Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ether 6:3

"And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness."
Ether 6:3


In reading the story of the Brother of Jared this morning, I found myself floored all over again by this man's incredible faith. As a general summary, he asked God for light in the vessels they were going to cross the ocean with (which were closed with no windows), and God told him what wouldn't work (windows, fire) because of the nature of the journey, and then asked him to come up with an idea for having light in them. So the Brother of Jared made 16 small clear stones, and asked the Lord to touch the stones with his finger so that they would provide light. And the Lord did it. I wonder how often we take the same thought and the same dedication into solving the problems in our lives. They might seem impossible to resolve, because nothing in our experience works... could we, like the Brother of Jared, come up with something beyond our experience and trust God to make it work? As I was reading this I realized a little bit of what God asks when he tells us to come to him as a little child. I think in some measure we have to let go of so many of the limitations that we've learned in our lives, and consider more and greater possibilities, and stop accepting the impossibility of so many things. Sometimes impossible situations get resolved, and incurably sick people get well... miracles happen, and part of what it takes is us opening our minds and our hearts to a God who can do so much more than we understand. Today, let's try to approach problems, and God, with a more open mind, and remember that when God asks us to do things like build Zion, be perfect... or even fulfill our current calling or family obligation or employment requirement... that he provides a way for us to do as he asks. It might take some childlike, out-of-the-box, Brother of Jared thinking... and a lot of humility and faith... but nothing is impossible with God. Can we learn to see with new eyes today, and start working on a solution?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2 Corinthians 5:7

"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)"
2 Corinthians 5:7


Today this verse makes me think of the difference between what we believe and what we see. It's sometimes hard to resolve. God tells us that someday we'll be resurrected and have perfect bodies, but we experience age and sickness and disease, and it is hard to see or feel. God tells us that we can build a perfect society, with no inequality, and where the poor don't suffer... but we see a very imperfect society, where the poor do suffer, and where people desire many types of inequality. God tells us that we can be amazing people... like him, and yet we look at ourselves and see the terrible gulf between who we want to be and who we are. It's hard to see so much of what we believe sometimes... but it is still true. Today, let's work on Faith. On walking where we believe we can, rather than only where we can see. Let's step out into God's perspective and stretch our minds to see the miraculous possibilities of reaching beyond our shortsightedness. Let's be more than we think we can.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Isaiah 56:11

"Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter."
Isaiah 56:11


These are some interesting analogies... and it seems to be all about perspective. The dog analogy starts in the verse previous as well, and along with the shepherd comparison, it seems to be about selfishness and perspective in this verse. Dogs might be limited naturally in their ability to reason and be unselfish... but not shepherds, and with both something else that they are focusing on is blinding them to what is important. And, it is themselves, and their personal gain that is distracting them. Greed, pride, self-interest... and this verse, and more (of course) are suggesting that there is something else out there, beyond our short-sightedness and inward-looking perspective. What is it? Well, this particular verse doesn't say, but it does suggest a way to find out... a way to see something else. And that is focusing elsewhere... on other people, on advancing their welfare, on helping them and expanding our perspective and our boundaries of what we care about and protect. The further we expand that sight-line, the less blind we'll become, and the more we'll be able to understand of God's perspective. Today, let's work on that... instead of being self-concerned today, let's be other-concerned. Not to judge them or require them to meet our standards... but completely other-focused... to listen, learn, help, lift, and love.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Moroni 6:5

"And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to
speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls."
Moroni 6:5

