Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Isaiah 32:17 -- On Peace, Quietness, and Assurance

"And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever."
Isaiah 32:17

I really like this because it is basically telling us what the result of living the gospel is. And when I think of the opposite of peace... war, or stress, or grating loud noise, or uncertainty and worry... then I really want that peace for myself. Especially the inner peace part where I am happy with who I am and God and I are on the same page. And I think that we can have that on an individual level if we work at it by praying and reading the scriptures and sincerely trying each day to do as God asks and keep the Spirit with us.

Imagine, though, what the world would be like if everyone did that, and if everyone had that calmness and confidence. No more insecurity, no more uncertainty about the big things. The effect is tremendous and life-changing in our individual lives, and it only gets larger and better the more people join in. :) People who are at peace aren't going to yell or bring disquiet or stress into other people's lives either. Today, let's be part of the solution... getting and spreading peace and quietness and assurance.

Monday, April 25, 2011

2 Nephi 29:13

"And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews."
2 Nephi 29:13

I love foreshadowing in the scriptures, and things that give us hints about what is to come. I think that this is one of the clearest verses in that regard. We have the words of the Nephites, the Book of Mormon, and the words of the Jews, the Bible ... stories of how those two peoples lived the gospel for hundreds of years and how different people reacted to the gospel and to Christ in their midst. And very clearly this verse tells us that someday we will also have another record of the lost tribes of Israel, and that those three records will be available to us all. It ties into 3 Nephi 16 where Christ tells the people "I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem" and says that he is going to go visit them. Wouldn't it be glorious to read that third record of Christ visiting his people? And I wonder if in that record it mentions other sheep, just as it does in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. :) Either way, we know that there is a whole other major book of scripture out there to look forward to. Today, let's read and study the records that we have now, and prepare ourselves for more. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

1 Corinthians 16:15-16

"I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth."
1 Corinthians 16:15-16

I love "they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints." I think that is awesome, and it makes me realize/remember a couple of things... first, that all addictions aren't bad. And second, that maybe this is what we should all be striving for. It's basically the same as "anxiously engaged," but for me it makes it all click into place in a different way. I think of things that I could say I am "addicted" to, and invariably, I *love* them... I wish I could do them all the time. I wish I had this life where I could just jump from one of them to another and not have to deal with any of those regular mundane chores that I am NOT addicted to. :) Imagine feeling that way about the ministry of the saints. :) Imagine feeling that way about the gospel in general, and our callings specifically. I love that idea. And maybe we catch a glimpse of that sometimes. I know that I sometimes feel that way about the scriptures, or about prayer. I love it... it makes me feel fantastic, and connected, and ... whole. But feeling that way all the time... I'm not there. I want to be though... and that brings us to the second verse. It asks us to submit ourselves unto such... unto those people that are addicted to ministering to the saints. :) And in terms of learning how to have that same addiction, and how to feel that way all the time, it makes so much sense... submit to those people that we can learn from, and who are dedicated (and addicted) to our welfare. :) I love it... I love the idea of being addicted, and maybe for the first time in my life, I actually *love* the idea of submitting as well. Because it is how we learn, and something that I so much *want* to learn. :) Today, let's work on getting that incredibly positive addiction in our lives, and learning from those people that we see already have it. :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Esther 4:14 -- On Participating in God's Plan

"For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14

This is a great verse. Esther was afraid to approach the king and ask him to save her people because approaching him without being asked was risking her life. When Mordecai answers her, it shows a lot of faith. He's basically saying... if you don't do it, God will still save our people, but you and I will die. And maybe this is the reason that God has put you here. As it turned out, it was. ... I think that is a good thing to ponder as we approach all of our problems. Yes, it is very true that God will accomplish his purposes on this earth without us, if need be. But being where we are, and who we are, we all have unique opportunities to participate in his work. And perhaps we are exactly where we are for such a time as this. Today, wherever we are, and whatever position we are in, let's overcome our fears, and stand up for God and his work.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Alma 12:13-14 -- On Unhardening

"Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned.
For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us and hide us from his presence."
Alma 12:13-14

