Thursday, April 30, 2015

Alma 29:5-6 -- On Getting What We Want

"Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.
Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?"
Alma 29:5-6

These verses are basically saying that God gives us what we want.  That's interesting, and I know that it doesn't always seem so while we are going through it, but in retrospect I think it is true.  Even the toughest, hardest things in my life have led me towards things that I wanted.  Sometimes the path to get there is difficult, and the lessons that we have to learn to be the person that we want to be are painful... but I believe this wholeheartedly.  God gives us our desires.  The scary part is when we desire things that are bad for us.  I know that God tries to warn us, and help us understand that what we're doing is a bad idea, but we rarely listen.  And right here it explains plainly that we are going to receive based on our desires, whether that desire is good or evil, whether it will result in negative consequences for ourselves or others, and whether it makes us happy or amazingly miserable.
So, if this is true, why don't I live on a private island in a super-mansion?  Well, it's a little bit like a world where everyone has a magical lamp like Aladdin's with unlimited wishes. Hopefully our world is a touch less chaotic than that, but not by a lot.  My desire for a private island has to be balanced against someone else's desire to actually be paid for said island, and God also has to factor in the things that I want to learn and become, which in the end might not be actually possible living like a hermit on a private island after all. :)  Imagine God's job, trying to balance so many positive and negative desires (even within one person), and finding a way to allow everyone to retain enough freedom of conscience to choose for themselves.  Of course, he knows it all ahead of time and incorporates it into his plan of happiness, but wow... crazy.  It reminds me how amazingly powerful and perfect God is.
Another thing that really strikes me in thinking about the fact that we get what we want... how massively important it is that we experience that mighty change of heart that it talks about in Alma 5. If we're getting what we want, we should probably watch our desires a lot more closely, and find the way and do the work to get rid of those desires that are incompatible with peace and goodness and purity.  For instance, wanting to be a hermit probably isn't going to teach me a lot about love and harmony and Zion.  So I have to work on making sure my desire for those things is greater than my desire to be a hermit. :)  Today, let's all work on our desires.  Let's be willing to change our hearts, and give up the desires that aren't compatible with who we really want to be.  Let's be content with the things that the Lord gives us, knowing that they are leading us ultimately to the greatest desires of our hearts.  Let's make sure that's really what we want.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

1 John 4:19-20 -- On Love

"We love him, because he first loved us.
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"
1 John 4:19-20

I think it is interesting to say that God loved us first, and that is why we love him... it makes me think of parents in general.  If not for their love, we wouldn't be here, and the love that they showed us taught us what love was, how to show love for others, etc.  On a much larger, and far less imperfect scale, this is also true of God.  Everything we are is because of him.  Our ability to love, to feel love, to be lovable, all these come from him. And on more than a physical level, our trust and confidence in ourselves and ability to feel safe and confident in offering trust and love to others, despite possible broken hearts and disasters in the past, this is also from him.  Our resilience and ability to recover, to learn to risk again, to find a calm within ourselves.  We can't always find good examples of these things in our earthly role models.  But when we can't, we have God to teach us anyway--an incredible blessing, to be able to learn things without a physical example to emulate.
Which is partially the context of the next verse.  Without a physical example, it is nearly impossible for us to do anything. We rely so much on our senses to learn that without that, we would need some serious assistance from God to accomplish anything.  We are here together on this Earth so that we can learn to love... "we serve as each other's clinical material" as Neal A. Maxwell said.  We can't learn to love God without learning to love the people around us, and we definitely can't get past this stage with hatred in our hearts.  So, as we move forward in learning about love and learning to love, let's make sure we take the step of working out the negative emotions that are getting in our way.  God loves everyone... even that one person that we are finding it impossible to deal with.  Let's go to God and find out why. :)  Let's learn to rid ourselves of the poison of hate, and to open our hearts to other people, and especially to God.  Let's find out what true, godly love is like.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2 Corinthians 6:4-6 -- On Ministering to Each Other

"But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,"
2 Corinthians 6:4-6

Paul goes on after this and says even more amazing things... but I wanted to pause here and look at these verses.  As we go forward in our lives, ministering to each other, these are some good things to think about and perhaps find some specific things to focus on.  Paul talks first about patience, and some of the reasons that we need it.  We all are afflicted and distressed sometimes.  Sometimes the things that happen to us are external, and sometimes we afflict ourselves in a way, when we watch over a loved one, or when we fast.  One of the ways that we have patience through all of that is by developing some Christlike qualities that Paul lists here as well.  And as I read this list, I wonder if we get better at these things, if our patience will improve.  It seems like some good strategies.  I think longsuffering isn't just suffering for a long time, but it's more of a way of dealing with things.  Instead of reacting badly when someone says something hurtful, or even if someone does something hurtful, we remain calm, and deal with the situation normally.  This de-escalates arguments and attacks really quickly, if we can resist that initial urge to lash out or strike back.  Having the Holy Ghost with us helps us to remember that we have other options as well.  We don't have to lose hope in any situation, because God is there, helping us.  And of course other things which are much clearer: pureness, knowledge, kindness, love.  I really like the "unfeigned" part.  We can't fake our way through ministering and serving each other.  You can tell if I come over to comfort you and I don't really want to be there.  And I can tell if you are doing that too.  If we want to really build a society where we have the support of everyone else, we have to learn to love each other sincerely, and give of ourselves freely.  We have to learn... about God, about ourselves, about others.  We have to study the gospel, learn how to be pure, learn better how to be kind.  Change our hearts and our whole selves to be more kind, and loving, and open.  And we will get there as we continue to work on it, because God won't ever stop helping us improve.  The only way to fail is to stop trying. :)  Today, let's continue to try... let's reach farther and learn more.  Let's build Zion through serving and loving each other.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Alma 5:11-14 -- On Change and Minds and Hearts.

"Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them?
And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.
And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?"
Alma 5:11-14

When we talk and think about conversion, we often talk of feelings.  And in our society, we are often taught to discount feelings.  That they should be suppressed, that our logical mind should reign supreme, that emotions make us crazy.  And, of course all of that is partially true, which  makes the arguments more compelling. :)  But God doesn't teach us that emotions are bad or to do away with them.  He asks us to bridle our passions... to make sure that we are always in control.  Not unexpressive, but that we have the ability to calm ourselves and process what we are feeling, dealing with our emotions in a productive way, rather than allowing them to make us crazy. :)  As we read the scriptures, we read about God having emotions.  Christ, in his mortal ministry, expressed emotions.  Life requires logic and smart thinking so that we can understand so much of ourselves and our world, but all of that has to be balanced with emotional understanding and spirituality, which is part of what Alma talks about here.
Alma is recounting the conversion of his father (also named Alma), which started out intellectually.  Abinadi taught the gospel to the wicked priests of King Noah.  Alma listened and understood, and they made sense to him, and he believed.  That belief turned into something emotional and spiritual, and his heart was changed.  Where before he had been complicit in the King's evil plans, now he wanted to change his life, and become a priest in truth... bringing others to the true gospel.  A similar change is required for all of us as we grow in the gospel.  Although intellectual conversion is valuable, until we feel it and it matters to us, and until we also make a spiritual connection with God, then we are effectively bystanders, going through the motions, but never fully participating in the process.  By the same token, we can be emotionally converted, but if we never think about the gospel and ask questions about the things we don't understand, then we can as quickly fall away if we encounter something that seems negative emotionally.  As in all parts of life, we make ourselves vulnerable to bad decisions when we exclude parts of ourselves from our decisions and commitments.  Just like a marriage or a career could never thrive if we were only halfway dedicated to it, our commitment to God is imperiled if it involves little thought or little emotion.
Alma is speaking to the members of the church.  He knows that they wouldn't be there if they weren't already converted in mind, and so he asks them about their emotional and spiritual involvement.  And the same questions is good to ask ourselves.  Have we experienced this mighty change of heart?  It's okay if we haven't... it doesn't always come immediately, but it is something to work toward, and pray for.  And if we have, as Alma asks in verse 26, can we feel so now?  Today, let's make sure our whole selves are involved in our lives.  Let's be balanced, not letting our intellect or our emotions take over, but letting our minds keep our emotions in check, and allow our minds to be guided by the spirit so that we don't allow paranoid thoughts or incorrect interpretations of others' actions to drive us crazy either.  Let's look to God for his guidance and his help in finding a balance in our lives and committing our whole selves to the gospel.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mosiah 2:40-41 -- On Never-Ending Happiness

"O, all ye old men, and also ye young men, and you little children who can understand my words, for I have spoken plainly unto you that ye might understand, I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression.
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."
Mosiah 2:40-41

It's good to remember the difference sometimes, between walking away from God and walking towards him.  I think we sometimes confuse ourselves that the distance is what matters, and that our direction doesn't.  But in fact, it is a lot closer to the opposite.  No matter how far we have strayed, if we turn around and start walking in the right direction, our lives will be transformed.  And no matter how close we are to God, if we turn away from him, our lives will also change.  It's still our choice.  God isn't going to take that away from us, ever.  But he wants us to also understand the consequences so that we don't screw up our lives unknowingly.  Transgression only seems cool or fun on the surface.  It really does turn awful, and our lives get darker.  And on the other side, even though it often seems hard or overwhelming at first, keeping the commandments over time often gets easier as we grow closer to the spirit, and stop wanting bad things.
I love the idea of never-ending happiness.  Let's reach for that today.  Let's get ourselves facing God, and stay on that path.  That's the one that goes there.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Alma 15:3-4 -- On Admitting We're Wrong

"And also Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness, for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat.
Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart began to take courage; and he sent a message immediately unto them, desiring them to come unto him."
Alma 15:3-4

Some extreme fast-forward background on these verses: Alma and Amulek preach to the people in the city.  One of the people harassing them and arguing with them is Zeezrom.  Zeezrom is a smart guy, and he probably thinks that he can catch these obvious frauds in a lie.  And when they answer everything he asks, and they turn out not to be frauds, he is kind of speechless.  Then, he finds out that the people he was supporting are crazy enough to want to kill the people that believe.  Zeezrom tries to stop it, but he just gets driven out of town, and after they are gone, the people in the city round up the copies of scripture, as well as anyone who believes among the wives and the children of those they kicked out, and they burn them all.
I think we all get wrapped up in things that we later regret, but this was some pretty serious regret for Zeezrom, and the guilt, as it were, was killing him.  So when he finds out that Alma and Amulek are still alive, he has a little bit of hope, and he asks to see them.  What strikes me about this whole story is that Zeezrom was brave enough to admit that he was wrong, and to stand up for these men of God, and then was humble enough to later ask for their help, even though he had been on the other side and fighting them to begin with.  That's a really hard thing, and I think sometimes in our own lives we don't turn around and proclaim the truth even when we realize it because our pride gets in the way and we don't want to say we were wrong.  But the story of Zeezrom offers hope, because it shows all of us that we can turn our lives around and be part of the good guys if we want to be.  If we realize that we're on the wrong side, it isn't ever too late to repent and change.  It's hard... definitely hard, but he shows us that it *is* possible.  Today, let's work on being as bold and as humble as Zeezrom was.  Let's be brave enough to admit when we are wrong, and strong enough to seek the truth despite mockery or rejection.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Ezekiel 44:23 -- On Seeing the Difference

