Friday, May 29, 2009

Ephesians 5:21

"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."
Ephesians 5:21

I like how this verse talks about submitting to each other. Sometimes it is hard to submit, because we want to appear strong, or submitting feels like giving in, or giving up something. But what God is talking about here isn't some power play by a tyrant... he's just talking about how to get along in the world, and make it better--for ourselves, as well as other people. As humans, we have strengths and weaknesses. I know we *want* to just show strength most of the time, but showing other people our weaknesses not only helps to build trust and a loving, united, Zion people, but it also helps us *improve* the weaknesses. Talking about them, getting other people's advice and help. It's good.

I'm not suggesting the totally radical... don't hand over your house or car keys or the passwords for all of your bank accounts to your neighbors in order to build trust... but there are some basics that we can do in order to submit to each other and learn from each other. Today, maybe we can try just opening up a little more, and telling something about ourselves to someone else... something that isn't bragging. :) Maybe we can try listening and validating what someone else is saying before (or instead of) jumping in with our opinion. We submit naturally to the people we love sometimes, valuing their ideas more, thinking about their contributions more than other people's. Today, let's try to afford that same deference to people we don't know as well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Colossians 3:8-10 -- On becoming new

"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

I like the idea of putting on the new man, letting go of the old sinful person that we used to be, and becoming a new person... a better person.  One of the greatest things that the atonement does for us is allow us to repent and change and reinvent ourselves.  Even after screwing up or developing really bad habits, we can go back and edit.  Erase the black marks, fix the grammar.  Make everything clearer, cleaner, purer.  Turn ourselves into who we want to be instead of who we have been.
It's hard to do this.  Not saying it is easy.  It is hard just to take the first bit of advice in the first verse and let go of anger... not even ten words in and it is already hard. :)  But the atonement makes it *possible* ... and God always prepares a way for us to do as he asks.  Not an easy path, but one well within our powers.
Today, let's try to follow this advice.  Let's be better than we were yesterday.  Let's edit ourselves, clean up a little, and keep making ourselves newer and better ... until the perfect day. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Galatians 3:28

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male not female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
Galatians 3:28

This is an interesting scripture, in a chapter talking about who we are in relation to God (his children). On the surface, it seems to be denying some essential differences... perhaps servitude isn't essential, but gender is, and though I doubt nationality is eternal, we do get to keep the bodies we have now, albeit in a perfected form... and they seem to have different features depending on where we come from. Looking further though, I don't think that it is denying anything... not saying that those things don't exist at all, but rather that these things that make *such* a difference on earth... affecting how we are treated, how well we are paid, the opportunities we have in life, and so many things... they don't matter at all when it comes to our relationship with God. Or rather, they matter in a positive way. God knows all of us and loves us individually... differences and all. But none of these things is an obstacle in God's kingdom. We're all one. United in him. I really like the idea of a place without any discrimination. Today, let's work on being part of that place, and building the kingdom of God.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

2 Corinthians 8:12-15

"For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack."
2 Corinthians 8:12-15

Wow, this is interesting. In this chapter they are mostly talking about giving to the poor, but I think that it applies to a lot of other things as well... building Zion, the whole idea of an ideal community where there are no poor... like the City of Enoch. A fascinating idea, and one that we can work for. In this scripture it starts out talking about a willing mind... and in the Doctrine and Covenants it tells us that "The Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind" ... we have to have our wills and our emotions open to the Lord... so, building upon that, if we have a willing mind, then we need to act on it (which it says earlier in this chapter), and we are accepted according to what we have... the Lord is the ultimate in individualized education. If we haven't had inspiration or revelation then he isn't going to expect us to act on it, he is going to start us out at step one, feeling the spirit... or whatever step one is between the two of you. :) If we aren't rich, then he isn't going to expect us to give a million dollars to people in need... he is going to expect us to start out at step one, a dollar... or whatever step one is between the two of you. :) But the whole idea that is absolutely incredible here is the balancing that goes on... whatever we excel in, that's what we can offer to others... and fill the deficits in them... and whatever we lack, that's what we can accept from others, to fill the deficits in ourselves... thus becoming whole, and healthy, and a Zion community. And it is God's will that we live that way, so it isn't like it is trusting in the arm of flesh, if we are doing it correctly... it's like some cool barter system that involves not just loaves of bread and gardening, or jell-o or whatever... but spiritual gifts, and worldly goods, and our talents. :) I think we sometimes get burned on giving in this life, because people try to steal what we have, or demand it, or take it for granted, or reject it sometimes.... but so what, really? Their loss if they don't want to live in a community of giving. It helps us to give, to open ourselves... no matter whether our gifts are rejected or scorned. And when we all do it together, and share our gifts with one another... then we build something better than any of us has ever known. And someday, with God's help, and our efforts... we WILL have that community. Where we share what we have, emotionally, spiritually, materially... something to live for. :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