I think it is so easy to become hardened sometimes. Seemingly tiny little things... not praying, or not reading your scriptures, or not acting on a prompting from the spirit... make it harder to pray or read or act in the future. We desensitize ourselves. If we don't go to church one week, then it's a lot harder to go the next week. It slowly makes it harder to listen... and us harder, inside. Harder to remember that we care, harder to listen to God, harder to even remember that He lives and that we love him. And if we take it to the extreme, we can forget we ever cared or ever loved... the most important parts of ourselves. ... And if we get like that, then eventually, like it says in the last verse, we would rather have a mountain fall on us rather than have to face God. Not that a mountain could hide us, but that seems like a pretty scary place to get to. Today, let's try to unharden ourselves... let's pray. Let's read. Let's act. Let's stay sensitive to the influence of the spirit, and listen to God, and build a relationship with him so that we'll never prefer a mountain falling on us... we'll never want to hide from him.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

1 Nephi 18:21

"And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm."
1 Nephi 18:21

I really like this. The storm didn't stop when Nephi was released. The storm stopped when he prayed. It would be easy to say... they imprisoned their spiritual leader and that's why things went bad, and that definitely didn't help, but it seems like a deeper truth that they didn't consult God in their everyday dealings. That's why things went bad, and would continue to go badly for them, and in fact, why things go badly for us. We try to solve our problems in so many ways... but how often do we take our problems to the Lord and talk to him about them? I would venture to say, not enough. Counseling with him about how we can change ourselves or our environments, or whatever else comes up... that kind of continual communication with God makes a huge difference. We don't have to stop work or school or freeze-frame home life in order to pray. It can be a moment stolen here or there, or just mental pleading in the moment before we send the email or open our mouths. ... Not saying that longer or more formal prayers aren't a good idea too, but the quick ones are okay, and keeping God in our daily lives, in our thoughts and in our hearts constantly like that... that is what is going to be able to stop the storm and bring the "great calm" to our lives, just as it brought it in the story of Nephi. Today, let's pray. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing... and get on the same page with God about how to handle it. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jacob 7:23

"And it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored again among the people; and they searched the scriptures, and hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man."
Jacob 7:23

I love the part about searching the scriptures, and that it is tied to repentance and coming back. I think it has always been significant in my life... when I'm searching the scriptures then it's kind of an indicator that I'm on the right track... that I care about what God says. And maybe it is sort of an indicator for all of us. Today, let's work on restoring peace and the love of God to our lives... specifically through searching the scriptures. One good way to start is with the Scriptures online (really good search function). :) It is at this url: http://lds.org/scriptures?lang=eng and even though I'm joking in one way, I'm not in another. Sometimes just typing a topic word into that search and starting to read all the scriptures about that topic can start us on a search that leads to all sorts of really good, amazing reminders about what God has to say and what he wants us to hear. Let's listen to the Spirit, and do the search... and remember to put God first in our lives today.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 4:6

"Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence."
Doctrine and Covenants 4:6

These are some powerful reminders. Often to avoid being overwhelmed, we try to work on one thing at a time, but I think that lists like this are also excellent things to remember, because it is a combination of things that help us to remember to be better people, rather than just focusing on one thing. If I am only thinking about being nice, I might do something that is REALLY nice, but not very smart. And injecting these guidelines into our everyday lives is really key to becoming Christlike people. It isn't just with people we know or are familiar with that we have to exercise these principles, but with people we don't know or can't really relate to. Might be easy to apply brotherly kindness when it is our actual brother... but what if it is a stranger, or a stranger who smells bad... or someone we know just enough about to label: a Muslim, or an illegal immigrant, or a beggar on the street corner? What if it is a Democrat, or if we're Democratic, what if it is a Republican? What if it is someone who practices homosexuality, or is openly committing adultery, or is beside you at a gas station buying porn? These are all people and groups that we need to also apply these principles to. It isn't okay to hate anyone, or to treat anyone badly... no matter their choices. Today, let's remember this list, and run through it occasionally, evaluating how well we're bringing these principles into our daily interactions and decisions. And if we get hung up on one or two of them as we run through the list, let's try to boost those ones up a little so that next time we can run through the list without snags. :)

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