Saturday, November 30, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:13-15

"We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God."
2 Corinthians 4:13-15

There are several really cool things here. First, I really like the idea of belief and speech being connected... and they should be, right? If we believe, that isn't something we should hide. People should know that we believe, and we should be willing to talk about it... just like the joy of being in love, or being a parent or a grandparent or a pet owner, right? Something awesome is happening in our lives and we want to share it... but even more so, because this is God we're talking about. He's not just a hobby or a distraction. He is everything, and his joy runs through and gives life to the joy of all the rest of it.
We'll all be raised up, as Christ was. We hear this repeatedly in the scriptures, but it never gets old. :) I think because we live in this state of being where death seems inevitable, and there seem to be so many endings and declines and corruptions... so to imagine newness of life and incorruption and a state of being where there are continual beginnings and we remain flush with life... it's amazing. The idea of Christ overcoming death for all of us is huge... and a future without death, or sickness, or pain, is what we can look forward to. Who can get bored with that idea? :)
All things are for our sakes. ... The idea of an immortal, all-powerful, all-good being completely focused on our eternal happiness is cool. Kind of like we all are secretly royalty, waiting to inherit kingdoms. And, except for the idea of "royals" being better than everyone else that we sometimes carry around with us, it is true. We are sons and daughters of God, and our inheritance will be great, as long as we are able and ready to take care of it. Life is about getting us ready. :) And that is the core of all the things that there are to be thankful for. God's infinite mercy... his patience and his faith is us, as unworthy as we often are. He still loves us, helps us, and holds our hands through thr tough spots. Even if our progress is undetectable to the human eye, he keeps working with us, helping us to improve in whatever ways we are willing to. It is completely our choice whether we allow his help, but as we do, even in small ways, we become so much more amazing and shiny and cool than we would ever have become left to our own devices. Today, let's be thankful for God, for the promise of eternal life and all that he does for us to help us right now. And let's let him know we're thankful. Let's be willing to talk about our beliefs with others... to share the joy of the most important things in our lives with others.
God deserves our praise. He doesn't really need it so much, but sometimes *we* need to feel it and show it... to understand how important God is to our lives, and to the lives of everyone around us. I don't think God's glory can ever be the empty praise that we sometimes offer... only the recognition of the truth. When we understand his infinite goodness, and our relationship to him, then he is glorified as we understand our relationship to him, and join him in his work, to strive always for the happiness of all of creation. Like building a city of Enoch... the idea of a Zion society, but on a massive, all-encompassing scale. :) Today, let's jump in.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Habakkuk 3:2

"O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy."
Habakkuk 3:2

I was reading this today and trying to understand what it was saying, so I looked at several different translations.  My favorite was from the Complete Jewish Bible:

Adonai, I have heard the report about you.
Adonai, I am awed by your deeds.
Bring your work to life in our own age,
make it known in our own time;
but in anger, remember compassion.

I think that this carries the meaning across well.  We hear of God's deeds, and his power... and it is huge, and there are two sides.  The side that seems miraculous if we are the ones that are crossing the red sea on dry ground and being saved.  And the side that seems angry and destructive if we are the ones being swallowed up by the same sea as we attempt to recapture our slaves.  It's overwhelming either way... whether we are grateful, or afraid, or both.  And often it is both, because the same God that is saving us is the one that we'll be on the wrong side of if we start being the aggressors.  And so we plead with the Lord to revive his works, to save us in our time as he has for believers in the past.  But we also ask him to please remember mercy and compassion in the midst of his anger... to not destroy us in the midst of our sins before we have a chance to repent and change.
I don't think it is about living in fear... I think God is like a parent defending his children, and if someone starts to bully them or treat them badly, they are in for a world of hurt.  But if we refrain from bullying and cruelty, then there is no danger.  But perhaps we should live in awe, realizing the truth of the breadth and depth of God's power, and be determined to stay on the right side of it. :)
Today, let's remember God's power to save, and his great mercy, and in our interactions with God and with others today let's apply that knowledge and use it to guide our actions.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

1 Timothy 2:1-4

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
1 Timothy 2:1-4

This struck me today because I was trying to imagine praying for all of the individuals that I encounter on a daily basis.  Not really collectively, since that seems (at least in my mind) to be a cop out... but supplication and thankfulness for the individuals specifically.  I like the different parts or methods of prayer listed... supplication, prayer, intercession, giving of thanks.  Basically asking for things, talking with God about things in general, asking for God to assist with a certain situation, and thanking God for all that he does for us.  Specifics that it is sometimes hard to get when applying to everyone.
I think it would require some serious attention in our lives to focus on and learn about other people, in order to pray for them these meaningful ways.  God's request goes beyond what I was thinking about, since he would like us to pray for all men... even the ones that we don't encounter.  Perhaps that necessitates some collectivity, since our knowledge is very limited about people that we don't encounter.  I imagine though that the more detailed and specific we are about what we are praying for, as with most other prayers, the more efficacious the prayer.  I like this idea because I think, if we really started doing this... praying specifically about all the people around us... that it would radically change our perspectives and the way we think about other people.
These verses specifically point out rulers and authority figures.  Sometimes authority figures are the very last people that I want to give thanks for.  However, this is something that I have tried.  Praying for leaders, no matter what I thought of them... and I don't know always if it helps them.  I hope so.  But I do know that it helps me look at situations differently.  It helps me to remember that we all need help and support, and that we all fall short of people's expectations.  It helps me to remember that I am just as weak and in need of prayer as anyone else, and that sometimes we (including leaders) need to be supported as we do our best, rather than being replaced with another flawed mortal. :)
Today, let's pray for people.  Especially the people that we are having a hard time having compassion for.  I think that God asking us to do this is partly for the people we are praying for... who really do need our help and our support, but it is also for us.  As we learn to be members of a Zion society, we can't afford to criticize and hate.  We can't afford to fault-find or tear down.  To achieve Zion, where we love everyone, we have to grow our souls a little bit and learn to support and help and teach and give... doing everything we can for the people around us.  Even the ones we now think are slimy or corrupt or rude or distasteful. :)  Let's pray for others, and thereby replace some of our hatred with love... some of our negative attitude towards our fellow beings with positive.  As with most things, it won't happen overnight... but let's start that chain reaction in our souls, so that someday we can stand, transformed into people who truly love as Christ does.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 121:36

