Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hebrews 4:2

"For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
Hebrews 4:2

Quite often in this life we go through the same experiences as someone else, but come out with a different conclusion. And it is frustrating to us, because our conclusion (whichever it is) totally makes more sense, and we can lay it out for the other person, thinking that if they just understand our reasoning, that of course they will naturally agree. And often then, they don't. And maybe they feel the same way, and try to explain it to us from their perspective... and we say, yes, I see your reasoning, I took those things into account, but I still disagree with you. Both people could be extremely logical, but in the end it comes down to value judgements, and to one person something is more important than to the other person.

I kind of like the fact that this verse tells us that, at least in the case of the gospel, the difference is Faith. In the Guide to the Scriptures and the Bible Dictionary, we learn that faith is confidence and trust, a principle of action and power, and hope in things that we do not see, but which are true. And maybe that hope/confidence that we have in God makes the difference a lot of times, helping us to still work towards the ideal, even when the ideal seems impossibly far away. And it is our faith in other people and whatever we're currently working on that gives us the motivation to continue, and to succeed where other people might give up, or expect less. The same applies to ourselves. We need to have faith in ourselves that we can succeed in this life... and faith in God that he will help us to do so. If we lose faith in either one, then it's easy to get into a place where all we can see is failure, and all we want to do is escape.

Today, instead of taking our day as-is, lets mix in a little faith. It makes everything taste better. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 100:15

"Therefore, let your hearts be comforted; for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly, and to the sanctification of the church."
Doctrine and Covenants 100:15

It is pretty amazing to think that *all* things will work together for our good. I think of Christ and how even nature and the elements seemed to support him as he went on his way, and it seems so... huge that we could have the same thing in our lives, with everything around us working to help us. Remember when Christ told the disciples where to go to get a donkey, or stopped in the street and told someone that he was going to eat at his house that night? Everything around us is prepared for us, working to help us and teach us... and if we walk uprightly as the verse says, maybe we can tap into that a little.
Today, let's try to be aware of the things all around us that work together for our good. ... And let's strive to be worthy of that attention, and be part of it for other people as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ecclesiastes 2:17

"Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
Ecclesiastes 2:17

I came across this today and loved it because the first part sounds so modern... totally hating life. :) The reason that the speaker here is hating life is pretty much because life isn't fair. You can be really wise, and people will still forget you, just like an unwise person. You can work all your life and your stuff will go to someone who won't value it or care about it. Maybe we worry about similar things, or maybe different, but I think that we all have times where we feel this... like life just doesn't make sense and why even try, because nothing we are working for is really going to last. There are two different answers to that for us. One, we can remember that the point in life isn't necessarily to get the most toys, or the perfect solution. It's to learn and become better than we are. While we're working on things that don't last, sometimes we're building skills that we'll need later in life. Sometimes we're just learning patience or how to deal with disappointment and failure... but those are valuable things. Two, we can remember that some things do last. More knowledge and wisdom might not matter in this world and make us more remembered, and the stuff we collect might disappear forever when we die... but knowledge and wisdom we can take with us, and the relationships that we build and the good that we do... those things matter eternally. Today, if something goes wrong and we're hating life, let's remember to find the lessons in the impermanent, and to focus on the permanent.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Isaiah 42:22-23

"But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.
Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?"
Isaiah 42:22-23

I think that we're exactly like this, a lot. We're caught in traps... sometimes of our own making, sometimes not. We walk down the road and fall into a hole, and after we finally get out, we do it over again. We get thrown into prison or allow ourselves to be used... and we don't learn from those mistakes, or appreciate being saved when we are... we unfortunately just walk into the same situations over again, figuring if God saved us this time, or forgave us last time, hey... let's see if falling into a hole is more fun this time. It made kind of a cool splash that first time... oh. well, guess not. now what?
I think sometimes we even LOOK for the holes to fall into. It's like we have these hole-detector goggles on. We're like, ugh. Road, road, road. BO-ring. Where's a hole? What can I do to screw up and complexify my life today? :) And then, the thirty-third or the ninety-fourth time we do it, God doesn't bail us out immediately, and suddenly we're all mad. Hey... he must not love me, or care whether I exist, etc. ... And he still does, of course, but at some point we have to learn to take off the goggles and see the whole rather than the hole. Navigate around the traps, and actually find out where the road goes.
Today, let's remember that God wants us whole. Let's not allow ourselves to get robbed and beat up and trapped spiritually (or physically), and when God does save us from the snares we walk into anyway, or the holes that someone else has dug, let's be grateful to be out, and not crawl back in because it is more familiar. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mosiah 15:11-12

"Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord--I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.
For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?"
Mosiah 15:11-12

