Friday, January 30, 2009

2 Nephi 31:16-17

"And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost."
2 Nephi 31:16-17


This is some great imagery. The first verse says enduring to the end “in following the example” of Christ… which I think is an interesting wording. Doesn’t say endure to the end as a separate thing, but as part of follow his example… it says that we need to keep following his example no matter what. I love that, because “enduring to the end” to me always seems so vague. Like reality television where you just have to last until the final episode and you win… doesn’t matter HOW you last, just that you do. Luckily, here is God telling us that life is so much better than reality television.  We’re enduring something specific… enduring in following the example of Christ. Definitely hard to do sometimes, because we’re weak and sinful people who have a lot to learn. … but it does matter how we last, and it is something we can learn about and work on.
The next verse tells us some of the steps in following Christ’s example: repentance, baptism, remission of sins. And this is amazing imagery… “remission of your sins by fire” … like the refiners fire, come to burn off all the impurities and only leave the pure part of us left. Love that. Not certain that it would feel good, or how much of me would be left… but what a great thing… to burn away every part of you that is bad, and only be left with the good. And maybe we can do part of that today, as we work to endure by following Christ’s example. Let’s listen to the Holy Ghost, talk to God, and burn off the bad parts of ourselves.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

1 Samuel 25:6

"And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast."
1 Samuel 25:6


This is taken out of context... it's part of a story about King David and a guy named Nabal. :) But I love the way that they greet each other... peace, peace, peace... to you and everything around you, always... I love that. I wish people would say that to me... instead of "hey girl... what's up" it would be cool to hear "peace be unto you, are you well?" But maybe that is just my penchant for Shakespeare showing itself. I like hey girl too... don't get me wrong. :) Anyway, all of you reading this today... Peace , peace, peace... to you and everything that you touch today. Take a moment and remember that the world is not falling apart, and that God really does know what he is doing. :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mosiah 4:12-13

"And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due."
Mosiah 4:12-13

This is amazing. So... if we do "this" (covered previously in the chapter, but basically, believe in God, repent, remember God and practice humility before him, and pray…) we get a few things:

1. Constant happiness
2. Constant fulfillment / love that fills us
3. Continual remission of sins (!)
4. Continual inflow of knowledge...
5. Calmness and a feeling of love and peace towards everyone

Wow... those are amazing things! I want them... don't you? Today, let’s seriously work on getting these things. Work on having the spirit with us… and if anyone wants more on how to get there, review Mosiah 4. (Here’s a link to it, in case you forgot your scriptures: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/mosiah/4.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Colossians 1:12-13

"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."
Colossians 1:12-13


This is interesting... first, that our inheritance is light. That is pretty cool. Or maybe, we just partake of our inheritance in light... either way it is cool, because the lights are always on in heaven. :) Not to skip over the very important fact that it is God that makes us equal to our inheritance... no matter how lost we are, God can find us, heal our wounds, offer us a shower and a safe place to stay, and clean clothes to put on. If we make the smallest effort to communicate with him... to get to know him, to love him... then he blesses us, and prepares us for the next step. He makes us equal to every task he assigns... every lesson he teaches. And he will, in the end, make us equal to the light that he offers us. When things get too dark, he rescues us, and helps us prepare to go out again. And I like the translated part... it's as though we are in a foreign country and we don't speak the language, and we are trying to get along. We're failing miserably, and we start yelling and cursing... and God comes up and translates for us... translating our pain and our anguish into the simple questions that we have in our hearts... and making every shout seem like a blessing in the ears of the natives. He knows that we are really bad at diplomacy, but he knows us so well that he translates our stumbling prose into poetry, expressing our feelings and thoughts much better than we could ourselves. And, that is how we get into the Kingdom of God... through the translation that makes us so much closer to the ideal us than we are. :) Of course... we still have to learn, and become good translators ourselves someday, and help out others. :) God is so so so cool to us... and everything he asks of us is only designed for our benefit. That is amazing to me. In this world of self-service (as in serving ourselves, not pumping our own gasoline), he is serving US. God, the most powerful of all... making my day go better... helping you deal with your daily issues. Touching us all individually, because in all the universe, this is what matters to him... his children. Listen to him today... don't walk out into traffic, okay?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mark 7:15-16