"And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean."
Ezekiel 44:23

This chapter is talking about some of the duties of priests, and as I read this particular part I thought that it would be a good thing for us to think about today.  Sometimes we need to review the basics, because we start getting into the complexities of life and we forget.
Can we see, today, the difference between the holy and the profane?  Are we making the distinction between the unclean and the clean in our lives?  Do we notice and avoid the bad things in our lives, or do we just accept them and let them wash over us?  Today, let's work on making a distinction.  Let's not become acclimated to evil.  Again, this isn't about rejecting others at all.  God is all about love, and we should be too.  It is about choosing, for ourselves, what we want inside our heads and part of our lives and perspectives.  Today, let's avoid the questionable conversation, the offensive scene in the book or movie.  Let's not just go along when others are being mocked.  Let's examine our lives as they go along, and let's embrace the holy and reject the profane.  Let's be clean, and thus better able to hear the Lord's promptings, to help others, and to get the Lord's help in our own lives.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

2 Nephi 30:1-2 -- On Covenanting with God

"And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.
For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel."
2 Nephi 30:1-2

The people in the book of Mormon were of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Lehi's family lived in Jerusalem before they were instructed by God to depart.  So, in these verses Nephi is basically telling people not to feel superior because of their genealogy.  The same thing happens to a certain extent now.  We often feel that we are born into a family or group that is exceptional and favored of God.  ... And in some ways that is true.  In my Patriarchal Blessing it tells me that I am of the lineage and blood of Abraham, and come through the lineage of Ephraim, Joseph's son.  Those things are amazingly cool to know, and definitely, as the children of the prophets, we have inherited some amazing promises.  However, as it says in these verses, none of that matters unless we repent, and keep the commandments.  The Lord only covenants with people who do so.  No matter how cool we have the potential to be, we have to live up to it, right?  And he offers that same potential to others who are willing to live up to it as well.
In thinking about covenants, my mind keeps going to Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."  ... That reasoning leads to a promise between us and God.  We agree to repent and follow him, and he agrees to make us clean... clean like we were never dirty.  Restored to perfect, pristine condition... completely unsullied.  And that promise isn't just to a specific group.  It is to everyone.  And God *wants* everyone to take it.  He isn't sitting up in heaven thinking, oh, well, I hope SHE doesn't take me up on that promise, because I don't really like her. :)  He likes me fine... *and* everyone else.  In fact, he loves us more than we can imagine with our limited mortal minds. :)  And he wants us to take the deal. :)  It's a pretty good one.  No matter what we've done or who we have been, God offers to wipe the slate clean, and make us spiritually as though we had never sinned if we will turn our lives around.  That's the best rehabilitation program around.  We just have to realize that we need it. :)
Today, let's work on not being prideful, because of our cool genealogy or anything else.  Let's remember that we really need God in our lives.  Everything is better with him.  We are better, we are happier, we are more prepared, and we are kinder and love people more.  Let's covenant with God to keep his commandments and to repent of our sins.  Sometimes those things are hard, I know.  But nothing could be more worth it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Isaiah 1:27 -- On Being Zion

"Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness."
Isaiah 1:27

This is a good thing to think about.  Often we think about redemption as something that is only active on God's side.  We are broken and God comes and picks us up and puts us back together, right?  Except, if he does it all, where do we end up?  We can't end up as spiritual invalids.  Redemption requires our participation in order for us to become something more than what we are.  And that means judgment and that means righteousness.  Those are things that we have to work at and work for.  If we are going to become part of Zion, we need to be part of a perfect society by learning who we are and what we have to offer, not just expecting God to take care of everything for us. :)
Today, let's improve our judgment and our righteousness, and do our best to be ready for God to judge us by our righteousness as well.  Let's start giving back, and work on being Zion people, and building that perfect society.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Isaiah 25:7 -- On Memories and Joy

"And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations."
Isaiah 25:7

We all lived before this life with God.  We typically have no memories of that time, because in order to give us this mortal experience and make our choices completely ours, God placed a veil over our memories of that time.  We encounter the veil or symbolic representations of the veil in the scriptures often.  For instance, the brother of Jared "could not be kept from beholding within the veil" (Ether 3:19), and in visions, prophets can often see through the veil, or have the veil lifted (D&C 110:1).  The veil is also referred to in relation to the temple often as a symbolic barrier between us and God (Exodus 26:33).
Can you imagine what it will be like when that veil is lifted, as Isaiah prophecies here?  President Ezra Taft Benson said, "Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us."  And if the veil is lifted for the entire Earth at the same time?  WOW. :)  What a change... an incredible and instant change, when we have memories return to us of premortal lives. :)  It will be a great day with a lot of rejoicing. :)  I look forward to it, but I am also a little worried, that I'll remember how cool I wanted to be in this life, and not really have lived up to it as well as I should have. :)  So, today, let's work on living up to the dreams of who we have been, even if we can't remember them. :)  Let's be better than even we could expect. :)  Then, whether the veil is lifted for us at death or we live to see it lifted for the whole Earth together, our joy at those revelations will be unrestrained. :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

3 Nephi 16:17-20 -- On Being Ready for a Better World

"And then the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled, which say:
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God."
3 Nephi 16:17-20

