Thursday, May 27, 2010

3 Nephi 4:31-33

"And it came to pass that they did break forth, all as one, in singing, and praising their God for the great thing which he had done for them, in preserving them from falling into the hands of their enemies.
Yea, they did cry: Hosanna to the Most High God. And they did cry: Blessed be the name of the Lord God Almighty, the Most High God.
And their hearts were swollen with joy, unto the gushing out of many tears, because of the great goodness of God in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; and they knew it was because of their repentance and their humility that they had been delivered from an everlasting destruction."
3 Nephi 4:31-33

I absolutely love that first image of a huge crowd/city/fort/army full of people just breaking into song all at once. I totally want to see the musical. :) In this chapter the Nephites defeat the Gadianton Robbers, which is... huge. So, they are pleased, and rejoice. The cool part is that they recognize that they never could have done it without God, and certain actions on their part... specifically repentance and humility. And maybe those are the things that it takes in our lives as well, to be saved from our enemies or our impending destruction as well. The Gadianton Robbers were massacring the people, and in the end, some of the robbers were destroyed, and some of them repented. But unless the Nephites had all gathered together, helping each other and working together, they couldn't have triumphed. I think we all have things in our own lives that threaten to destroy us as well. Maybe addictions, maybe pride, maybe the idolatry of valuing one thing or person in our lives more than we value the Lord. ...Whatever it is, the salvation that the Nephites sought is also available to us, through the same means. We need to be humble and recognize that we need God's help... and humble enough to repent and give up what he asks, and change our behavior as he asks. Just as with the Nephites, an army or any kind of force isn't enough to overcome destruction. Unity, purity, and goodness are the only things that are really going to make a difference, because those are the things that keep God and us on the same side. Anger and contention certainly won't... resentment, passion... no matter how strongly we feel or how badly we want whatever it is, we have to chill, and let all of those feelings go that are tearing us up. Let's channel that wasted mental energy into changing our attitudes and revising the way we see and treat other people. ... Be good and salvation will follow. Maybe not in exactly the way we envisioned, with us at the very top and our enemies below, crying... but salvation nevertheless, resulting in a better future for everyone.... Maybe then we could all spontaneously burst into song. Awesome. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mosiah 18:21-22 -- On Becoming the Children of God

"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God."
Mosiah 18:21-22

I love this idea of no contention and working toward a perfect society. These people were under King Noah, who hated them and sent an army out to destroy them... so they were in hiding, worshiping in secret... but still working toward perfection. And hey, if they could do it, maybe we can too. We might have the equivalent of an army breathing down our necks, ready to pounce... but even so, despite any external pressure, we can work toward this ideal.

I love looking forward with one eye... not that two eyes isn't fine from a physical perspective, but the idea of having one focus in our lives, one central theme and goal... and that solid, strong core is what makes us strong. Able to withstand the armies, the storms, and whatever else comes our way, and stay grounded in God, and love for our brothers and sisters.

Today, let's work on removing contention from our lives... no matter the armies or other obstacles in our way. And thus we become the children of God.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1 Peter 2:18-20

"Servants, be subject to your masters will all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
1 Peter 2:18-20

I think this applies to a lot of modern life… not only if we’re in a service profession, but really in anything we do… we are servants in some good ways… serving the people around us. Often “being subject” is hard for us… words like submissive or meek or humility… they seem weak or lacking backbone, and we know that we need to stand up for ourselves. I think what we forget sometimes though is that we don’t need to be paranoid of being stepped on all the time… that it is really about the people around us, and not our personal insecurities. … It’s true. It’s only human to get angry or upset when people treat us badly. … But that’s part of this test of life, and we’re here to learn to be more than human… to be more like superheroes… and literally to become like God. That takes a little bit (okay, a lot) of rising above the natural man. No matter how amazing and cool we are (and we are amazing AND cool, no question), life is still going to be hard sometimes. I’m sure some we bring on ourselves, but we are definitely going to go through things we absolutely don’t deserve, and we’re going to face things that are in no way fair, or fun. And those are the times when we have the opportunity to shine the very brightest. When we take those really incredibly unfair things… the rotten parts, and make those into better situations, and react well even when other people are out-of-control lashing out at us. That’s when we prove our worth, and learn the most about how to transcend the meanness of life. Today, let’s work on extraordinary patience and faith… go beyond what we have to do in normal situations, and work on being kind to people who hate us, and reacting positively to people who are cruel to us. Those can be today’s superpowers. We’ll save walking on water for later. ;)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Micah 2:10

"Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction."
Micah 2:10

Sometimes I think that we find things in life that we want to be our "rest" ... we want that to be where we stop and take up roots, or where we settle, or we want this person or this career to be the "one" that we stay with...
But God has other dreams and plans for us, and our ideal isn't always his. Often we have to let go of the rest that we have dreamed for ourselves because it really is polluted, or destructive... or maybe just impossible because God has something better in store. Rest assured that it will be something better... even if better is unimaginable right now. :) God will never let us down in that regard. The message is clear though... until the end of our lives, never stop searching, because there is always more. We can't stop and become complacent because there are always things that the Lord would have us do, and Zion to build. Today, let’s remember to arise and get on with it. We’ll find our true rest eventually.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Amos 5:18-19

"Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness and not light.
As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him."
Amos 5:18-19

This is pretty powerful, and some good imagery. This could be talking about Christ's earthly ministry only, but I'm guessing it probably also applies to his second coming. ... Sometimes I think that I do look forward to "the day of the Lord" because it seems like with the Lord around, anything would be better than it is now... but here we are warned against thinking that way. Maybe when I think it, it is more of a cop-out, trying to avoid my responsibilities to improve my life now, or the world and society the way it is. Perhaps we all feel like that at times... wishing we could skip to the end and not have the middle chapters where the hero climbs the mountain and wrestles the anaconda... yikes! Better to skip to the happy ending. And God is just warning us that there are worse than anacondas out there, and please don't wish for the end when we haven't prepared ourselves for it by living through the middle chapters... where the hero also gets stronger and better and purer by going through that middle stuff. The world also gets better, because as we are taught in the scriptures over and over... one person, with God, *can* make a difference, and by living our lives and building Zion, we do that. Today, let's focus on the middle chapter we're in. Let's be the heroes we should be, making the world better, saving the people around us, and generally doing good. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hebrews 12:9-11

"Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
Hebrews 12:9-11

It is a hard thing to hear sometimes that God is displeased or wants us to change. We often expect that source of unconditional love to also be a source of unconditional approval... and it just isn't. God loves us unimaginably much, and because he cares so much, he wants us to grow and improve... just like an earthly parent might want a child to actually learn to tie his or her shoes, or learn the alphabet, or to ride a bike or drive a car, or to go to college and learn some independence rather than allowing the child to sit and learn nothing because they are upset or lazy or scared of learning. It isn't that the parent doesn't care... it is the realization that the child needs to learn certain things in order to progress and gain comfort in the next stages of life. God chastens us *because* he loves us, and we need that sort of feedback in order to improve. So today, even though it isn't fun, let's listen to the Lord's feedback, and examine our lives and find an area in which we need to improve. As we grow and change, even the pain of realizing our mistakes will be overwhelmed with the peace and joy that comes from changing and purifying ourselves.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2 Chronicles 15:1-2

"And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you."
2 Chronicles 15:1-2

I think that this is cool. It shows both how God can influence us to help others by inspiring us with his Spirit, and it describes the interactive relationship that we have with God quite well. To have God's Spirit in our lives, we have to live worthy of that inspiration. If we value our relationship with God and want to have him around, we aren't going to do things that offend the Spirit, and God will be there to help us... but if we reject the Spirit, or ignore what we are being prompted to do or not do, then we are choosing to give up that companionship with God. ... And this not to say that he will forsake us permanently... I think he'll be found if we sincerely choose to seek him again. Only that he forsakes us when we offend his Spirit and actively work at blocking him out. And then we get a chance to live life without God... which is unpleasant, if we've had the Spirit around helping us and now we don't. Like amputating your heart. ... Today, let's work on seeking the Lord, welcoming his Spirit into our lives, and not forsaking God. I think that having God not forsake us in return would be a big enough reward... but as additional bonus prizes, if we do this, we also get extra guidance, extra joy, and extra peace. :) Sounds like a great day. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

