Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
Jeremiah 29:11

Even when we sin and make mistakes, God doesn't want evil to come upon us.  He loves us.  He wants good for us.  He wants us to grow and learn and change and come to him.  Two verses after this he says "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."  Even in the worst times, he offers us peace.  He asks us to pray... to talk to him about it all.  To work it out.
We bring evil upon ourselves sometimes, with the choices that we make.  And even then, God works to ameliorate the consequences... to make things tolerable for us.  To give us another chance, and another, and another, until we finally learn enough to get that lesson.  And then we move on to another.  Christ suffered so that we don't have to.  He took upon himself our pain, our sickness, and our sorrow in order to bring us peace, if we accept his offering and repent.
Today, let's accept God's peace.  Let's pray, and talk to him about the state of our lives... and clean them up as needed. :)  And then we can expect the happy ending that Christ has promised us.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Luke 22:25-27 -- On Servant-Leadership

"And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."
Luke 22:25-27

I think this is interesting.  Christ teaches a much different type of leadership than the kind that we are used to.  Leading in Christ's way isn't just telling people what to do, or playing power games.  It is serving the people that we lead... making sure that they are taken care of, happy, and that they have opportunities to grow.  God, the greatest of all, encourages, blesses, and lifts us up.  He explains things to us as we are able to understand them.  As we go forward in our leadership responsibilities today, let's remember this scripture.  Let's allow others to be honored, let's do all that we can for the people that look to us for guidance.  Let's work on our humility, and praise others for their efforts rather than taking all the credit. :)  Let's follow Christ in his example of servant-leadership. :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

John 6:53-57

"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me."
John 6:53-57

This is interesting... and was wildly controversial when Christ said it.  After this it tells us that many of his disciples walked no more with him.  And, yeah, you have to admit that a purely literal interpretation makes it sound a lot like cannibalism / human sacrifice.  Because we have the perspective of time, and verses after this that talk about Christ at the last supper, we understand that God meant the sacrament, the symbolic representation of his body and his blood, so that we can remember the sacrifice that he made for all of us.  As we repent each week, and take the sacrament, we renew our covenant with God that we will take upon us his name, and always remember him.  And he promises in return to bless us with his spirit.  Amazing.
... As for the part that seems scary or off when we first read it, I think that it is a good opportunity to look at our lives and at the things that we might question that God has said.  Maybe they don't make sense at first.  Maybe they sound crazy... but if they are from God, we can be certain that somehow, they work within the gospel.  It reminds me of Camilla Kimball's idea of taking a question, putting it on the shelf, and then as she kept learning more, she would take down each question or problem one by one and understand it better.  When we run into things that we don't understand from God, let's not give up and walk away as so many of the disciples did.  Christ has the "words of eternal life" (verse 68, same chapter).  He *never* gets it wrong.  Let's trust him, talk to him, listen and learn, and give ourselves time to understand God's perspective.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ephesians 4:20-25

"But ye have not so learned Christ;
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another."
Ephesians 4:20-25

This is a good reminder that Christ teaches us to be new people.  If we have been bad in the past, let's change... put off the old person, and become the new person.  Let go of that past, not let it dictate who we are now.  It sounds almost like a change of clothing in these verses. :)  Put off the old man, put on the new man.  It is probably a little harder than that, but it is a good analogy.  We often play roles in life, acting different ways around different people.  And now God is asking us to throw away some of those roles that we play... put them off, leave the costumes in the dust.  And play a new role... the good guy.  With the white hat, you know?  And the goal of course, is that as we play this new role that it will soak in... that it won't be a role at all eventually.  It will be us.  With our real, deep, and newly inherent desire to do good and not evil.  To love and not hate.  Today, let's put on the new man or woman and work at becoming that good person... inside and out.  Let's tell the truth to each other, because we are all part of each other... a community.  A family.  With God as our Father.  There are so many distractions in this life, but that is what matters in the end.  You and me.  All of us together, with God.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ether 12:27-28 -- On Weakness and Improvement

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me--the fountain of all righteousness."
Ether 12:27-28

This is scary and beautiful at the same time.  I don't know if we always want to know our weaknesses, and sometimes our earthly relationships are based, at least in part, on avoiding talking about them.  We want our friends to support us and not mention the bad parts.  God tells us.  I actually think that this makes him a better friend than all the rest, and a better teacher, and a better parent. 