"That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness."
Doctrine and Covenants 121:36

This is what makes the priesthood and all of God's powers truly great.  God's heavenly power can't be used for evil, because if you are evil or have evil intentions, you can't even get access.  The fact that there is such an incorruptible power can change the way that we imagine the world.  Our society and our world degrade so much when people try to exercise authority over each other... people become corrupt, and institutions or leaders become untrustworthy.  But if, in power struggles, there is always a superior power that can only be accessed through righteousness... through selflessness and incorruptibility, then hope is never lost.  The people who have gone over to the dark side are self-limiting, because they can never have the power that is inherent in the light.  And if we are tempted to use God's power for evil, then instead of harming others, we lose access to it, and hopefully start rethinking the whole evil plan. :)
Today, let's remember that God's power... the greatest of all power... is based on righteousness.  And as we are righteous, we'll also have more support from God, and more power to change our lives, and the lives of the people around us, for the better.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

John 6:53-54

"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."
John 6:53-54

This is interesting.  A lot of people stopped following Christ after he said this.  And I wonder why... why they decided that this symbolism was too far, and also why Christ said it this way, knowing that it would sound distasteful.  And maybe both reasons are the same.  People left because they weren't ready for this truth, and Christ said it this way because he knew they weren't ready, and he wanted to let them choose to give themselves more time.
This is pretty stark symbolism.  Eating and drinking another person?  But at its core, it is really meaningful.  Our lives depend on Christ's.  We don't live without him... we live because of him, and by his stripes we are healed, as it says in Isaiah 53:5.  The atonement is sometimes hard for us to understand.  Hard intellectually to a certain extent, but perhaps even a bigger challenge for our egos.  We don't like having to depend on other people... feeling helpless or beholden to someone else for saving us.  And yet, that is one of the main lessons of life.  That what Christ did for us, we could never do for ourselves... and without that sacrifice, our lives would be lost and without hope.  He overcame death so that we can all be resurrected and live forever.  And he overcame sin, giving us the chance to repent and avoid the eternal consequences of our actions, if we are willing to change and become better people.
Let's remember the symbolism of the sacrament and the reality that it represents.  Christ suffered and died so that we could live and repent.  We need him.  Our futures would be bleak without him... and as we take the sacrament, we remember his body and his blood, which he gave for us, symbolically partaking and accepting his gift, and promising never to forget him.  Today, let's not run away from that deep dependency on Christ, but instead thank him for it, and live well the lives and the futures that we have because of him.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Luke 2:43-46

"And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions."
Luke 2:43-46

I can't imagine what any parents would go through, not being able to find their son for three days.  That would be so scary.  Maybe the fact that he was staying behind for something really good mitigated the whole thing afterward, and maybe knowing who he was, they had a much higher confidence, at least subconsciously, that they would find him safe.  Still, I can't imagine that it made it easy.
On the other side, though, Jesus was an amazing kid.  He wasn't stirring up trouble or playing games with his friends.  He saw an opportunity for education... probably two way education, he teaching the doctors, and them teaching him... and he took it.  How many children would run away in order to go to school?  I think Jesus had to learn something here... he wasn't born knowing all of the lessons of life.  He had to progress as we have to... he just probably did it amazingly faster.  I think he learned a lot by staying, but he probably also learned to respect his earthly parents' perspective a little more, seeing how sad they were, which is why in a later verse it says that he was subject unto them.  And I think that his parents learned a lot too.  Maybe they started to understand that such a spiritually gifted child needed to have more regular access to the temple, or understood that he needed more resources in order to learn the things that he needed to learn.
Maybe we can learn something here as well.  ... Being perfect, as Christ was, doesn't mean knowing everything from the beginning.  It means learning, and growing, and becoming better.  It's a progression, and it takes time to learn to understand people and things.  Ignorance is not sin, although I think we treat it that way often.  Asking questions and learning doesn't make us look weak.  It makes us wise... because that is how we learn the answers: through asking, and through teaching others, because we have to know it really well to teach it. :)
Today, as we go through our lives and make mistakes, as we are bound to do, let's not be ashamed or try to hide.  Let's just explain what we were thinking, learn, and move on.  And if we sin, yes, that's worse, but we can still repent, also learn, and also move on... either way, coming out better, stronger, and wiser than before we had those experiences.  The real mistake is to stop moving and progressing and learning.  To give up and sit in the dust.  No matter how bad things seem today, let's remember Christ, and follow his example of learning and moving on.  Let's stand up and continue on the path to being better people.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ezekiel 16:4-6

"And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.
None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.
And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live."
Ezekiel 16:4-6

This is pretty stark, but I think really true in a symbolic sense... of what we have been without God.  And what it really is that he has done and does do for us.  We're lost without him.  Hopeless.  But he saves us, and washes us, and gives us hope and a chance at a future.  With him, we have a chance to thrive, we learn to love, we survive.  Sometimes the future is so bright that we start forgetting where we came from, and what he has done for us.  ... Today, let's try not to forget.  Let's remember what he has done for us... what he continues to do for us, every day.  Pulls us out of hopelessness and gives us a chance at life.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 34:11-12

"And if you are faithful, behold, I am with you until I come—
And verily, verily, I say unto you, I come quickly. I am your Lord and your Redeemer. Even so. Amen."
Doctrine and Covenants 34:11-12

