Thursday, December 19, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:16

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."
2 Corinthians 4:16

I like this idea of an inward man... it seems more informative than saying soul or spirit, because those can be seen just as light sources or power sources for what we are.  But the idea that there is a whole self in there... we learn that in other scriptures, but I'm not sure how often we think about it that way.  The inner self isn't just a set of rules, or a set of urges.  It's us... everything we have been, and so much that we still are... but a whole person in there.  The new stuff is the outside.  This new body we got coming to earth and all the stuff that comes with it.  Not just a shell, but whole in a physical way... and as we learn to unify the two, we become so much more than we were.
So, from two wholes, equally strong and capable, but with different strengths and abilities, comes the combined self. The idea of allowing our inward man to lead the combined self is part of the gospel.  it's a big challenge since the veil is drawn over our premortal memories and we have new senses--the physical aspect that our outward man adds can be overwhelming.  But the spiritual part is the eternal part, and we know that even if our external part perishes, our spirits can be renewed, and eventually our bodies will be resurrected and made perfect... so way more important to renew that part that is older and needs a little more self-cleaning.
I think it is important as we go through our internal struggles to remember that it is a challenge because both parts of ourselves *are* powerful.  It isn't because we're spiritual weaklings... it's because we're so strong.  We need to respect our strength, and learn to tame it for the benefit of the whole.  Today, let's respect and renew our inner selves, and work on taking care of, respecting, and taming our outward selves, so that we can someday achieve self-mastery, self-understanding, and wholeness.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Proverbs 4:26

"Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established."
Proverbs 4:26

If we actually stop and take the time to ponder, to *think* about what we are doing and where we are headed, we can avoid a lot of the pitfalls of life.  We usually get in trouble if we act hastily or if we just go along, not really having a plan and just doing what is easiest. :)  I'm not saying that we have to convert over to a Franklin Planner lifestyle, or that nothing is real unless we write it down. :)  I'm just saying maybe we should take this advice to heart, and ponder the path of our feet. :)
Today, let's think about our ways, and make sure that we're on God's path and not straying off into the darkness.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Psalms 34:4-8

"I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."
Psalms 34:4-8

I like this poetic selection of verses.  It's easy to get darkened going through life, and to forget where we came from and to lose hope, in other people, in the world, and in ourselves.  But it doesn't have to be that way... there is still hope, if we open our eyes to see it.  And as the second verse relates... we can be lightened just as easily as we became darkened.  We can seek the Lord.  We can look to him for deliverance.  And I like the idea that we can taste and see... that there is evidence all around us that the Lord is good.  As we trust in him, blessings will come.  Today, let's reach out to the Lord, and trust that he will lighten us, and help us through whatever we face. :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Isaiah 44:21-22 -- On Redemption and Alligators

"Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee."
Isaiah 44:21-22

Here, God is pleading with his ancient covenant people to return to him.  It doesn't matter how far they have strayed... he won't forget them.  He will forgive them everything, if they will just return to him.

Whether by blood or by adoption through baptism, each of us can be part of the covenant... we are invited to be part of the chosen people.  And so, God asks us to remember his words.  He asks us to remember that he is the creator... that he not only created us, but also redeemed us.  He saved us from our own sins.  He can blot them out, and he can also erase the distance and the pain and the emptiness that we feel.  He offers us not only leadership, but meaning.  He can show us the good in the world.  He can always bless us with hope.

I think we forget sometimes that with God it isn't possible to become permanently lost.  We might not be able to find the way, and we might head the total wrong direction, purposely headed into the swamp, tempting the alligators to snack on us by throwing them marshmallows and calling out to them.  We can get eaten and swallowed up if we choose to, but if we even once start getting an inkling that this is a bad idea, and we reach out to God, he'll save us from the alligators, get us home, and might even get us another bag of marshmallows to be used more correctly, perhaps, in our hot chocolate. 

This might take a while.  I am not saying that God teleports us instantly from bad to good or saves us immediately from danger, so it is okay to try anything.  Definitely not. :)  We should probably be careful and not feel marshmallows to alligators in the first place.  However, I *am* saying that God loves us even when we are acting pretty stupid... and he will help us home if we make an effort to change and reach out to him.  He wants us to return to him, more than anything.  And he is willing to forgive all of it, if we will only repent.