In order to improve, we *have* to know what we're really bad at.  And God, our most trustworthy and loving friend, will tell us the truth.  But not just that, not just call us out and tell us we're bad at something.  He'll then jump in with us and figure out how to get better at it... even how to turn it into a strength.  So, scary at the beginning, and beautiful all the way through, as we are first scared to know our failings, but then we learn and grow and fill in the holes and smooth the rough patches, and become more whole and pure and perfect than we could ever imagine. 

Sometimes we define ourselves by our weaknesses through labels.  We avoid things and just say "oh, I'm bad at that."  I think it is cool that if we're willing to put in the effort, God can help us turn those things around.

The second verse here is cool because it follows up on the first and tells us how to come unto him. Faith, hope, and charity.  And I love the comparison of God to a fountain, not just filled with righteousness, but displaying it and offering it to everyone in a beautiful way.  The source of all good.  Who else could we go to to turn around our bad parts? :)  Today, let's go unto God.  Let's find out our weaknesses, scary as it is, and then work with God to turn them around.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Exodus 20:17

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's."
Exodus 20:17

So, one of the ten commandments today.  To covet something is to want something inordinately... so much so that you could be willing to commit sin to have it.  The saying "I would kill to have that" takes on a whole new meaning in that context, eh?  I think that we all want different things in life.  Three wishes, a b'zillion dollars, perfect health, nice car, maybe some adulation or fame, mansion, private island, family, top of the line computer, power, whatever. :)  Hopefully we also want a good relationship with God, to be better people, to be truly good, etc.  The problem doesn't come in just wanting those things.  I'd really like to have a donut right now.  The problem comes when I want something so much that it displaces other things in my life.  Do I want that donut more than I want God in my life?  Am I willing to steal it, or to cheat a little kid to get it?  Will I bankrupt myself because I am obsessed with donuts and I need more and more and more of them, even when they are just piling up and are more than I could possibly eat in a lifetime?  When the object is donuts, it sounds pretty silly... but when it is whatever our obsession is, we stop thinking it is silly and we start to justify it. :) We argue that we really NEED the house or the shoes or the LEGOs, the extra-marital relationship, the alternative lifestyle, the money.  The drugs make us feel good, the food gives comfort, the whatever it is is important in whatever way because after all, Joe-Bob next door, or at work, or on television has it.  Not fair.  We need it too. :)  All of these things, and more, are so easy to let get out of proportion.  What are we really willing to do for the grade, or the promotion?  For the raise, for the part, for the job?  And here, God warns us.  He's already told us not to do those other more active sins like stealing and adultery.  And this is one of the ways how.  Don't let those desires get out of control.  Don't let them control us and what we choose to do.  Today, let's listen.  Let's work on being satisfied and happy in the lives that we have, and being grateful for the blessings that we are given, rather than lusting after someone else's life.  Let's ask God for what we need, but never displace him and his central role in our lives with the desire for something else.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Acts 3:19-21

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
Acts 3:19-21

I really like this.  Repentance is important, conversion is important... why?  Repentance is kind of like retaking a class.  We didn't learn it the first time, so we need to go back, take it slower, fix the mistakes we made the first time, and get it.  It brings us back to where we should be, ready to study something else, or build on a more solid foundation of knowledge.  Conversion isn't just "converting" to a religion, but actually converting yourself... changing yourself.  To go along with the school analogy, you re-took the class, and now you need to change yourself... your study habits, your knowledge of the subject, because you are trying to change yourself into something... a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher... a person who has mastered all of these lessons and is now ready to engage in a new career.  It's similar to what we're trying to do in the gospel.  We need to convert ourselves into the kind of people that we want to be.  Not only repenting of the bad things we've done or trying to repair the times we've hurt others, but changing our thought patterns and our desires so that we don't repeat those same mistakes, and so that we don't want to do evil anymore.  ... And if we do those things, then the bad stuff will be eradicated from our lives as much as we can, and God will be able to send Christ to us to erase the last bits we couldn't reach, and comfort us, guide us with the spirit, and refresh us in other ways... we'll be in tune with him and able to feel that help that he has for us.  I love the idea of the restitution of all things too.  Everything that was lost will be found again.  Everything that we had will be restored.  And who we were, and how we acted.  Which is why we needed these verses in the first place.  Do we really want to be who we are now for eternity?  Not that we aren't pretty cool right now, but I'm guessing we could all still use some work. :)  And so we repent, and we continue to convert ourselves, and we become who we really want to be, with the help of Christ.  Today, let's retake those classes.  Let's become the doctor or the teacher or whatever we've always dreamed of being.  Let's not drop out of school, physically or spiritually, but continue until we are who we can be, with God's help.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2 Nephi 9:21

