Monday, March 30, 2009

2 Peter 3:15

"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you."
2 Peter 3:15


I really don't know where Paul offers this same message... but the message itself is an excellent one. The longsuffering of God is salvation. :) ... because of his longsuffering and patience, we have the opportunity to pick up the pieces and try again... as many times as it takes. For us, there is always another chance as long as we are willing to continue to try.... and with all of those chances, as long as our desire and effort hold out, we're practically guaranteed success. :) ... and we have these chances at life and success because of God. His educational philosophy has never been to try to weed people out of the program. He wants us to succeed, not by offering an easy A, but by giving us practically unlimited chances to learn the material, even if we didn't do our homework the first time. He offers study sessions weekly, and is always available for teacher conferences, even at the last second. He loves us. Let's put some more effort into our salvation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Galatians 6:2,5

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
For every man shall bear his own burden."
Galatians 6:2,5


There are three verses in between these two, and I don't usually pull verses individually like this, but the contrast here is intriguing. Even though these seem almost contradictory at first, I think that it makes sense (awfully big of me to think that God makes sense, isn't it?). :) God first says that we should bear one another's burdens. This is good, and helps us learn to both offer and receive help when we need it. And then, he says that each of us should bear our own burdens. That is what I find interesting... that God isn't only talking about interdependence, but also independence... and the way those work together is the really interesting part. I think of relationships that way. You have to be independent... your own person... in order to have a healthy relationship, but then in any healthy relationship there also has to be some interdependence... helping each other, and lifting each other's burdens. I think that the second verse is really just helping us to understand what bearing one another's burdens is... that interdependence isn't helplessness. Because we are commanded to lift each other up, none of us should get used to being carried. :) We have to remember that it is our job to walk alone without leaning on others... but it is also our privilege to help others and be helped in return when we need it. We should help each other without expecting help in return… but if we all do this, we’ll get help anyway. :) Some cool things to ponder today. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ezra 2:63-65

"And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.
The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,
Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women."
Ezra 2:63-65


This is cool stuff. As a little background Tirshatha means basically Governor. This is during the time when the king was allowing the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and so they were trying to get the priesthood and everything back in order so that they could build and maintain the temple. I like in the first verse the reference to the Urim and Thummim. For those of you who don't know, the Urim and Thummim was used by Joseph Smith during part of the translation of the Book of Mormon... and so it is really interesting to read about it here in the Old Testament. :) And, here, it doesn't even seem clear whether there is just one, or whether it is a class of objects associated with priests and priesthood. Very interesting. :)
The other part that I thought was cool is that they had two hundred singing men and singing women. :) Boy, whoever invented the radio really made us lose out, that's all I can say. Can you imagine hiring someone to come and sing to you all day? That is COOL. :) And makes me understand all of those scriptures about angels gathered around the throne of God so much better... if you were God, wouldn't you have singing men and singing women around all the time? :) In *fact* ... maybe that can be my new career goal. :) And hey, if we have a chance to sing to someone today, let’s try it… maybe it’ll give us more job options in the eternities. :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mark 7:21-23 -- On Internal and External sources of Evil

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
Mark 7:21-23


This is an interesting chapter, talking about internal and external influences. Christ starts out talking about many traditions and says that things from outside us can't defile us... "because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly" (verse 19). I'm sure those things can make us sick... but they can't hurt us spiritually. In this set of verses, he talks about the things that can hurt us (or kill us) spiritually... things that come FROM us, not from outside us. I think we often want to blame things on an external influence... the devil, or society, or our parents/environment... whatever it is. And maybe some of those things affect us... but we choose that as well. We choose what to let into our hearts, and into our minds, and we *definitely* choose what comes back out of us. We choose those thoughts and actions that we show to the world every day. And in the long run, what we choose each day to let into our hearts, and what we put back out there... that is who we *are* ... who we become, and who we will present before God on judgment day. Today, let's work on not defiling ourselves further. ;) ... And if we have any extra time after that, maybe we can clean up some of the grime we've already got on our souls.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Zephaniah 3:9

