Sunday, March 31, 2013

Psalms 86:11-13 -- On Uniting our Hearts

"Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.
For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell."
Psalms 86:11-13

I really like the "unite my heart" part.  I think that it is easy to feel divided within yourself... one part of you wanting God and one part wanting something else entirely.  And so we plead with God to teach us, and we work on walking the right way even though we feel divided.  God is the one that can change our hearts, if we want them changed.  ... And then we'll be able to praise God with our whole hearts, and be delivered from the lowest hell. :)  Sometimes I think that internal struggle IS the lowest hell... or at least part of it.  God can help us to be united in ourselves.  Today, let's pray for and work on being whole.

Friday, March 29, 2013

1 Corinthians 15:29

"Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"
1 Corinthians 15:29

This is an interesting scripture.  It seems like baptism for the dead was being practiced back in Christ's time.  The point of it is to make sure that people that died without baptism get a chance to accept that ordinance, which is a requirement for salvation.  It does seem like being baptized for the dead would be a bizarre practice if there were no afterlife... what would be the point?  But God teaches us that there is an afterlife, and that some things are necessary.  So, in that context, it is an incredibly merciful thing... part of God's plan to help as many of us make it back to him as possible.  Requirements that people don't get a chance to take care of in their lives can be taken care of by others.  Doesn't mean that we shouldn't get baptized when we have the chance though.  Baptism opens the door to learning so much more, as well as showing our commitment to God when we've learned the truth.  But it is awesome that God always has a plan for every exception.  He doesn't let anyone fail the test due to technicalities.  We all get to choose our eternities based on how we live this life.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

1 Timothy 6:7-11

"For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
1 Timothy 6:7-11

A good passage to remind us what is important today.  Let's be happy with the wealth of blessings that the Lord has granted us.  We have so much.  Life, relationships, a place to sleep, good food... sight.  Internet connections. :)  SO much. :)  Let's be grateful for all of it today.  Instead of worrying about how to become billionaires, let's work on some of those skills listed in the last verse of this selection.  Love, faith, patience, etc.  The things that matter... the things that we can take with us. :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Helaman 14:19

"Therefore repent ye, repent ye, lest by knowing these things and not doing them ye shall suffer yourselves to come under condemnation, and ye are brought down unto this second death."
Helaman 14:19

This sounds depressing kind of... second death?  Isn't it bad enough the first time? :)  I think it is interesting though, the whole idea of the differences in deaths, and that neither of them really has to have power over us.  The first death is physical death, where our bodies die but our spirits keep living.  This is overcome through Christ's atonement, and means that we will all be eventually resurrected and alive again, physically, forever.  Which is kind of cool.  Immortality... the dream of the ages, right?  And we all get it. :)  The second death is not the death of the spirit... spirits are immortal already.  But it is the separation of our spirits from God's presence, which will feel really bad like death, since God's spirit sustains us.  This is probably the same thing that already happened after the war in heaven to Lucifer and his followers.  They never got bodies, so they don't have any physical being, but they are separated from God by being cast out of heaven.  And although I don't really know whether "Hell" is actually a place or just this same second death... knowing that you can never return to God's presence... by all reports, sticking with God will be more fun.
We don't have to suffer either death permanently.  Most people go through the first death... only a few exceptions.  A couple of prophets and apostles have been translated directly, or granted super extended lives.  And to get around the second death, we just need to repent.  I say "just" ... I do realize that it is really, really hard sometimes. So much of life is, in the moment.  Sometimes it takes looking back to wonder why we let ourselves suffer so much, or why we were so stubborn and prideful. :)  The awesome thing is that, if we are open to it, God teaches us all along the way.  Which is why we can look back and know that we've changed, and gotten better. :)  Today, let's work on avoiding the second death. :)  Let's change who we are, and become better.  Let's repent, and turn to God.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 84:84

"Therefore, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself."
Doctrine and Covenants 84:84