Today, let's remember who God is.  That he created us, that he redeemed us, and that he always has the power to save us, even from our own very worst mistakes.  Let's turn to God, and stop teasing the alligators.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

James 4:14-17 -- On The Lord's Will

"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
James 4:14-17

This is an interesting set of verses... I think that it is a great reminder of how little we know compared to God.  In our society, we sometimes believe that we are pretty cool... enlightened, civilized, and really, really smart.  We can handle it all, and plan out our lives whatever way we want.  And on one level, sure.  We're pretty cool.  But on another level, we're also pretty lost, and we often are faking that confidence and competence.  We think we have things figured out, but we find out more and more how much we don't know.  And how much cooler and smarter we'd really like to be, so we can solve some of the huge problems facing the world today.

And here, God reminds us that we're only here on Earth briefly, and we should focus carefully on taking advantage of the time that we have.  Remembering to look to God and including the "if the Lord will" in our plans is a good daily reminder of who makes it all possible, and the source of our solutions. :)

The last verse I think is especially interesting.  The "therefore" confuses me a little, because I don't see exactly how this came from what was before it.  But maybe it is more about the attention that we have to pay in our lives, focusing on making the most of our time.  Focusing on God.  And focusing on opportunities to do good.  When we know what we should do, and we don't do it, then to us it is sin.  When we have the power to do good, and we don't... then we're not taking advantage of that time that we've been given.  It is the Lord's will that we take advantage of those opportunities, so if we're saying "if the Lord will" before we make plans, then maybe we should even more so when we come across opportunities to serve or to do good.

 Today, let's try to focus on the Lord's will and not on our own.  ... I think if we try it his way, we'll find life will work out a lot cooler than we could make it on our own. :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Proverbs 27:2

"Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips."
Proverbs 27:2

This is interesting, and cool.   It made me think of yearly reviews at work, and trying to know what to say about yourself, and about others.  And usually, especially when we just begin working, we have no idea what to even say about ourselves.  It probably depends on the person, but I think for a lot of us, it takes a long time in life to learn about ourselves and really see our strengths and weaknesses. :)  I think sometimes what other people say about us is so important to us just *because* we are unsure about ourselves and trying to play life by ear... not really knowing what we are doing.  Maybe that is why this verse is so important.  Because beyond the confusion of our intentions at times, our actions towards others still define us... and we have to make sure that those are positive.  That even if we aren't sure about who were are or what we stand for all the time, that we are still really careful with other people while we're figuring ourselves out.  God asks us to put others before ourselves, probably partly because we haven't figured ourselves out, probably because we have a tendency to turn selfish.
Today, even though we don't want to go crazy and do bad things for or because of other people, let's work on making sure that we treat other people well.  Let's not be boastful or selfish, but try to make our good aspects... our good selves... show through our actions, each day.  And if we aren't getting enough praise and we don't feel loved, let's get on our knees.  God will help us to know how much we are loved... always.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Matthew 20:32-34

"And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him."
Matthew 20:32-34

This is an interesting story.  Two blind men were sitting by the side of the road, and when they heard that Jesus was walking by, they called out to him, asking him to have mercy.  The crowd rebuked them for yelling, but they persisted.  And Jesus heard.
I think sometimes in our lives we don't realize how close Christ actually is.  That our cries can, in fact, reach him... that we have the same opportunity that these men did.
And, because we do... will we call out to him?  Will we beg for his mercy, as these men did?  Or will we be content in our figurative blindness?  And if we call out, will we give up when the crowd rebukes us and tells us to quiet down?  Or will we persist, until we are heard?  ... And if we make it that far, and Christ stands before us and asks what we want him to do for us, what will we say?  And, perhaps most importantly, if Christ opens our eyes, will we follow him?
Today, let's call out to Christ in prayer, and ask for his mercy.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Proverbs 16:25