1 Kings 4:29

“And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.”
1 Kings 4:29

This is cool... So many times when we ask God for something it is something of the world... tangible, physical... like our car keys, or a new car, or a nicer house... :) even a better job, or good friends... rarely do we look at ourselves and say, you know... I wish I could offer more to other people. We’re usually asking for them to offer more to us. :) God tells us, several places in the scriptures, how much he values love... he shows us how much he values compassion. I think sometimes about the three Nephites... how they asked God if they could stay and bring souls to him, and the others asked if they could come immediately to him in his kingdom when they reached a certain age. God blesses us with what we want, and neither desire was unrighteous... only, how often do we think of other's needs before our own? Solomon asked for this wisdom and understanding so that he could be a good king for the people. Most of the other kings never thought of asking for anything, they just thought it was cool that they got to have all that power... sometimes they were good kings and sometimes they were bad kings, but they may have been able to be better by asking for gifts that would bless the lives of other people. Something to think about today, as we go about our daily lives... are we asking for and seeking things that will make us more comfortable individually, or are we truly seeking to bless the lives of others?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Revelation 13:16-17

"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
Revelation 13:16-17

Yikes. :) So, on an end-of-the-world theme in Revelation… this is very interesting. If you have ever heard of the number of the beast, it comes from the verse directly following this. And, so... as we live in the last days, I suppose we can expect someone to try to put marks in our foreheads at some point. :) My suggestion is... don't do it. :) (Revelation 14:9-11 if you want to see why, exactly.) You know, I was watching a Veggie Tales video the other day, where these vegetables were supposed to sing the bunny song, or get burned in the furnace (the vegetable interpretation of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) and I was thinking to myself that we rarely have to worship something other than God or face death anymore... It happened a lot in the Bible, occasionally in the Book of Mormon, and there are several pioneer stories about it... but, you know, nothing too recent. ...but here it is, in Revelation, predicting it in our future. I think that it is an interesting test... easy to fail. Especially in this context, where it isn't really even threatening immediate death, but only the ability to buy and sell... which, you know, could mean *eventual* death, but nothing that is in-your-face, hold-a-gun-to-your-head threatening. So... if it meant being able to buy some food for your family, you might justify it and get a little devil sign tattooed on your forehead. Ugly, yes... but livable. However, it is a huge test of the very first commandment. And, of course, of the power of our personal principles. I wonder sometimes if I would be able to handle the pioneer stuff... if someone rode up on a horse, pointed a gun at me, and asked if I was a Mormon... could I be as brave as some of the pioneers and say yes? And, then... in the challenge that is reserved for us... will I be able to refuse the label, the mark, that represents things that I definitely don't believe in... if it means that I can't buy food, or books? :) Hopefully I would put eternal consequences and God’s will before the book or the loaf of bread… but if it meant starving, or having nothing to read, seems like a very tough choice. So maybe I need a year’s supply of food and books. ;) Anyway, something to think about on this fine day. If people ask us to give up God for the necessities of daily life, are we strong enough… or prepared enough… to refuse?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2 Nephi 9:39

"O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal."
2 Nephi 9:39

I think that this is a good thing to remember. So many things come our way in life that are bad or questionable, and it is hard to remove yourself from it completely... we have to live in the world, and hold jobs and walk down the street, etc. The first part of the scripture talks about transgressing and yielding... committing sin, and the second part talks more about how that happens... whether we are carnally minded or spiritually minded. Those are the things that we have to be careful of in our daily walk on the earth... letting those things into our minds to dwell and grow. What we think and dwell on becomes who we are... and even if we don't mean it to, what we think is going to eventually become what we do. It's part of us. When we think about bad or unclean things, then part of us is bad or unclean... and we are progressing towards eternal death. And when we think about good and spiritual things, then that part of us is clean, and we're progressing toward salvation and eternal life. Today, let's examine our thoughts. Are we thinking negatively about our brothers and sisters on the earth... any of God's children? Are we keeping the thought of God around us as we go throughout our day? If not, then maybe we should stop today and remind ourselves of what is important, and pull God into our minds and hearts a little more. :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Isaiah 30:9-10 -- On Looking Forward to God's Will

"That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits."
Isaiah 30:9-10

Sometimes, no matter how much we say "thy will be done," we don't really like God's will in our lives. We want our lives to go smoothly, without a lot of complications and problems. We want our plans to work out and when our lives twist in a different direction, even for a short amount of time, then we question God's wisdom. :)

Even though we don't like to relate to this scripture, I think all of us are like this at times. We don't want revelation that messes up our lives. We want God's will, but only if it doesn't interfere too much with what we're doing right now. We don't want the Prophet to come out with something that will make us change our lifestyles. So, today, let’s try to remember… from the simplest things to the most complex, God is in control. Even when things are devastating to us personally, God is in charge, and He knows what He is doing. :) Things will still work out for the best... whatever the best is, according to God. And, since God's best is probably at least twenty million times better than whatever we think is best, it's probably something to look forward to. :)