This is cool, and what it says to me is .... focus on where you are, and who you are interacting with in the moment... be present, physically and mentally.  Participate actively and focus on where you are and what you need to do right now.  Don’t worry about tomorrow.  Of course, I am in no way saying that we should lose our eternal perspective, forget that there IS a tomorrow, and an eternity... only that we have a chance to do good *today,* and we shouldn't lose that chance by fretting over what might happen tomorrow.  Let’s keep our focus on the people and things that we are blessed with today.  In addition... if we trust God a little, and know that he is working to make our future as bright as possible... maybe we could relax a little and enjoy today. :)

Mosiah 2:23-25

"And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you."
Mosiah 2:23-25

I love King Benjamin so much.  What a great, great man.  This is part of his speech to his people, which takes up many chapters and is all golden.  This part of it can seem a little harsh, but I really love it.  I think that so often we want to feel important and worthwhile, but instead of finding a way to feel those things, we substitute pride, and feeling like we're better than someone else gives us that sense of value that we're seeking... or at least a close enough substitute that we run with it.  And we don't want to owe God anything or feel obligated to him because then we'll feel guilty for ignoring him.  So much of us wants to focus on me, me, me instead of God or "us" as brothers and sisters and as a community.  It's hard to get past those feelings sometimes... the desire to focus on ourselves rather than everyone else.  And, assuredly, God isn't going to make us.  But King Benjamin tries to explain it to us here... We misunderstand our relationship with God, often.  We think that we are his equals, just because we have that divine potential... but we're not.  We're children.  And let's remember how dangerous disobedient child gods can be. Instead of acting like toddlers, having screaming fits in public about how we're BIG and should be able to do whatever the crap we want, let's grow up a little, and learn from our father, who loves us beyond imagining, how to handle our power and our potential.  As we recognize our dust-level lack of knowledge in how to become like God, maybe we can be humble enough to realize that no one else in the universe can teach us to walk on water. :)  ... or anything else that we are really going to need to know as we slowly become so much more than we realize.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Alma 41:3-6

"And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame--mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption--raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—
The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.
And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness."
Alma 41:3-6

This is a good thing to ponder.  If what we do and what we desire get restored to us... are we doing and desiring things that we even *want* back in our lives for eternity?  Is the way we are treating others the way that we would like God to treat us?  Are our desires linking up with our actions?  Sometimes we are trying to act right, but in our hearts we want something else... and that is a great way to begin to teach ourselves obedience, but eventually we need to learn both correct action and correct desire, together.  I think that these verses show us both how important it is to be consistent within, and also the huge value of love and forgiveness.  We don't want vengeance restored to us in the resurrection... or hatred, or anger.  We have to let those things go, because what we really want in the end is love, and acceptance, and belonging.  We want God to welcome us and love us and teach us everything good (including walking on the water).  ... And what we want from God is what we have to BE, because our judgment is a returning to us of everything that we have been.  Not surprising, since choosing to follow God is choosing to be a new, different person... to be born again, changed inside and out.  Today, can we love others as we want God to love us?  Can we welcome all and show them kindness, despite their weaknesses and faults?  If so, then God will do the same for us.  Let's work really hard on that one. :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Matthew 18:21-22

"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."
Matthew 18:21-22

I think that forgiveness can be a tough thing for all of us.  It shouldn't be surprising to us that we need to forgive; after all, God asks us to love our enemies.  Forgiveness is part of learning to love... not just our enemies, but everyone.  Later in this chapter Christ tells the story of a servant who owed a lot of money and couldn't pay.  He pleaded for mercy, and his lord forgave the debt.  Then, to someone who owed him very little, he demanded repayment, and sent him to prison because he couldn't pay.  And that is basically the situation that we are in with God.  None of us gets through life, or even most days, without relying very heavily on the mercy of God.  We have so much evil to account for in our lives, and only God can relieve us of that debt.  And he does, gladly.  And after that, can we really afford to turn around and not forgive other people?
Forgiveness isn't easy.  Sometimes we know it will happen again.  Nothing will change.  Sometimes we're upset because forgiving rather than demanding retribution makes us look weak or easily manipulated. Sometimes forgiveness comes at great personal cost.  And so it is also with God.  So often, we turn around after saying the words of repentance, and jump back into bad habits.  Sometimes we, as examples of the gospel to the people around us, make God and the church look pretty bad to others.  And granting us repentance came at *immense* personal cost to Christ.  Today, despite the difficulty, let's grant the mercy of forgiveness to those that need it.  ... And let's also thank the Lord on our knees for his incredible patience and mercy towards us, imperfect as we are.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Luke 12:4-5

