Thursday, October 31, 2013

Deuteronomy 18:9-12

"When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee."
Deuteronomy 18:9-12

Some good things to remember today.  Even though dressing up in costumes is fun, and it is enjoyable also to read fantasy novels or play games about idealized magic that can change the world for the better, let's not take ourselves too seriously.  God is the source of our personal power to change our lives, and he can help us influence the lives of others for good as well. :)  God can do amazing things, and I am sure that we have the ability to learn those things... but maybe we should pass a few more grade levels before we jump into graduate studies. :)  Looking to other sources for various kinds of power or the ability to speak with the dead or see the future is just distraction from the real source, who will always guide us in wisdom and never scare us needlessly. :) 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Isaiah 55:1-3

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
Isaiah 55:1-3

Sometimes I think we get amazingly distracted by how the world looks at things.  We value only the tactile, and assume that what we have to pay the most money for is of the most worth.  And here, God points out our error in perception.  Using food as a metaphor for the gospel, he tells us that salvation is free.  We can come and feast upon God's words and have the things that matter the very most, without money, and without price... essentially priceless. :)
God asks why we spend money on things that aren't gospel-centered and that have no worth (compare 2 Nephi 9:50-51), and why we work on things that don't have the ability to satisfy us.  And he urges us to instead eat what is good, and to let our souls delight in fatness. :)  Essentially, to feast on the gospel and not feel like we have to stop until our souls are satisfied to overflowing. :) 
God offers to make a covenant with us... each of us... if we will listen, and come unto him.  He promises that our souls will live... which is a good promise, and worth an agreement with the Lord. :)
Today, let's think about this.  Are we spending money on things that have no worth?  Are we laboring for things that don't have the ability to satisfy us?  And are we valuing all of these things that money can buy as more valuable than the gospel... which God offers to us without price?  Are we feeding our bodies and letting our souls starve?   And if so, to any extent, let's take God up on his offer... let's listen, draw near to him, and commit to all that he asks, in return for eternal life.  ... Not a bad deal. :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Psalms 4:4-5

"Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord."
Psalms 4:4-5

 I like this.  It is kind of like saying "peace, be still," but now with even more good advice. :)  Part of getting to know God is getting to know ourselves, and communing with our own hearts is good, as we are learning to understand ourselves, this world, and our relationship with all of it.  The sacrifices of righteousness... broken heart, contrite spirit.  Sometimes it feels like a sacrifice too, when we're trading what we want now for what is good for us and will make us happier long-term.  But I think that in actual fact, the sacrifices of righteousness are much, much less than the sacrifices that we would have to make pursuing unrighteousness.  That pursuit leads us to losing the very things that matter most... our relationship with God, our own souls... even our mental well-being.  It's hard to hold it together when we're trying to live one way and our souls yearn for another.
Today, let's do more standing in awe.  No sinning.  And let's work on figuring ourselves out.  Let's offer the sacrifices of righteousness in order to avoid the sacrifices of wickedness.  God will see us through it all... and we'll be better and happier for it in the end.  Let's be still and trust in him.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Micah 7:7-9

"Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.
I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness."
Micah 7:7-9

 I really like these verses.  The "when I fall, I shall arise" part especially.  This is what faith is.  We can't be perfect today.  We can get closer than yesterday, but we're still going to fall short.  Faith is still trying.  Faith is trying until someday, we get it.  Just like learning to walk, or read, or ride a bike.  We can't be perfect at anything the first time we try... but if we keep at it, and keep trying, then we *will* learn it, and it will get easier. :)  We have the opportunity to come to this Earth and to learn, not because God is expecting us never to fall down... but because in falling down, we learn, and one of the things that we learn is how to stand up again, and how to continue despite hardships.
It takes humility to get back up sometimes... to admit our failures and try again.  But it also takes courage and bravery and heroism.  To let go of the need to look good in favor of the desire to BE good.
Today, let's look unto the Lord. :)  Our God will hear us.  And if we fall, let's get back up and keep following him to the light.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 130:18

"Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection."
Doctrine and Covenants 130:18

 This is interesting just in terms of what we pay attention to in this life.  Too often we get distracted by prestige or power or money.  Or toys. :)  So many things that can distract us.  But there are very few things that we can take with us when we move beyond this life:  Relationships/love, ordinances like baptism or sealing/marriage, and education/knowledge.  Sad to say, the job will go away, the car will rust, the house will fall down, and even the LEGOs will end up in a land fill somewhere.  I'm as sad about it as you are. :)   But the good side is that we know it, and we can adjust our priorities to focus on the things that are going to matter forever.
Today, we don't want to just blow off our shorter-term responsibilities, of course... but let's be mindful of what things are going to last, and start now, adjusting our lives so that we spend more time on the things that matter.  Let's develop relationships with people that are honest and open, get an education and learn all we can about ourselves and the world around us...  And let's make sure that we have our ordinances taken care of and that we're still worthily living up to those agreements with the Lord. :)
Let's spend a lot of time getting to know God, and how he thinks and how he works.  I think that will be the most valuable of all. :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Moses 7:29-31