"And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam."
2 Nephi 9:21

I think the whole idea of Christ suffering for us is an amazing one.  Not because I am glad he had to suffer, but because through suffering the pains of all of us, he knows us on a very deep level.  Christ has actually walked in our shoes, and felt what we feel.  He understands us better than anyone else can.  God is never, ever out of tune with the world.  He knows each of us intimately enough to know our deepest pains, and because of that, he knows how to comfort us, and how to guide us into happiness and peace.  God came here to save us, and we need to be saved.  None of us is perfect.  We all suffer pain, often self-inflicted through poor choices.  Today, let's hearken to his voice.  Let's stop resisting God and thinking that he doesn't know us or understand our situation.  He does.  Instead, let's invite him into our lives, and work with him on how to solve our problems and find joy. :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Matthew 23:23

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."
Matthew 23:23

This is a pretty harsh scripture, directed to some of the groups within the church at the time of Christ.  I think it helps us remember how easy it is to take God and the church for granted.  We can start taking the social or cultural aspects of the gospel more seriously than the spiritual, and find ourselves wanting to impress other people rather than God.  God doesn't need our tithes, and he isn't impressed by our clothing.  Tithing exists to teach us to sacrifice in order to help others... teaching us more about living in a Zion community.  And we shouldn't leave that undone. :)  But the things that God really cares about are our internal values, and the work that we are doing there.  Today, let's consider the weightier matters, and start working on our internal issues, not just the external. :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Moses 6:55-56 -- On Sin and Self-Mastery

"And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment."
Moses 6:55-56

This is interesting.  I don't think that "conceived in sin" means at all that sex is inherently evil.  I think it probably just means that we're conceived in mortal bodies, and our bodies (the "natural man") have desires that conflict with our spiritual natures.  That is why Paul talks to the Corinthians in the new Testament about mastering ourselves. 

We have to learn to control these bodies... that's part of what we came to earth to learn.  Another part of it is just to "prize the good" as the rest of the verse says.  If we didn't experience tough things in our lives, we wouldn't know how to appreciate things when they aren't as tough.  And we wouldn't learn some of the things that we need to, in order to become more like God.

The second verse reminds us how much God values our free agency.  We have mastery over our own wills.  He never, ever forces us.  He warns us, and he reminds us... and if we listen, that is usually enough.  But sometimes we don't listen, and we go our own way, and make life a lot tougher on ourselves.

Today, let's listen to God, and learn to master our bodies and our desires.  Let's learn from him how to do that, and practice safe free agency. :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

John 16:33

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

This is great.  It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ("We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;").  Life definitely isn't perfect, even on days when you think that you've done your absolute best.  And, as Christ promises the apostles in the selection, in the world we will have tribulation.  But in the same verse, and practically in the same breath, God also promises them peace and tells them to be of good cheer.  Just the fact that those things can exist at the same time boggles our minds a little.  You mean, life can stink and we can still be happy and at peace?  And God says yes.
Easier said than done, right?  Yes, but God also gives us abundant hints, here and elsewhere in the scriptures as to how. :)  In HIM we can have peace.  That's a good hint.  Focusing on Christ, remembering God all the time.  And similar to that "be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."  Remembering that everything we face, ever... even death, even the worst spiritual darkness... Christ has faced, and overcome.  His triumph is our hope.  Even when things are falling apart and everything seems to be going wrong, God is still shining a bright beacon of hope down on us, showing us the way, helping us learn how to see around, and even remove, our self-imposed blinders of depression or despair.  Life is never so bleak that God can't make it better.  No moment is ever so hopeless that there is no good to be found.  God is always there.
Today, let's remember that we can find peace and hope amidst the tribulation.  Let's look to God for comfort and patience in suffering.  He will lighten our burdens, and he will help us to find happiness even through the darkest times.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jacob 4:4-5