A lot of scriptures tell us that the Lord is coming quickly, or coming soon.  And, depending on what you think of as the definitions of those words, the time seems to slip by without the Lord coming.  In this section, which was given in 1830, it is talking about the Lord coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  I believe it will happen... and I even believe that it will happen soon.  I just think that we and God have different perspectives sometimes. :)  Even we have different perspectives/definitions of these words depending on what we are comparing it to.  If we were talking about seeing each other over the holidays, "see you soon" could mean next week (if we're talking about Thanksgiving), or in a month (if we are talking about Christmas).  Soon could be 10 minutes if we live close to one another, or a 6 hour plane ride if we live across the country.  Quickly is similar.  If we are playing a video game, fast or quick could be nanoseconds.  If we're travelling to China, the quickest way might take much longer.
Part of God coming quickly is about our preparation.  How long is it going to take us to prepare for his return?  Compared to that timeframe, we should get moving now.  Maybe yesterday. :)  There is a lot of work to do in the world, and lots of individual self-improvement we need to make before we're ready to stand before God.
The first verse also has the "I am with you until I come" part.  ... Which is an amazing promise, and even though it might look contradictory, we know it isn't.  God being with us until he comes is an amazing spiritual blessing that we can tap into as we prepare for his physical return.
Today, let's be faithful and invite the Lord to be with us.  Let's not delay or put off repentance or progress.  Even though quickly might not mean tomorrow, it still has meaning.  Partially at least that we should always be preparing and getting better.  And also, that we will get to see our greatest friend soon. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Helaman 16:13-16

"But it came to pass in the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges, there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled.
And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled.
Nevertheless, the people began to harden their hearts, all save it were the most believing part of them, both of the Nephites and also of the Lamanites, and began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom, saying:
Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken."
Helaman 16:13-16

 We're so stubborn sometimes, aren't we?  This was the time, in the Book of Mormon, when Christ was to be born... in Jerusalem, far away from these people.  And the signs that were foretold by the prophets come, and angels were appearing to people, and still... no, no... it still can't be true.  The chapter goes on with other reasons why they wouldn't believe, including the argument that Christ must not actually be coming, or else he would come here, to us.
Don't we do the same thing in our lives?  We get so desensitized to the spirit sometimes.  We let the doubt and mistrust of the world seep into us, so that we're not just protecting ourselves from being cheated or lied to, but we're protecting ourselves from legitimate trust, and love, and friendship.  We put up walls against believing the lies that we hear around us every day, but sometimes we build them so thick and high that we can't hope or see the wonder in the world anymore.
Today, let's let some of our guard down and try to find a balance between protecting ourselves and letting people in.  Even while we're trying not to hand out our bank information or social security numbers, let's find a way to trust, and love, and listen to God.  The spirit can help us tell truth from error.  Let's listen to it, and be willing to risk a little more and find the true miracles in the world, including friendship and honesty.  Yes, we might get hurt occasionally.  We might even get cheated once in a while... but risk is part of learning to love and trust and live.  And when Angels come and prophecy is fulfilled... we need to be ready to see that for what it is, instead of immediately dismissing it as a trick. :)  With God's help, let's find that balance in our lives where we can be safe and still sensitive to the spirit, and open to the people around us.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Job 11:14-18

"If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.
For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear:
Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away:
And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.
And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety."
Job 11:14-18

Iniquity ends up in our hands way too often.  We don't usually set out to be bad guys in the morning, but sometimes we end up doing the wrong thing, or losing our temper, or saying something that we regret.  And here, the scriptures tell us to put it far away.  Let's get some distance from that moment or that mood or that part of our self that we don't want to be.  Instead of justifying it or trying to tell ourselves that it was for a reason... let's just say it was a bad thing to do, apologize, repent... and not let it live inside of us, waiting to come out again.
When we don't put it far away, sometimes we can start thinking of ourselves as bad people... if we do bad things regularly, have a bad habit, treat others poorly, fight an addiction, whatever it is.  And there is a lot of good in us... but we have to get that bad part away in order to let the goodness show.  We can't embrace the bad... we can't hang out with it or find a happy medium with it.  It doesn't belong.
These are some pretty good blessings that are promised to people who are putting that iniquity far away.  ... Being clean, not fearing, forgetting our misery... shining, secure, hopeful, safe.  Today, let's seek after these promises and get as much distance as possible from that iniquity that we were holding.  It's poisonous, and probably explosive.  Running in the opposite direction would not be overdoing it. :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Acts 3:6-8

"Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God."
Acts 3:6-8

When Peter and John approached this man who was asking for money, that's what he expected... some money.  Then he could go on living the way that he had been.  He had been lame since he was born... he never learned to walk.  And yet, without learning, when Peter took his hand, he was walking and leaping.  God healed not just his legs and feet, but healed the deficit of knowledge that he had from never learning to walk as a child.
The man has been carried to this same place and sat there begging each day... probably for years.  God probably could have prevented his lameness, or healed him at any moment of his life... so why now?  And why do any of us have to suffer with our personal afflictions?  Why do bad things happen?  Why can't God just tell us the answers?  Why do we have to suffer, or experience pain or setbacks or heartache or embarrassment, or any of it?  Why do we have to choose between God and things that we love?  Why, why, why, why, why?  ... It feels like that sometimes, doesn't it?
God knows it, and he doesn't enjoy seeing us suffer... but just as with the analogy (and truth) of us being the children and him the Father... no one can grow up FOR us.  No one can learn to crawl in our place... or we'll never learn it.  Or in the analogy (and truth) of this life being a test with God as the teacher... if he gave us all the answers, then we would never learn the subject.  But he tells us where to find them... and he hold out his arms and helps us have the motivation to crawl and then to walk to him as well.
Sometimes we have to suffer for a little while in order to learn, but then God heals us... and just as with this man, he doesn't just heal the outside, but the inside too.  All the way down, everything.  No bitterness, no resentment, no complaint that God left him lame for so much of his life.  Just joy.  And so it will be for us, if we are patient and continue to look to God for our help.
Today, let's be patient in our afflictions... knowing they are temporary, and designed to teach us what we need to know.  And let's look to God for our healing, inside and out.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Isaiah 1:25-27

