Friday, February 20, 2009

Mosiah 3:19

"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."
Mosiah 3:19

The natural man is an enemy to God, and part of who we are. Part of who we are is also spiritual, so, in essence, we are fighting with ourselves in large measure while we are on this earth. I think we feel that sometimes... two large parts of ourselves internally at war. I think that the "and will be, forever and ever" line tells us exactly what our eternity will be like, unless we learn to submit to the Lord's will, and teach our whole selves to work together. How do we do that? It tells us that here as well. We have to learn to be submissive. To put God's will before our own. We have to remember that we are the children of God, and that we need to learn from him how to grow up to be like him. We can't learn from him very well if we are allowing ourselves to be his enemy. ... It's a huge challenge to have two warring parts of ourselves, but one that God helps us with as we look to him and desire his help. As we strive to keep the spirit with us, we'll learn more and more how to be whole, and to allow the spiritual to care for and guide the physical.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Luke 8:18

"Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have."
Luke 8:18

This is amazingly interesting. Take heed how ye hear... :) Wow. To me, this whole thing seems to be warning us of the difference between reality and our dream lives. :) We invent these lives where rationalization is okay, where being a little bit bad is fine... and on that shaky foundation we continue to build. At the end of the verse it says "that which he seemeth to have" and isn't that what we end up at when we try to live in a false dream? We end up with all these great things that don't exist. Imaginary accomplishments, imaginary friends... imaginary purpose for our lives. It's the reality that God cares about... and if we get even a little of the "real" in our lives, then it will be added to and reinforced in our lives... like the story of the olive trees. Where God goes around and strengthens and helps the natural branches and plucks off the wild ones. If we can find that spirit and power within us, then we're in touch with what is real and we won't be pruned away. ... We just have to take heed how we listen. So that we're listening to God and not our own desires. So that we're following God's instructions and not Satan's deceptions. Today, let's find some reality to hold on to, and to build upon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Luke 8:11-15

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
Luke 8:11-15

This is an explanation of the parable of the sower. The text of the parable is in verses 5-8 if you want to look it up. These are all things that can happen to us as we listen to God. Sometimes we love Satan more than God, and we let him take the truth away from us... it's often easier to live without God when you pretend that he isn't there in the first place. Sometimes we believe fervently, but don't let it penetrate into the deepest part of our souls. So when deep questions come up or something comes up that we'd rather do than read or study, or go to church... then we're out of there. It doesn't matter to us beyond that first thrill of truth. Sometimes we do believe deeply, but we let other things block out that commitment. Worry about work, school, health... riches... or pleasures of this life... these things build up in our minds and hearts until they obscure the truth, until those worries, riches, or pleasures are more important to us than the truth is, and even though both fight for our attention, God never wins, so we end up accomplishing nothing except those things that are at the forefront of our minds. And the last verse... sometimes we hear the word, and plant it deeply in ourselves, and live it, and change our lives and others' lives because of it.
I don't think that this parable is about categories. We can't point to one person and say... well, he is one of those "way side" types, and this other person... she is one of the "thorn" types... and me, I think I'm kind of a "rock" type. We can see ourselves in one category or another perhaps... but that isn't who we are. We go through all of these pitfalls in our lives... Satan tries to get us any way he can. Perhaps when we are young in the gospel he finds it easy to remove the truth from our hearts. Later, we're too excited about it for that to work, but if he can throw in a good temptation, then he has us. Even later, when we know that the truth is undeniable and we've learned how much it is a part of who we are, he can still come in and block out the truth with other things that we also care about deeply. And then, when we've finally realized that the cares of this life are nothing compared to eternity... and that the riches and pleasures of this life are fleeting at best... then perhaps we have learned to have an honest and good heart, and we become the people who keep the word and who have learned some patience. :) No matter where we are now, we can still learn a new way of dealing with God's word... and we can change ourselves and, in the process, the world around us.