Sometimes the thought of the atonement is overpowering... that God would do that for us. These verses struck me I think because they show the intimacy of the relationship that the atonement sets up between God and us. We often think that others can't understand how it feels to be who we are, but the amazingness here is that God can, because he *has* walked a mile in our shoes, and suffered the same things that we do. He's also an active participant in our lives, and because he has felt what we feel, he can help us more than anyone else to find the answers and crawl out of the holes that we've dug for ourselves. :) Today, let's remember what God has done for us, and talk to him and include him in our lives and our decisions. He knows what he's talking about.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Revelation 13:7

"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."
Revelation 13:7

Sometimes it is hard to understand why God lets the bad guys win... even temporarily. We all know the end of the story. God wins, and we end up happier than we could have ever expected. Awesome ending. But here in the middle sometimes it can get kind of hard because things don't always go the way we think they should. Telling the truth doesn't always keep us out of trouble. Sharing the gospel doesn't always have a positive outcome. Injustice sometimes triumphs over justice, and the bad guys get away with whatever it is they are up to.
And I actually don't have a comforting answer... but maybe that is the point. God will comfort us when we need it, but we have to experience some complications in life, and some ambiguity. As an abstract, life isn't meant to be comforting, or kind... and definitely not fair. It's meant to teach us and stretch us, and to help us to become better than we are: stronger, braver, more capable of understanding and making good choices. I think that looking back we can see how our lives have shaped us and made us better... but it is sometimes hard to see looking forward. And maybe that is one of the reasons that God asks us to care for each other. He couldn't wrap us all in bubble wrap to send us down to earth, or we'd never learn what we should learn. But we can help each other, and offer comfort and support when people around us are faced with trials. It's not bubble wrap, but however unlikely it sometimes seems... it can be better to be broken and to learn to heal ourselves than to stay unbroken and never learn. Education trumps bubble wrap.
Some things in life will overcome us, and sometimes the bad guys will win... it's all part of the plot. It doesn't change the ending. Today, let's remember that God loves us enough that he wants us to learn rather than be perfectly protected... and let's also remember that the people around us are part of the same test, and they could use some support and love... and maybe some help studying on the parts that we're good at. :) Don't worry... it's not cheating. God encourages collaboration. ;)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hebrews 8:10-11

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest."
Hebrews 8:10-11

Someday, we won't be teaching each other about God, because everyone will know him individually. Just the thought of that fills the immensities of space with possibility. Can we even begin to imagine that world? Think of what we could build if we were all building on the same foundation. :) ... If everyone believed in God, and knew him well, maybe we could start having some of those parting the sea and walking on the water classes... learning the application of faith so much more in daily life. Instead of having conversations that fall apart because you don't have the same foundation, and have to keep retreating until you find a common place from which to build, it seems like conversations could go so much farther into fascinating places.
I like the idea here of God putting his laws into our minds and hearts. Right now I think we still have to get there, through reading and studying the scriptures, but perhaps it is the same effect if we have the spirit with us all the time, and we're learning that actively. Definitely something to work on, to get as close to this as possible.
The other thing that I think is cool here is "I will be to them a God, and they will be to me a people." ... I think of Christ's life, and how many people rejected him because he lived as a normal person to a large extent, and didn't appear out of the clouds in power and glory. Maybe this is saying that next time, our relationship will be more obvious and easier to accept. ... Not that we can just sit back and count on this happening tomorrow. :) Today, let's look forward to this, but also do what we can to make it true in our lives now. Let's drink in God's law, and etch it into our minds and hearts. Let's build a relationship with the Lord and know him, so that we can get past those basic building blocks and start improving ourselves and the world further.

Friday, September 2, 2011

1 Peter 2:1-3

"Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
1 Peter 2:1-3

I was reading this and thinking about having open minds. Sometimes it is hard to be open in our society, because we're worried about people cheating us or taking advantage of us in other ways, and so we doublethink everything we say and do. In some ways, this is good. It helps us to be careful and not to offend people. On the other hand, sometimes we need to be more open, and not make up our minds ahead of time about some things... being more accepting of people that we've never met or don't understand, for instance. Or even when people seem to be making decisions that we think are poor, maybe trying to see things from their perspectives. It often makes sense that way, and shows us a way to solve the problem. ... It's hard to do that, because as this verse says, we often have malice, or envy, or evil speaking that we have to overcome first.
This verse of course isn't talking about general openness to others, but openness specifically to God, but those feelings we have about other people can get in the way of our relationship with God. And with him, it is just disaster if we make up our minds beforehand and choose what we'll listen to and what we won't. If the only thing we allow God to say to us is yes, okay, do that... then we miss the chance for him to tell us about truly better options, or the "no, you aren't ready for that" message that can often save us a lot of heartache.
I love the image of the newborn child, just having tasted the graciousness of God, and wanting more. No complications or complexities... just really really wanting more of that goodness. Today, let's try to simplify our lives a little and get rid of the distractions. Let's let go of preconceived ideas about how our lives should go, and all the things we want for the wrong reasons... and just seek God because we want more good in our lives.

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