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Proverbs 16:25

I think that this verse is a reminder to us of how careful we need to be in life.  So often we judge things by what we think will make us happy or what we think will make us money or what we think will feel good, or look cool, or whatever it is... and occasionally we are right.  It looks cool, but then we break our leg.  Or it does make us money, but we lose something else that was more important.  And other times we're dead wrong, and it doesn't even come close to making us happy; it in fact makes us MORE miserable.  ... This isn't just me, right?  We all have learned not to trust ourselves about certain things, I hope? :)
So, who do we trust instead, and how can be become more trustworthy when it comes to being able to rely on our own judgements?  Personally, I think it is only when we start recognizing God's promptings in our lives... the feelings and thoughts that originate with God.  And I am not saying that in a blow-off way like it is simple simon, oh, just trust God.  It is *hard.*  ... Hard to recognize the difference between our feelings and God's promptings.  Hard to know afterward, because the certainty can fade quickly.  I have had a few times in my life where it was utterly obvious... but I think those times were when God was going all out, trying to stop me from screwing something up, or trying to help someone else through me.  The rest of the time it is more subtle, and the more we listen and try to follow those quiet, but always good, promptings, the more we learn how to recognize them.
Today, even if we don't know how to recognize God's touch in our lives at all, let's start learning.  Let's get down on our knees and ask him to let us know that he is there.  To teach us to listen.  And he will.  He wants us to learn to connect with him just as much as we want it.  It isn't always the same for everyone, but the spirit often feels at first like an emotion or a sensation that we wouldn't naturally be feeling at that moment.  It can be a voice in your head, a dream, or just a quiet feeling of calmness in the midst of chaos.  And if we have felt the spirit before, let's learn it better.  None of us are experts at this... and as this verse illustrates, we need God's guidance so much.  We tend so often to deceive ourselves and to get ourselves into massive trouble.  Instead of doing that again... this time, let's go to God and get some advice.  Maybe we can avoid making the same mistake for the 3,485th time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 84:53-54

"And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—"
Doctrine and Covenants 84:53-54

Sometimes I wonder how it is so easy for us to know the truth and to have a strong testimony, and then to fall away, or be tempted to.  It seems too easy.  If we *really* believed, we would be stronger than that, etc.  But I think sometimes we really do believe, fervently, with everything we are, and then allow that to get buried under other things and set other priorities first.  I saw it on my mission a lot.  People would tell you an incredibly spiritual story, and then need to stop for a smoke.  Or wonder why their children weren't strong in the church, when they themselves hadn't gone for many years... still believing, and knowing that God directed the church.  And back then I swore to myself that I would never do the same... never let other things get in the way of God and fall away.  But of course, over the span of my life since then, I have often let other things get in the way.  And that's when we get so close to drifting away... because, as it says there in the second verse, our minds get darkened because we treat lightly the things that we've received.  And maybe we believe, but we don't believe enough to make it the top priority in our lives... which is in itself a kind of unbelief.  Believing that God exists and believing that he needs to be the absolute center of our lives and our first priority in everything are, unfortunately perhaps, different things, and even when we rock at the first one, often we kind of stink at the second.
So, here we are in this world, which as reported in the first verse is indeed groaning under sin and darkness.  And we see why we individually get darkened... yay.  Depressing, right?  What we really need to know is not really how we got trapped here in this dark place, but how to get OUT.  ... So, I looked that up too. :)
In Mosiah 16:9 we read about Christ: "He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened" ... he is the light that can bring illumination back into our lives.  That can restore our hope, and help us find a way out of the darkness.  Christ can stand us back on our feet, brush us off, and let us keep trying and learning to get it right.  And no one can ever stop that light from shining and showing us the way back to him.  ...And of course he is the answer.  We probably would have known that if our minds hadn't been darkened in the first place. :)  Today, whether we are a little darkened or not, let's pray and ask for light.  Might hurt our eyes a little if we aren't used to it... but that's okay.  Let's get used to it, and stay used to it, and try not to wander off into the dark anymore. :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Proverbs 23:4-5

"Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven."
Proverbs 23:4-5

 This is a good reminder that riches are fleeting. :)  And if we're investing our lives in striving just for that, then maybe we should stop looking to our own flawed wisdom... even if we're not, really.  God offers to help us.  And, from him, who we can trust, and who is also a b'jillion times smarter and more knowledgeable than we are, we might want to accept the help.
What should we labor for?  Great question... and I don't know that I have all the answers.  Again, God does.  However, we probably have a place to start from the scriptures.  We should labor to change our hearts, to learn to love God and our fellow man.  We should labor to serve others and try to understand their points of view, even when we don't agree with them.  We should work for kindness and to help other people.  And, I'm not saying let's all quit our jobs today... but let's take a serious look at what our end goals are, and make sure that it isn't just a big pile of money.  Because that pile might grow wings (figuratively), and it would be better to be working for something that lasts. :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

3 Nephi 7:1-2

"Now behold, I will show unto you that they did not establish a king over the land; but in this same year, yea, the thirtieth year, they did destroy upon the judgment-seat, yea, did murder the chief judge of the land.
And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land."
3 Nephi 7:1-2

