Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Alma 5:6-7 -- On Memory and Change

"And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?
Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them."
Alma 5:6-7


This first verse has some really good questions for us.  Do we remember the captivity of our fathers?  Do we remember God's mercy and longsuffering towards our ancestors?  Do we remember that he delivered them from hell?
I think we mostly want to avoid thinking about hell, and often want to avoid thinking about our ancestors as well. :)  But there are some good lessons here... about our ancestors in the scriptures specifically, but also about other ancestors.  Do we remember God in their lives?  Do we know how God affected them?  This is one of the reasons that we are asked to keep journals, so that we can pass this information on to our posterity, but even if we don't have that information, we can see how having or not having the gospel has affected people, and we have the scriptures to fall back on.
Alma the younger, the one writing this selection, had some personal experience with feeling damned.  He had been going about to destroy the church, and only the prayers of his father on his behalf and the subsequent experience of having an angel condemn him woke him up to how he was destroying his life.  He was completely against God and the church, but as the second verse says about others, his heart was changed, by God.  He was saved from the darkness, destruction, death, and the chains of hell.  Similarly, we can look back at the lives of the prophets, back at the lives of our fathers, and even back at our own lives.
I'm guessing most of us have felt hopeless and lost at some point or another.  We may even have rejected the gospel or fought against it like Alma the younger.  Maybe we, even now, don't think that God is being fair or kind... that he should accept us all as we are rather than asking us to change.  And when we feel like that, or act on those feelings, then we are lost, just as surely as Alma was.  We're setting ourselves against God, and are headed to hell... unfortunately the only alternative to heaven. :)  When we turn away from God, we turn towards Satan, who likes us to think that we can do whatever we want and still be okay.  But to have God in our lives, we have to change.  Not only behaviorally, but we have to allow him to change our hearts.  Our attitudes have to change.  The things that we want that aren't compatible with God's law, we have to let go of those things, not claim them as our rights by birth or any other way.  We have to release the addictions, we have to want God more than whatever it is... more than anything, and we have to ask him to change our hearts for good.  Not just adjusting a little, to going to church on Sunday, but adjusting our lifestyle, our attitudes, our whole selves.  As C.S. Lewis said, “If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”  We have to let go of our souvenirs, no matter how precious or seemingly central to our lives.
Today, let's follow in the footsteps of the prophets, including Alma the younger.  Let's remember God's mercy and deliverance in the past, and let's apply it in our lives.  Let's remember that we have to let go of Hell all the way in order to accept Heaven.  Let's allow God to change our hearts and save us from destruction, as he saved our ancestors.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Psalms 65:2 -- On Prayer and Coming to God

"O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come."
Psalms 65:2


Prayer is the most basic form of communication.  Speaking and writing are complicated by the fact that we have to divorce our words from the context of our minds, and so the history and meaning of everything that we are saying... our memories and feelings... are missing, and so communication is always a sort of translation from what is inside to what is outside.  It also opens that sort of external communication to the possibility of deceit and intentional misunderstanding.  With God though, he's there with us.  All the context comes along with the message.  Feelings and memory are intertwined into the message, and God understands all of it, and when he sends us impressions and messages back (often through reading his words in the scriptures), he points out things to us that matter in our individual mind-context. :)
We go through our lives wanting people to understand us, but only one always does, on every level, and that is God.  And so I think it makes a lot of sense that we will all come to God.  Our souls yearn for that kind of connection.  Maybe it won't be soon, or even in this lifetime, for everyone, but we are told that "every knee shall bow" and every tongue confess (Roman 14:11; Isaiah 45:23; Mosiah 27:31; D&C 88:104).  We all will eventually know the truth, and have that connection in our lives.  Today, let's welcome that connection and pray to our father, and get his help in out lives.  He can help us more than anyone else, because he understands every little particle of how we work.  Better than we do, in fact. :)  He knows what we can become... he knows that we can make it.  Let's come to him now, get his advice, and enrich our lives.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

D&C 101:25 -- On Endings and Beginnings

"And also that of element shall melt with fervent heat; and all things shall become new, that my knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the dearth."
Doctrine and Covenants 101:25