This is Christ, visiting the American continent, quoting Isaiah.  I really like that context, because it shows that he was applying it specifically to the people he was talking to.  This whole chapter is actually amazing with so many interesting things, but I wanted to talk about the two sides of this particular prophecy.  Overall, this is a joyful prophecy, talking about people finally being able to see eye to eye, and singing for joy, and comfort and peace, and pure knowledge.  God reveals his arm and everyone, very clearly, will see and know God's work... unto the ends of the earth.
The other side of it is a little scary though.  Part of the chapter talks about destruction and things that will lead up to this eventual bliss.  It's almost like the garden of Eden in reverse.  Adam and Eve had to leave the garden, and the world started to grow weeds and to cause them to work a little bit harder for everything.  In order to restore us to a similar, but superior, bliss, God will have to do some weeding.  And whenever we read of destruction, or see it actually in the world, the question comes up... how can God be just and merciful and allow this to happen?  And the answer is, it's been a long time coming.  As much as we don't like to talk about Hell and judgment... they both exist.  Probably they aren't quite the same as they are often portrayed in the media, but the truth is, we really will have evil restored to us if we choose evil in our lives.  We live in a largely unjust world, which God allows to be that way in some areas in order to give us the space and the multiple chances that we need in order to change and repent.  But it only delays justice... it never removes it.  Christ paid the price for everyone in overcoming death, and also the price of sin for the people who are actively working to give it up and forsake it.  Which is why we need to.  Why it is so important that we accept Christ's gift and apply it to our lives... because we don't want to suffer the consequences of our poor decisions.  And we don't have to, if we let Christ in.
None of this to lessen the amazing joyfulness of this scripture.  The redemption of Jerusalem, the restoration of Zion... a world where we all see eye to eye, and God is revealed to all.  That is a world to sing about. :)  Today, let's work for that.  Let's be there, rejoicing, with clear consciences and looking forward to so much more.  Let's make sure we're ready for that, and not still delaying our repentance or standing in the perfect garden and missing the weeds.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

1 Timothy 4:12 -- On Lists, Examples, and Saving Everyone

"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
1 Timothy 4:12

There are a lot of good things in this chapter, but today I was really drawn to this list.  We're of course commanded to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), but having some lists always helps us know some specific things to work on within that idea of striving for perfection. :)  In this one, Paul not only defends the testimony of youth, which I think is important, but he points out some specific areas where we can be better examples.
We can work on making our words better examples.  I think this probably applies not only to avoiding obscenities, but also to our tone.  We could be less critical, and more positive and hopeful in what we say.  As we discussed previously in Philippians 1:9-10, we could also approve things that are excellent.
We can be better examples in conversation.  I think that part of that is just *having* conversations.  We can reach out to other people more, approaching them and not waiting for them to approach us.  We can also be sincere, truthful, and kind in our conversation.  We can work on giving everyone our attention in the moment, and not taking time away from our conversation to worry about other things or plan what to say next rather than listening.  This is not at all to say that we can't enjoy witty banter.  Just that we have to respect, as with everything else, God's boundaries.  Having fun with others should never turn into having fun at the expense of others.
We can be better examples in charity... in both senses. :)  In the sense that charity is the pure love of Christ, we can work on really caring about the people around us... and actually the people that aren't around us. :)  We can take a step back and work on getting a better perspective, seeing the good in people and not pre-judging them.  We can also work on being more generous with others, and helping people without bitterness or grudging.  Let's work on seeing all people as valuable, and doing what we can to lift each other up.
We can be better examples of the spirit.  We can work harder to feel God's presence in our lives, and when Heavenly Father prompts us to do or say something, we can work on recognizing those things, and doing them as well and as quickly as we can.  We can also avoid situations and actions that will drive God's spirit away.  We can work on the way we come across to others by being calm, peaceful, kind, and joyful.  I'm definitely not saying be fake... but the more often we can feel the joy that God is broadcasting to us, the more we really will feel that way, and the more it will come across to others.
We can be better examples of faith.  We can really trust God and stop worrying so much.  This is not to say we shouldn't be prepared for change or disaster, because as much as we can be, we should be.  But if we really trust God, we can probably turn the anxiety down several notches and enjoy our lives more.  God will help us face, and learn from, whatever comes, and lead us to whatever we truly need.  Worrying about things, even when we are in the middle of them, isn't going to do anything but stress us out.  What will help is prayer, and diving in and solving what we can, a little at a time.
Finally, we can be better examples of purity.  The world doesn't seem to admire purity very much.  It is often seen as naive or childish.  And, you know... that's okay.  In Matthew 18:3, Christ explains that reaching heaven requires us to become like little children.  I think part of that is assuredly purity.  We tend to grow up and become more corrupt.  We learn to be insincere.  We learn to bend the rules or go along with the crowd or whatever.  But God asks us to stand up for what we believe and for his laws.  We don't have to become popular by drinking or smoking or having sex outside the bonds of marriage.  We can be pure, and still have friends.  We can be pure, and still be successful.  Sometimes they are different friends, and sometimes it is successful in a different way... but if those are the changes required to stay on God's path, there is no doubt that they lead to a better place.
In verse 16 later in this chapter it says "in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."  Let's work on that today.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

