Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Luke 6:22-23 -- On Rejoicing Despite Adversity

"Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets."
Luke 6:22-23


It can be discouraging when people are biased against you because you are religious, or specifically Mormon... or really, for any reason. :) Luckily, if it is a good reason like believing in and having a relationship with God, or appreciating and honoring what Christ did for all of us, God tells us to rejoice, and leap for joy. :) Might seem like a bizarre reaction to being persecuted or hated, but other than totally disconcerting whoever is being cruel to you, it also makes some sense. If people are getting mad at us for loving God, then that means... we love him, and we're being good examples, and God compares us to the prophets who were similarly persecuted. :) ... I don't think it means that we should intentionally go out and make people mad. That would also be frowned upon in the Gospel. But if we're doing good and getting slammed for it, there is no reason to be upset or down about it. Not everyone is going to understand or accept us, no matter what we believe. But getting treated badly for doing good is way better than getting treated badly for doing bad stuff. This way, no guilt, no need to change our thoughts, desires, or actions... and we're absolutely cool with God. Those are the important things. Some people will always be mad about something, or find something to hate us for. Just a bonus when it is something we love about ourselves, so we can be happy about the state of our souls instead of sad. God is amazing... and no amount of hate can take that away. :) Today... let's leap. Let's rejoice in what we believe and know to be true.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Luke 16:13

"No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Luke 16:13


Isn't this what we try to do so often in our lives? We try to serve two masters... God, and whatever else we're obsessing over. Sometimes it is a person, sometimes it is a job or a degree, sometimes it is something we own or a habit we have. Sometimes it is just a label we've chosen for ourselves... a sense of self that we value as much as or more than we value God. ... And it is so easy to talk ourselves into serving any of them. We tell ourselves that this job/degree/life choice/habit is something that God wants us to have, or something that is important to the rest of our lives, or is a core part of ourselves... we can't give it up without destroying ourselves or tearing ourselves in half... whatever it is. Or we can't live without this person or possession. And, you know, sometimes God *does* want us to keep whatever it is. But unless we are willing to put God first, we'll never know because we're so obsessed with keeping it that we can't relax and get some perspective. We worry so much that God won't approve that we don't even give him the chance... we just talk ourselves into the fact that he's okay with it because he loves us.
I think we forget sometimes that God's unconditional love doesn't include blanket approval of everything that we do or choose. :) Just like our earthly parents, God needs to teach us to make choices between good and bad. Ezra Taft Benson said "When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities." Today, let's stop trying to serve two masters and make a commitment. Let's put God first, and be willing to give up anything that keeps us from him. If we do that, God will make up for whatever we give up many times over. And one of the cool, immediate results is that we'll start living much less conflicted lives. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Alma 7:15

"Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism."
Alma 7:15


Earlier in this chapter, Alma tells the people that of all the things that will happen in the future, the most important one is that the Redeemer will live and come among his people. And that's pretty much the most important thing for us too. He came, and will come again. Meeting God in person can seem like a scary thing, but Alma tells us to fear not. :) Just get ready. :) Of course, that can seem daunting as well, because sins do easily beset us, and sometimes we feel bound down to destruction... we've bound ourselves there, through choices that we've made. But if we show God that we're willing to repent, and willing to recommit to him, then he'll free us from the chains that we've forged for ourselves, and allow us to start again, from wherever we are. Baptism is essential to this process, because it is the covenant that we make with God that we are willing to do as he asks... and it is a figurative *and* literal washing away of our sins so that we can start as new people, living a new and better way. If we've been baptized already, than the renewal of that covenant comes for us every Sunday when we take the sacrament... but either way, that agreement with God is something that we have to keep working at. Today, whether we're working on a covenant with God for the first time or renewing one we've been trying to live up to for a while, let's thank God for the chance we have to start again, and repent sincerely as we work at being good and always getting better.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Doctrine and Covenants 88:118

"And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith."
Doctrine and Covenants 88:118


I've read this scripture many, many times, and there is some great stuff here. God wants us to learn, and to teach each other. Books are good... or at least the best ones are. :) And we should seek learning. All great stuff. Today though, I was thinking about something that I hadn't really examined before in this verse. It starts out with "And as all have not faith" and then ends with "... and also by faith." So, a couple of thoughts here. First of all, we can learn by study, which I think we are familiar with, but we can also learn by faith. Which seems cool. Thinking back in my life, I think perhaps I have learned some things this way... important, life-changing things like ... God is there, he loves me, and he consistently answers prayers, for instance. :) And then also, the first part "as all have not faith" seems to imply that we study because we don't have faith... or enough faith... to learn another way. :) Which is interesting. I wonder how much more we could learn with a little extra faith. Today, let's exercise our faith and ask God to teach us something that we need to learn. And let's also study and learn, and teach other people all that we can as well. :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Alma 37:44