"For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.
Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son."
Jacob 4:5

I like this explanation.  The reason for so much of what we do is to point our souls to Christ.  The scriptures are full of people, throughout history, who believed and led exceptional lives, trusting in God, and making offerings to him... at first through the law of Moses, and then after Christ fulfilled that law, offering instead broken hearts and contrite spirits, or as it asks in the book of Omni, "offer your whole souls as an offering unto him."  The notion of pointing your soul to Christ, or offering your soul to him is what all of this is about.  It's like the test of Abraham.  He committed to God in the first place in order to get away from human sacrifice... and God needed to show him that his commitment was deeper than that.  It requires everything... not just everything *except* the one thing we are most afraid of.  We can never just go through the motions... commitment to God is not shallow.  It's body, and mind, and heart, and soul.  Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.  We start out with just part of ourselves committed sometimes, but if we don't follow that up and finish the work, then that kind of partial dedication just causes internal war, and lots of pain.  And when we're in that kind of pain it is really easy to leave God behind entirely, thinking that is the way to solve the internal conflict.  And it does, to a very small extent.  But this is God... the desire of our hearts.  The source of our truest joy.  And letting him go causes us pain in a completely different and more desolate way.  Instead, we have to follow the path to its conclusion.
Commitment to God is a commitment to change, a commitment to dedicate everything, down to our last desire.  If there is something within us that doesn't fit God's plan, does that mean that we aren't meant to follow him?  Absolutely not.  We commit to God and become new creatures, and everything about us changes.  We don't have to have an internal war.  We don't have to hate ourselves or even part of ourselves.  We have to *change* ourselves... be reborn.  More than being baptized, it is that mighty change of heart that it talks about in Alma 5:14.  It is tempting sometimes to think that God will make an exception for us, out of love.  And he does love us, so much... but it doesn't work that way.  We're the children.  We're here to learn and change.  He's already perfect.  He knows that we can't function as adults with these kinds on internal conflicts, and we have to resolve them.  We have to adapt to God's definition of good, rather than trying to change the definitions so that we can keep souvenirs of our old selves.  And that happens through all of this... pointing our souls to God rather than pointing them elsewhere.  Conversion, and that mighty change of heart.
And that change, internally and externally, is something that we need every single day.  As Alma 5:26 asks, "Can ye feel so now?"  Today, if we haven't had that mighty change, let's talk to God about it, and be willing to change even our hearts for him.  And if we have, let's think about whether our hearts are still changed today, and renew our commitment to God.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Zephaniah 3:7-9

"I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.
Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.
For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."
Zephaniah 3:7-9

In these verses it is talking about the last days/Second Coming period, and it talks about God's perspective a little.  That he didn't want to cut people off, and he tried to teach them, reason with them, punish them... whatever he could to get them to learn and change.  And no matter what God did, they just kept corrupting everything.  And so the destruction at the Second Coming has to happen... because society doesn't function when everyone is corrupt.  It says "all the earth shall be devoured" which sounds really scary and apocalyptic.  But then, there are people left, because God goes on to talk about them... the people that remain, they will have a pure language (maybe like the reverse of the Tower of Babel story?  We will all suddenly speak the same language and be able to communicate with each other?).  And not only one language, but one people... united in serving the Lord.  And how amazing will that be?  I can't even imagine.  The whole world united... all the really hardcore evil wiped away, allowing the good, or at least less evil... the ones that are still willing to listen and to change... to start again, to build something without fighting constant corruption.  That is an amazing opportunity... kind of like the people in the Americas when Christ appeared to them.  They had gone through terrible devastation, and loss of so much of their population, and then after Christ's visit, they lived in peace for generations.
Now, obviously, kids, don't try this at home.  We're not God, and generally people who try to "cleanse" others on this earth as mortals are in the classification of truly evil.  God created us, and he can make those decisions, as the only one that really knows when people are corrupt enough to be past saving, and who loves them enough to never rob them of every chance possible.  For our part, we are to love everyone and to build Zion using inclusion, persuasion, and education. :)  And hopefully into the far future those things will continue to work.  I think that most people are hungry for the truth.  But it is also good to know that in that future, when most people's hearts are hardened... that God will save the righteous and not let the bad overcome the good completely.  Moroni had to witness a society that was almost all corrupt, and see them destroy each other and everything he cared about.  This time, that won't happen.  We live in a time with a guaranteed happy ending.  Today, let's receive instruction and be good, so that we can be part of it. :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Matthew 10:29-31 -- On Our Value to God