"And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him."
Luke 12:4-5

Often in this life we look at death as the ultimate terror.  We don't want to die, or see others die.  We as a society spend a LOT of effort and time trying to avoid death.  So it is kind of a weird spin on things when God tells us to not be afraid of people who kill.  I really like the idea that it is only killing our body, and that what makes us ourselves is untouchable by the bad guys.  ... Probably understandable if we are still going to be a little afraid of serial killers, but the point is mainly symbolic.  Spiritual death is a LOT more scary than physical death.  Death vs Hell.  Death is temporary.  Hell is less so.  Christ offers to save us from both, but overcoming physical death is a lot easier.  Overcoming spiritual death is trickier because of free agency, which God respects as inviolate.  We have to walk away from Hell ourselves.... we have to make the effort, to repent and to change and to learn.  God will help us, but he won't force us.  Today, let's remember that this life isn't all that matters.  Let's do what we can to avoid Hell. :)  Let's repent, and get back on track... and be afraid of falling back into bad habits.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jeremiah 29:13 -- On Seeking and Hiding

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

This struck me today because I think that often we try to connect with God in a really half-hearted manner.  We're not putting everything into it, because we're so many other places mentally and emotionally.  Unless we're really desperate, we rarely take the time to really pour out our hearts to him.  ... and that makes sense.  It is hard to be that authentic and vulnerable all the time.  Living in this society, we've learned to hide our hearts pretty well, and to protect ourselves by functioning a little more shallowly in our everyday lives.  I think that God understands why... but the thing is, this verse is still true. 

We won't be able to get that true connection with God unless we're able to let down some of those walls with him.  So, today, let's work on putting our whole selves into our prayers.  Letting God see it all.  He is God, after all.  No point in hiding anything from him.  And he is the safest person to be authentic with anyway.  He knows how to get us out of our self-made jams better than anyone. :)  As we search for God today, with all of our hearts, we will find him, and he will help us find our way.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

I think that this is a good thing to remember.  God's motivation is, and has always been, love.  So often we fall into the mindset where we imagine that God is somehow limiting us or taking things away from us... when his whole purpose is to free us from our own limitations, and to offer us all that he has.  It is similar to our relationship with our earthly parents.  When we're young and in the rebellious stage, we could get upset thinking that they have all the power, and that they chose to bring us into this world anyway, so it is their responsibility to take care of us, we don't owe them anything.  And then we grow up, and we realize all they did for us, and start taking responsibility for our own happiness.  Very similar, except that God is perfect even when our parents are not... no possibility of legitimate claims against him.  He does everything he can for us, without taking away our freedom.  He stands ready to help us, to teach us, and to love us the minute we open ourselves up and let him in.  He doesn't want anyone to choose death over life... but he will never force us.  Today, let's accept the gift that God has offered us, and follow Christ... choosing freedom and eternal life over death and the captivity of sin.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 98:5-7

"And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil."
Doctrine and Covenants 98:5-7

