Thursday, July 26, 2012

Romans 12:19-21

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Romans 12:19-21

The whole vengeance/revenge thing can be hard.  We're so caught up in keeping track of who is right and who is wrong that when we're right and someone else cheats us or offends us or hurts us, it can be hard to let it go, and not want to follow up on it and make whoever is at fault suffer.  Paul asks us here to "give place unto wrath."  Giving place makes me think of being in a crowd... we see someone steaming towards us, and we give place, or step aside, and let that person past.  I think that is kind of what we have to do with anger sometimes.  It washes over us, and we need to disengage, and give it space to leave rather than feeding it or letting it take us over.  This is something that God specifically says is his job, not ours.  He'll take care of it, and we need to give place, or step aside, and let God do his will.
The next two verses I think show us the better path... if our enemies need something, help them.  That's the way to "show" them... to be an example.  To give them an illustration of correct action and principle, not turn around and hate right back.  When we allow anger and the desire for vengeance to rule us, then we are allowing ourselves to be overcome with evil.  Instead, we should be overcoming those desires with good things... inviting the spirit back into our lives rather than letting anger crowd it out.  Giving place for the spirit in our lives is another good reason to step aside. :)
Today, let's work on letting go of anger and resentment.  Let's work on letting good overcome evil rather than the other way around.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Alma 5:16-18

"I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?
Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you?
Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?
Alma 5:16-18

This is a chapter that is interesting in a lot of ways, where it talks about that mighty change of heart that we need to get in our lives, and keep in our lives.  And in that context these verses seem like a really good lesson/reminder that conversion can't just be external, but it has to be internal.  In facing the Lord it will be impossible to lie, or to misrepresent what we feel internally.  "Going through the motions" of following the gospel isn't going to cut it.  It is a fine way to start, if we are trying to find the spiritual/emotional side, but until we get all of that and the physical/mental "act on your beliefs" part, we won't be completely, wholly converted.  It's awesome to go to church, to answer the questions correctly, etc.  But it is also necessary to feel it.  To build and have that personal relationship with God that we gain through prayer and study and meditation.  Too often we stand too far back, refusing to engage with the gospel on a personal level.  We discuss it intellectually, we go to church and answer questions in Sunday School, but we don't feel it, and it doesn't engage our souls at the deepest level.  Today, let's work on that part.  Let's figure out how we feel about God, and about the gospel today.  If we need to repent to get rid of some guilt, let's do that. Nothing should stand in the way between ourselves and God.  Same goes for if we feel it and aren't quite getting the actions down.  Let's work on it.  ... And once we get the external and the internal working together, we'll be able to imagine returning to God with pleasure rather than fear.  Which, after all, would be a lot more fun. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Colossians 4:1-6

"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man."
Colossians 4:1-6

Some good advice today. :)  If we have power over other people, let's be careful and wise with it... treating other people well as we'd like God to treat us, with his power.  Pray, and watch for the answers, and always be thankful. :)  Pray for others, including missionaries, that they'll be able to express themselves and the complexities of the gospel. :)  Be wise in how we behave with people that aren't with us.  Distance might make it harder to communicate, but out of sight should not be out of mind or eliminate the need for love and respect in all relationships.  And finally, salt all our speech with grace.  I love that last part.  Speaking with grace to everyone is how we should answer.  Today, let's try to follow this great advice, treating people with grace, and praying and watching God's hand in our lives.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Doctrine and Covenants 105:35

"There has been a day of calling, but the time has come for a day of choosing; and let those be chosen that are worthy."
Doctrine and Covenants 105:35

This is interesting.  We know from other scriptures that many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14, D&C 121:40), but putting it this way seems more active and less abstract.  Instead of inspiring us to philosophize about what being "chosen" means, this urges us to do something about it. :)  This chapter is talking about building Zion in a very literal sense... this was during the mob violence in Missouri.  God was telling the people that they weren't ready for a literal Zion yet... they still weren't being obedient, they still weren't giving to the poor, and they had some work to do.  So, they needed to take a step back and start working on the basics again... like being chosen.
We're still in this situation.  We're not ready for a literal Zion yet.  We're *all* called... but we have to work at being chosen.  It says that the worthy should be chosen, so that is a good thing to think about.  Are we worthy?  Worthy of being chosen by God?  Worthy of Zion?  Those are big questions... and it isn't just an ego struggle where we have to convince ourselves that we're cool enough. :)  It's really doing what God asks.  Loving and taking care of the people around us... working at being the kind of person that could live in a Zion society... taking care of the poor, being part of the united order (sharing our goods and property with others), etc.  Today, let's be the chosen people, by working on our worthiness.