Historically, this was a couple of chapters and a year or two before Christ appeared to these people... but what years.  Packed with cleansing and destruction and upheaval of the most dramatic sort.  Definitely something that would be challenging to live through.
These verses seem to illustrate how fragile our communities are sometimes... how easy it is for us to break apart and to only support the people we know.  I remember talking to a guy on my mission.  He invited us in and as we were talking, he told us that he was loyal only to his family.  He said that it was okay to cheat other people (he was a plumber and he said that he overcharged his customers all the time) in order to support his family and make them happy... and he believed that is what everyone else did as well.  I feel like it is easy to get into that mindset... to relate to and defend only your family and friends and to dismiss people who are outside that circle of influence/acceptance/friendship.  But God asks more of us.  He asks us to recognize that we are *not* separate tribes, but together, all children of God.  Our loyalty should not be only to those of our household, community, or even country.  If people are outside our circles of friendship, and they seem strange or foreign to us, then God asks us to get to know them, to invite them in... to friendship and fellowship and community.
Today, let's not break into tribes. :)  Instead, let's be one.  Part of each other, caring about each other, willing to serve each other as we serve the Lord.  Let's build Zion together, making a place where no one is poor, and no one is excluded.  A place where there is no hate... where we learn love and peace.  Let's work to understand and love each other rather than cutting each other off.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Joseph Smith--History 1:75 -- On Remembering the Moments

"I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind. The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel, the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me past description"
Joseph Smith--History 1:75 (selection)

This is part of the eighth paragraph of verse 75,  in case you want to find it in context. :)  I really like this part because it paints an awesome picture of what it is like to stand in the presence of an angel, or to listen to a message from God.  It isn't just the difference between a singing telegram and a glowy costume... it isn't showmanship or drama.  You can tell here that Joseph wasn't even able to describe it adequately, but that it was so far beyond our experience that he tries to compare and fails.  In beauty, in eloquence, in interest, in joy, in peace, in wisdom... it surpassed anything on this earth.  ... That's huge. :)  And he says that things can snowball and get dramatically worse and worse until everything in falling apart, and STILL, one word from the mouth of the Savior banishes all of it to insignificance.  And, I think sometimes we catch a glimpse, or we get a taste of what he is talking about. 

There are moments in our lives, where we, for a moment, are able to breathe the pure air of heaven.  To see or taste or hear some part of that unsullied truth directly from God, and those moments make all the rest of life worthwhile... that joy puts our pains and weaknesses and obstacles to shame, and we know ... we KNOW ... in those moments that we can overcome anything, if this is the reward... because it is the only thing that really matters.  All the rest is trivial.

And then, of course, we slowly forget.  We get caught back up in the perspective of the world.  We start thinking, again, that all of this is just too hard... too big, too overwhelming.  And that is why God keeps saying in the scriptures remember, remember.  And he keeps asking us to read and to pray.  To study and ponder.  Because that's how we get to those moments... and that is also how we remember them.

Today, let's remember those moments in life that make all the rest worthwhile.  Let's look to God for the pinnacle of all the things that we yearn for.  And let's remember that our troubles aren't as bad as we usually think they are.  With God, we can not only overcome anything bad... we can learn a higher level of anything good.  That's amazing. :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 82:19

"Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God."
Doctrine and Covenants 82:19

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we actually did this?  Let's uphold the interests of our neighbors and of God today, instead of thinking of ourselves first.  And who knows... maybe we'll get closer to the kind of world we all want to live in. :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Matthew 13:36-43

"Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."
Matthew 13:36-43

In these verses, Christ is explaining the parable of the wheat and the tares to his disciples.  And, although I don't know the timing of all the things that are supposed to happen at "the end of the world," this part seems kind of hopeful.  Not in that I want anyone to be burned, but usually when I think of the end of the world I think of people getting worse and worse and there being more wars and more evil until everything is overwhelmed and God has to end it.  But this isn't that way at all.  This sounds more like the parable of the olive trees, where God prunes them and digs about them and transplant branches until the good fruit returns.  Here, the tares are gathered and burned, and the wheat is left, until all the bad is gone, and only the good is left, and "the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." :)  That's remarkably cool.  And it really makes me want to be there, to see that day.  Imagining a world without evil... without anything that offends or does iniquity.   It sounds stunningly beautiful... and it also means that we need to purify our lives, so that we aren't tarish. :)  We need to be the wheat out there, the good guys.  The ones that belong, and are making things better.  It doesn't have to be instantaneous, of course... but it needs to happen.  So that someday we'll all be able to stand together and sing the beauty and the love and the joy of unity and peace and goodness.  ... Maybe that makes Zion sound a little bit like Who-ville, but you know... that's okay. :)  Whatever analogy it takes, let's run with it so that we can be there on that day, and shine like the sun in the presence of our God.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mosiah 23:13-15