I think it is interesting that God takes a stand here in favor of the constitution.  It's very limited, but it shows one of the benefits of modern revelation.  Instead of only having "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s" and similar guidance, we have more.  I also think it is interesting that God tells us that more or less than this cometh of evil... both more and less.  Not sure if that means things that tend toward bigger government, and things that tend toward less government/anarchy, but maybe.  As with all things, we have to find the right balance.  We know that God values freedom/free agency, personal responsibility, honesty, selflessness, kindness, mercy... encourages us to love other people, everywhere as we love ourselves.  To do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  To not judge unrighteously.  But how do we apply those things to government?  To laws?  Sometimes the direct applications are hard to find even in our normal daily lives, let alone the bigger societal concerns.  Today, let's embrace the constitutional law of the land, and learn more about it.  And let's try to figure out how God's guidance fits into more aspects of our everyday lives. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We are not our own.  I like that.  It is a little scary, but when you think about it... so true.  By ourselves in this life, we would fail.  Christ paid for all our second chances with the Atonement... and God gave us everything that we have and our first chance well before this.  We try so hard to hold onto that ownership and power over our own lives, because we want to choose who we are, and what constitutes our sense of self.  Free agency is a huge gift, again from God.  And it isn't bad to want choices, and God respects that and fights for our ability to choose as well.  But I think what we don't get sometimes is that all the freedom comes from serving God and doing as he asks.  That opens up new choices and opportunities and new ways of learning about ourselves and becoming more than we are.  And walking away from God, without exception, ends up limiting our choices more and more until, if we don't return to God's path, we're stuck the way we are, with not even the desire to improve ourselves because we've blocked it out so long.  Better, then, to accept that we are God's creations.  That we owe him some loyalty and devotion.  Allowing God to help us to improve doesn't take away from our individuality.  It gives it the best chance of thriving and achieving greatness.
I also like the image of our bodies as the temples of the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost is so important in our lives... he helps us remember and know to do things at important moments.  Guidance, comfort, so many things are hard to have in our lives without him.  Respecting that relationship and being willing to live in a way that allows it to continue is beneficial to everyone.  Keeping our bodies and minds and hearts clean makes us better, and gives us a chance to have that invaluable assistance in our lives.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2 Nephi 32:5

"For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do."
2 Nephi 32:5

I love this promise of guidance.  ALL things.  That's pretty amazing.  I think that it is easy to feel lost or directionless in life, and I think that this verse shows us that the solution is always to look to God.  To trust the Holy Ghost to help us.  It doesn't mean that we don't need to study things out in our minds, or that we shouldn't be anxiously engaged in finding good things to do... I think that God wants us to try to solve things ourselves.  Then, if we can't, He will step in.  But I think that the verse does mean that God will be there, helping us, during all of it, even the figuring it out ourselves part.  The Holy Ghost helps us to remember things and blesses us with insight along the way.  Our main challenge in being able to use this amazing blessing in our lives is living worthy to have the Holy Ghost with us as a constant companion.  Today, let's remove whatever is standing in the way of our relationship with God.  And let's go to him in prayer.  Let's tell him the things that are going on with us.  Let's ask him the questions that are on our minds.  And then let's go to work, trying to figure it all out.  He will help us figure it out.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Psalms 84:10

"For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.  I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."
Psalms 84:10

Awesome. :)  Better one day in the courts of God than a thousand anywhere else.  Better to be a doorkeeper with God than to be royalty anywhere else.  So many times we justify sin by thinking somehow that it is better to have 15 minutes of amazing over a lifetime of so-so, or that it is better to have something we know now over an eternity of sounds-like-hard-work.  But all of that is pure dross.  Choosing sin over God is *always* a bad choice... not because of punishment or fear or anything else, but because truly and without any guile, one second with God is worth more than an eternity without him.  And if we haven't gotten to know him yet, and seen that truth... let's take today and get on our knees and talk to him.  Let's talk to him about it, and tell him what we value more than we value him and ask him to show us something better.  He will.  The gospel *is* the pearl of great price, worth giving up everything else for.  Doorkeeper, servant, whatever.  Whatever God has in store for us, no matter how poorly we imagine it, will be more glorious and joyful than anything that we could possibly trade it for in this life.  Heaven is the *good* part, remember? :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Luke 24:36-39