"And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;
And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?"
Moses 7:29-31

This is an interesting question from Enoch to the Lord.  And it's a good one, at least from our perspective.  It is hard to see the immensity of God's creations and to see from our minute perspective how he could weep over us.  God answers him, and he explains that we are the work of his hands, and he gave us agency in the Garden of Eden, and knowledge, and taught them to love each other and to choose him... but that they "hate their own blood" and are "without affection.  He explains what will happen if they choose evil, and ends with "wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?"  It's God, and the immensity of that idea and his reality is mind-blowing... but I think we can still relate.  Whether it is children, or siblings, or friends, we all have watched people make choices that we know will harm them.  Watched them walk into situations that we know will cause them pain, and that will be harder to extricate themselves from than they understand up front.  But they demand the right to make the choice, even when we try to warn them.  ... It's a hard thing to watch.  Add to that, for God, the fact that he *could* stop it if he chose to.  Fathers on Earth threaten to lock up their kids forever to protect them... God could actually do it.  But he doesn't because he promised us our freedom to choose, and he won't make us slaves.  So, he *still* has to watch us make unbelievably poor choices that will hurt us.
Luckily, of course, things aren't bad all the time, and we know that in the end God will make everyone as happy as it is possible for them to be, while still respecting their choices.  And God can see the happy ending that we can't see... yet he still weeps for us.  For our pain, even when it is temporary.  It is hard for us to fathom in our limitations, but God loves each of us individually, and has a knowledge of and a relationship with us all as his unique, individual children.  I'm not sure why we usually imagine to ourselves a God with weaknesses and limitations.  Maybe because we have them, and so we ascribe them to everyone.  God though, is without weakness or externally-imposed limitation.  And so, even though there are so many of us, we are neither lost in the crowd nor overlooked by him.  And despite his overwhelming power, he is not distracted by hunger for power or too many things to accomplish.  His work *is* us, as our lives are so much about our relationship with him.
Today, let's look to God.  Let's give him a chance in our lives... to get through our walls, to really speak to us.  Let's listen, and consider, and work on making decisions that won't harm us in the long run.  Let's try to avoid making the heavens weep over us... and instead build a relationship with a lot less potential for regret. :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Zechariah 14:9

"And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one."
Zechariah 14:9

 I was reading this verse and it struck me how utterly amazing this will be.  Not just because Christ will return... this chapter talks about some great stuff.  God's feet on the Mount of Olives and valleys being created before our eyes, and living waters... so much.  And God uniting the governments of the Earth is also pretty cool.  But think about the whole "there shall be one Lord" part.  In this world of ours we worship so differently, and so diversely.  Even people who are of the same religion often have very diverse views about who God is and how to follow him.  And yet, here, at this time, there shall be one Lord, and his name one.  Everyone is going to know God, and who he is, and we're going to be united in having the same spiritual foundation for our belief.  ... I think that is amazing.  Sometimes it is so hard to talk about things now, because we can't get through just the first level of meaning without running into disparate views, and it is almost impossible to get down into the more interesting layers of how it works and how cool it is. :)  In *that* day, we're going to be able to have such awesome conversations. :)  And it just makes me grin to think that everyone will know God.  It makes such a difference in my life, just to know the smallest part that I know, and to feel his love.  It will be overwhelmingly cool when everyone has that. :)  ... Just the idea of a world where everyone knows God... the same God.  The same gospel.  Everything will change.  ... In a good way. :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Romans 12:15

"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."
Romans 12:15

 I like this.  It's clear and simple and it embraces appropriate emotion.  To be good people, we don't have to banish emotion from our lives.  We just have to tame it a little, right? :)  We shouldn't be laughing at other people's misfortunes, and we shouldn't be sad when other people prosper. :)  Instead, we should care about each other as siblings and friends... when something good happens to any of them, we should rejoice with them naturally.  And when something bad happens, we should mourn with them, and help them through it.
Today, let's try not to let anyone be outside our circle of people we can empathize with.  Let's care about other people and do what we can for them.  Let's be real, honest, and sincere... not hiding our emotion, but sharing in other's joys and griefs appropriately. :)  We know that love can change the world... but it can also change just today.  Just this moment.  This hour... this interaction.  Let's enlarge our hearts a little and make the difference. :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mark 4:3-9

"Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
Mark 4:3-9

The parable of the sower. :)  I love parables so much. :)  And one of the best things about this one is that Christ interprets it for the disciples right in this same chapter... so no murky meanings or hard-to-find application.  The sower soweth the word, and sometimes we start out strong in the Gospel, and then give up on it.  Sometimes we don't care for ourselves spiritually, and we forget... sometimes we let other things get in the way.  And sometimes we do care about what we've been given, and nurture it until it grows abundantly... blessing not only our lives, but the lives of so many others.  Good stuff.  When I was reading it today though, what struck me isn't how scared I was of any of these scenarios... although they definitely can be scary when we are there.  I think what scares me more though is being part of the story in a different way.  Actually being the thorns, the birds, the stones in the ground, or the scorching sun.  Getting in the way of someone else's faith.  Being an obstacle or an impediment to someone else feeling the spirit.  Setting a horrible example and being the excuse that anyone uses to leave the church, or to stop talking to God.  ... Obviously people have personal responsibility for their actions, and I am not trying to take anyone's responsibility for his or her own life and hand it to another... but at the same time, we definitely affect each other, and I would hate so much to be the pit that someone else fell into or the painful lesson at the center of someone else's hardest moment.
Today, as we're trying to avoid the rocks and the birds and make sure that our testimonies are healthy and growing... let's make sure that we are also nurturing and loving the people around us.  Let's not be the thorn in anyone's day, or life, or connection with God.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mosiah 12:1

"And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying—Abinadi, go and prophesy unto this my people, for they have hardened their hearts against my words; they have repented not of their evil doings; therefore, I will visit them in my anger, yea, in my fierce anger will I visit them in their iniquities and abominations."
Mosiah 12:1

This is great.  Abinadi needs to go back and prophesy to the people, but the King had ordered his people to take/arrest him if they saw him.  So, he goes in disguise, so they don't know him on sight, but he uses his name in the prophecy. :)  The disguise got him in enough to listen, but he was still scrupulously honest. :)  Of course, the people don't like anyone telling them that they need to repent, and so they take him to the King anyway... saying, this guy is lying.  We're righteous, and we know the king is righteous, so let's lock him up. :)  And they do, and they eventually kill him... but not before he has the chance to convert one person, who sets in motion huge changes in their society.
I was thinking about the whole idea of if we do good to others it is like doing good to Christ, and if we don't, it is like not providing for Christ if he were in need, and I wonder if it is more than just in giving or providing for the needs of people.  I wonder if we listen when the prophet tells us something, it is like listening directly to God, and if we don't listen, it is like ignoring God.  Which then reminds me of the end of D&C 1:38: "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."
And if these things are similar, then the disguise doesn't matter at all, right?  It didn't matter who was under there speaking the words of God... it is as though God himself were in disguise, talking to us and telling us to repent.  And even though hopefully we aren't going to burn the prophets to death, as they did to Abinadi, in a lot of ways we're in the same situation.  We've hardened our hearts and refused to repent... and yet we still think that things are peachy, and we don't want anyone telling us otherwise. :)
Today, let's listen to God when he talks to us, in whatever guise he appears.  If it is the scriptures, the conference talks, or some direct conversation through prayer... none of them much of a disguise at all, because we know that God speaks to us in all of these ways, and others.  And let's let go of our need to seem cool in front of others, and admit our faults.  Let's do as God asks and repent, and change, and make those adjustments in our lives, and soften our hearts... so God doesn't have to send someone to warn us anymore.  Maybe if we get through our thick shells and start learning the basics, we can eventually get to the cool things like walking on water 101. :)  I'm still taking kindness 101 and remedial humility of course, but I'm hoping to get there someday. :)  Let's listen. :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Isaiah 41:10

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
Isaiah 41:10

This is cool... and it kind of makes me think that the more faith we have, the less fear we have about life in general.  Not that nothing bad will happen.  Bad things happen to everyone, and they are part of the life experiences that we need to go through... we need to learn to  deal with hardships as well as prosperity. :)  I think the idea of faith is that even when things are bad, we *still* know that God is in charge, and that everything will work out.  Like when you read a book by a favorite author.  If you know the author well enough, you know how far he will go with the characters and whether there will be a happy ending.  And with God, there is no doubt that there will be a happy ending, and even though he allows us to get ourselves into big messes, he always is there, willing to help, and if we want it, he knows how to write us through the difficulties and on to that happy ending.
As we grow up, I think sometimes we give up on happy endings.  We think they are just for kids, and in the "real" world, things don't work that way.  But even though it is true that we have to face some adult decisions and take more responsibility for live... it doesn't mean that we have to lose hope or faith, or creativity and wonder. :)  There is so much still out there in life to enjoy, to see, and to hope for.  We do ourselves a disservice when we allow ourselves to lose hope or become dismayed.  God is there.  And he *will* strengthen us, and help us, and hold us up when we need it.  We don't have to be afraid of the future, or worry about the ending.  We just need to focus on learning and growing and becoming the better, kinder people that God knows we can be.  If we live the adventure well, helping others and trusting him, God will deliver the happy ending, right on time... and now, with even more happiness. ;)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Luke 24:31