1 Peter 2:21-23 -- On Christ's Example

"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"
1 Peter 2:21-23

Christ set an incredible example for us.  Not one that was meant to be unobtainable, but one that we can strive for, and become ever closer to as we work to follow him.
I'm not saying that suffering is fun, or that it isn't tempting to fight back sometimes... but it is in exactly those moments when we *have* been wronged and it is clearly unjust when Christ's example means the most.  He didn't return evil for evil.  He didn't threaten when he was suffering.  He was the one who had the power to do what we might all dream of doing at one time or another.  He had the power to stop everyone who was hurting him.  He had the power to visit justice on them and never allow them to accost anyone else with their power hungry falsehoods and corruption.  But instead, he turned to Heavenly Father, knowing that what they did couldn't touch him on any level that mattered in the eternal scheme of things.  Even in his pain, he refrained from harming or threatening anyone who wronged him.  Just as he passed on judging the woman taken in adultery, and just as he passes on judging us, and allows us to live our lives and learn and grow and hopefully improve... he allowed even his own tormentors the same space to live and change and become who they chose to become.
Setting an example is really hard in our worst moments.  Those are the moments that we are most tempted... to lash out, to verbally deride or to physically punish.  We want a lightning bolt to come and make things fair and right and to correct the injustice or heal the harm.  But let's try to remember that sometimes we have been the ones that have been unfair to others, who have judged incorrectly or harmed other people, and have walked away unscathed.  We're all in this together.  Just as we have been given a pass for doing bad things, so we should often give others a pass... and commit ourselves to God, who will make everything right in the end.
I think sometimes we think that serving God shouldn't cause us anguish.  That it's better to lash out now and feel better, or that allowing injustice to exist is intolerable.  And certainly there are cases where we need to go to the authorities and prevent further people from being harmed, or remove ourselves from a deteriorating situation.  But I think that often we just want to be right, and we want someone to prove it and show it.  And sometimes we just want something to relieve the sense of betrayal and the pain that we feel.  But holding on to our negative emotions will cause us more anguish than anything else.  If we can actually get to the point where we can sincerely pray for the people who have wronged us, asking the Lord to soften their hearts and help them make better decisions, then maybe we are getting closer to the way that Christ feels about us all.  As it says in the verse directly before this selection: "For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."  Today, even when it is hard, and even when it causes us suffering, let's try to follow Christ's example, let go of our grudges and resentments, and give space to each other to repent.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Philippians 1:9-10 -- On Letting our Love Abound

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;"
Philippians 1:9-10

I like the idea of love within knowledge and judgment.  I know that in my life, sometimes I don't approve things that are excellent because a conflict with the person presenting whatever excellent thing it is gets in the way.  I am working on that, and I think slowly getting better, but perhaps a lot of us do that.  I think one of the things that Paul is getting at here is something that God asks us elsewhere as well.  If we are sincere and without offense, then our love will be "without dissimulation" (Romans 12:9).  We won't be faking our social interactions with anyone or pretending to be nice... we really will be.  And when we really learn to love other people, we won't get into petty arguments with them or overlook excellent ideas because of a person.  Our knowledge and judgment and everything we do will be infused with love, and we will be able to let go of our pride and see the good in everyone, and approve all excellent things, whether the person who presented it is a friend or not.  We'll be able to follow Christ's instruction to "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you." (Luke 6:28).  I don't think that it happens all at once, but the more that we can feel that love for everyone, the more we will start to get it, and move toward feeling that all the time.  Today, let's let our love abound.  Let's lace it into all of our interactions, and show it to everyone around us, whether or not they return the feeling.  Let's be kinder, and more patient, and take more time to think about how to make our interactions positive and loving, to everyone, every minute.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alma 38:10-12 -- On Diligence, Temperance, and Choice

"And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things.
See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength.
Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness."
Alma 38:10-12

I thought this was interesting today in terms of things that the Lord teaches us.  Alma is instructing his son Shiblon in this chapter, and he mentions some gospel principles that are directly applicable to our lives.  Diligence and temperance are very important things.  Diligence is basically learning to work and to be dedicated and follow through on things.  That matters in almost everything that we do.  And temperance, which is self-restraint, is massively important in almost everything as well.  Alma goes on to discuss some examples.  He talks about pride and boastfulness as examples of overdoing it.  This I think applies to both diligence *and* temperance.
With diligence, I think sometimes we get it into our heads that intelligence and talent is all inborn, and whether we are good or bad at something is going to stay the same throughout our lives.  And so it often is in society, when we believe that, we make it happen.  But as in everything else, God shows us a more excellent way.  Some types of intelligence and talent may be inborn, sure... but our willingness to keep trying and our openness to learning new things can matter much more than that inborn capacity in actual practice.  Just because something is harder for us than something else doesn't mean we should give up and stop learning it.  It just means that we need to work harder and try a little bit more.  We all have strengths and weaknesses, but that shouldn't stop us from making our own choices about what we want to learn and do.  With God and some effort, we can make weaknesses into strengths.
With temperance, I think we start with some of the same misconceptions.  We think that our urges and desires control us... that our emotions just happen and we can't do anything about it.  In fact sometimes we think that expressing them (often "at" other people) is a healthy way to release tension.  But again, God shows us a more excellent way.  Alma explains in these verses that we should be bold.  We should have opinions and be willing to share and express them.  But we shouldn't take it too far.  We need to not be overbearing and restrict other people's ability to express themselves.  Expressing ourselves and respecting and listening to others when *they* do so are both good things.  We need to bridle our passions.  And yes, sure, some instincts and desires are inborn, just as intelligence and talent can be.  But those things don't have to, and most of the time should not, control us.  We still, with God's help, have the opportunity to control (or bridle) those things and be who we want to be, not just turn into the result of each instinctual response.  Just as we teach children how to have some patience or sit still, we can teach ourselves similar restraint in whatever emotion or desire we encounter in our lives.  Alma tells us that controlling our emotions and desires in this way leaves room for us to be filled with love.
Alma's final admonition to refrain from idleness probably applies to both diligence and temperance.  If we have something to accomplish, we probably should get to it, and if we are working to combat an undesired emotion, often engaging in a distracting activity (like that thing we should accomplish) will help us get our minds on something else.  Today, let's work on not being controlled by our perception of our inborn traits that we wear like a straitjacket.  Let's choose who we want to be, and remember that we *can* change our minds, hearts, talents, and emotions with God's help and some work. :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Isaiah 28:10 -- On Learning and Additional Potential