"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
Luke 24:36-39

What an emotional day for the apostles, really... they were devastated at first, and then they heard from different sources that there was no body in the tomb, that Christ has appeared to Simon, and then he appears to others on the road to Emmaus.  And then they got together and were talking about it, and this happens. :)  What I like about this appearance is that they get to touch him... they are so happy they are having a hard time believing all of it, and so he shows them his hands and feet and tells them to see for themselves... some of that tactile evidence that we so desperately want sometimes.  He's basically saying "look, I'm not a ghost.  I'm really here, with you."  And I imagine that someday when we are all reunited with our loved ones who have died, and also with Christ, it will be such an amazingly joyful day as well. :)  It is hard for us to see that far sometimes... to see past death or even to plan for next week rather than RIGHT NOW. :)  But, as we listen to God, we see things more and more from his perspective, and are able to see the life past the death.  To see the joy past the sorrow, and to endure any temporary setbacks because we can see the hope beyond.  Today, let's remember that Christ wasn't limited by temporal things, and that there is so much more beyond whatever obstacles we face today.  We can overcome anything with God, just as Christ overcame death itself.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

John 8:31-34

"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin."
John 8:31-34

This is interesting.  I think that the "truth shall make you free" line gets misused a lot... to represent all kinds of questionable truths making people not so free.  In context, here, it seems clear... knowing the truth of practicing the gospel and seeing it work in our lives will make us free from the bondage of sin.  And that is a pretty nice freedom to have.  Sin does hurt us, and bind us in many ways.  We feel guilt, we try to justify, we start hating ourselves... so much of our lives are spent trying to justify or hide or glorify whatever it is that causes us that spiritual discomfort.  Whereas when that burden is lifted, it is like removing chains from our minds and hearts.  We can be confident and feel clean... and free... again.  There is no need to justify or hide or turn our minds upside down trying to call evil good.  Things are okay again... and when we're okay with God, we have the room in our minds to handle everything else with grace.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

I've written about this chapter a lot, and even these exact verses, but today this verse struck me again... I think because it seems to sum up the whole challenge of this life.  To let go of the seen for the unseen.  Not in a hokey haunted house or I-now-live-my-life-by-consulting-psychics way, but a faith sort of a way. :)  It's a challenge at times to talk to people who have no faith in anything that they can't see or touch.  There is a wide mental gap about what is real and what is a fable.  It's hard to get anyone who thinks that you are imagining reality to take you seriously. :)
And while that is certainly a challenge, when we're close to God, all of those things that we can see or touch seem so hollow and faded compared to the reality of God.  The whole "far more exceeding and eternal" reality. :)  None of these afflictions matter... not really.  They are hard, of course.  We lose jobs, and houses, and loved ones.  It is harder to feel them there when we can't see or touch.  We experience pain and sickness and sorrow.  And sometimes it is really hard to see past our feelings... to God.  But despite what it seems like in our world where we've learned to trust in eyesight and tactile evidence... God is much more real than any of this.  Have you guys read "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis?  It is great, and it illustrates this gap in reality pretty well.  The main plot is about this guy who finds himself in Hell, and he decides to take a bus ride to see Heaven.  And he gets there, and he tries to walk around, and it hurts.  The grass is more real than he is, and it is hurting and cutting his feet. :)  He realizes that he will have to do a lot of work in order to interact with this environment or the people there.  ... And, I think, this is exactly what we have to face in our lives.  We're children compared to God.  We're not capable of handing the power that he has on that level.  Our intellects are microscopic beside his, and we wouldn't possibly be able to comprehend all of reality if he blessed us with the sight of it.  Our weak bodies couldn't even endure his presence.  And so, we're here.  We're here to learn to be a little tougher... to be at least as real as the grass. :)  Learning to control our own bodies is a good way to start learning the control that God needs.  Studying God's word, having faith in things that we can't see... knowing that there is something beyond this... all of this is good practice and preparation for learning to understand all that God understands and seeing what he sees.  Asking for and receiving blessings from the Lord helps us to understand how God's power is used.  Today, let's focus on the eternal rather than the temporal, and accept our temporary afflictions... and learn from them more about how to grow up into a better reality.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Alma 11:45

"Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body.  I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption."
Alma 11:45