"For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."
Zephaniah 3:9


How amazing would it be if there were no language barriers... if we could all speak the same language? This scripture is talking about the second coming, and that after a lot of destruction-type things, that God will give us all a pure language... imagine that. Not that we don't love French, and Russian, and English... I mean, I was an English major; I *love* words and the cool things you can do with them... but just think: everyone speaking the same language, and a PURE language... one where your meaning is apparent, no having to say things 19 times to try to express your thoughts. :) Think of the poetry you could write, because the exact word *will* be there when you need it. :) On the down side, I will have to replace all of my refrigerator magnetic poetry magnets... but on the upside... maybe men and women will finally be able to communicate. :)
Seriously, to be able to say exactly what you mean... and to be able to talk to anyone, anywhere, without that extra barrier of language... that is amazing. The spirit already breaks down barriers, but this is huge... and think of how many barriers will have to come down before we can build a common community... before we can become one as a Zion people.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Zephaniah 1:17

"And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung."
Zephaniah 1:17


This is interesting, and something that I think I have seen in myself, and perhaps others. It seems that when we do the right things that our minds are clearer. I know that I don't get unduly concerned about small things, and I am a lot more calm. It seems as though I can see my path better. When I am failing to do the right things however, my path is obscured and I walk as though I were blind... and perhaps I am, spiritually. It seems as though something similar happens to others... It's almost as though when we aren't in contact with God that we lose contact with part of ourselves as well... parts of our brain shut down. I know I feel foggy a lot of the time if I haven't been staying on track. I have access to less information (probably because the Holy Ghost brings things to our remembrance, and without him, I can't get at the files). :) We might get depressed and feel lost a lot more easily as well. It seems like the relation between sinning and walking like blind men in this scripture is startlingly true. Today, let’s try to remember what it takes to enlighten our minds and our souls... as we come unto him, God gives sight to our blindness.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mosiah 4:10

"And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you: and now, if you believe all these things see that you do them."
Mosiah 4:10


This is interesting to me today... I think that sometimes the disconnect between what we believe and what we do is huge. :) ... we get caught up in doing everyday things and forget to put God first for instance… and I’m sure that we can all come up with pertinent examples from our own lives. :) Anyway, the truth of this scripture goes very deep, down to our core being... we know, without even a little particle of doubt, that repentance is a good thing... even that it is a marvelously merciful thing. But, how often do we really do it, and do it correctly? The humility that it talks about here is so important... recognizing our relationship with our father... as his children, in need of instruction... humbly asking for and following our dad's advice. Today... let's try to lessen the disconnect between what we believe and what we live. Let's humble ourselves before our father... tell him our problems and ask for his help... and when he gives us some advice, let us follow it. :) If we believe all these things, let's work on going out and doing them… putting it all into practice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Isaiah 45:9-10 -- On Growing Up and Learning from God

"Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?"
Isaiah 45:9-10


These are some really good questions for us.  I think that, unfortunately, we do this a lot.  Doubting God's wisdom, or criticizing his handiwork (including criticizing ourselves).  We wonder why God would give us this challenge or thorn in the flesh.  We attack him for allowing suffering rather than trying to learn why.  We get to a certain point and tell God, beyond this point I will not go.  You have to prove something to me, or you're nothing... when no matter what we in our little dust-speck minds thing, God is everything... always.
Instead of confusing the relationship with God and assuming that we are equals, or that we can somehow convince the creator of the universe to let us stay up past our bedtimes... instead of going rebellious and fighting him... today, let's try seeing the reality of the differences in our experience and knowledge levels clearly.  Let's understand that God has pretty much infinite power, and we have virtually none.  And when we realize this, instead of getting scared and running away, let's take advantage of the great love that God has for us, and the unlimited access we have to talk to him through prayer, and start learning from him.  Let's let him mentor us.  Let's hope to to be as cool as he is.  Let's grow up enough to realize that our Father might actually know some things after all. :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

John 21:15

"So when they had dined, Jesus saith unto Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs."
John 21:15


I think this is great... great learning taking place here. Saying to Peter, if you love me, then do what I do. Feed my lambs. Help other people feel the way that you do, and experience that incredible love that changes minds and hearts and lives. The presence of Christ on this earth was a miraculous thing, and this man got to hang out with him *every* day... and he tells him: feed others with what I have given you. Show them how to experience my presence in their lives as well... tell them, show them... love them the way that I have loved you. And I think that is Christ's message to all of us. First we have to get to know him, through reading about him, through talking with him... and then we need to share that incredible experience with the people around *us* ... show them how we have been changed through knowing Christ. One of those things is through feeding others... physically as well as spiritually. lifting them up and helping them to stand, just as Christ does for every one of us.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Matthew 13:44