"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"
Isaiah 28:10

This is an excerpt from some verses that talk about how the Lord teaches us.  He makes the point in the previous verse that you can't teach children the same way you teach adults, and then he moves on to say this.  I think this is something that we can all understand... that we need to learn the basics first, and then build upon that, step by step.  We get that on some level, even though I think that we are very impatient, and often claim to be more advanced than we are, like the toddler claiming to be big enough to do everything his parents do.
Physical growth doesn't always mean a lot, as I think we have all seen.  We can be adults and still not understand love very well, or faith, or social skills.  We might be great at some things, but not at others, because we focus on different areas and are interested in different things.  Even with the big, abstract things, we probably know more than we did before.  We have added a few lines and a few precepts.  In comparison, God knows all of it.  I know it isn't necessarily pleasant to think of ourselves as children after all that work of growing up, but maybe it softens the blow that we are *his* children, and he is teaching us all as fast as we are able to learn.
Today, let's be open to learning the next line and the next precept.  Let's work on being patient and not expect to understand everything at once.  If we want wisdom in order to do good, God will grant it to us, but even so, it most likely will come a little at a time as we work on it, not as 10 petabytes of extra brain storage conveniently installed while we sleep.  Let's listen and learn and understand that we aren't as big as we think we are.  We still have some growing up to do.  Let's be okay with further potential, and jump in and learn and grow. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lamentations 3:55-59 -- On God and Dungeons

"I called upon thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon.
Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.
O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.
O Lord, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause."
Lamentations 3:55-59

I think we all have times in our lives when we feel like we are in the "low dungeon."  At times like that, we turn to the Lord instinctively.  We feel alone, and sometimes God is the only one available who is willing to hear our cries.  And he helps us.  He calms our fears and he defends us, and he saves our lives.  When we have been wronged, we ask him to judge and bring justice.
Other times though, I think that we are sitting up a little higher in the castle, not really concerned with the low dungeon.  Maybe we're lucky enough to be on the throne, or maybe we're working in the kitchens, or we're minor nobility attending a ball, or maybe we're the doorkeepers.  Our lives are pretty good compared to that low dungeon.  When we have troubles, we usually tell them to a friend or if we're on the throne, maybe we consign many of our problems to the dungeons.
I think the thing that we often miss is that we need God in all of those places.  He is there to listen at all times... whether it is a ball or an execution.  He isn't just a foul-weather friend whose purpose for existence is to pull us out of dungeons.  He's there to rejoice with us as well, and to help us learn how to be better monarchs, cooks, guests, or doorkeepers... not just better prisoners. :)
Today, let's call on God in our triumphs and our tragedies, and in our mediocre moments.  Let's include him in whatever we're going through, whoever we are, and whatever our current titles or responsibilities.  Let's get to know him better, and get his help not only in getting justice, but also in being just.

Monday, April 13, 2015

2 Timothy 3:15 -- On Wisdom through Scripture Study

"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 3:15

I love this idea... that the scriptures are able to make us wise.  I think it is true, if we take the time to study them regularly.  They are inspired by God, and learning what God has to say is something that can teach us to be more like him, which would not only be wiser, but kinder.  The second part of the wisdom thing is "unto salvation."  Not just wise, but SO wise that we will be able to be saved. :)  I think that comes, again, through becoming more like God, understanding why he asks us to keep each of the commandments, how they help our lives and teach us compassion and wisdom.  Commandments in general seem to make sense, but often there are one or two that are specifically challenging to us individually.  God can help us with those, and help us to understand why he asks what he does.  It is never about arbitrary cruelty or torture.  It is always about what will be best for us long-term.  Today, let's read the scriptures.   Let's learn about faith and mercy and repentance.  Let's take the time needed to learn to see things from God's perspective, and then let's take the time to incorporate that improved perspective into our own.  Let's see every person as valuable.  Let's see each commandment as uplifting and educational.  And when we can't understand, let's have the faith to keep reading, until we learn to become "wise unto salvation."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

1 Nephi 4:6 -- On Walking into the Unknown with Faith

"And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."
1 Nephi 4:6

I think that this is an amazing verse because it illustrates a level of faith that is really hard for us sometimes.  In our lives, we can't see ahead.  We don't know if moving to a new place will be a positive experience or not.  We don't know whether the new job will work out, or even if we will get it.  We have a lot of anxiety over things like that.  What if this and what if that?  But often, if we calm down enough to listen to the spirit, God is telling us to move forward anyway... even if we can't see whether it will work out or not.  Now, I am not saying that God doesn't want us to plan ahead, or that he encourages gambling.  He asks us to think ahead and be prepared, and he tells us not to gamble.  But he does encourage us to trust him and walk into the unknown anyway.  As we take God's hand and allow him to guide us, and pray for direction, he places opportunities and people in our paths that will help us grow and become, and he grants us what we need.  Today, let's have the faith that Nephi had.  Let's not stay immobilized with indecision and fear.  Let's make decisions and move forward, trusting God to grant us blessings, insight, and course corrections as needed.  He will guide us and help us as we live righteously and put our trust in him.  That doesn't mean that life will be perfect, of course.  But it does mean that we'll find beauty and peace and the perfect people and moments in our lives, with the exact timing of God, helping our lives take twists and turns and rest stops that we never expected, but which will bless us immeasurably, help us bless the lives of others, and change us into more of the type of people that we want to be.  Let's move forward, knowing that God will direct our paths, as we have faith and ask him to do so.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

John 6:35 -- On Filling the Emptiness

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
John 6:35

In reading this today, it made me think of what hunger and thirst are like... that emptiness, or ache that needs to be filled.  And I think that the worst ache of all is the spiritual ache, that emptiness that we often feel, right where God should be.
If we want to be filled, we can turn to Jesus. He is the balm to every wound, and the answer to every question.  Let's go to him and and never be empty again.