Friday, February 13, 2009

2 Chronicles 9:1-2

"And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not."
2 Chronicles 9:1-2

This is cool. I want to be the queen of Sheba. :) It is amazing to think of having every question of your heart answered. For us, perhaps it isn't as easy as a long camel ride to Jerusalem... but the answers are there for us. God wants to bless us with wisdom, and with the answers to the most pressing questions of the heart. One way to get there is to remember that we aren't all-knowing, or all-powerful. The queen of Sheba knew this... she was a queen in her own right, but when she heard of the wisdom of Solomon, she left her kingdom and came to his. She searched out the man called of God to offer her answers. Another thing that we need to do is to have the questions ready. :) The queen had prepared beforehand. She didn't just come to Solomon and ask him to tell her everything that she needed to know... she found out what she needed to know ahead of time. :) And lastly, we need to be perfectly honest with God and ourselves. The queen of Sheba was... she told Solomon all that was in her heart, and communed with him. When we come before the Lord, either in prayer, or through a priesthood blessing... God will grant us answers, when we prepare for them, when we ask the questions, and when we are sincere and honest with him. God is the source of all wisdom, and offers it to us generously. Sometimes we just have to be humble enough to ask. :) That's what Joseph Smith did... and what an amazing answer he got. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hebrews 11:32-34

"And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens."
Hebrews 11:32-34

Faith is an amazing thing. It can do miraculous things, including holding off invading aliens. :) Very cool. Sincerely though, I think it is interesting that it says that time would fail me to tell all of these things... because it would. There is so much evidence of faith, and of God's hand in our lives, and in the lives of all people, that it is just overwhelming to think of telling it all. Isn't it just pure insanity to seek for a sign or proof of God's presence when signs and evidences are absolutely everywhere around us? We want more faith-building stories when we haven't really read the ones that we have, and we want more miracles when our lives are filled with them. Instead of waiting for more, let's go out and make them happen. Let's do some of the things that it says here... let's build some righteousness. Let's obtain promises. Let's be made strong out of our weaknesses. If we need some more evidence, let's make some happen. And, you know, it never hurts to be ready for those alien armies. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

John 14:26-27 -- On Comfort and Peace

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:26-27

This is great. I think it is cool first of all that another name for the holy ghost is "comforter" ... I think we all need some comfort sometimes, and to know that it is always close is a good thing. Even when God tells us things that we don't really want to hear, that comfort is there, helping us through it. And then it goes on, and it says that he shall teach us ALL things... that is amazing. Nothing holds us back except ourselves from learning all there is to learn. The faster we learn the basics, the sooner we can go on to the harder basics. :) (Just because I think that we rarely graduate from grade school level stuff during our lives... somehow we have to have a lot of second grade review sessions and stuff.) :)
Also, the remembrance part is amazing as well. Life seems so much like amnesia... the veil is drawn and everything is foreign to us. ... but the whole remembrance thing solves that problem, at least a little... through the Holy Ghost, we have access to that part of ourselves, and we remember things that we never knew in this life, and we have moments where we recognize truth so thoroughly, it changes everything.... and even then, it isn't always a truth that we want to acknowledge... but having that remembrance feeling, and being able to have a wider perspective for that time helps us through. kind of like the pre-mortal me is having a chance to remind the mortal me what is really important, because I get confused.
And, then... Christ leaves us with his peace. Not the sort of peace that the world gives. No matter how sincere, that kind of peace is hollow; it can't really fill in the gaps. But God can. And we can draw upon that peace whenever we need it, so that we don't have to be troubled and afraid.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Joel 2:28-32

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call."
Joel 2:28-32

Good scripture... It starts out saying about things that will happen before the second coming: that God will pour out his spirit on everyone... everyone is going to have inspiration and revelation in their lives. We really all have access to inspiration now... but if kids are going to be prophesying, that sounds bigger... kind of like when the people in 3rd Nephi met together to hear the small children. I think that it will be cool, because it seems like a great equalizer too. Old and young, male and female... employers and employees... everyone will have the spirit of God, and it seems like it will ameliorate some of the usual divisions that we have in our society. I love the thought of the spirit being poured out on everyone… everyone feeling it, and being led to prophesy or whatever the Spirit dictates. How incredible will that be? :)
Then it talks about some of the signs... a few years ago the news said that the Lunar Eclipse would turn the moon “brick red” and so a good friend and I drove out of town where there were fewer lights to see it. The eclipse was cool… the moon didn't exactly turn to blood, or really any shade of red as they said it would... but it was still very cool. Even cooler to see it actually turn red. I wonder about the whole sun being turned to darkness thing though... that seems pretty scary. In Revelation it associates the darkness of the sun and the moon turning to blood with an earthquake... and that sounds even scarier… that would have to be a *huge* earthquake.
The last verse offers hope though, even when we are thinking about the sun going out and huge earthquakes: whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be delivered. :) Even at those very worst times of destruction and fear, deliverance will be available. … I think that is always true (for instance, today)... but maybe right before the Second Coming it will be more important to remember. :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