"There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."
Mark 7:15-16


This is interesting... talking about external and internal influences, and that nothing from outside can defile us (make us unclean) ... only the things that come out of us. What comes to mind when I think about this is the whole action/reaction thing. Other people can't make us into anything that we don't want to be. They can try... we can get a large amount of bad input and good input externally, but the only thing that determines our selves... our cleanliness or uncleanliness... is how we react to that input. Do we take in evil and then deliver evil out, like a computer would do? Garbage in, garbage out... or can we see all the input and choose what to keep, what to throw away, and deliver good? God gives us the freedom and power to be more than computers... to refuse to be shaped by evil influences... to transcend "society" and all the garbage around us. We have the opportunity and power to inject some good into this world. By the same token, we have the power to reject good influences and choose otherwise. What we eventually become is who we choose to become. If life gives us lemons, we can give life some pomegranates. :) Let’s not limit our choices. :) We're not a sum total of experiences... we're more than that. God has given us the power to be better than anything that we have *ever* experienced in our earth lives... to progress beyond and to dream of more. Let’s focus on listening to God today, rather than the world… and be who we have the potential to be... no matter what comes in. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Alma 16:16-17

"And there was no inequality among them; the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming--
That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a branch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord their God."
Alma 16:16-17


This is kind of cool... well, really cool... :) First of all, the part about there being no inequality among them... can you imagine that? No inequality. You couldn't drive a few blocks down the road and find homeless people because there would be none. You wouldn't be afraid to walk alone in one part of town, because they would all be safe. Why would someone mug you when they have the same things you have? No inequality. No-one would walk into a restaurant and get snubbed. No-one would be denied rights, or housing, or medical care... everyone would have food, and shelter, and clothing, and opportunities for quality education... It would be amazing.
Then... the Lord pours out his Spirit to prepare our minds and hearts to receive his word at his coming. We need that same thing today. He is coming, and we need to be prepared. One thing that our minds and hearts need to be prepared for is equality. We talk about it a lot, but I don't think any of us realizes how it would be, or even wants it most of the time. Usually, the only times I think of equality and fairness are when I am not getting as big a piece of the pie as I want. If there really were equality, so many things would change... are we ready for that? Are we willing to share what we have, or will we fight to keep it, no matter what? It's a good question, and something that we need to examine as we endeavor to build Zion... when we build it, are we going to want to live there? This is why we need the Spirit of the Lord, to prepare our hearts and minds to accept God's plan in the latter days... to fight for it, to build his kingdom... to become what we can be, and have faith in the Lord that it will all work out. :) And the other reason... that we won't be hardened against it when it comes. That we will receive God's word with joy, and create the society that he envisions, and enter into his rest when the time comes (or when no time comes... you know...). :) Anyway, today... let’s try to imagine no inequality. How would our lives change? Is there anything that we can do to encourage that today?

Friday, January 23, 2009

1 Peter 5:5-7

"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
1 Peter 5:5-7


This is a good thing to remember today. Often, in life, we run up against people who disagree with us... and, of course, they are SO wrong, and WE are right, and how could anyone ever doubt that? ... But even so, God asks us to let it go. And, yes, it is hard. But on the other side, it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong... because the goal is peace. The goal is love. And truly... no matter how you spin it, God is right, and we are wrong when we get prideful and put other goals before those ones. Today, no matter how difficult it is, let's work on this... on letting our disagreements go, and on casting our cares on the Lord. It isn't always about who is right, but rather it is about whether we have a good relationship with God, who cares about us and wants us to learn this important lesson. No other outcomes can make up for the loss of the spirit. So, yeah... it's hard. But we've got the mighty hand of God on our side, and we can do it. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