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
Matthew 10:29-31

I think that we underestimate how involved God is in our lives... and in everything.  If he pays attention to every sparrow, then he is definitely not ignoring us.  And if the very hairs of our head are all numbered... that's definitely more involved and caring about our lives than even we are.  My hair falls out all the time... gets tangled in the vacuum cleaner sometimes.  I don't much care about it.  But God does.  And so I know that if my body dies and my hair and everything is lost, God will know how to restore it... perfectly... in the resurrection.  I don't know my body that well, but he will.  And I think that is true of a lot of things in our lives.  We don't always know ourselves or our emotions well.  We don't always understand why we react a certain way or why we do what we do... but God does. 

Later in this chapter it also says "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."  I think sometimes the more we try to understand ourselves, the more lost we get.  But as we try to understand God, and follow him, and trust him, the more we really understand ourselves and what we truly are, without forcing it or latching on to this or that external label of who we should be.  God knows us, all the way through, down to numbering the hairs of our heads.  Today, let's trust him with ourselves.  No more fighting with him about who we are... instead, let's listen, and learn, and become more than we could ever be alone.  We are more valuable to him than we can comprehend.  He isn't going to get it wrong; I promise.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ether 4:8-12

"And he that will contend against the word of the Lord, let him be accursed; and he that shall deny these things, let him be accursed; for unto them will I show no greater things, saith Jesus Christ; for I am he who speaketh.
And at my command the heavens are opened and are shut; and at my word the earth shall shake; and at my command the inhabitants thereof shall pass away, even so as by fire.
And he that believeth not my words believeth not my disciples; and if it so be that I do not speak, judge ye; for ye shall know that it is I that speaketh, at the last day.
But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.
And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good; he that will not believe my words will not believe me—that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world."
Ether 4:8-12

In this chapter Moroni tells us that he wrote all the things that were revealed to the Brother of Jared, and that he was commanded to seal that part of the record, and then these verses.  And I know that this selection seems harsh at first, but imagine God trying to talk to all of his children at once... or even just us individually, during our whole lives.  We've all needed some harshness at times.  We've all been lost.  As we read about the revelations of the Brother of Jared, we want to know what he saw, and here God says he won't let us read it.  Why?  Because we're not even ready to accept the writings that we already have.  Sure, perhaps sometimes individually... but not as a people.  Not as a community.  And so, as a group, we're cursed to not receive greater things.
In the fourth verse of the selection we learn that individually, God will visit us with the manifestation of his spirit if we do believe these things... and then we'll know, and the more of us who read and believe, and find out, the more, as a community, we'll be ready for more.
Some people argue that they would believe if they had more evidence... if they had the vision of the Brother of Jared, or if God came down to let them know.  And God, here, tells us that if we can't believe this, that we'll talk ourselves out of that as well.  Revelation isn't about the magnitude of the evidence, but about listening to the spirit, and accepting it when it speaks to us.  We can get just as strong a witness of truth from God from reading the scriptures and talking about them with him as we could if he sent an angel, or struck us dumb.  Those things happened to Laman and Lemuel (angel) and Korihor (struck deaf and mute), and they didn't change who they were.  Again, accepting the witness of the Spirit about what we have will prepare us for more. :)
I love the part that says that anything that persuadeth people to do Good is of God. :)  There is so much good in the world.  People and groups that are helping others and persuading others to do good.  Today, let's be thankful for the amazing knowledge that we've already been given, and embrace it.  Let's also look for the evidence of God in the world, all around us, persuading people to do good.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