3 Nephi 12:23-24

"Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee--
Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you."
3 Nephi 12:23-24

There are a couple of things in here that I want to talk about. The first is that we have to be first reconciled to our brothers... :) It reminds me of Cain and Abel. Hopefully our interpersonal sparring is nothing near that serious, but however our jealousies and disagreements affect our lives, they get in the way of our relationship with God. We can't give God the attention that he deserves when we're occupied with jockeying for position and worrying about who is right. ... Really, when there are things wrong in our relationships, there is always a part of us that is occupied with the conflict. Building walls, or bombs, or whatever it is, prevents us from meeting God with a clear mind, and we find ourselves with a limited ability to listen or understand. Not saying it is easy... but conflict and bad feelings drive away the spirit. Letting those things go improves our lives, our happiness, and allows us to communicate with God without interference.
The second thing that I wanted to talk about is coming to God with full purpose of heart. Part of this is removing those distracting things, like conflict with other people... but I think it goes beyond that. I think that we have to get to the point where all of our ideals point to God. We can't be hoping for something else, or thinking of God as one of many hypothetical options. When we come to God it has to be with our whole heart, with loyalty and fidelity... a commitment to see it through. If we don't do this, then it's just like any other love triangle. It starts with being pulled apart inside, and ends in pain and pointless tragedy. We cannot serve two masters. :) So, since the other still has some pull, and perhaps we have some issues with our brother... let's resolve all of our loyalty issues, and clear our communication channels, so that when we come unto God again, there is nothing to hinder or prevent us from reaching our goal.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Deuteronomy 11:26-28

"Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day:
And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known."
Deuteronomy 11:26-28

I think this is a huge theme in the scriptures… that we get to choose whether we are blessed or cursed. We can follow God and listen to him as he guides us. If we do that, the natural consequence is that we’re going to find our way, and be blessed with the opportunities and experiences that he leads us to. We’ll grow and become better than we are. Or, we can follow other goals and desires, which is in essence, placing something else at the center of our lives, and making it into a sort of idol. And in choosing to do that, we curse ourselves by limiting our growth, and refusing to listen to the only one who can guide us along the correct path. God makes it very clear… you get to choose. Blessing or curse. And seriously, with a choice like that, who wants a curse? Ick. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t more involved in choice and in idolatry, and in blessings and cursings from God. What I am saying is... today, let’s obey the commandments and go for the blessings. Cursings stink. :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2 Peter 1:19

"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts."
2 Peter 1:19

This is kind of cool. It seems to me like it is talking about *why* we follow prophets... why we listen to God. Because in the darkness and blindness of our lives, with the veil drawn... it is hard to see our way. So, take heed, follow the light, until the day comes with brilliant and glorious light, and you have light within yourself. How amazing will that be? I mean, it might take a second for our eyes to adjust... but being able to SEE.... wow. No more blindness, no more darkness... just new things everywhere. Something to look forward to. :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 10:5

"Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work."
Doctrine and Covenants 10:5

I think that the point here is that if we keep in contact with God, that Satan can't win, or have too much influence in our lives. God offsets all that we hear from Satan... telling us the truth, and helping us see reality, and the solid, untwisted truth. If we abandon our contact with God, Satan can influence us and we start to be unsure about what the truth is and where the line is between light and dark. But when we have our Father there with us, helping us... then there is no question. We can see through the lies, and find our way through the darkness. Today, let's remember our Father, and talk to him. Keep him in our thoughts, so that we can avoid Satan's traps, and triumph.

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