2 Nephi 26:11

"For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul."
2 Nephi 26:11

This is a really scary scripture. The verse before it talks about people choosing to yield to the devil, and so the consequences I'm sure make sense... but to think about losing the spirit and never, ever being able to get it back--no wonder "then cometh speedy destruction." I think my whole life would implode if I were left to rely on my own decisions and my own judgement for very long, without any assistance from God. ...I think that God sticks with us sometimes even when we're screwing up, because he's trying to teach us. He knows that we can't be perfect. We're little kids comparatively, and it is understandable. But I think this verse is a little like saying "you know, someday, you're going to have to grow up, and take some responsibility for yourselves and your actions. I can't protect you from those adult consequences forever." ... and perhaps we made some bad choices while with God, and he dealt with it. But that can't last forever. When we're on our own, we can't play with fire anymore without severe consequences. So, today... let's try learning to avoid getting into trouble in the first place. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2 Corinthians 3:6

"Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
2 Corinthians 3:6


This scripture seems to encompass a lot of life. The spirit does give life... when we listen to God, and try to see the whole picture. Sometimes it seems like we can't see the forest, or even a whole tree, because we are trying to figure out how many leaves we can fit in our pockets, or we are banging our heads against a fallen log instead of climbing over it. We get so involved with thinking about the rules, and the details, and the limitations, that we can't see the world around us, and why we are here, and all the amazing things that await us. The verse says letter... as in letter of the law. How often do we find ourselves looking at the letters instead of reading the words? Arguing over a specific interaction instead of seeing the overall relationship? If we can keep the spirit with us, and continue to communicate with God all the time, then we’ll know when the exceptions are… and know how to pull success out of situations that seem hopeless. We’ll know when to be strict and when to bend… in order to assist the overall plot of the story… to help everyone and to bring joy, rather than getting caught up only in this chapter and just doing things for the sake of doing them, robotically, not seeing the reasons behind all of it. God wants us to be happy, overall. Let’s work on remembering that big picture as we go throughout our days... not to let the details kill us, but to draw life through the spirit. When we find ourselves face-down on the ground—not seeing the forest, or the trees... just the dirt—maybe we can talk to God, and ask him for a little perspective. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Isaiah 26:3

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
Isaiah 26:3


I really want to be one of those people who never loses their cool. Who never gets ruffled... if someone asks an impertinent or contentious question there is just a smile, and an answer phrased as though the question was well-meant and kind. Gordon B. Hinckley always springs into my mind when I think of that sort of person... I think he was like that. And maybe, the more we have the spirit, and the more we learn to walk with God, the more we know how to defuse situations, step back, and see things with a spiritual perspective. Reading this scripture today made me think of that, and how unpeaceful my life is sometimes... and I like it because it tells us how to get that sort of peace and inner solidity. Look to the Lord. Trust the Lord. Just like Alma 38:5... the more we trust the Lord, the more we'll be delivered. And the more we will have the "perfect peace" spoken of here. And in this context I think that trusting the Lord means a lot of things, but some very specific ones. One of those is trusting God to take care of things. Sometimes we act or react because we want some control over the situation. Can we trust God to take care of the things that we can't control? Trust him that things will work out okay, without our machinations? Today, let's work on praying rather than arguing... perhaps a good first step. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Genesis 1:6-8

"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."
Genesis 1:6-8


Okay, we know that God is unimaginably powerful, right? ... this just kind of boggled my mind, thinking about space. I mean, this whole creation day in Genesis is about the heavens. Water above, water beneath... and so, I guess it makes it easy to flood the earth at the time of Noah, since all he had to do was get rid of some of that excess water. :) Seriously though... God created heaven right here... (ocean and dry land aren't dealt with until the *next* day, so this can't just be an earthly division) ... so what exactly does that mean? Did he create the solar system for us? The scriptures say a lot of things about all the stars falling from heaven at the second coming (one example D&C 29:14)... And I guess that for a long time the way that I have been thinking is that God is a part of our universe... just lives on a different planet really far away or something... but when you think that, maybe, all the stars that we can see... they all there purely for us... on this world, it makes you re-think. And, how else *could* it be, if all of those stars are going to fall from the sky because of something that happens on our Earth? Even in Abraham, where it talks about Kolob being the governing star... it talks about the stars being "in the firmament of heaven." So... my little mind was whirring, thinking... what if the entire *universe* (as we know it) is there as our firmament of heaven? So, God's mind-boggling power increases by 6 million percent (at least) if you think of it that way, rather than God being just another inhabitant of our universe. :) ... and we know that God has created "worlds without number" ... and for each of these worlds as well, did he create a firmament, and divide the waters? :) It's just beyond imagining. I wonder sometimes whether we are going to return to dwell with God after we die and just laugh our heads off at how we actually thought we were figuring things out. :) It will be cool though, when God explains it all. That is something to look forward to. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