It is hard to let go of our will in favor of God’s will, especially when we don’t always know what that will is, and we have to face the unknown. But if we can trust God, and know that no matter what happens, things will work out better with Him than without Him (which is absolutely, without a doubt, true)… then maybe we can let go of some of the things we want, and wait for the happy surprise of what God is planning for us.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Revelation 10:6

"And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer."
Revelation 10:6

I am a Science Fiction fanatic, and I love stories about alternate realities, wormholes, and time travel. But seeing something similar in the scriptures is slightly more mind-boggling. I mean... time. Not exist? We eat it for breakfast in the morning, and live on it every minute (see??) of the day... I have a good friend who says "timing is everything" and it really is, in so many ways... in this life. Are our imaginations big enough to imagine life without time? Where there is no beginning or ending, but everything is before us? I mean... walking on the water. I can imagine that... I can get my mind around the concept... but no time? The closest I get is when I think about repentance, and the power that God gives us to change ourselves and basically erase the past… because if God says he will remember it no more, and he knows EVERYTHING, then … it really doesn’t even exist anymore in a way, right? My mind can almost get there thinking along those lines... that who I am is a decision, and that the past and the future (see, I wouldn't even think these words if I really had it) are all part of now, who I am, who I was, who I will be, that is a decision I make in this moment. Hmm. I don't have it... but maybe it is one reason that we have to work through the past... because in a way, it is still before us, still us. And until we come to terms with the entire picture, and accept who we were and have been, then we can't change it, and make that difference in who we are, now, then, and eternally.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

1 Peter 2:15-16 -- On Wise Freedom

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”
1 Peter 2:15-16

This is interesting stuff. The first part is explaining why God asks us to obey ordinances of men: so that no one has any reason to condemn us.  I love the wording here... it is basically saying that we're helping Good triumph over evil, just by staying within the law. :)

In the next verse, I love how it is pointed out to us that we should use our freedom wisely. I think too often we think of freedom as the power to do whatever we want... and so it is, to a certain extent, but a better way to think about it is the power to choose who we serve... the power to choose our own consequences, as part of choosing the action. Sure, we are free to go beat up someone... but we're not free to choose whether we get caught and thrown into jail or not, or the extended consequences of having a criminal record and a felony. Even if we don't get caught, there are consequences with God. 

We shouldn't use our freedom to harm or humiliate others. If we use our freedom wisely, to serve God, then we're choosing some pretty good consequences, as well as choosing some guilt-free happiness in the short term. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

1 John 2:3 -- On Knowledge and Obedience

"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments."
1 John 2:3

This is cool... I think that it is interesting to think about this. If we really know God... then we'll know why he gives us commandments. We’ll know how much he loves us. We’ll know how much happier and better our lives will be if we follow his advice... and we will. I think we get it backwards sometimes and think that if God really loves us, he will accept us as we are, in our disobedient, rebellious state… and he does, as far as this life is concerned. He loves us, and guides us. But this life isn’t about God accepting us. It is about US accepting HIM… getting to know him on the deepest level, and understanding that he is teaching us to be so much better than we are. When we really know him and love him, we’ll want to participate in that improvement rather than rebelling against it. And we won’t truly know him and have his spirit fully with us until we can stand before him without any rebellion, and accept that he knows what is best for us much better than we do (that we’re basically blind compared to him), and start doing as he asks, because even though we can’t see it clearly, we know and trust God so much that we are absolutely convinced that his way is the best course, not only for ourselves, but for the whole world.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Revelation 7:16-17 -- On God's Protection and Peace

"They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Revelation 7:16-17

I think this is a very cool scripture, talking about how God will take care of the righteous. The sun part is especially nice in the summer, but really... I love that God will protect us from harsh circumstances, take care of us, and give us a reason to rejoice in the place of our sorrow.

Some days it is hard to see the goal and to stay headed in the right direction when you can't really see where you are going, but we seem to be able to see the other path with perfect clarity... or at least the part of it that is attractive. Satan is good at that, so it is good sometimes to get a taste of the peace and joy that God offers us... even in the midst of the cataclysmic events in Revelation. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Acts 9:11-12

"And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for behold, he prayeth,
And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight."
Acts 9:11-12