"And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness."
Isaiah 1:25-27

I really like the idea of becoming perfect.  As a people, world, or as an individual, it definitely doesn't happen all at once, but I like the idea that it is a process that is actually happening.
This set of verses talks about purification in a couple of different ways.  First, purging away dross is referring to the analogy of God purifying us as silver is purified (see Malachi 3:3, 3 Nephi 24:3, or D&C 128:24).  The part that isn't silver gets burned off.
Redemption is another kind of purification/perfection.  It is the process of being saved or freed from our sins... in effect, purging them from our souls, and making us pure again.  In this verse it talks about the redemption of Zion happening through judgment, and the perfection of her converts, which I think means us, through righteousness.
All of these things... purging the dross, judgment, righteousness... these are all part of the same thing.  And it is God's work of helping us to change from flawed mortals to flawless immortals, as we go through the process of purging away our sins, as we learn to value God's judgment before our own, and eventually learn how to see as he sees, and as we learn righteousness.
The process is sometimes complex, and it can be painful at times... but the goal that we are working for is better selves, but also happier and kinder and there is no pain that we will endure that won't be made up for many times over by what we have the chance to be, and to enjoy.
Today, let's work on the little choices that make us better than we were yesterday.  Not only for ourselves, but the choices that will change the world for the better, and make the whole world a better place.  Closer to Zion. :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Joseph Smith—History 1:13-14

"At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally."
Joseph Smith—History 1:13-14

These are some interesting verse talking about the prophet Joseph Smith before he became the prophet.  I like that the scriptures give us a glimpse of some of them beforehand like this.  We learn about Nephi as a young man, Samuel, Moses, Abraham, and others.  A little of how it all happened.  And I think that for a lot of them, and for a lot of us, this is something that happens during our personal conversion process.  For whatever reason it is for the individual, we all get to the point where there is something that is of significant importance to us, and we need God for the answer... no one else can possibly provide it.  And whether we've prayed or not in the past, we suddenly have the motivation and the desire to pray with greater fervor and greater intent than ever before.
For the prophets, their experiences with God led them to change their lives completely.  Often leaving everything they knew and starting over.  Dedicating their lives to God, even as they had just started to know him.  And I think that this is an opportunity for us as well.  Whatever leads us to really talk to God on that deep level, the fact that we've actually connected with God and discussed life is amazing.  Answers to prayers are miraculous.  Too often we feel certain in the moment, and then later start to doubt, or find our problem solved and then forget how it happened.
Today, let's pray with fervor and intent.  Let's remember how miraculous it is just to connect with our Father in Heaven, and try not to shrink back or doubt after taking those first steps.  Let's instead keep communicating, and get to know God a lot better than we do. :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Genesis 48:13-14

"And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.
And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn."
Genesis 48:13-14

I think that it is interesting that God keeps challenging our expectations.  We get used to doing things a certain way or thinking about things in a certain way... we learn how the world works, and we start thinking that whatever way that is is somehow the "right" way.  But God shows us that he sees things differently, and breaks with tradition.  In this case, Joseph expected his father to bless his older son with richer blessings than the younger.  That was traditional.  But his father knew, even in his physical blindness, who God meant the blessing for.  Similar things happened with Nephi being chosen over Laman and Lemuel, or even Joseph being chosen to save his whole family and be in a position where his brothers would bow to him.
I think that there are a lot of assumptions that we make about the world and about ourselves that God might like us to challenge as well.  We sometimes think that we can't succeed, for many reasons.  We aren't rich enough, we aren't smart enough... or we think that we can never crawl out of the hole that we've dug for ourselves and we'll always be limited by our pasts, or our sins, or our physical realities such as sickness or limited mobility.  Maybe we think that we can't make a difference because we aren't in charge, or we aren't rich, or we aren't called by God to do so.  And yet God calls anyone with a desire to help to his work... and he provides a way for all of us to succeed and thrive.
Today, let's listen to God's advice about our lives and the future, even when it flies in the face of our previous expectations.  Let's become what he knows that we can be, and stop thinking of ourselves as any less than anyone else.  Let's strive and become and succeed and never think that it is too late or that we are too lost.  ... Let's also be humble and grateful to God, always, but never think that we are beyond hope, or that we'll never amount to anything.  Whether the oldest or the youngest, we can all become anything we want to be, with God's help.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Matthew 8:13

"And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour."
Matthew 8:13

I like the idea here that the strength of our belief matters a lot in terms of what happens to us. This centurion asked for his servant to be healed, and Christ offered to come and heal him... but the centurion told him there was no need. He knew that if Christ just spoke the words, that it would be done. And according to his belief, his servant was healed. And, just in case we are thinking this only works for the centurion, or only worked during Christ's mortal ministry, in D&C 52:20 it tells us, of our day, "according to men’s faith it shall be done unto them."
This is a powerful idea, and we might start thinking pretty big about wish fulfillment.  And in a small way, it is like that... but remember the part about Christ saying the word.  The wishes that get fulfilled are always with God's approval.  If we are on the same page with God and we want the same things, then we'll keep getting what we want. :)  But unfortunately, our wills and God's will are often different.  Even Christ wanted his cup to pass from him.  That wish wasn't granted.   And we don't always get what we want either... so how can we have faith in things when we don't know if they will happen or not?  I think the principle here is to have faith that God can do it.  The centurion believed that God could heal his servant... but did that automatically make it happen?  No.  He had to make the effort to seek God out, talk to him, and get his approval and his word.  And we have to do the same.  Our wishes aren't granted because of our own power or our own belief... they are granted by God's power, and through our faith and belief in *him.*
Some things that we can do to increase our faith and belief are things that this centurion did.  He learned of Jesus Christ.  He knew of his doings... he knew where to go to plead for his servant's life.  He sought him out.  He talked to him, and asked for what he stood in need of.  He expressed his desires, and he was humble.  He didn't demand anything... he just knew that God could do it, and he asked for it.  The things that he did are within the power of all of us, no matter how weak.  God isn't always going to say yes to us, but the more we learn of him and the more we understand his goals for us and for this world, the easier it will be for us to be on the same page with God, and understand what he will grant us.  The more we talk to him and get to know him, the more we'll grow, and hopefully the more we'll want to emulate him.
Today, let's work on being as faithful as this centurion, and ask God for the things that we are in need of, and listen to his answer and further advice. :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jacob 5:59