Monday, July 9, 2012

1 Corinthians 12:29-31

"Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
1 Corinthians 12:29-31

In this chapter Paul is talking about spiritual gifts, and how we're baptized into one body... all part of one another.  And immediately after these verses, he talks about charity, which is the pure love of Christ (Moroni 7:47).  To me, it seems like Paul here has a similar message to the one that Moses was offering in Numbers 11:29 when he said "Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets."  There isn't any reason to be envious of each other.  We're all different people.  Whether our roles are completely separate, or whether there is a lot of similarity in what we do, we still need each other.  No one is redundant, and everyone is valuable.  It is good to seek after the best gifts from God and to learn self-reliance, but it is also a most excellent lesson to learn to love each other, accept each other's roles, and work together.  We don't all have to focus on the same things, or know everything, and as Moses was wishing... we all don't have to bear the burdens alone.  Not everyone has to be the prophet, or the apostle, or the teacher.  ... Or, for that matter, the president, or the CEO, or the professor.  The point is to build Zion... and not only can we not do that alone, but trying to do so destroys the very idea of Zion.  Zion is a community... a community that embraces, educates, encourages, and protects *everyone.*  Today, let's work on respecting the roles of the people around us, and trying for some productive interdependence.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ecclesiastes 1:2-4

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever."
Ecclesiastes 1:2-4

Life certainly feels like this sometimes, doesn't it?  And in many ways, the things that we do here matter very little.  We're probably not going to make a ripple in eternity with our latest work product or the cool new thing that we bought.  We live, we die... what is the point?
Glad you asked. :)  Let me tell you.  The point... the thing that WILL make a ripple in the eternities... is you.  You are the reason that you are here.  This isn't to say that we should all immediately embrace selfishness.  On the contrary... but really, we are the reason that we are here.  As Neal A. Maxwell said, we are each other's clinical experience.  We are here to learn, to refine ourselves, to change, to improve, and to prepare for the life and eternity after this.  There is so much to learn, and all the vanity of vanities around us... we can learn from it, and grow, and change.  What matters isn't the work product or the cool thing, but learning to work... learning to give, learning to love, learning to find the joy in the midst of pain or sorrow.  Learning to interact and embrace each other.  Today, let's focus a little less on the product or the thing, and a little more on the people.  Let's change the things that we don't like about ourselves, and let's be better and cooler. :)  And if we get stuck, or down, or confused about why even try, or how does any of it make sense... then let's go to our Father and talk to him about it.  He knows the reason... the general reason for us all, and the specific reason for each individual.  He'll help us find our way.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

1 Peter 2:19-23 -- On Patience and Stretch Goals

"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.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"
1 Peter 2:19-23

In these verses God asks us to be patient in suffering even when we are unjustly accused or suffering for someone else's actions.  I think that this is harder than suffering for something that we know we did wrong, since on some level when that happens, we get that we probably deserve it, or at least that we caused it ourselves.  When we do the right thing, and then suffer for it, that's harder than just whatever we are going through, because mentally we have to also suffer through the stark injustice of the whole thing... we don't deserve this at ALL, and why is it happening, etc.

Just as when God asks us to love our enemies, and says that there is little reward for loving people who love us (Matthew 5:46)... he also here asks us to go a step further.  If we suffer for things that we brought on ourselves, that's pretty much par for the course.  If we really want to step up and learn the lesson, then we need to be patient even when suffering wrongfully.

This earth life is a test... a proving ground where we find out who we are, and where we'll be most comfortable in eternity.  Are we capable of loving only our families or close friends, or can we go further?  Can we love more... even to the extent of loving strangers... or those we perceive as our enemies?  Are we capable only of being patient in light affliction, or suffering that we brought on ourselves?  Or can we do more, and bear our burdens even when they are heavy and unjustly dealt?  No matter the lesson, there is probably another level... a stretch goal.  Something that it takes a lot more to reach. 

Today, let's work on following the example of the Savior, in loving more and being more patient even when things happen that don't make sense and that we definitely don't deserve.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Matthew 22:36-40 -- On Love First

"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Matthew 22:36-40

These verses are interesting.  Even though someone was trying to catch him in a contradiction, Christ decided to answer the question clearly... because it is a good question. :)  What is the most important commandment of all of them?  And of all the things that God has asked us to do, he narrowed it down for us.  The absolutely most important thing is to love God, with everything that we are.  Perhaps emotions, spirit and body, and thoughts.  All of those should be dedicated to loving God.  What does that mean for us?  I think perhaps that love isn't just an emotion... love is active, and involves all of you.  When we love someone, especially God, we have to dedicate emotion, spirit, action, and thought to the relationship.  We can't just say a quick prayer at the beginning of the day and then forget God.  Think of what it is like to love.  Not just romantic love, but family love and friendship love too.  You want to spend time with the person.  You want to talk, you wander through the store and see something they would like because they are not far from your thoughts.  You take actions to make those things happen.  You often feel a spiritual bond with them, and always an emotional one.  How would our lives be changed... how would even one day be changed, if we felt like that, actively, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally devoted to God?  I think our whole lives would be changed... overwhelmingly for the better.

And the second is like unto it.  ... Sometimes we think that other people can be dismissed if they aren't in our families or they aren't within our established circles in some way.  It's okay to dislike the person we're yelling at on the phone, right?  Or the person who smells bad, or the person who snores in church?  How about that person at work who doesn't do half as much as we do?  Or maybe the lady at the supermarket that is so massively disorganized that she is holding up the line for everyone?  We all have people that we dislike or snub, or can't understand or get frustrated with... and Christ tells us that in addition to loving God with all that we are, the second most important thing after that is to love other people as we love ourselves.  And, just like we imagined love before, let's imagine it about ourselves.  Do we give up on ourselves, or do we give ourselves another chance?  Do we feel that we still have worth even when we make horrible mistakes?  Do we feel that we deserve love even when we sin?  Do we feel like we're pretty cool, even though we get frustrated with ourselves sometimes?  Are we awesome and fun people that other people should get to know?  ... Yeah, we are. :)

Today, let's work on these most important of all things... loving God, and loving everyone else.  Let's work on our capacity and ability to love... to love God, to love others, and to love ourselves.  It makes all the difference.

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