"And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight."
Luke 24:31

This scripture is part of the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  Christ walks with them, opens the scriptures to them, and they don't realize that it is actually him until this point.  It reminds me also of Elisha in Kings 6 where Elisha says "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them," and then prays so that God will open his eyes that he can see the chariots of fire sent by God.  All of these things, and other things in our own lives... don't they beg the question: how much are we not seeing?  Maybe a lot.  I think sometimes God tries to talk to us, and we're too wrapped up in other things to pay attention.  And sometimes God sends us a solution or the answer to our prayers, and we risk missing it because we're too far from the spirit.
Today, let's pray for God to open our eyes, so that we can see his hand in our lives.  Let's stay close to the spirit, and pay attention to the things of God more than the things of man.  I think if we try it, we'll see a lot more, and more clearly.  And maybe we'll find some blessings that we've been missing.  Or a friendship we may have overlooked.  Maybe we'll realize that if we're paying attention, there are more opportunities and answers.  There is more protection and comfort... and happiness... than we've been tapping into.  Let's open our eyes, and reach out to others.  Life is a lot less scary than it seems to be.  God is on our side. :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Romans 12:9-10

"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;"
Romans 12:9-10

The idea that love should be without dissimulation is a powerful one.  Dissimulation is basically when we hide who we are... our thoughts or feelings or something else important about ourselves.  It means that love shouldn't be an act, or a show.  It requires authenticity, honesty, trust, and self-revelation.  I think sometimes we understand this in romantic love, or occasionally in "best friend" type love, but less so with other kinds.  We have a hard time being honest with ourselves and with others... and because of those internal mental and emotional walls, sometimes we don't even talk about certain parts of ourselves even with God, who already knows. :) 
Today, let's think about those internal walls and see if we can start tearing some of them down... or at least stop building them higher. :)  Being internally partitioned like that harms us, especially when we're trying to hide things from ourselves just as much as anyone else.  We might fear self hatred, and the consequences of other people knowing the truth as well... but one thing God asks us is to "speak one with another concerning the welfare of [our] souls" (Moroni 6:5).  We can't do that very well if we have to hide from ourselves.  And how can we grow and learn and improve unless we get to the point where we can face and be honest about who we are right now?  ... It's okay, no matter what.  Whoever we are, whatever we desire, whatever we're done, or been, or thought.  ... If we face it, and own it... that is the first step to being able to love ourselves, and others, and to helping each other to change and grow and become who we want to be rather than who we are now.
Today, even if we can't be open with everyone, let's start with being open with God.  He already knows it, and he loves us anyway.  Let's start there, and talk about it.  And as we learn and change and develop more trust, maybe we'll get to the point where our love is without any dissimulation.  I imagine being able to be completely honest and authentic with everyone around us would be a lot less exhausting than trying to play our parts. :)  Let's make that a goal... mixed with kindness, of course. :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

2 Corinthians 8:13-14

"For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:"
2 Corinthians 8:13-14

I think this is interesting... that it isn't about suffering so that other people can prosper, but it is self-regulation, where we see that we have more than we need and we voluntarily offer it to people that don't have enough. Obviously, it doesn't always work that way, since we have free agency, but that's the Zion ideal. :)  And it is a great ideal... to get to a point where we all care about each other enough that we help each other voluntarily.
I think in our society we sometimes want to mandate kindness, or build generosity into the law.  I'm not sure how well that works.  Once we are forced to do it, it sort of loses its efficacy for our souls.  God's ideal is that we *choose* to love.  That we progress enough as individuals that we reject selfishness and learn to be kind. 
Today, as we ponder the needs of our brothers and sisters... let's not be satisfied with a law or a governmental program.  Let's learn how we can, of our abundance, be a supply for another's need.  And if they have something we lack and we can make a good trade, great.  But even if not, let's go out there and practice some generosity today.  Let's teach ourselves voluntary equality, and get that much closer to Zion.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 42:14

"And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach."
Doctrine and Covenants 42:14