"And this I do that, perhaps, the roots thereof may take strength because of their goodness; and because of the change of the branches, that the good may overcome the evil."
Jacob 5:59

This is part of the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, which is overall about the world and how the Lord takes care of it and encourages the good and prunes the evil only when he is certain that the pruning won't kill the rest of the tree, and when he has lost hope that the tree can again start producing good fruit.  For anyone who hasn't read the whole thing, I definitely recommend it.  I think that it shows how much the Lord really cares for us and does everything he can to save us.
In this verse, the Lord is talking about pruning some of the evil branches of the tree and grafting in some good branches in their places, hoping that the roots will take strength and show their goodness again... that the good will overcome the evil.  And even though he was talking about large populations and peoples, I think maybe this happens to us as well, on an individual level.  As we go through life, some things get cut out and some things get added... and it can be incredibly painful and stressful and disruptive to our lives, and often we have no idea why it is all happening.  In retrospect though, I think sometimes we can see how God was helping us.  Usually, what we thought we wanted to be back then isn't anything like who we are now... and this is better.  And to get us here, God had to trim here and there, and sometimes graft our lives into a whole other place.  ... It doesn't always work, because sometimes we're more stubborn than that, and we hold fiercely onto our bad habits and when we lose one bad thing, we immediately look around for another.  But sometimes, with God's help and a desire to change, the pruning and grafting and careful reshaping of our environments helps us to make those changes in our lives that we've been wanting to make, but needed assistance and motivation to achieve.
Today, let's bear with patience and faith the pruning and the grafting in our lives.  Let's remember that there is always a reason, and the temporary pain or stress will result in a better life and a better self, if we work with God to make it happen.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2 Nephi 28:30

"For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have."
2 Nephi 28:30

This is interesting.  It makes me think of college/school/church classes.  In an average class, we go over the chapter or other reading material, and the teacher helps us understand it.  But in a class where everyone is prepared and has done the reading beforehand, we can delve deeper into our subject.  We can talk about more intricate ideas and expand on the basics, since those have been covered by the class preparation.  We can learn better, because we all have a foundation for understanding and we are starting on the same page.  By the same token, if we stop learning and don't use what we've learned, we often forget a large part of it.
Reading the scriptures is like reading the lesson ahead of time.  It is easier for God to teach us further, to help us recognize principles as we encounter them, and if we know the basics of faith, repentance, etc., he can teach us more about them, on a deeper level.
Even joining the church can be like being prepared for class.  The knowledge that we need to take that step is a preparation and a foundation for further learning that we just can't get if we are at an earlier stage, still wondering if God exists, or wondering which church to join.  And so it continues.  Living the gospel in other ways prepares us for further principles or deeper lessons about the principles that we already know.  We can never stop and say that we know everything there is to know about faith, or prayer, or repentance, or any of those "basics."  The more we learn, the more God shows us how much more there is to learn.  And it is that way with everything. The more that we prepare for God, the deeper he can take us, and the more that we can learn about him and his plan.
Today, let's work on being prepared for class.  Let's do our reading so that when God's lesson for today is upon us, we'll be able to think intelligently about the subject and learn on a deeper level. :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Matthew 12:34-37 -- On Hearts and Words

"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Matthew 12:34-37

This is interesting.  Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  Whatever is spilling over inside us, that is going to affect our perceptions, our judgments, and dictate what we say.  And wow... we will give account of every idle word.  That's huge.

The hopeful part for me is in the last verse.  Because it doesn't just say that by our words we will be condemned, but it also says that by our words we will be justified.  And I don't think that is a self-righteous type of justified, but a saved from condemnation type of justified. :)

I'm sure that God doesn't expect us to instantly be perfect in what we say.  Like other things, it takes time and effort.  So, how do we get there?  These verses give us a lot of clues.  We need to become better on the inside.  We can't just pretend to be good... look good, say the right things... because it won't work.  Our words are going to show the world who we are, and reveal our perspective. 

We need to change our hearts... fill them with good things.  For instance, reading good books, and listening to good music, and praying, and reading our scriptures, and thinking about all of this good stuff, and actually applying it to our lives.  We need to learn to love, and to embrace God's perspective about the goodness of other people. 

We need to work on becoming good on a much deeper level, so that when we speak what comes out, even when we aren't thinking about it very much, is good.  And if we have a lot of idle words that we need to repent of in our pasts, let's apologize to others for the ones where that makes sense, and for the others, let's apologize to God, and start filling our lives with good words rather than bad. 

