for the object of affection, and indeed for everyone.  The sort of love that is Charity never conflicts with God... it is God.  It is everything he wants as well.
The next verse illustrates, I think, some more of what perfection is about... peace, and thankfulness.  It is when we are upset, or our hearts, minds, and bodies are out of alignment, and when we get selfish that we lose that perfection... we lose the spirit, and lose that bond with perfection.  When our hearts, minds, and the rest of our bodies are united and peaceful... when we are expressing thanks to God for what we have and what we are.  That is when we're closest to what we strive our whole lives to become.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Alma 38:5-6

"And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
Now, my son, I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself, but it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me; for if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things."
Alma 38:5-6


I love how God helps us so much... telling us here, if you trust me, I'll deliver you.  And it doesn't seem like an all-or-nothing thing either.  "As much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much" seems like it is as much as we trust, that is how much we'll be delivered.  So, even if we can only trust a little bit at first, we'll *still* be delivered a little bit... and when we learn and grow and trust more, then we will be delivered more.  And, eventually, when we trust completely... we'll be delivered completely.  It seems incredible to me that God would give us such a deal, but that is where the second verse comes in... the spirit whispers of the truth of all of it.  As we learn and grow in the gospel, God responds, and helps us as much as we're able to handle. :) ... And even that is pretty cool.  I usually think of greater and greater *tests* coming along, so much so that I sometimes think... yikes.  Maybe I don't want to grow any more.  But the truth is that God is there, right along with us.  As we grow stronger, and trust him more, he helps us more, and gives us more room to grow... kind of like that parable of the gardener.  He digs about our roots and prunes away the bad branches as we become strong enough.   And, seriously... doesn't that make it all worth it? Every minute of "testing" and "enduring" seems completely swallowed up in the opportunities and help that our Father grants us, as we learn and grow. It is utterly amazing. ... I'm definitely not up to the trust completely level, but as I trust God to help me, he comes through every time.  Today, let's work on that trust, and allow God to help us more and more to become better than we could ever imagine.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Philippians 4:6

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
Philippians 4:6


The first footnote on this verse says "Don't be unduly concerned about anything."  I like it.  God is telling us to chill. :)  And that is an *excellent* point.  We get really concerned about things that don't matter... or that do matter, but not quite as much as we make it into.  Learning to relax and talk to God about things that we can't control is an excellent coping strategy.  God can affect outcomes even when we can't... and, in the end, sometimes it shouldn't turn out the way we want it to.  Some of the biggest and most powerful lessons in my life have been from things that didn't exactly go according to plan. :) In any case, stressing about it isn't going to make things better.  It is just going to make us more stressed.  I like that he doesn't only say chill though... he gives us a better way to direct that same energy that we were wasting being overly concerned.  We can take that emotion and that concern and we can pour out our hearts in prayer and supplication, and thanksgiving.  We can ask God to take care of whoever we are concerned about.  We can ask him to soften hearts and to smooth out rough situations.  We can tell him what we want and why... and give him a chance to tell us what HE wants, and why... and sometimes it is easier to learn his will when we're on our knees, listening, then it is when we're just worrying, and hoping for one outcome. ... Definitely not saying it is easy, but maybe we can try that today.  Whenever we start to feel stressed about something, let's talk it over with God.  I think, if we try, we'll feel less stressed and more peaceful about any outcome, whether it is what we wanted or not.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mosiah 16:1

"And now, it came to pass that after Abinadi had spoken these words he stretched forth his hand and said: The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just."
Mosiah 16:1


This is amazing, really.  Can you imagine every nation seeing "eye to eye" ... *ever*?  The way things are now, that seems impossible.  And then... to have all of them, at the same time, agree that God's judgements are just.  That's ... wow.  Incredible.  I think that it shows that part of us all... underneath somewhere, no matter how we've locked it away, knows the truth.  We sometimes talk ourselves out of it, and we sometimes just plain deny it... but there is a part of us that is always drawn to the truth, that remembers it on some level, no matter how tightly drawn the veil is.  We can feel when the spirit is close, we can recognize God when he answers our prayers.  Sometimes it takes practice to sort out everything that is going on internally, but we can... and the more we practice that recognition, the more reliable it becomes, and the easier it is to stay close to the spirit, and to listen to God.  Someday, that potential will be open to us all, and we'll all agree together, because we'll understand and see those higher things, and be on the same page... worldwide.  That will be incredible. :) I look forward to it.
Today, though, let's see how much of that we can have now.  We can work on recognizing the spirit, on doing things that we know bring us closer to that connection, and on not doing things that dull it and make it harder to find.  That connection, to me, feels like something I would happily work all my life to get, and maybe that is the point... to keep working at it, strengthening it, and getting it more and more often in our lives, until we are living with that connection every minute of every day.  *Really* connected, through God, to everyone else.  On the same page. ... what an incredible thing to participate in. :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ephesians 6:5-7

"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men."
Ephesians 6:5-7


I like this part. It is easy to become resentful in this world of imperfect authority.  "The Man" is always doing this or that.  And although we're not indentured servants... we still serve.  I'm not sure how much we have to tremble, but a little bit of fear... for our jobs, for our grades, or for relationships in families and church communities where we also serve, is probably in order. :) The point though... and this is *great* stuff, even though we probably won't like doing it all the time, is to happily serve, and do our very best despite any lingering wrongs or resentment... as though we were serving Christ instead of random fallible people. :) Not just a token effort, but throwing ourselves into it, and doing a great job.  It isn't always easy.  Bad things do happen, and "the man" can get us down sometimes.  But, if we remember no matter where we are or what we're doing, that we're doing everything that we do for God, and that is where our true rewards for honest effort will come from... then it is easier to do our best, with the good will that it talks about, and easier to set a good example for others.

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