 This is powerful.  I think that so many times we try to do things on our own.  We live, work, play, raise families... whatever it is, and we give little thought to God.  But this part about teaching... it applies to that, but also to much more.  We're teaching the people around us, every day.  And we're trying to do it alone, which is just plain crazy... since God offers us his help, freely.  Sometimes we don't think freely... we think it is a high cost.  But really, it just like sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher and saying that we aren't free to set our desks on fire.  Sure, we can... but it would make it pretty hard to learn, and what would be the point of that?  The whole reason we are in the classroom in the first place is to listen and learn and discover and experiment, with the teacher to guide us so we don't blow ourselves up.  We are free to get in the way of our own learning... but we can't listen to God as he helps us learn *and* destroy the classroom at the same time.
Really, there is very little that we actually should be doing without the spirit, except seeking the spirit. :)  And having the spirit means that we'll be more calm, more kind, or as Galatians 5:22 tells us, we'll feel more "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, [and] faith."  And think about if we had all of those things in more abundance in whatever we're doing.  Wow. :)
Today, let's avoid influencing other people if we don't have the spirit.  And, if we don't... let's do the work to get ourselves back there, on the same page with God.  First, God can help us put the fire in the desk out, and then we'll move on to the next step. :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Matthew 24:12

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."
Matthew 24:12

 It is interesting that love seems to freeze up in the presence of sin.  I wonder what we would be like if we didn't live in a world where there is so much betrayal and hatred.  ... It would probably be a lot easier to trust, and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is part of the whole not-freezing-up and caring about each other thing.
But we don't need to be the many that this verse talks about.  Today, instead of reacting to the external negative by becoming negative ourselves, let's trust anyway.  Let's love anyway.  Not saying it is easy... we've learned to build up walls, and insulate ourselves.  But let's go out there and be warm. :)  Let's work on our kindness and our sincerity as we get to know and to love the people around us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 -- On Respect and Obedience

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Our convenient footnotes tell us that "fear God" can be interpreted as "revere God."  I prefer that idea, personally.  I am sure that some people are motivated by fear, but it doesn't really seem like the way that God prefers to work to me.  He doesn't want us to be afraid of him... he wants us to love him.  And we should honor, respect, and revere him... worship him too.  But I think those things start with friendship and getting to know who our father is, and who we are in a relationship with him.

I like the simple part of this... it can all be summed up in respecting and revering God, and doing as he asks.  As we get to know God as our father, and realize that he only wants good for us, and is protecting us through the commandments from our own questionable choices, I think it becomes easier to recognize that obedience as what it is... not the power-hungry demand of a fascist dictator or a corrupt and greedy politician, but the earnest plea of a devoted and loving father... who, sure, has the ability to punish us, but absolutely NO desire to do so.

Everything that we do, and say, and think, and feel... even the stuff we want and try so badly to hide, it is all clear to God, and will all be known in the end.  Instead of trying to hide it, or gloss over it, or work around it... let's solve it.  With God's help, we can solve any problem in our lives.  We can change even our hearts... so things that we didn't care about, we can.  Things that we do care about that are bad for us, we can let go of and not be obsessed with anymore.  Let's team up with our father and give him the respect that he so deserves... by allowing him to help us out, to guide us in making some good choices.  By talking with him through prayer, reading his words through the scriptures, and remembering him every day.  Including today. :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Isaiah 40:1

"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God."
Isaiah 40:1

 I like this.  We all need comfort sometimes... and that is something that we can do for each other.  God offers comfort, but sometimes in our worst moments we aren't connected with him enough to feel it tangibly enough, and he needs us to help each other.  And maybe we won't always accept comfort from anyone... but sometimes we will.  Just knowing that someone cares can make a huge difference.  Today, let's be there for each other.  Offering comfort where needed, and also looking to God for comfort as we are able.  ... And let's also try to not offer discomfort.  We can save the pranks and the confrontation for another day.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Romans 8:24

"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?"
Romans 8:24

 I like this idea of being saved by hope.  I think that when we lose hope that we're usually in a very dark place in our lives... ready to give up.  All the futures that we can see are bleak, and we don't know our way out of the darkness.  And God is the light that shows us the way back.  Shining even in the deepest darkness, so that we can be saved.  And hope goes along with faith so much... we despair exactly because we think that we know what is coming, and it is all bad.  The fact that we don't really know what is coming is cool, because then we can still be surprised by hope, and light, and goodness in the midst of a sometimes shadowy world.  And after we see how God works enough, some of that hope becomes faith, that the light will still be there.  And after having faith for a while, then our hope and faith might even turn into confidence and knowledge... that God will always be there, caring about us and loving us even when it seems like no one else does... or even can.
Today, let's remember how much God loves us, even when things seem bleak.  Even when we've made horrible mistakes, and rebelled against God.  He will always be there, lighting the way home.  Let's trust him... and if we can't, then let's just catch that tiny spark of hope and use it to keep going until we're safe enough to do more.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 10:25-26

"Yea, he saith unto them: Deceive and lie in wait to catch, that ye may destroy; behold, this is no harm. And thus he flattereth them, and telleth them that it is no sin to lie that they may catch a man in a lie, that they may destroy him.
And thus he flattereth them, and leadeth them along until he draggeth their souls down to hell; and thus he causeth them to catch themselves in their own snare."
Doctrine and Covenants 10:25-26