Friday, April 10, 2015

1 Timothy 4:7-8 -- On Spiritual Exercise

"But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
1 Timothy 4:7-8

This is an interesting analogy, comparing physical and spiritual exercise.  Paul tells Timothy that bodily exercise "profiteth little."  I think that exercise is really important for our physical well-being, and that both things he talks about here are important, but I also think that Paul makes a good point, that compared to spiritual health, the importance of physical health is much less.  If we think of the health trends in our society today, and how many gyms and calorie counters and health articles are online, I wonder what our society would be like if we put that same kind of effort into trying to be like God.  Maybe we do in some ways, at least in cutting corners and trying to get all the benefits without the required work. :)
Today, let's exercise ourselves unto godliness.  Let's remember that God comes first, and is more important than all of the rest.  Let's do the things that will bring us closer to God.  Let's flex our spiritual muscle a little bit and build ourselves up in the areas that matter more than any other.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Joseph Smith—History 1:30 -- On Angels

"While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor."
Joseph Smith—History 1:30

We read in the scriptures all the time of things like this happening, but I can't imagine how overwhelming it would be to see in person.  A personage standing in the air.  I think that might help you to take whatever the person said more seriously, as well as recognizing that it was a messenger from God. :)  I also like the light part, and whether the light is emanating from the personage / angel, or whether it is the way that they they travel, either or both is amazing.
The coolest part is that it is all from God, who promises to reveal all things eventually, so someday we will have the chance to know how all of it works, and maybe even to participate ourselves in events like this.  Today, let's remember how overwhelmingly amazing God and his ways are, and let's live worthy of continued revelation. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

D&C 136:41-42 -- On Reasons for Obedience

"Now, therefore, hearken, O ye people of my church; and ye elders listen together; you have received my kingdom.
Be diligent in keeping all my commandments, lest judgments come upon you, and your faith fail you, and your enemies triumph over you. So no more at present. Amen and Amen."
Doctrine and Covenants 136:41-42

I like it when the Lord tells us why.  I think he tells us why frequently, but we don't always see it as why.  Instead we misinterpret it as a threat.  Here, God is not threatening us with judgments or anything else.  He's warning us and trying to save us from these consequences of disobedience.  If we are disobedient, we're going to walk into trouble.  God knows that, and we know that if we take the time to think about it.  It's so much easier for our faith to fail if we aren't doing what it takes to maintain it and strengthen it, and when we choose not to have God's power in our lives, then we leave ourselves open and vulnerable to our enemies.
Today, let's remember that obedience, rather than being a burden, is meant as a protection and a safety to us.  Let's treat it that way, and be diligent in being obedient and staying close to God.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

1 Corinthians 6:2 -- On Judging

"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?"
1 Corinthians 6:2

This is Paul writing to the Corinthians, and just to clarify, the "saints" he was writing to here were the regular members of the church, not a separate group of extra cool ones, so it still applies to us. :)

This seems like an admonition for judging, which seems weird, right, since Christ said "Judge not" (Matthew 7:1)?  However, Christ also said "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24). So, what is it?  Are we supposed to judge or not judge?  Like the scriptures about resisting evil, I think it is a case where sometimes we should and sometimes we shouldn't, and the idea is to get us to think about what we're doing a lot more carefully.

After Christ says judge not, he says "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."  I think that shows that it is better to reserve judgment than to jump in and make a bad judgment.  With people, refusing to judge and allowing them to grow and change and become without our condemnation is probably a good things.  Ezra Taft Benson also said "Never demean yourself," and Gordon B Hinckley said "I hope you will never demean or belittle yourselves."  These seem to agree with Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:3: "I judge not mine own self."  Judging ourselves and others is a bad idea... that judgment belongs to God.

So, what exactly *are* we supposed to judge?  Perhaps "matters" as Paul mentions above.  In this chapter, Paul is basically talking about lawsuits (although of course legal matters were handled somewhat differently when he wrote).  He's saying that we shouldn't sue each other, and that we can decide those things on our own.  I think that also helps us to understand that we do need to make judgments every day.  Not ones that condemn or dismiss people, or belittle ourselves, but ones that determine our path.  We have to choose which job to take and sometimes which friends to have.  We have to determine our actions, choose our influences, and in some ways "judge the world."  We should judge between right and wrong, and choose the right.  We should promote good, and bring to pass righteousness... and we can't do that without making some judgments and choosing a path.