"For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land."
Alma 37:44


While Lehi's family was travelling through the wilderness, they often forgot or neglected to give heed to the compass that God had provided for them (called a Liahona). So, often they wandered until they remembered to consult God. I think we often do the same thing, even though we don't have personal Liahonas. :) Instead, we have the scriptures, and we have prayer... and other things that help us like church, visiting and home teaching, the words of modern prophets, attending the temple, etc. Sometimes, we neglect those things and we wander. And hopefully, when we realize that we're lost, we remember, pay attention to God again, and get back on track.
I think God's point in this verse though, is... wouldn't it just be so much easier if we learned to be consistent and stay on track all the time? Wouldn't we be happier and more confident spiritually? And it *is* easy. All we have to do is pick up our scriptures, or even just pull them up online. All we have to do is take a few minutes to talk to God. It's those small, simple things that add up to a huge improvement in our level of happiness and in our ability to stay on track and move closer to God. I think sometimes we neglect to do the little things because they seem so small, and we don't think that such small things will make a big impact, or that it's easy to skip a day and nothing bad will happen, etc. ... And that's all true, as far as it goes. But once we let things slip a little, it is easier to let them slip more, or for longer, until we've been lost for a long time in the wilderness. Today, let's work on overcoming those excuses. Let's become unlost, even if we were only a tiny bit. ... And let's do the small, easy things that bring us closer and closer to God.

Friday, February 10, 2012

2 Nephi 28:29-30

"Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have."
2 Nephi 28:29-30


I love "Wo" scriptures. Not because they are negative or anything, but because I think that it is awesome that God warns us about very specific things. The whole "be ye therefore perfect" can be a little vague... and overwhelming... at times. :) This one is great. Easy to focus on, easy to understand. :) We should definitely never try to get out of reading our scriptures, or say that we have read enough. We should never pretend that God has said all that he has to say, and he is done. :) ... He's not done. He's never done really... we need a lot of extra help, so he has to keep telling us stuff. I also love the second verse here that explains that God's word builds on itself. We can never learn one level or one principle and then say, okay, got it. :) Just like in college or in life... once we learn one thing, that gives us a foundation to learn another. And if we ever stop learning, just like in college and in life... we often forget what we learned previously. I've forgotten so much French, I'd probably have to start over again in 101... and spiritual things sometimes work the same way. Stuff totally leaves our minds unless we keep learning and exercising our knowledge.
Today, let's be open to what the Lord has to share with us. Maybe it is something he has said to the prophets in the past, and we'll get it while reading our scriptures. Maybe it is something that he wants to tell us to help get through this day, and we'll understand it through prayer. Either way, let's continue to listen to God and allow him to help us. :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jeremiah 17:5

"Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord."
Jeremiah 17:5


When I was younger, scriptures like this used to bug me a lot. I think it was because it is so hard to trust anything *besides* the people around you. They are what you know, what you learn... growing up, that's what you have to trust. And in many ways, that's valid. We live in a world with other people, and if we didn't trust each other and if we didn't work together, then things would fall apart fast. We're supposed to learn to love and trust people. ... But I think that as I've (hopefully) matured and learned more in my life, I realize that this is a whole other kind of trusting. Not the small trust kind of thing, but the huge what-do-you-base-your-life-on kind of capital-T trust. What do we think about and what do we revert to when things go wrong. What is at the core, that we trust and hold on to more tightly than anything else? What is at the center of our hearts? And I think that is what we need to work on... not distrusting our friends or trying to deny the place that our families should take in our lives... but this is a good reminder that God should be the center. Not another person, no matter how much we love that person. Not a possession or a habit, or even a way of thinking of ourselves... lifestyle, body image, whatever it is. God is at the center of everything. The one who we can trust when everything else falls apart. And other things do. Families sometimes. People we love. Habits, Body images, lifestyles... all of it. When everything is gone, God is still there. Today, let's move aside some other things, and make sure God is where he should be. That when it comes to that deep capital-T type of trust, that we're relying on the one thing that will never die, fade, or melt down. Let's trust God with everything we have and are.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Jeremiah 3:1

"They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord."
Jeremiah 3:1


I think this verse helps us get a sense of how abhorrent to God it is when we sin. The kind of behavior described in this verse would permanently end almost all relationships... but God is saying, even though we've done things that no one would forgive, he is still willing to take us back, and we can still be loved and cherished.
We all sin. Sometimes in big ways and sometimes in little ways, but all of those add up to a pretty big betrayal of God and our relationship with him. Today, let's work on that relationship, and help it work its way back to primacy in our lives. Let's remove whatever impediments are keeping us from him, and accept God's invitation to return.

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