"And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.
And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.
Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them."
Mosiah 23:13-15

There is an interesting distinction here between love and trust.  In a lot of ways I think they are part of each other... we have to learn to have some level of trust as a part of most kinds of love.  But the trust that it is talking about here is interesting, because it has to do with freedom and independence. 
I think that we want someone else to make choices for us sometimes... because we don't want the responsibility, or we don't want to make the effort, or we want to be able to blame the consequences on someone else. :)  Or even, like John Donne's Holy Sonnet 14, because we want to have God in our lives, but feel too weak to let him in ourselves, so we ask him to force us.  Not that it works with God, of course... but the desire to give up our freedom to another is common.  In bad moments we want someone else to drive, and figure out where we're going.  The problem is that learning to drive is the entire point of life, and that anyone besides God is going to drive us somewhere that we do not want to end up.  So God cautions us... don't let anyone make your decisions for you.  Don't let anyone teach you what to believe, unless they are on the same page with me.  Only God knows the way... and following his path is the only way to retain our freedom and become all that we can be.  Prophets and other leaders that God has appointed will be pointing in the same direction and encouraging us to learn to make our own choices, not follow them blindly.
Today, let's make sure we're making our own decisions and learning independence.  That doesn't mean that we can't get God's help... he is there for us, and wants us to ask.  But in order to learn to be our best, ideal selves... he can't do it for us, and neither can anyone else.  And as we learn to love the people around us, and especially as leaders and teachers, let's encourage independent thought and decision-making rather than asking anyone to follow us blindly.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Isaiah 59:7-10

"Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.
The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men."
Isaiah 59:7-10

The beginning of this chapter says that God always has the ability to save us, but that we separate ourselves from God through sin.  And this is an illustration of that.  As a society, we very often run to evil to embrace it, thinking about it all the time, and we never learn peace.  And that is the reason that we can't have peace or judgment in our lives.  That is why we look for light and don't find it... not because the light isn't there, but because we've blinded ourselves, and even though it is noon, and light is all around us, we've cloaked ourselves so it can't touch us.  Blindfolded, we walk around like it is midnight.
There is hope here though.  The way of peace is something that we can still learn.  And although we don't act like it very often, we still do have eyes.  We are still alive, even though we behave as though we were already spiritually dead.  So, today, let's clean the cobwebs of iniquity out of our minds.  Let's turn to God, and ask him to teach us the way of peace.  Instead of waiting for light, let's make the effort to remove our blindfolds... to live, making ourselves better, making the world better, and never letting ourselves be blind enough to accept the darkness as our reality again.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Deuteronomy 29:9-15

"Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.
Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel,
Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water:
That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day:
That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath;
But with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:"
Deuteronomy 29:9-15

This is good stuff.  It makes it plain.  If we live up to our covenants with God, we'll prosper in all that we do.  Now, of course, it gets more complicated since we keep screwing up and having to brush ourselves off and get back on track... but the promise still holds, inasmuch as we keep our covenants.
There are lots of really great things here.  God wants to work with us.  Kind of like Isaiah 1:18.  God wants to sit down with us and help us figure things out.  He isn't casting any of us away... he is offering to work together and come to an agreement... and if we fulfill our part of the bargain, he will ALWAYS fulfill his part.  He promises us amazing things... things that are miraculous compared with the world we live in.  Immortality.  Spiritual fulfillment... no emptiness.  Happiness.  Eternal families.  Perfect bodies, immune to pain and sickness.  A Zion society, where everyone is loved and treated well, with no poor.  And he promises more, as though that weren't enough.  Posterity, priesthood, and a place to prosper... land here, inheritance in the afterlife... all of it.  And our part?  We have to listen to him, let him lead us.  Learn what he teaches.  Kind of like an apprenticeship in the coolest trade ever. :)
All of that is amazing, but even better... my favorite part of these verses is "also with him that is not here with us this day."  God offered this deal to his ancient covenant people, but he also offers it to us now, today.  Everyone reading this today and everyone who reads this verse ever.  Everyone who comes before God has the opportunity to reason together with him, and work out his salvation.  And so today, let's take God at his word.  Whatever our lot in life... captains, drawers of water, children, and everyone... God offers us this same deal.  If we'll follow him and do as he asks, and work to learn what he teaches, then he will be our God, and he will cause us to prosper... and so much more.  ... I don't know about you, but seems like a super-sweet deal to me.  I suggest we try it. :)

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