This is interesting.  I think that we do this sometimes... think that we can lie if someone else is lying, or be cruel if someone else is being cruel.  That sort of thing.  These verses are when some of the pages that Joseph Smith had translated were stolen, and God is telling Joseph why he can't go back and translate them again... because they had been changed, and people were waiting to bring them forward and catch Joseph in a "mistranslation."  Luckily, or rather, of course... God had anticipated this issue, and provided a different solution.  After writing the abridgement of the events up to King Benjamin, Mormon found another record that was more detailed, and placed it with the abridgement (Words of Mormon 1:7).
Today, instead of thinking that we need to prove other people wrong through deceit, let's try to let it go... or at least leave it up to God.  He knows what he is doing, and he can solve even the most difficult problems, because he sees them coming and can always make a way out.  Let's worry about the state of our own souls, and make sure we aren't being dragged anywhere. :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Luke 12:35-38

"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants."
Luke 12:35-38

This is a powerful idea... that we always be ready for the Lord to return.  Powerful to think about just in terms of him returning to the earth, but when we think of it individually, of him coming to our houses, it might be even more so.  If we really do serve God, then as his servants shouldn't we be ready for him if he returns, even in the middle of the night?  Ready to jump up and make him a sandwich and see if there is anything he needs?  ... I think the only way we can get there is to always have the spirit... to get to the point where there is no down time in our communication network with the Lord.  Then, even if the spirit wakes us up at 3am for a knock on the door, we can run to greet the Lord and offer him anything we have.  And maybe it won't be at our houses, and maybe it won't be a sandwich that he needs... but let us be certain that the Lord will visit us, and he will need us to act on what he asks.  Let's be ready for that, so we don't sleep through it, or fumble it because we aren't listening.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Daniel 6:18-21

"Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever."
Daniel 6:18-21

This is part of the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den.  There are some parallels here to the story of Esther... in both, the king is tricked into condemning someone that he respects and loves because of the machinations and jealousies of the King's advisors.  In this case, the king, though working on it all day, is unable to find a way to save Daniel from his decree.  He worries about it all night... doesn't eat, doesn't sleep, and he runs to the den in the morning.  He must have had some slight hope that Daniel was still alive, but his lamentable voice makes it seem like he was equally expecting to find his trusted servant and friend dead.  And I love that Daniel is alive.  That it was God's will that he be saved and the plot to destroy him nullified through a miracle. :)  And I love that Daniel still shows respect for the king according to tradition instead of yelling to be set free. :)  He's calm.  ... And I look at that, and it is what I want.  I want to be able to be in scary situations or situations that would normally rattle anyone, and I want to be able to have that kind of faith.  To know that whatever God decides is okay, and right.  Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego... they knew that God was able to deliver them, but didn't know for sure whether he would.  But even if not, they weren't willing to sacrifice their worship of God.
Today, let's work on our faith and our confidence in God.  Let's remember that he can always save us, but even in those times that he chooses not to, he still is doing what is best for us.  If we do things God's way, then no matter what, we can have confidence in the future.  We can have that inner peace and trust that helps us to know that even amidst the chaos, we can still be okay.  God gives us that peace and that stability, as we turn to and trust in him.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Deuteronomy 32:45-47

"And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:
And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it."
Deuteronomy 32:45-47

 In these verses, as it says, Moses is speaking to the Israelites... the believers, his people.  And he is advising them to listen to God and what he says, because it is not vain... it is life. :)  And as believers and as God's people... which we all have an opportunity to be, if we follow him... we also should probably remember.  It is our life as well.  We mentally separate ourselves from God and from religion and belief sometimes, thinking this is that, and this is me.  And we sometimes divide up our thoughts into different batches like work thoughts, school thoughts, church thoughts, and private thoughts.  But God is integral to *all* of it.  Following God's commandments helps us in every aspect of our lives, not just at church.  In fact, it doesn't just help us in our lives, it IS our lives.  God isn't just someone to help us out with the troubles we have in our lives.  God is our life.  He gave it to us.  He is the purpose of it.  He is the reason that we are here, and he is the reason that we work for every day.  Of course there are other things that we care about... but God is the center: the foundation without which nothing else would be part of our lives at all.  And I think we forget that... every day.   When other people demand our attention we jokingly ask if they think the world revolves around them.  Let's remember that it figuratively *does* revolve around God.  There isn't anything that he shouldn't be involved in or that we shouldn't consult him about.  There isn't anything that he can't help us with or any subject that he isn't more familiar with.  Today, not just with commandments, let's remember that God is our life.  And let's make sure we are giving him his proper and preeminent place in our hearts.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Isaiah 50:6-8 -- On Not Being Ashamed

"I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me."
Isaiah 50:6-8

Last night someone asked me what my favorite scripture was.  That's a hard question, but the one that I usually pull out when people ask me that is 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.  It is a great scripture about how, with God, everything can be going wrong around us, and we can still be okay.  This morning, when I was reading these verses, they struck me in a similar way. 