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field."
Matthew 13:44


I think this is a great scripture... just pointing out how cool heaven is. Joseph Smith said that if men could see just the glory of the Telestial Kingdom, the lowest possibility we have of an afterlife... that they would be killing themselves to get there. Perhaps when we have those moments where we realize how far below God we are... we can remember that Earth life is so far below Heaven in that same way... and the peace and rest and fulfillment that we seek and can never quite find... we WILL find, because that is our home, and the fulfillment of all the positive things that the heart can conceive.
Maybe another thing to ask ourselves is, do we see heaven and God's kingdom as the precious thing that it is? Do we realize its value? Are we walking away from a treasure that is greater than everything we have now? I think of Job, who lost everything... and then gained more than he had in the first place. I don't think that God blesses all of us exactly the same way... but when we sacrifice *anything* for God, we receive b'zillions of times more than we ever sacrificed... every time. Emotionally, spiritually... materially... whatever it is, God doesn't fail. Like Job, he teaches us patience sometimes... but he always comes through after building our faith a little. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Enos 1:15

"Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it."
Enos 1:15


I think this is cool... Enos asked God for stuff all the time, because God told him that if he had faith, whatever he wanted that was good would happen. so he asked... "continually." I think that is great... and something that we can emulate. Sometimes it feels like we are pushing our luck when we ask God for things... and maybe we are, if they aren't things that are good for us. But good things... we can ask for them all day, and he will be happy to give them to us. :) Just think if you went up to your earthly dad... he knows you, and he expects you to ask for money... and *instead* you ask for a grocery cart full of frozen vegetables so that you can stay healthy at college. :) It still costs him money... but he doesn't mind because you are asking for something good... and he knows you can't trade vegetables for pizza. :) God is like that... and he'll never turn us down because he isn't limited financially... or at all. :) As long as it is something good for us, he'll give it to us, as soon as we can handle it (you know, like we might have to get a new freezer before our dad could buy us that many vegetables at once... he might have to get us a few bags at a time...). Anyway... God wants to give us stuff. He loves us, and he wants us to be happy. So... let's ask for some happiness... a new friend... a reason to smile. :) Let's ask for forgiveness... the ability to change; for motivation and good desires... an opportunity to help someone else; for patience and a change of heart; for the ability to love the people around us. We can ask for a lot of good things... and God says right here in the scriptures... we will get them. :) Let's give it a try. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hebrews 10:35-36 -- On God's Timing

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."
Hebrews 10:35-36


This is a cool scripture... that we need to have confidence that God will do what he says he will. Sometimes we do what God says and we look around and the people that are doing bad stuff seem a lot more happy and content than we are... or the promised blessings don't come immediately.  That can be really frustrating, because we often don't have a lot of patience.  We want the rewards NOW, and we often think that making any effort at all deserves a standing ovation, because it was hard for us to do.

The tough thing to remember is that this life is a test, and we have to pass it. We have to do God's will and then not abandon it immediately if something else looks temporarily more fun. Patience is part of the package... just like a child, when his parents teach him to read and write and walk and talk... and he can't do things exactly like a grown-up immediately. Learning takes time, and so do the blessings of God. He is mindful of us always, and he is applauding when we do things that are hard for us.  He wants to reward us for even the smallest efforts... but he also needs to give us things at the right time, and in the right way... and HE knows the timing best... we don't.

So, today, let's do good, and trust God.   He will give us the desires of our hearts, and bless us beyond imagining... if we can be patient and remember who we are for a little while. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mosiah 27:15-16 -- On Angels and Agency

"And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God.
Now I say unto thee: Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam, and in the land of Nephi; and remember how great things he has done for them; for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off."
Mosiah 27:15-16


I think this is fascinating for a couple of reasons... one, that an angel came down to prove to someone that God exists. In an earlier verse the angel explains that he has come because of the prayers of Alma's father, and the people of the church. I think this is remarkable, because most people don't get this privilege. I know, being stricken dumb by an angel might not seem like a privilege, but it was... it brought Alma back from some incredible wickedness, and saved him in the end.  His life turned completely around from this point. I wonder if some of the things that we think are devastating in our own lives are designed with a similar purpose.