1 Peter 1:22

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."
1 Peter 1:22

There are some very interesting and cool things here... one of them is that it seems that we purify our souls through obedience to the truth. That is an interesting thought... as we struggle through the challenges of this life, trying to be obedient, we knock off the rough edges and polish up our souls. :) Like fighting upstream in a river... the river is going to wash away anything that isn't part of you... and you have to want it really badly to not float downstream. And when we are in there long enough, we're going to get all polished up like the cool little river rocks. When we finally arrive at our destination we will arrive with fire and determination, completely cleansed of anything that didn't help us to get there... plus we'll be the most awesome swimmers that ever were. :) Now, if you don't like swimming, you can substitute your own analogy... I think it really works with almost any serious goal in life... writing a novel for instance. It takes focus, determination... getting rid of distractions, consistent effort... and editing and re-editing, until, in the end... you have a refined product... the manuscript, but also yourself. The process makes you better, more focused... polished. :) Or just living... trying to be obedient... polishes you. I took a jewelry class once and the polishing machine was interesting... you put a piece of rough jewelry in there, and then you put in a bunch of similar things... if it was a rock, you put in a lot of little rocks. If it was silver, you put in a bunch of little silver things... (they sell the "things" in the jewelry catalog, but I can't remember what they are called, sorry)... and then you turn it on... and they mosh up against each other, and whatever you put in comes out shiny and polished. We do that for one another. Just hanging out in the world... with people like ourselves... we become more polished people.
The other thing that I like about this scripture is that we are supposed to love one another "fervently." Isn't that the greatest word? We love so conservatively sometimes, I don't know what it is... fear of rejection... reluctance to commit... trying to establish an overabundance of boundaries... who knows. But fervently, I like... and obviously God does. :) Like when your roommate comes home throws her arms around you to say hello. :) Or the friend at work that always says "You are awesome." ... fervently. When we love people, they should KNOW it, don't you think? Know it in a big, definite way. We save all the fervency for romantic relationships... what an utter waste. Okay, not a waste... but miserly? Everyone in our lives should know that they are cool, that we love them... that they are valued and amazing individuals. So what if it is scary...? Let’s be fervent today. Go out, tell people how amazing they are... tell them how much we love them. Tell them that they are amazing and funny and cool... tell them that they are the rock-solid consistency that you need in your life. Tell them that they make you laugh. Tell them that they save you from yourself when no one else will. Tell them that you admire their honesty even when it smarts a little.... be expressive, be caring... make sure that they know that they are loved. Fervent is the word of the day.

1 Peter 1:22-25

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
1 Peter 1:22-25

There are some great things in here. I especially like "all flesh is as grass" today. It has kind of a vegetarian ring to it. Seriously though, I think that it reminds us that so many of the things that we focus on so narrowly sometimes aren't really what is important. And other things are. One of them is love... not just for people we already care about, but everyone... we have to learn to care about even the people we don't really get along with. And that is part of what being born again is... letting go of all of the petty irritations and biases and grudges, and listening to the word of God rather than our own corruptible natures. God's way lasts... and ours will disappear, and everything will change. But if we love people, that remains, and we don't have all those regrets later. Today, let's work on remembering how temporary our conflicts are, and how lasting eternal friendships will be.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2 Nephi 26:31

"But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish."
2 Nephi 26:31

I think it is sometimes hard to balance work and life, and sometimes we can feel like we're only laboring for money rather than for a higher purpose. Maybe though, a lot of it is about attitude. It's easy to get sidetracked into seeing life as a lot of effort just to survive... but it is really more than that. Even when we don't like parts of our lives, overall we're doing more than just surviving. We interact with other people, and even just with that, we can make a huge difference depending on our attitude, conversation, and example. Even at a job that is something chosen out of desperation, there are ways to improve the environment or lighten the burden... even if it is just for one person. Today, wherever we are and whatever we're doing, let's try focusing on Zion... on society and our interactions with other people... and work on doing everything we can to help others and lift them up. In doing so, we build Zion... perhaps just the tiniest bit, but making a difference in one situation and for one person still counts. Zion is made of those types of people... who make a difference in small ways, adding up to a better world.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2 Nephi 10:23

"Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—-to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."
2 Nephi 10:23