We can suffer the shame of the world, and take it stoically, if we know that we are not ashamed before God.  And because we refuse to be offended by the shaming of anyone else, we can then invite those same people to join us.  God is our protection and our strength... instead of reacting badly when someone criticizes us, especially for our religious or spiritual beliefs, we can instead be ready with a reason for our happiness.  And when people see that we can't be shamed away from God, and that it makes us happy rather than guilt-ridden, maybe they will look further, or want that kind of peace in the midst of chaos for themselves.

Today, let's remember that the only opinion that matters is God's.  And let's stand up for his gospel, and our beliefs, treating others as friends, even if they started out treating us as enemies.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jarom 1:9

"And thus being prepared to meet the Lamanites, they did not prosper against us. But the word of the Lord was verified, which he spake unto our fathers, saying that: Inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land."
Jarom 1:9

This is a great promise.  The Nephites were outnumbered in the land, and the Lamanites would come to war against them frequently... but because they listened to God, and did as he asked, they were able to protect themselves.  The same promise applies to us.  We might be outnumbered and opposed in whatever it is that we are trying to accomplish... it can seem that way just trying to live life sometimes. :)  But, if we will keep God's commandments, we will still be able to prosper, despite opposition.  Today, let's remember this promise, and put God first.  If we make him our priority, then everything else will work out the way it should be.  According to God, and not according to us, of course... but that's okay.  God's plans always work out better, and with a happier ending. :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

1 Corinthians 15:51-53

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."
1 Corinthians 15:51-53

As a society sometimes it seems that we are all striving for immortality.  We dream of being immortal and powerful.  We love superheroes because they are more than we are.  We want to cure everything because we fear sickness and death.  Even having the gospel and knowing that this life is amazingly short compared to our life elsewhere, it can be hard to see beyond current limitations.  Everything else seems ethereal and fleeting.
I like these verses because they remind us pretty clearly that what we seek for subconsciously will be ours.  Even if we don't all die, we will all become immortal.  And we won't be corruptible anymore... not just in the sense of not being susceptible to temptation or bribery, but in a physical sense... our bodies won't be susceptible to sickness or decay anymore.
This doesn't, of course, mean that we should treat our bodies and minds harshly, knowing that they will be restored after this life.  We still have to learn self-mastery, and God has told us to treat our bodies well, as the temples of our spirits.  ... But I think what this does mean is that we have a lot to look forward to, and our goals should include our long-term spiritual welfare, not just temporary distractions.  We're going to be alive for a long, long time.  Today, let's not trade something temporary and corruptible for something eternal and perfect.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Matthew 1:24

"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:"
Matthew 1:24

This verse makes me think about how sensitive we need to be to communication from God.  Joseph listened to what the angel told him in a dream, and it changed the course of his life.  That happened to other Josephs in the scriptures as well. :)  It has happened to many others, and it always matters... but think of the difference between Alma the younger and Laman, who both saw an angel, but who reacted very differently.  It is easy to lose that sensitivity and to start ignoring our spiritual feelings.  So many things in our lives can get in the way, if we let them.
Today, let's remember to put God first in our lives... to not let other things get in the way, especially our own pride.  Let's talk to God, and especially listen to God.  That communication is the most important thing that we have.  Let's read our scriptures, pray, and stay sensitive to the spirit... so that we never lose that link, and so that when those communications happen that can change our lives for the better, we're ready for them.


Friday, October 4, 2013

James 5:9-11

"Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."
James 5:9-11

More good advice from the scriptures. :)  Grudge not. :)  We need T-shirts that say that.  ... and to also do it, of course. :)  It is way too easy to grudge/hold a grudge.  Someone does something that makes our lives harder, or we are embarrassed by something someone says, and it's so easy to skip past what we are really feeling and go straight to anger.  Almost always, the person wasn't trying to be mean... just kind of happened that way, but even when they were, grudge not, right? ;)  We have to learn to let things go.  It's a tough thing to learn, but on the other hand we sort of *need* other people to let us off the hook for the times that we screw up and say the wrong thing, or start a fight that we shouldn't have started.  And when we are so relieved and grateful when other people don't hold our stupidity over our heads, maybe we should do them the same favor... and treat people like friends rather than enemies.  We all need to learn how to get along, even when we disagree... otherwise we just collect enemies and only talk to people who already agree with us.  Kind of stressful and boring all mixed together.  Yuck.
The prophets are an example of making it through hard times with patience.  And I think that down deep, that is who we want to be as well.  We want to be able to keep our cool even when things seem crazy.  We want to be able to make the right decision even under tons of pressure.  We want to be people who can forgive others and show pity and love even when people are cruel or misguided.
Today, instead of holding a grudge, let's endure.  Let's work on being as patient with others as we need them to be with us sometimes.  And let's follow the example of the Lord in showing mercy to others, even when they are completely in the wrong.  Grudge not. :)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mosiah 4:27 -- On Gospel Pacing