Today, let's work to not just look good, but actually BE good, all the way down to our cores, and make sure that is reflected in how we express ourselves.  It will take time and practice, but once we get there, we'll never have to worry about accidentally saying the wrong things.  What comes out will be all good... a part of who we have become.  We'll then be justified by those good words, and we won't  need to be afraid of judgment day. :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Luke 6:30

"Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again."
Luke 6:30

This whole chapter is pretty amazing, and there is a lot of stuff in here about how we should treat others, but I thought just this one verse was well worth some focus.  Imagine if we all truly did this, and cared about others this much.  ... If you asked me for something, I would give it, and if I asked you for something, you would give it.  And we start thinking of exceptions right off, right?  Well, sure, but not if you asked for [insert name of favorite thing here], and not if you are a burglar.  ... Except then the verse says "of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again..." which kind of sounds like it *does* apply to burglars.  And "every man that asketh of thee" sounds pretty all-inclusive as well.  Includes *everyone,* not just people we like, or people that won't waste it.  ... Everyone.
Instead of worrying about the exceptions here, if there are any, I'm wondering if the point is that we should be less wrapped up in our stuff. :)  Maybe we should be ready to let it go if someone else needs it more.  Or just always ready to let it go... because it doesn't matter.  To place a higher value on things that last, and to just share the temporary things rather than hoarding them... since we can't take them along anyway.
I think we get really wrapped up in ownership sometimes.  Like this is MINE, and if anyone takes it away or tries to steal it or cheat me out of it, then I'm going to go ballistic. :)  From a gospel perspective, everything we have was given to us by God... and it doesn't even really belong to us.  We're just taking care of things for Him... trying to multiply our talents in anticipation of the return of our Lord, as in the parable.  And I get it... I do.  It is hard to let go of things that are important to us.  It's hard to make ends meet sometimes.  It is hard to have faith that God will solve our problems when we are unable to.  Today though, even though it is hard, let's try.  Let's act on this idea, and share more, and give more, and trust more.  And the more we try, and the less invested we are in things rather than the people that are asking for or taking them, maybe the more we learn how to be good and how to love even the people who steal our favorite Legos. :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Proverbs 4:23-27

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil."
Proverbs 4:23-27

This advice seems to be quite calm and reasoned, where I would probably interpret it with a gigantic billboard saying "PAY ATTENTION!"  I think that is often one of our biggest pitfalls in life.  We tend to avoid and ignore things that are ultra important because we don't want to deal with them, or face the responsibility.  And, unless we are paying attention, we can often wander off the path.  Sometimes that is the point, I suppose.  We think that if we go squinty-eyed enough that we are obscuring our own vision that maybe it won't be our fault when we're found on the wrong side of the line... or we actually convince ourselves that if we don't look where we're walking that we won't have to deal with anything that we step in.
And as much as I do exactly this myself, I have to still say, it isn't the answer.  I think these verses are a very clear message to us that we need to wake up and pay attention to our lives.  We're going to be responsible for where we end up, so we should watch where we're going.  ... I don't think that this means that we can't enjoy our lives at all.  We're here to learn joy as well. :)  But I do think that the kind of joy that comes while we're paying attention is probably a lot better than the kind we stumble into in the dark.
Today, let's pay attention.  Let's open our eyes and look at where we're going, and make course adjustments as needed. :)  And then let's start finding the good things and enjoying our lives the right way.  In the light.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Psalms 25:1-5

"Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day."
Psalms 25:1-5

I think these are some beautiful verses.  The central theme that I see here is trust.  I think that is where any real relationship begins.  If there is no trust, then there is no depth.  We can't talk about the things that matter, or have any faith in the future, that we'll still be friends, or that we'll even be on the same side. :)  And I think with God it is even more, because we can't really have a relationship with him at all without some level of trust... trust that he is there, trust that he will listen to us... trust that he loves us.  And these verses illustrate other ways that we learn to trust God.  We trust him to lead us, knowing that he can see what is coming and we can't.  We trust him to teach us, knowing that he has infinitely more knowledge, experience, and wisdom than we do.  We trust him to protect us from shame and defeat, knowing that he has the power and is willing to protect us if we are trying to do good.  And we trust God to sort things out fairly.  If we transgress without cause, then we expect to be ashamed, but we trust God to sort out all of us by how we behave, and to understand the reasons behind it as well.  To be a perfect judge.  Finally, we trust God to be the source of our salvation.  To save us even from ourselves and our own sin as we strive to improve.
Today, let's lift our souls to God, and trust that he will take care of them.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Numbers 23:11-13

"And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.
And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth?
And Balak said unto him, Come, I pray thee, with me unto another place, from whence thou mayest see them: thou shalt see but the utmost part of them, and shalt not see them all: and curse me them from thence."
Numbers 23:11-13

This is an interesting story where Balak the king of the Moabites tries to get the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites who have recently come into the land.  Balaam goes with him, but tells him that he can only do what God tells him to do.  This is the result of Balak's first attempt.  Balaam goes to God about the request, and God tells him to bless the Israelites rather than cursing them.  Up to this point, Balak seems to be making a lot of sense.  He's scared of a new threat to his country, he knows he can't face them without God's help.  He asks the prophet to do something so that they can drive out the invaders.  But then, after he finds out that God doesn't want to drive them out he's like, hmm... let's try from over there instead.  Maybe God will want to from there.  It reminds me of Green Eggs and Ham.  Oh, you don't like this food?  Here, try it inside of a box with a wild animal.  That's got to change things. :)  Anyway, Balak takes Balaam to three different locations and asks him to curse the Israelites three times, but amazingly (at least to Balak), God doesn't change his mind.  Every time, the Israelites are blessed rather than cursed.
Don't we do this same thing in our lives sometimes?  We ask God for something, sometimes knowing it is not good for us, sometimes expecting him to say yes.  But he doesn't.  He tells us no.  And we step back, shake our heads, and think... wow, that must have been a mistake.  Surely God will agree with us if we just show him how right it is.  But God isn't the subject of a Doctor Seuss book, and he has *already* thought it through.  Today, let's stop marching around and trying to get different answers here and there.  Let's listen to what God tells us today.  If he says no, there is a reason... and something better in store in a different direction.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 101:46-47