Today, let's make some judgments about the world around us and figure out how to make things better within our spheres of influence.  Let's choose to be influences for good, and stand up for what is right.  Let's judge righteous judgment, and be willing to take action to make the world better.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Psalms 43:5 -- On Emotional Health

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
Psalms 43:5

Sometimes we feel down or disquieted.  And although of course repenting as needed usually helps, we can also feel bad even when we are doing everything right without knowing or understanding what triggered the feeling.  And that's when we have to give ourselves lectures like this one in Psalms, and work on changing how we are thinking and feeling, with God's help.  God is always there, and hope is always within reach, but sometimes we can't make it there emotionally.  God cares about our social, mental, and emotional health just as much as he cares about our physical health, and he can heal us and help us in all of these ways.  It's unlikely to be immediate, mostly because we need to learn how to do this for ourselves, and pull ourselves out of emotionally bad spaces, overcome our irritability when talking to others, change our self-defeating thoughts, or whatever it is.. but he will make it easier, and make it possible for us to learn.
Let's turn to God.  He offers health... he *is* our health, as we turn to him and get his help in this as in all things.  Let's open up to him and allow him to help us learn and change, and be able to manage our emotional lives just as he helps us with learning to be spiritual.  We can be so much more, in so many ways, as we let go of our old selves and embrace the changes that God offers.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Galatians 2:20-21 -- On Giving Ourselves

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
Galatians 2:20-21

The law matters, of course, and we show respect to God by living it.  Obedience to it also changes us into people who will be comfortable in God's presence, which we are striving to get back to.  But obedience to commandments doesn't save us.  Christ does.  What he did for us gives us life, which I think is why this analogy is here.  He died for us, and we die too, joining with him in that necessity, but we are also reborn because of him... his life, in many ways, because he paid the price for it, which we were unable to pay on our own.  Righteousness comes because of Christ, who overcame the law, and who gives us a way to overcome sin and our own weaknesses.
Christ is not dead in vain.  He lives; he has saved us from physical death, and given us a way to overcome spiritual death.  His grace reaches us wherever we are, and allows us to turn and learn and become more than we could be on our own.  Today, let's turn to him, the only source of salvation we have.  He gave himself for us.  Let's give ourselves to him.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Joel 2:12-13 -- On Hearts

"Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil."
Joel 2:12-13

I wonder if we ever take the phrase "with all your heart" seriously.  I think we often just commit a tiny bit of our hearts, to God, and often even to other people.  It's interesting in these two verses because the first one says give all your heart, and the second one says break your heart.  Instead of showing our humility or repentance or commitment in some outward way, God is asking us to show in an inward way.  To change our hearts... to become new people, to change who we are.  He asks us to turn to him, and to do that sometimes we need to change a lot.  We need to change our minds and our hearts and our actions.  At some point in our lives we have to look at ourselves and realize that we want to be more than we can make of ourselves, and to really become who we want to be, for that transformation that we can't do alone... for that we need God. And in order to understand and grow closer to God, and just to allow him to help us, we have to let go of who we have been.  We have to throw away our souvenirs of Hell, and dedicate ourselves to heaven.  It doesn't happen overnight, but it must happen for us to get there.I like how it mentions fasting and weeping and mourning.  Those things are often part of repentance and change.  Fasting, combined with prayer, helps us learn self-mastery and helps us focus on the needs of others rather than our own.  Weeping and mourning are often part of losing habits or ways of looking at the world... we loved those things or we wouldn't have done them or thought that way in the first place.  But the weeping can often also be for joy, when we discover that what God has in store for us, and who we are becoming is so much better than anything we used to be.  It can be hard sometimes to remember why we wanted those other things so much.  Today, let's turn to God with all of our hearts, with broken hearts, and let's allow God to show us how to be so much more.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Psalms 5:3 -- On Morning Prayer

"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up."
Psalms 5:3

I love mornings.  I know that not everyone does, but to me they are calm and peaceful and fresh and new... a new start each day, a time to collect our thoughts and prepare for the day's challenges.  And it seems like the perfect time to pray and read scriptures as well, showing God that we love him and put him first, as well as getting his assistance for the day ahead. :)  Today, whenever we get up and start the day, early or late, let's look up.  Let's raise our voices to God, and thank him for all that he has done and continues to do for us.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Mosiah 8:15-17 -- On Seers, Prophets, and Revelation

"And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet.
And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.
But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known."
Mosiah 8:15-17

General Conference is this coming weekend, and in thinking about these verses, that is what came to mind.  This talks about seers, revelators, and prophets, and this weekend we have the chance to actually listen to some in real life, instead of just in the pages of scripture.  Like so much of the gospel, it's miraculous just to think about the opportunity and potential that God is granting us here.
As it talks about, a seer can basically know anything, and so God can answer our questions by speaking through them, even when we're having a hard time hearing his voice in our own lives.  If there is something that God wants to say to the world, we are going to hear it from prophets, seers, and revelators, which conveniently is the lineup of speakers for this weekend. :). General Conference is where we are going to hear God's messengers share what God thinks is relevant for our day.
Today, and this weekend, let's remember how important prophets and seers are.  Let's make the time to be instructed by modern revelation, and God's messages to each of us that will touch us individually as we listen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Genesis 39:7-10 -- On Obedience, Even When It Is Difficult

"And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her."
Genesis 39:7-10

This story seems so foreign to our society.  Can you imagine seeing a movie or watching a television episode where something like this happens, and the person doesn't eventually give in?  Our culture seems so desensitized to fornication and adultery that we think that those are part of the normal way that the world should work.  In fact, Joseph, in trying to do the right thing, would probably be mocked in our society.
Today, let's remember that what we learn in the world is not what God teaches.  Let's have a higher standard, and stand up for what what God asks of us and we know to be right.  What Joseph did wasn't easy, dealing with that temptation every day, but he did the right thing and he distanced himself and protected himself all he could.  He made the right choices, despite being sold into slavery and separated from his former life.  No matter our circumstances, we can make the right choices too.  God gives us the power to obey his commandments.  Let's work on doing that, on serving God, and staying far away from temptation.  Too often we try to see how close we can get without being burned, and then decide that a little burning isn't all that bad.  Instead, let's avoid the flames altogether.  Let's do things God's way, and trust him that our lives will be so much better his way than if we just give in whenever things get difficult.

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