"And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.  And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."
 Mosiah 4:27

Sometimes life seems really, really overwhelming.  We think of ourselves as just one in a huge sea of billions of people, and we wonder... how can God even notice us, or know who we are as individuals?  We think of all that we feel that we need to do ... gospel-centered or otherwise... and it seems like too much.  We get stressed out, we let things slide, and we want to give up completely.  And so today, when I read "it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength," that is what it made me think of.  I feel thankful that God doesn't expect more from me than I can give. :)
Of course, as we continue to read, that doesn't mean that I shouldn't try, or that we don't need to be diligent. :)  God, in his wisdom, tells us that it is okay to do it little by little, but at the same time remembers our tendency to give up, and reminds us that we have keep trying.  Progress, even if it is slow, is still progress.  We don't have to master it all at once, but we also can't just stop, if we want to get "the prize" of eternal life. :)
Today, let's dial down the stress level.  Let's think about priorities and next steps, and what we think we can do.  And let's talk to God about it, who might also have some suggestions. :)   And, if we've given up in the past, let's re-engage.  Even if it is at a much lower level... let's get our lives in the correct order, and move towards heaven. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Alma 5:18-20

"Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?
I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?
I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil?"
Alma 5:18-20

 This is an amazing chapter, and although this part sounds kind of negative, I think that it is great in that it gives us hints about what judgment day will be like, and as the chapter continues on, it helps us know what we need to do to avoid this fate. :)
I like the idea of having a perfect memory after this life.  I think on earth we get mixed up with people seeing things different ways and maybe even mixed up with the way we *wanted* it to be sometimes.  But after, we'll remember clearly, and hopefully also without the fog of self-deception that we cling to so tightly sometimes.  (Weird how clinging to fog doesn't work so well....)
I think that we all have things that we feel remorse about.  Guilt is pretty much a way of life for some of us. :)  But I think of the alternate possibility... of feeling internally unburdened and free.  No guilt and no remorse at all.  Being able to stand before God, feeling clean and whole, and having a real hope that he will save me.  And I want that. :)
Later in this chapter it talks about how to get there.  That we have to wash... repent... really change ourselves and our hearts.  Today, let's try to imagine ourselves as people that could stand before God with a pure heart and clean hands.  As people that *can* think of being saved.  Let's shun Satan, and be clean.  No matter how true this vision is for all of us, we are still here, and we can change.  Let's get clean, inside and out.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Genesis 8:1-5

"And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;
The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;
And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen."
Genesis 8:1-5

 I was thinking about God leading people to the promised land, as he did with Moses and Nephi... and when I read this, I thought that even though we don't usually see it that way, that is really what he did with Noah as well.  With Moses and Nephi he had to get them out of the land where they were, and send them to a new place to start over and be able to grow and prosper.  And with Noah that happened too... it just that the new place was superimposed on the old place.  With Moses it was war to clear the new area... with Noah it was a flood.
I think that it is like this for us too, with going to our own promised land.  It's like the idea of being born again.  Baptism washes away our sins and allows us to start fresh.  And that is similar to the idea of a promised land, but instead of just our sins, it illustrates how big of a change that we need in our lives in order to start over and dedicate, or rededicate, ourselves to God.  We have to wash or drive away our old selves... our old habits and our old sins, and start over, in a new place at least internally, and sometimes externally as well, so that we don't remain in places or situations that are going to pull us back in or harm us.
The early pioneers, fleeing from persecution, finally made it across many miles and found a place to rest.  Noah, after months in the ark, finally knew that he could go back out into the world and start again.  Nephi, after crossing an ocean, finally arrived at the promised land and knew that his long journey was over.  ... Arriving, though amazing for all of them, didn't make later life easy.  Starting over is always hard.  But they all knew that the hand of God had led them, and had that to fall back on when things got tough.  It is the same for us.  We leave our old lives and find new friends and new habits and new places, and although it isn't always easy to build a new life or find our way in the new world... we knew that we are here because God promised it to us, and that if we stick with him, things will work out.
Today, let's take the journey.  Let's leave our old selves behind, get away from our bad habits and influences, and become the new and shinier versions in the promised land. :)

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