"Now, the servants of the nobleman went and did as their lord commanded them, and planted the olive trees, and built a hedge round about, and set watchmen, and began to build a tower.
And while they were yet laying the foundation thereof, they began to say among themselves: And what need hath my lord of this tower?"
Doctrine and Covenants 101:46-47

This is part of a parable that the Lord told to Joseph Smith, concerning the redemption of Zion (comprising verses 44-62).  This part in particular was interesting to me today because I think that this is where we often falter.  We listen to God, we see his plan, and we begin.  We jump into doing it and feel good about it, but then we start second guessing.  Sometimes it is, as above, that we just don't understand the point of part of it.  Sometimes it is other people laughing at us, like the great and spacious building in Lehi's dream.  Sometimes it is running into something that we want, a lot, even though God says it is a bad idea.  Sometimes it is just sort of slowing down and stopping because we hit a rough patch and we didn't want it to be so hard.  Lots of things.
I think at least part of the point of the parable is that God knows more and can see a lot further than we can.  And sometimes that means we have to take it on faith that it is worth building the tower... or going to church, or paying tithing, or living the law of chastity, or whatever it is.  We can't see the point because we don't have his perspective, but he can see what is coming, and he knows how to handle it. 
It comes down to trust.  And if a stranger told me randomly to build a tower... yeah, I might not do it.  I can see that.  However, if my dad told me that the bridge was out and to take the long way around instead of driving across it, I would believe him.  I wouldn't have to drive over there to check, or find out whether they are reporting it on television, or confirm it with a bunch of other people.  He's my dad.  He loves me.  He doesn't want me to die.  And the same goes for my mom or my siblings... or my friends.  Same goes if the message wasn't about the possibility of death, but just about an icy road or that it was raining, or that we were out of milk.  I would trust them because they've been out there in the weather, or are there looking in the refrigerator.  They can see things that I can't.  And the same goes with God.  If he tells us to build a tower... a tower is needed.  We aren't sure why, but he can see how it will be needed in the future.  And if he asks us to come to church, or live the law of chastity, or pay tithing, sure it seems a little more invasive than building a tower perhaps, but it isn't really different.  It's still our heavenly parent, who loves us, who knows us better than we know ourselves, and who can see better than we can.  My mom asked me to learn my multiplication tables when I was in third grade, and I didn't know why I had to and I really didn't want to at all, and I thought it was stupid. But I did it anyway, because I trusted her that I would need it as an adult.  Turns out, she was right. :)  And so is God, about the tower and about all the rest.
Today, let's trust God.  And if we can't immediately, let's get him out of stranger mode by getting to know him better.  Then we can be better friends, and work on that trust issue. :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

John 5:28-29

"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
John 5:28-29

I don't usually write about damnation. I guess I prefer to focus on the more hopeful, positive aspects of the Gospel. But I think that we see the negative parts frequently in our lives, and have to fight the negative side of ourselves a lot, so maybe we should talk about it a little.
In 3 Nephi 28:9, Christ is in the middle of explaining to the 3 Nephites the changes that would happen to them, and he says "And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world."  I think this is the only kind of sorrow that can last beyond this life... beyond the resurrection.  Everything else will be solved.  No death, no sickness... perfect bodies, perfect minds.  But our sorrow for sin... for others or ourselves... can still exist.  Why?  Because the consequences for sin also last beyond the grave.  Choices that limit us on earth only will be wiped away.  We choose to quit a job, or we do something risky and lose a limb, and those things affect our lives... but in the resurrection they won't matter at all.  On the other hand... if we make bad choices about our relationship with God, and we stick with those choices throughout our lives and don't repent, then we are limiting ourselves ... for eternity.  Not just for now.  Choices like that would seem different if we could step back from our lives and look at them objectively.  Trading God for anything at all temporary would seem ludicrous, when comparing our time on earth to our time in eternity.  But here we are, *in* our lives, and it is hard to see things objectively all the time.  The temporary things seem to matter so much, and it is hard to let go of the known immediacy for the unknown waiting... even if we know for certain sure that it is better.  As we often do.
Damnation is limitation.  It is stopping our progress.  We see it in others and we cry for them.  They choose money, sex, or drugs over God, over family, over self respect.  We watch their lives melt down and we see the limitations that they have chosen for themselves.  We pray for them to see it and to repent and come back.  ... But then we are faced with similar choices, and too often, we jump into them as well.  We know it is wrong, and we start hating ourselves, snapping at people, and trying to forget all of the things that make us feel guilty... we turn our lives into a huge mess.  And if we die in that mess, it doesn't go away.  It isn't one of those things that disappears and everything is all better.  Which is why we need to repent now.  We need to start untying the knots we've made in our lives and straightening things out.  We need to start choosing God over whatever else.  Because until we make it right, it won't BE right... ever.  And that is damnation.  Being stuck in our own hole... never being able to crawl out, because we're too far in and we wanted to hide rather than live.
Today, let's untie the tangles of our lives and make things right.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Leviticus 26:3-6 -- On Learning Obedience

"If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land."
Leviticus 26:3-6

I was reminded yesterday of how well the Lord takes care of us when we do as he asks.  We get sidetracked from that sometimes, because bad things still happen.  And they need to.  There has to be opposition in this world, or there wouldn't be any real freedom of choice.  If all the good things to eat tasted good and all the bad things tasted bad, that wouldn't be a choice at all.  And if it were as easy to go to church as to stay home, or as easy to be kind as cruel in response to an unpleasant comment... then there wouldn't be any test in what we do.  I think the point here is that God doesn't say that it will be easy to walk in his statutes, or keep his commandments... or at least not as easy as our inaction. 