This morning I am wondering how often we actually discuss the welfare of our souls with anyone. :) Maybe we should do that more often. Thinking about it right now, it seems to me to be the absolutely most important thing that there IS to talk about. It wouldn't make a very good pick-up line probably... "How's your soul?" is a little deep for a first contact, but really, isn't that what we worry about every day, and what we find out when we develop lasting friendships with other people? It is so much more important than our level of education, our career path, our clothing styles, or any other way that we usually judge ourselves or each other. If we're having problems dedicating time for scripture reading, or if our prayers are seeming somewhat repetitive, or if we're worried that our interactions with people aren't very loving... whatever it is, we should be able to share those things with our friends, and maybe get some help. :)
Need someone to call and remind you to read your scriptures? Need someone to read with? Need some ideas on prayer, or how to express yourself more kindly? ... I know I do. I think that we all could use some help, even if it is just talking about a scripture and how to apply it to our lives. Maybe we should open up a little in church, and get some of that insight from our fellow members. ... and in our daily lives as well. :) Let't not hide our souls under externalities... but instead, be more open and help each other. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Luke 18:14

"I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Luke 18:14


I think this is interesting. In our society, confidence and even arrogance are admired and often rewarded. And confidence in ourselves is a good thing, I think. Ezra Taft Benson told us "never demean yourself" ... so I think that low self-esteem and inferiority and paranoia are challenges that we should work on surmounting as well. I think that the lesson here is not to stop thinking of ourselves as children of God, which we *are* ... and therefore of infinite worth... but maybe partially about how much we have to learn in comparison to God (King Benjamin tells us that we are less than the dust of the earth, and Nephi says "O how great is the nothingness of the children of men" mentioning the superiority of dust as well.), but also the way we think of other people. If we exalt ourselves or consider ourselves above other people, then by definition we think that other individuals or groups are below us, and not worthy of us in some way. if we humble ourselves instead, then we realize perhaps that even if we are in a higher position or have a higher rank, it isn't due to our pure superiority and inherent coolness... but because it is our calling for a while, and we should do the best that we can, but also listen to advice from those in any other rank (not just above), because they are equally good people, and we can learn from anyone. In church, I think this is often the case. I have seen a great bishop be released and become an equally great Primary teacher, with no bad feeling because of a perceived lower title... but imagining the same thing in corporate America makes me cringe. :) Perhaps today we can work on our personal humility, and applying it even in contexts where it is unfamiliar.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Revelation 3:8

"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name."
Revelation 3:8


This is interesting... later in this chapter is a more well-known verse, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him...," but in this one the door stands open. The two verses are directed to two different churches, the first one (with the open door) to the church in Philadelphia, and the second (the closed door) to the church of the Laodiceans. From the rest of the chapter, it sounds like the two different groups were different in how they were obeying and listening. Interestingly, there is a message to yet another church in the chapter that doesn't mention a door at all... just watching. So, I'm thinking that this kind of reflects the whole "turn to me and I will turn to you" theme as well. The more we listen to God and put him at the center of our lives, the more he will offer us opportunities and blessings. Maybe we have to watch for those opportunities when God visits our lives, and if we aren't watching, they might come and we're not ready for them.... maybe if we're paying a little bit more attention, there is a door and we see it and hear the knocking but sometimes don't take the time to open it, and although we had a better chance at that opportunity, it passes us by as well. Or maybe if we're listening hard and really trying, there is an open door, and all we have to do is walk through. ... we still could miss it, just like the others, but it's more obvious, and less likely. ... God blesses us all with opportunities and possibilities, but we don't always see or take those chances when we encounter them in life. Today, let's watch carefully for God's visits to our lives so we can do as he wills... and work harder at turning to God so that the doors will be more obvious, and more open, when they come along. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Zechariah 1:3

"Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts."
Zechariah 1:3


This is an interesting verse and it comes to people whose parents the Lord hadn't been pleased with... so they may not have learned how to have a relationship with the Lord... and maybe this part is one of the basics. Turn unto me, and I will turn unto you. It reminds me of some other scriptures... ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened, or "as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much shall ye be delivered." ... it's a basic early lesson in relationship building with God. Turn, trust, have faith... take those steps towards me, and I'll be there. And maybe we forget some of these basic lessons sometimes. Whatever direction we're facing today, let's try turning a little more toward God... and watch and see God's response. He is there, willing to help and bless us, and will respond to the smallest efforts on our part... and the largest.

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