The other thing that I think is amazing is that the angel still emphasizes Alma's free agency. He comes down and says (in essence) ... listen Alma. I'm not here because of you, but because of the people you are hurting. You are completely free to destroy yourself, but STOP destroying them. ... And I think that tells us something very clear about God and his ways. He is not going to walk all over our choices, even in extreme circumstances where the entire church is praying for us to change. He will give us some additional information perhaps, or show us where our choices were wrong... but he still leaves it in our hands to change or remain in our sins.

Could Alma have gone through this experience and returned to wickedness... absolutely. I'm sure it was incredibly difficult for him to change his life so completely, and to explain to people who weren't there that he had a religious experience... but he *did* have one, whether anyone believed him or not, and he made the hard choices and changes in his life, and turned it around.  Perhaps our experiences aren't quite as dramatic, but do we know *any* less than he did? I don't think so. I think our experiences make God and his will just as obvious... and our choices are just as clear. We, also, can choose for ourselves to be cast off. Or we can change, and join God's work. Today, let's work on doing what we know is right.

Monday, March 9, 2009

John 13:34-35 -- On A New Commandment

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
John 13:34-35


I think it is interesting that this commandment is new.  I think that it is part of who God is, but it is hard to get us to see things in this new way... to see that we don't have to hate or fight or compete, but that we can work together as a community, and care rather than stealing or taking advantage.  That there is a better way. :)
Christ changed lives because he loved people, he understood them on a personal level, and he made sure that they knew they mattered. I wonder if we can do the same. Love everyone no matter what… care about them and what happens to them, and try to help them, regardless of anything they have done or said, or the labels we’ve associated with them. That is how people will know that we are actually disciples of Christ.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Habakkuk 2:14

"For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
Habakkuk 2:14

Cool cool cool, don't you think? Think about knowledge covering us, way over our heads, until we are swimming in it, and everyone around us is swimming in it... and we are breathing it, and soaking it up like sunshine... and think, everyone at that point will know God, and we'll all have a topic of conversation if we meet each other on the street. :) Knowledge will be filling all those spaces between our molecules. Very cool. Let's go and get a taste today. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

2 Corinthians 6:14

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
2 Corinthians 6:14


I think this is interesting. Most of us probably have to work and interact with “unbelievers” every day, and have good friends among them. :) I don’t think that it means that we shouldn’t have those friends. Friends are good. The footnote to this talks about marriage, and I think that is the point… that a difference like the gospel is HUGE. Not something that is easy (or desirable) to overcome in a marriage. Too many consequences. Some things you can’t compromise, which I think is why it talks about righteousness and light vs. unrighteousness and darkness. Probably in everything we do, we need to watch for that influence, where we start listening to the dark rather than the light, but especially in relationships so close to the heart. I’m not saying it isn’t possible. I have friends who are functioning with inactive husbands and still going to church and retaining a testimony… but even then, it makes everything harder. And the advantage of a temple marriage is overwhelming. Some people lift us up and make it easier to look to God… and some people make it harder.… Let’s do what we can to make our lives easier, and make it easier for us to stay close to God, whether we’re contemplating marriage, or just considering who to pal around with. :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

James 1:2-4

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
James 1:2-4


I think this is hard to hear sometimes… that we need to rejoice at temptations, and look forward to learning patience. But also interesting and cool... especially the last verse. It seems to me to say that if we finally learn that patience that God is trying to get us to learn, that we won't need to walk around in this world, dissatisfied. And you know, that is a pretty huge accomplishment... to be content where we are, with what we have. So, we can learn to be glad when we run into temptations and snags in the road... because it is teaching us that indispensable lesson... patience, and through patience... satisfaction. Not that we can't or shouldn't be hungry to learn... but as we learn patience, we learn a lot more than we know now: that we aren't partial people... that we aren't incomplete. We are "perfect and entire." God can teach us to find our wholeness, and to be satisfied with what God grants us in our lives. Maybe it is just me, but I think that a lot of the swerves that we take from God's path are because we think we need something that we don't have... we find these voids in ourselves that we want to fill... but that is part of the path, learning, growing, discovering within yourself your own completeness... letting God take care of the things you can't possibly handle. So, as hard as I know it is... let’s be thankful today for the things in our lives that are teaching us patience. Learning that lesson will bring some pretty incredible rewards.

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