This verse happens during a conversation between Alma and Zeezrom. At the beginning of the conversation Zeezrom tries to bribe Alma to deny the existence of God, then to catch him in a lie through asking probing questions... and towards the end of the conversation, Zeezrom starts to believe that this guy is telling the truth.  It is a really interesting story.  Anyway, in this verse Alma is in the middle of explaining about death and judgment, and the difference between physical and spiritual death.  And this verse is cool because it kind of explains resurrection.  Our bodies and our spirits, which are separate now, will be united and become immortal.  Talk about amazing.  If you ever wished for the immortality superpower... you get it.  We all do. :)  I really like the part that says "that they can no more see corruption."  ... I think that this is talking about the processes surrounding death, where things break down or wear out, etc.  And that won't happen anymore... but in general too.  Nothing will become corrupt anymore... so, no sicknesses, right?  No acne, no hair falling out.  No physical pain?  Sounds really, really good. :)  Another awesome thing about the resurrection part is that everyone gets it.  Free participation gift from Christ for agreeing to come to Earth. :)  Overcoming spiritual death is a little harder, but I think we forget sometimes how ultra amazing this part is.  Someday we will all have perfect, immortal bodies... that's cool. :)  Today, let's thank God for this blessing, and work on accepting the other blessings that he offers.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Colossians 3:15-16

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
Colossians 3:15-16

In my favorite non-scriptural book, Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, there is a point where the main character is pretty much in the worst mood of her life, and as she is wallowing in that, she sees something breathtaking, and hears in her mind "why should your heart not dance?"  Everything, her own senses, all the world around her... is telling her to rejoice, and still she refuses.  I think that we're like that a lot in our own lives.  The world is a wondrous and beautiful thing, and we forget that.  We are so wrapped up in our truly insignificant dramas that we don't see everything... all the beauty, all the goodness and purity and dazzling personality... around us.  And, here in these verses God is speaking in our minds, reminding us.  There is beauty and goodness around us, no matter what else we are going through.  We just have to stop obsessing over whatever it is, and look up.  Peace can rule in our hearts, even when we feel that the world is crashing down around us.  Today, let's fill ourselves with the word of God, and let that dwell with us.  Let's thank God for our amazing lives, and think on the word of God... and even sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. :)  Our hearts need some singing and dancing right about now, don't you think?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Luke 17:27-30

"They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed."
Luke 17:27-30

I wonder how complacent we are sometimes.  And not that it isn't good to have some calm in our lives, or feel some accomplishment for a job well done... we should. :)  Just I think we get so caught up in daily life or what we're working on now that sometimes we forget the most important part.  The part where we need to put God first, listen to his prophets, and prepare ourselves.  I'm not talking about stockpiling weapons, or anything physical (although of course, listening to the prophets about getting some food storage is a *very* good idea)... I'm just talking about preparing our hearts.  Preparing our minds.  Being ready for Christ's return by being the sort of people that will welcome him, rather than being afraid of his judgement.  If tomorrow were the day that Christ returned, would we be ready?  And it is easy to say that it won't happen in our lifetimes, or that so many things need to happen first, etc.  But it really doesn't matter so much when Christ decides to return to the Earth... we'll meet him sooner or later, whether we live through that event or not.  And we need to be ready.  If we keep putting it off, and off, and saying that we will prepare later, it's going to sneak up on us.  Today, let's think about it seriously.  If judgement day were tomorrow, what things would we need to take care of today?  And, if we get more than today, let's take advantage of it and do more... and thank God for the extra time to get ourselves in order. :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Alma 28:13

"And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men."
Alma 28:13

This is interesting... usually when I think of inequality it seems like a societal issue, not something that people choose for themselves.  In the verses just preceding this, there was a war... and a lot of people are dead.  And everyone is mourning for someone they lost... but mourning in different ways.  Some of the are devastated, and some are more hopeful, depending on how their loved ones lived their lives, and what kind of judgement they can look forward to.  And in that context, we absolutely choose our own inequality.  We make ourselves unequal by the way that we live our lives.  Even though God offers everyone the same chance at heaven, many of us choose not to go there by our actions.  So much is dependent on this brief life... we choose a lot of what we'll be and enjoy for eternity.  Today, let's pay attention, and choose a little bit more wisely. :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Isaiah 65:22-24