Sometimes life gets us down. Could be many things... conflict, personal failings, having to watch things happen that we don't have a lot of control over... sometimes even just a general sense of malaise where we don't even know the exact cause. It's like eating cardboard or asphalt. We figure, well, it's not very good, but it's what we've got. It is hard feeling like that, and not knowing quite how to break free of it and back to the happy "man is that he might have joy" parts. So, how do we break out of the darkness into the light? This verse talks about one way. We remember the freedom that God has granted us. We get to choose how we feel, where we go... even in the worst of times or the worst of circumstances, we can choose to find the good. God wants our happiness, and we know that our purpose is joy. So, let's find it. Yeah... we're going to screw up sometimes. And yeah, some things will happen that will break our hearts and threaten our peace. But we don't have to choose to let those things destroy us, or take away our happiness... or our senses of humor. ;) We get to choose, every day, to turn away from death and darkness and towards life and light. We don't have to choose sadness or suffering... Christ suffered *for* us, and gave us the incredible gift of being able to walk out of the darkness, even darkness we deserve, and back into the light ... and hope... of God and all that he offers to us. Today, let's take advantage of this greatest of gifts and work at choosing life and happiness, and remembering that there are other options which have to be much tastier than whatever we are currently snacking on.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Romans 12:9

"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."
Romans 12:9

Dissimulation is when you conceal your true feelings or intentions. I think here, and in so many other scriptures, God is telling us to be sincere and real. Now, or being nice until we can actually learn to feel love towards someone sincerely is one thing... at least we're working on it. But in an old job I used to sit very close to the sales force, and one of the guys who was right next to me would call people and be very sweet to them on the phone, and then the instant he'd hung up the phone, he started in swearing at them using the filthiest language possible. ... I think maybe it isn't so black and white with all of us, but we often do the same things. Pretend to be kind when people are around to protect the image, and then when no one is around, telling our closest confidante exactly what we really think. We go around trying to be two people... and maybe God is saying here, hey... don't do all that hard work trying to be two people. Just be one. Choose one, and be it sincerely. Love what you love, work on staying away from evil... hang out with good things. Even though we often worry whether our true selves will be accepted... by the Lord, or by anyone else... the truth is, if we can relax our efforts to be different people and just strive to make that one person a little better each day... we'll be less stressed out, and God will be truly happy with us. He loves that one person that we are down deep... and always has. Today, let's work on merging all our personalities and being real before the Lord. :) And let's try to get that one core personality to love people a little more... to choose the good and not the evil. Little by little, let's try to both be good, and real.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

John 20:24-25

"But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."
John 20:24-25

I think it is probably very natural and very human for us to doubt things that we've never experienced or seen for ourselves. No matter how well Thomas knew Christ, he somehow didn't really believe somewhere deep down that he could just return to life and come back to them. Then eight days later, when he got a chance to see for himself, he believed. Only eight days... but imagine what those eight days would have been like, had he believed. We do the same thing, often. We doubt the power Christ has to heal us, for instance, and so we stay broken. We doubt the power that Christ has to cleanse us... to change us... to change the world. Like Thomas, God offers us evidences of his power in our lives. Sometimes it takes us a while, but we eventually realize in each case that God can help us do things that would be impossible alone. Imagine though, what would happen if we believed right away... how much happier we'd be... just like Thomas, but in our case, the transformation of many more than eight days. Today, let's try to go just a little further with our trust and belief... and turn that time when we're waiting to see the Savior touch our lives into a time of joy and anticipation rather than a time of mourning and doubt. Jesus *is* risen... and he *will* heal us and help us.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jacob 5:74

"And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning."
Jacob 5:74

This is part of the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, prophesied by Zenos, and quoted by Jacob so that it could come down to us. :) If anyone hasn't read it, in general it talks about the Lord of the Vineyard and his servant and taking care of the trees and nourishing them so that they will bring forth good fruit. Sometimes they don't, and at one point all the trees brought forth bad fruit. It's a story that talks about the house of Israel and the gentiles as trees and how God takes care of us all and encourages us to be good. The whole thing is in Chapter 5 and it is fascinating. Anyway, this verse I love because it is toward the end and talks about their eventual success in preserving the good fruit... so much so that "they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal" ... which sounds a lot like a Zion society. I think it helps us to hope that we'll eventually get there. And if that is where we're headed, there is a lot to work to get done in becoming a Zion people... unified, equal. Today, maybe the first step is to actually consider it. What would be different in ourselves if we lived in a Zion society...? And when we have at least a partial answer to that question, then perhaps we'll have our focus for today. How can we change ourselves to encourage that unity and sense of oneness to start and to grow?

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