2 Peter 2:20-21

"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."
2 Peter 2:20-21


I think that this is scary in a way... to think about our mistakes counting against us so much *more* because we know the truth. ... And in some ways, I think we are right to be a little scared; at least scared enough to avoid falling away from the truth. But I think that there is more here than a healthy dose of fear... and I actually don't think that God wants us to be afraid of him. More afraid of who we could become. In the Book of Mormon we learn about several people who were part of the church at one point--they knew the truth--and then they started working against it. And those dissenters caused the church and the people a lot more damage than the unbelievers ever did. I think that God here is warning us against becoming hardened... against forgetting what we have already learned and forgetting who we are, and how much better our lives are *with* God. It's like Alma 5: "Can ye feel so now?" ... we can't learn the truth and then stop, and expect that to be enough. Our relationship with God takes just as much or more work as any other relationship in our lives. Our dedication to God can't be just a sometimes or partial thing. We have to offer our whole souls as an offering unto him... and work at remaining converted. It doesn't seem hard... the talking to God, reading our scriptures, attending church... but it is easy to get distracted and think that it doesn't matter that much, and that it won't affect who we are and how much we love God. ... But it can. People who are 100% dedicated to God can slowly fall away, at first just down to 90%... and perhaps many years later they are so far down that they make a break, and start fighting against certain aspects of doctrine... and it is a heartbreaking thing to watch. ... But who can prevent it? ONLY ourselves. Good friends can counsel when they see little slips (which is great), but in the end, we are the ones who have to keep coming back to God enough to even *hear* that warning voice. We have to remember that we can lose light and truth as well as gaining it... and remember what a tragedy it is when that happens. Today, let's examine our commitment level with God, talk to him about it, and renew our dedication. Let's do everything we can to ensure that we don't become like the people discussed in these verses... people who turned their back on themselves, and the hope that God offered them.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2 Nephi 29:12

"For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it."
2 Nephi 29:12


I like this verse partially because it promises that we are going to have so much good stuff to read in the future. :) Of course, the bigger point that God speaks to all nations is also a great one, and I think very illustrative of his love for us. He communicates with everyone... all people... urging them to improve their lives, to grow, and to change. And wherever and whenever someone listens, then he can communicate more, and help more. And those records from God's dealings with us across the years... those all help us to understand that God is solid and consistent. He is *always* there for us--teaching us, guiding us, and working for our good. ... and he will continue to speak to those who are willing to listen. Today, let's work on hearing what God has to say. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

2 Nephi 27:11

"And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth."
2 Nephi 27:11

This is scary and exciting all in one. :) ALL things shall be revealed. Wow. So cool... to be able to learn the truth of everything. Much better than a history textbook. Especially because the verse includes "will be" as well as "have been." ... we get to know the future. :) I like the idea of full disclosure, and nothing being hidden in the dark. I've never really been a fan of "need-to-know" information stinginess. I can just imagine all the cool things that we can imagine and do once we really do have *all* the information available to us. ... However, the concept is also scary in a way. This also means that things that *we* hide from people won't be hidden anymore. The parts of ourselves and our past that we aren't especially proud of will also be in plain view. ... I think it is okay, but it does mean that we should be working on honesty, and on owning who we are... the past as well as now. Learn how to admit our mistakes and move on. God knows it all already, and he still cares about us. ... And I think that as we all strive to become like God, hopefully we learn about that as well. Acceptance, and working with people and loving them despite their faults. Today, maybe we can remember that eventually people are going to know everything about us, and get a head start on being able to accept and embrace that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2 Nephi 25:23