So interesting... for a lot of reasons. One is just the fact that God talks in detail to people who have the faith. Telling Ananias that he already told Saul he was coming. :) Amazing that God does that for us when we absolutely need it... and here, I think Ananias absolutely needed it. Hard to trust a feeling that tells you to walk into someone's presence who you think is going to abuse or murder you. And that is exactly the situation here. Saul had been persecuting the people who believed that Jesus was the Savior, and even in the first verse of this chapter "breathing out threatenings and slaughter" ... pretty scary thing. But God gave them both a lot of detail to help them through. I think that God does the same thing for us, if we think about it. I can remember one day at BYU... the phone rang, and as I was reaching to pick it up I had pop into my mind who it was, and exactly what it was about. The idea was so bizarre to me that I dismissed it... but when it turned out to be exactly that, I knew that God had prepared me for the shock. He is so much a part of our lives, every day... trying every minute to teach us and help us through. If we pay attention, God is involved in everything that we do, and any time we stop and pray... as Saul was doing... he is going to help us to figure out the next step. We can know *absolutely* that he is there, and that, even when the messages scare us... as I am certain this message scared Ananias... God knows what he is doing.

Friday, May 8, 2009

2 Nephi 32:3 -- On All Things That We Should Do

"Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."
2 Nephi 32:3

This is a great scripture. It tells us to listen to angels, which is always a good plan... but it also tells us that we should feast upon the words of Christ. And one of the places, besides direct angelic messengers, that we get those words is right here, in the scriptures.

And WHY should we feast? Because the words of Christ will lead us in our lives... tell us all the things that we need to do. ALL things… wow. The words of Christ, right here in the scriptures, can help us whenever we are stuck. It's like Christ sitting down and telling us these stories like a parable for our lives, and it is up to us to interpret the parable, seeing how the scripture messages fit into our lives, and get the lesson. :)  Often they aren't hard to figure out at all... it's plain and simple and pure. So directness when we need it and depth when we need it... and everything to learn.

We can never say we know the scriptures, really.  .... How could anyone mortal know all that is in there? There are layers upon layers upon layers, more to learn every time.

My favorite part is the promise here of direction and guidance and application to our lives. :) When need a little help, let’s pray, and read, and find the answers… because “ALL” here means that the answers are here, waiting for us to ask and to search.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 11:12-14

"And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that spirit which leadeth to do good--yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;
And then shall ye know, or by this shall ye know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive."
Doctrine and Covenants 11:12-14

This is a cool scripture about the Spirit. We should trust the Spirit, because it helps us to do good things, to be better people. It also brings light into our minds… helping us to think better I would imagine. :) And it fills our souls with joy... now, *that* is cool. Imagine being filled... you know, like if you walk too fast, it just spills out all over everyone around you. :) And *then*.... by this... because of this spirit which is leading us to do great things and be better, and is topping us off with happiness.... by this same Spirit, we can know anything that we want to know that has anything to do with righteousness (and seriously, most things do... I doubt that the Spirit will give you the knowledge of the combination to the bank vault down the street, or help you cheat on a test... but happier things, definitely). And then, here is our part... we have to desire, and believe. We always get off so easy. :) …Not that it isn't difficult at times to do those things... but comparatively. We work so hard to get those things for ourselves... happiness, goodness, judgment... knowledge, light... and the Spirit gives them to us in return for desire and faith. And no matter who we are, we can find some desire within... we all want to become better, to improve ourselves and our lives. To find out what we are about... and even if you can't get your heart and mind around the entire gospel plan... which, hey... is hard. It is big as the universe, so it's understandable to struggle with just the basics sometimes... but no matter what our struggles are, we can find some faith in something. In Christ, who lived and died and lives again... for us. In the scriptures, which if nothing else, help us to have a better day when we read from them... in tithing, one of those few things in this life that we can achieve perfection in. :) Whatever it is... we have that particle of faith, and probably a huge tree of desire... let’s pick something from the tree, exercise the tiniest amount of faith... pray, ponder... try the experiment. See what happens. :) Taking the chance to have your soul filled with joy seems like a pretty good time to me. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Haggai 1:5-6 -- On Considering and Choosing

"Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.
Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes."
Haggai 1:5-6

I think this is fascinating. Just the first verse would have been cool by itself... consider your ways. A good thought, and something that it is good to do from time to time. But then God jogs our memories a little further... think about it. What are we building, what are we living for? God is trying to convince these people to build a temple, but they keep running around, so worried about their houses that they don't have any time to build one for him. So, he says... think about it. What is going to make a difference here? You running around in circles, not getting anything done, or you listening to me? :)

I think that we have the same dilemma in our lives. And not that our lives are pointless... there are families to raise and people to love, and friends to make happy. There are always really good things to do... but God still says the same thing. Consider your ways. Are they making you happy? Are you building something that will last? Think about it. And, if not... whenever you realize it... come unto me, and I will give you something to build that will last forever. Something that matters, something that will add some meaning to your life.

God will satisfy all these needs for us, if we let him... we will sow, and reap in abundance. Eat, and have more than enough. Drink, and become filled to overflowing. God will make us warm, God will offer us abundance. We need God in our lives. He's the one that can fill the gaps.

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