We all have strengths and weaknesses, but even our strengths sometimes aren't as easy as doing nothing. :)  Even in the verses above, we still have to plant and sow and reap.  God doesn't just magically make loaves of bread appear in front of us. :)  What God asks at times will sometimes take effort, and occasionally challenge us to the core... but the promise is still there.  If we do as he asks, then he will watch out for us.  And it isn't all or nothing.  If we can take tiny baby steps in his direction, he'll bless us accordingly.

Also, just in case someone sees this as cruel... to withhold blessings until we do it God's way... or to allow bad things to happen to us... I know that is easy to think.  It is also justification, and a wish that God would make our lives easy no matter what... even if we want to do bad things or hurt people.  No loving parent would do that... reward us for harming others or hurting ourselves.  This life is our classroom, and we need to put in some effort to learn the lessons that God has for us.  God loves us no matter what, but he only reinforces good behavior.  Doing the bad thing has the short-term ephemeral payoff... making it a real choice, but there are no associated blessings or long term happiness.

Today, if something is going wrong in our lives, instead of blaming God for it, let's first step back and see if there is some way that we can correct our path.  Some way that we can show our dedication and obedience.  God will help us more as we are more dedicated to him... whether or not the thing going wrong has anything to do with our obedience or not.  Let's practice obedience, and see how it works out.  Let's learn and move forward.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Proverbs 11:24-25 -- On Scattering and Increase

"There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself."
Proverbs 11:24-25

This was interesting to run across today.  It is easy to think of so many things as being limited.  Resources, time, sometimes even love.  And yet, in actual practice, often hoarding (as the verse says) tends to make us poorer.  In modern society we might blame it on inflation... but in the gospel perhaps we can see that it is more than that.  Scattering kindness and goodness doesn't leave us without... it makes us richer in those things.  As we care for others, God will ensure that we are cared for.  God asks us to treat others as we desire to be treated... and I think all of us desire others to treat us generously.  To help us when we're in need... financially, physically, spiritually, emotionally.

Today, let's work on getting out of the limited resources mindset.  Not saying that we should ignore the prophet's counsel to get out of debt, or any other counsel... only that perhaps we should look at our lives and what we are hoarding and what we are sharing a little bit differently, and question the assumptions that we've made about what we can afford to share.  It isn't just about money.  Maybe even time works this way... as we give it to help others, we find more for the things that we need.  Let's work on scattering a little bit more good in the world, and increasing the total. :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Romans 15:1-3

"We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me."
Romans 15:1-3

 When I read this scripture and saw the word "weak," I immediately thought of physical weakness.  That we should be helping people who are frail, and assisting the people who have limited mobility or who are sick.  And then when I read the footnote for the word, it included people who were weak in the faith, which made me think of the whole thing differently.  Of course, we shouldn't leave out the physically weak, but when I thought about the spiritually weak it made me realize that we really don't usually bear the infirmities of *that* kind of weak very well at all.  And the third verse made a lot more sense to me as well.  Most of the physically infirm probably wouldn't be insulting Christ just because of their physical weakness.  Instead, they would be asking for healing.  But the spiritually infirm, if you will, might very well do that... because it is easier for us to try to deny God if we do it forcefully and with gusto.  Hard to do it peacefully and kindly... that lets the spirit in, to remind us of who we are. :)
And bearing the infirmities of the weak when it is spiritual means that, like Christ, we might have to bear some insults.  Learn some massive lessons in patience.  And maybe it isn't physical support at all, even for the physically infirm.  Maybe it is more like tolerance and kindness for everyone... whether they are as physically able as we are, and whether or not they are as spiritually able.  Maybe we need to be patient with each other in our physical sickness or our spiritual sickness.  Maybe we just need to be nicer to people and not think that we're the coolest person in the room just because we're physically or spiritually more advanced.  Maybe it is like yesterday's scripture.  Letting us know that even *this* is no reason to treat others as better or worse... but only another opportunity to help and lift each other.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Matthew 20:25-27

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:"
Matthew 20:25-27

A lot of things in our society revolve around titles, and we do a lot of posturing, even in places where there are no titles, trying to figure out who is the boss of who.  Children learn how it works quickly.  Whoever is the boss gets to tell everyone else what to do, and even to insult them or treat them poorly.  To be the boss is good because you have power and you don't get stepped on.  To not be the boss is to be powerless and in a position of begging for anything you need.
Christ tells us in these verses that it shall not be so among us.  If we want to be great, instead of jockeying for power, we should minister to others.  And if we want to be in charge, we should start serving.  And that's tough, because we don't want to be stepped on.  We don't want to be powerless.  We don't want to have to beg for what we need.  And on one side we know that God doesn't abuse his power as we see so often in our society.  On the other side, we *are* powerless, and as beggars if we try to compare ourselves to God.  He isn't going to take advantage of that and grind us into the ground with his heel... but it is also a position that we have to realize and reconcile as we learn to be humble and grateful for God's blessings.  Earlier in this same chapter is the parable of the workers in the field, and the people who worked the longest got paid the same as the people who only worked for an hour.  And they were mad, thinking that they deserved more.  And that is exactly the issue.  We learn to think that we deserve more than each other... that for whatever reason, we should be treated better than this person or that person.  There will always be reasons that we think are justified, but in a Zion society, if that is what we are trying to build, it isn't about who is better or smarter or who has worked more or who has the better title.  It is about how can we succeed together.  How can we all love each other and be successful without having to step on anyone else?  And in building *that* kind of a society... a Godlike society, where we treat each other like siblings and friends... we aren't the bosses of each other at all.  We're here to help.  To serve.  To do all that we can to help save each other, to assist each other in progressing and improving our lives.  If we help, then we are great.  If we serve, then we stand tall.
Today, even though it is a big mental shift, I know... let's try to think of the world this way.  Not as who is better or who deserves more, but as how we can help and lift each other.  How we can grow together into a better friendship, community, society, and world.

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