“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
2 Nephi 25:23

Got a complaint email this morning from a user on the website where I work about the question “How does a Mormon become a Christian?” A Mormon had answered it, saying that we *are* Christians, and someone had locked and protected the answer to prevent vandalism. So this person writes in and asks that it be unblocked, because the answer just isn’t true, and goes on a three-page tirade about how we aren’t Christians. One of the specific things mentioned was that we believe that we are saved by works, and not by grace. … I thought this was a good scripture to show the difference there. Nephi is working to make sure that his people remember the reason that we worship… it is impossible for us to save ourselves. That’s why Christ died for us, and why we need to repent, and the reason for so much of what we do. We can’t live perfect lives. We can’t attain the gifts that Christ could attain on his own… and through some miracle that I don’t pretend to fully understand, he was able to bear the burden of our sins and mistakes and even sicknesses and frailties. He understands us perfectly… and yes, he wants us to work. How else will we change and become who we need to be? … But all the work in the world accomplishes absolutely nothing without our Saviour, Jesus Christ… who in the end, saves us, because we can’t come close to paying the price that he paid for us. Today, let’s remember and honor Christ for the hope that he offers us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Moroni 6:8

"But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven."
Moroni 6:8

I think this is amazing. I know that often, in the world that we live in, it is seen as a weak or stupid thing to do to continue trying or forgiving someone after seeing the same actions over and over and over again... and I am definitely not advocating staying in an abusive situation. However, in our relationship with God, how often are we in need of repentance? I think very rarely do we make it through a perfect 2 hours, let alone a perfect day or week. And so, we really need the sort of repentance that Moroni is talking about here, that was offered by the church, and by our Father in Heaven.
And truthfully, if we look at it from that perspective, God as our Father... what parent is going to watch their child spill the milk every night for a month and then just give up and disown them? Hopefully not many, and *definitely* not God. Yes, we do things that are worse than spilling the milk sometimes... but the point is the same. God is trying to teach us something. The equivalent of how to drink out of an adult glass rather than a sippy cup or bottle. We're not going to get it right every time... but he is patient, and keeps trying. And as long as we are sincere, and don't pour the milk on the floor intentionally or try to break the cup, he will come back and help us try again. (And even then, if we get over the rebellious stage and truly start trying again...)
Change is difficult, and often our challenge is forgiving and not giving up on ourselves. With God's help, we *can* change. Today, let's start again, and try not to spill. ;)

Monday, January 12, 2009

2 Peter 3:11-14

"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
2 Peter 3:11-14


This is an excellent question. … since we know that the earth is going to melt away (basically... not trying to be negative or anything) ... what manner of people should we be? What should we be focusing on? Probably not the melted pieces. Perhaps the few things that last after this life is over, after this earth is gone... building healthy relationships with people. Learning all that we can. Happiness, peace. ... as Tracy Chapman says, "All you have is your soul." Instead of focusing on earthly rewards... which are apparently going to be liquefied... we can focus on things that won't melt. :)
Of course... that doesn't mean that we can encourage the melt-down. We have to do all that we can to build other people up, to respect them, to love them. No flame-throwers. I think God can handle that part all by himself. But we *should* take some time and put earthly things into perspective. Melted stuff just, frankly, isn't as cool as God's stuff. The last part I think is where we can do some work.
Let's be diligent today, to be at peace, to be without spot… to be blameless. As we go through the refiner's fire, let's make sure that something inside of us is heat-resistant… pure enough to last, even after everything else has been burned away. And then we can look forward to the "new heavens and a new earth" … where righteousness dwells. I don't really know if I am going to like the "be dissolved" part, but the dwelling together in righteousness part sounds pretty great. :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

John 3:12

"If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?"
John 3:12


This is an interesting scripture... and it makes a good point. If we can't listen to what God tells us about this life, how are we going to be able to hear what he says about the vastness of knowledge beyond this earth? This life is a test, and the things that we learn here, we take with us into eternity and our immortal lives. So many times we ignore what God has to say about living day-to-day, and then we wish he would tell us about huge things like what is going to happen in the future, or whether we can have a swimming pool in our heavenly mansion... :) Not that God won't answer all of those questions in time... but he has to teach us step by step. Just like we don't sit down with a child and try to teach him to read Shakespeare before he's learned the alphabet. He might want to learn it right then, but the foundation is missing. God really does know our capabilities, and what lessons, for us individually, need to come next. So, let's go and learn today's lessons really well, and maybe we'll be ready for some heavenly lessons soon. :)

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