"They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.
And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."
Isaiah 65:22-24

This scripture is talking about the Millennium.  I really like it because it is something to look forward to... an ideal that will happen if we stop rejecting God, and build Zion.  Enjoying the fruits of our labors is cool.  So many things happen that cause that not to happen now.  And living to the age of a tree.  That sounds pretty cool too.  Seems like there is so much that we can't fit in now... hopefully with longer lifespans we'd be able to do more of the things that we hope for.  My favorite part is "before they call, I will answer."  Because our society then will be on the same page with God, seems like our relationship with him as an entire society will improve.  Answers that are there before we even know to ask. Anticipatory blessings. :)  I think that life can work that way even now at least for small stretches, when we are really in tune with God.  But then, it will be the norm.  How amazing and blessed to live in a society like that.  Today, let's do what we can to get closer to that ideal.  Let's ask God what we can do to build Zion, and then do as he asks.  It might just be loving our neighbors rather than some vast project, but whatever it is, let's do it well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mark 6:56

"And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole."
Mark 6:56

A couple of things strike me here.  One, how amazing it must have been to be around Christ.  All these people healed... as many as touched him.  And so many miraculous things came about in his presence.  No wonder people would just leave their lives in the dust to follow him... everything was different with him.  Little of the rest of it mattered. 
The other thing that strikes me is that it is similar to the brazen serpent (Numbers 21:8-9).  In that case, all you had to do was look.  Here, all you had to do was touch.  But you still wonder... how many didn't?  How many couldn't believe enough to look or touch, and thus died, or continued in sickness?
I think we have the same opportunities today.  We can still follow Christ with that same determination not to let anything else keep us from him.  Still, little else matters.  And still, we can be healed by looking to him, by reaching out to him.  It is still amazing to hang out with Christ, even when it is less tactile.  Today, let's make the small effort that it takes to turn to God and be made whole.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Proverbs 18:12

"Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility."
Proverbs 18:12

This makes it pretty simple.  Haughtiness leads to destruction, and humility leads to honor.  And I get that sometimes we like thrill-seeking and that rush of danger, but seriously, in this case, let's play it safe, and choose humility. :)  Not saying it is easy... but definitely worth some time today to work on avoiding destruction. :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

James 4:7-8 -- On Following the Recipe for a Good Life

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."
James 4:7-8

Submission is hard.  It is an amazing thing to learn, but for many of us, it takes some real, sustained effort to get there.  We're scared of letting anyone else run our lives for us... with good reason in most cases.  A couple of primary things make submitting to God different than submitting to anyone else though.  First, God is worthy of our trust.  If we put ourselves in his power or make ourselves vulnerable to him, he will never abuse that power to harm or ridicule us.  Second, he doesn't want to run our lives for us at all.  He wants us to run our lives, according to our desires.  He only wants us to learn to have better desires, and to dream bigger than we could ever hope to alone... to see the superior, eternal picture, rather than settling for some temporary this-life-only high.  And by submitting to his will and trying it his way, we learn how much better life can be beyond the small dreams that we had for ourselves.
Both of these verses seem to be telling us how to make our lives better.  After counseling us to submit to God, we are told to resist the devil.  Good advice as well.  How often do we just kind of passively submit to HIM, because it sounds good?  So, just some basics... stop resisting God, and start resisting the devil. :)  Then it continues by telling us that if we work at getting close to God, that he will reciprocate.  If we want to know how to have a better life, that sounds like a really good plan as well.  And finally, cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.  "Sinners" and "double minded" are no more than the truth.  We are both of those things, so very often.  We justify ourselves in sin, and we try to live with strong, but opposite desires.  Part of us dedicated to God, and part of us yearning for something else... giving up on God's promises when things seem hard, and trying for something more tactile and immediate.
Recipe for a good life: today, let's do what God wants, and not what we want.  Let's try it out... resist the devil, draw close to God, and cleanse our hands and our hearts... some deep internal spring cleaning today.  And then let's see if our lives are better or worse.  I think that we'll be surprised at how good life can be when we put God before ourselves.

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