John 10:14-16

"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."
John 10:14-16

This is the end of a parable that Jesus tells in this chapter.  It starts out talking about the difference between a hired servant and a shepherd... that the sheep don't recognize the voice of a servant, and also that a hireling will run away when he sees he is in danger, but that a shepherd will give his life for his sheep.  And in these verses Christ explains that he is the good shepherd in the story.  He knows us, and we know him... we recognize his voice when he talks to us through the spirit.  And Christ didn't run away when he was in danger, but he gave his life for us.  And he continued his work, and visited other people, and we are all his fold, and under his care.  ... I'm not sure that being compared to sheep is very flattering, but in other parables we are compared to olive trees and in other verses we are chickens, or compared unfavorably to dust... so, you know. :)  Any analogy can be taken too far, but the point here is that God has never been a stranger to us.  We know him from before this life, and when we encounter his spirit here, we recognize it.  And because of that relationship that we have with him, because we are (voluntarily) his... he gave his life for us.  He also regained his life for us, and made new life possible for all of us.  And he gathers us together as a fold, or a church... where we can work towards perfection together.  Today, let's listen to and remember God's voice.  And then let's work on being united.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Isaiah 1:2-5

"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint."
Isaiah 1:2-5

God doesn't want us to suffer.  In these verses I think that he makes that very clear.  God wants us to flourish and grow... and he does all he can (without taking away our free agency) to make that happen.  Even animals respect the fact that they are taken care of, but we usually instead resent it, and symbolically kind of spit in his face.  ... And then we're surprised or upset when the natural consequences of our actions occur.  We walked away from God... and now he isn't taking care of us anymore?  And somehow we think it is all God's fault. :)
Later in the chapter, God asks us to come back and reason with him... that he can help us make things better.  We don't need to be stricken anymore and make ourselves sick... all we have to do is calm down, stop having a tantrum, and start talking to our Father.  Today, let's try to stop rebelling against God's kind and patient care for us, and try to talk to him about how we feel.  He's our father.  He'll understand.  And he'll know how to help.

Friday, April 12, 2013

1 Nephi 8:10-12

"And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted.  Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit."
1 Nephi 8:10-12

I've written about these verses before, but wanted to again today because they reminded me how precious God's love is in our lives.  I think that we all experience to one degree or another what Lehi experienced in this dream.  We find ourselves walking in darkness, and it is sad and desolate and we feel lost and incomplete.  And we're desperate to find a way to happiness and wholeness.  And in those moments, if we ask, God shows us the way out.  In Lehi's dream, it is represented by a tree, and in our lives we see it different ways, but it is always the way to God.  The way to wholeness, and happiness, and peace.  Later in the dream we see a lot of other things... people refusing to come, people being ashamed after they do come, and wandering back into the darkness... but here, in this moment, Lehi tastes the fruit and knows that it is the best thing that he has ever had, and he wants to share it with everyone, because it is that good. :)  ... That's the moment to remember.  Back before we start doubting and double-thinking, before we start listening to other people telling us how stupid we are for being religious... before we start thinking that we know best again. :)  That moment where we were broken and God picked us back up and put us back together... better than we were before.
God can make everything better, and happier, and fill all the cracks, and heal our hearts.  Tasting what he offers to us is better than anything that we could ever think up for ourselves.  What he can make of us is better than anything that we could ever be alone.  Today, let's remember the sweetness and perfection of what he offers us, and let's run to him, and never leave.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Luke 5:12-13

"And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him."
Luke 5:12-13

This strikes me today, not because Christ made someone clean, but because of the man's faith in the first place to believe that Christ could.  I think that we have a hard time with that sometimes... believing that Christ can make us clean... from sickness or sin, or sorrow.  We have this idea in our heads that Christ is amazing and perfect and awesome, but that we're stuck the way we are, that we can't change, that parts of us are just static and there isn't anything that anyone can do about it.  We're incurable.  ... And the thing is, we aren't.  None of us.  We all have the ability and power, through Christ, to change and become whoever we want to be.  We just have to do as this man did, and have the faith to ask for it.  It isn't always instantaneous, like this healing seems.  We have a lot to learn by the things that we go through in this life, and we need to learn those lessons.  But as we ask Christ to intervene in our lives and make us clean, it does, and will, happen... as soon as we are ready for it.  He'll help us learn how to change ourselves, and change the parts that we can't.
In this verse the man states that Christ is able to heal him if he is willing.  And it appears that it was Christ's choice to do so and make this whole thing happen.  But the thing is... Christ is ALWAYS willing.  The choice is actually happening on our side... to believe that he can do it, and ask for his intervention in our lives.  Today, let's believe, and ask God to help us to be clean.

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