The elements melting with fervent heat sounds bad... like end-of-the-world bad, but then it says "and all things shall become new."  I really like the idea that the end *equals* the beginning with God.  In fact, God says many times in the scriptures that he is the beginning and the end, but I never really thought of them as equivalent.  What we think of as endings are also beginnings, and we don't have to be afraid of them.  I think this happens in our lives a lot.  We're used to our lives a certain way, and we have our values and our habits set.  And then God challenges them, to see what we really value, and teach us what is truly important.  And it is hard, because the idea of putting God first *necessarily* means that we have to place him before the things most important to us in the world.  It doesn't work if we only put him before the things that don't really matter that much anyway. :)  And so we run up against the things that we care about the most, or that annoy us the most, or that we want the most... and we're shown all of those things in sharp contrast to what God expects of us.  And when we pull back from the things that we've grown most attached to, it feels like part of us is dying.  Even when we know they are bad habits... even when we know that we're too addicted and that those things are huge triggers in our lives.  It's hard to let go of things that we identify with, that we've allowed to define us or guide our choices for a long time.  Whether those things are relationships or emotions or habits or incorrect beliefs, if they have been priority one for us, it is a death to us, and one that we can mourn or have a hard time not jumping back into.  And I don't want to diminish that feeling, but the idea here I think applies... when we melt those things out of our lives, we become new, and if they are worthy, sometimes they become new as well.  We might be in an unhealthy relationship and putting God before that relationship might help us learn to make it healthy.  Some things are unworthy completely and will be burned away, but even then... an unworthy and false belief can be replaced with a worthy and true one, when we allow God to perform that kind of soul surgery on us.  A bad habit's loss can give us the time and the space for a good habit.  Today, let's remember that with God, endings are always also new beginnings, and if we try to focus on the gain rather than the loss, we'll always be becoming new, and better.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

D&C 59:18-19 -- On Glad Hearts

"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul."
Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-19


I really like the "gladden the heart" part.  Sometimes I think we get it into our heads that life is just to be endured, not enjoyed.  And, for sure, not everything in life is fun.  But lots of it is, and sometimes even the parts that aren't could be, if we let ourselves focus on the positive things instead.  Maybe like Mary Poppins says: "find the fun, and snap--the job's a game."  Not always, but often.  Don't you wonder how much happiness and enjoyment we are missing out on sometimes, because we get so focused on tiny things that we can't do anything about?
Of course God has rules.  Rules help us learn how to interact with others, they help us learn about boundaries and danger, and they help us learn about ourselves with the training wheels on, so to speak.  Rules help us not to go too far, too fast, and help us avoid unfortunate consequences.  In the next verse in fact, God makes it clear, as with other things, that we're supposed to make good decisions about how we use the resources of the Earth.  But really, do rules diminish enjoyment?  I don't think so.  The opposite, even.  God's rules are there so we *can* enjoy.  So we avoid the traps and the chains that we so easily forge for ourselves, and we have the freedom to walk free and enjoy nature, and all the things that the earth provides.  Today, let's let our hearts be glad.  Let's enjoy, taste, smell, strengthen, and enliven.  And let's do all things within the Lord's boundaries, so that we can stay free spiritually and physically, and able to continue to enjoy his bounty.

Friday, June 26, 2015

D&C 128:15 -- On Community Perfection

"And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect."
Doctrine and Covenants 128:15


God's plan is amazing, don't you think?  In our society and in our lives we often forget about our ancestors and loved ones that have passed on.  Death is the end of consideration for a lot of things, and we focus on other things.  But God never forgets.  He wants to save everyone together, and he has a plan that can do it, if we are willing.  Through genealogy and temple work, we can make sure that all the generations are sealed together, and that no one gets left out.  Our great-great-great-great grandmothers and grandfathers will be there with us, part of the whole, saved together, through a group effort and the grace of God. :)
I like the idea of all of us being in it together as well.  It emphasizes the community nature of the world, and the essential interactive idea of the Zion ideal.  We can't be Zion people without others.  To have no poor among us, we have to take care of everyone, not just get filthy rich as individuals, or kick the poor out of the club.  We have to learn what it is like to really be part of a group, and have the group's best interests in mind, rather than sacrificing group goals for our individual goals.  And the idea that people who have passed on are *part* of that group is a mind-expanding thought.  It helps us focus on eternity, and the good of everyone on earth rather than just the people around us.
Today, let's remember that we are all in it together.  We can't be saved alone.  Let's joyfully help God through learning to love others, doing temple work, and considering what we can do to help reach towards the community perfection of Zion.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

1 Nephi 8:26-27 -- On Avoiding Mockery

"And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit."
1 Nephi 8:26-27


This is part of Lehi's dream, describing what was happening as people were falling away from the path and why.  Some of the people fell away because they were ashamed after being mocked by the people in the great and spacious building.  And usually I think of these verses as a lesson to those of us on the path, to remember to not worry about what other people say, and to remember that God is more important than popularity.  ... And that is definitely still a good thing to remember, for sure, but today I was thinking of it the other way.  How sad would it be to be one of those people in the great and spacious building?  I mean, sure, yeah... nice clothes, big cool floaty building, great view, lots of people watching out the window... but think about the whole restoration thing.  Do we really want God to give us back ... mockery?  disdain?  disrespect and disapproval?  intolerance?  Wow.  I don't think that is what *anyone* wants back in their lives.  And how empty too, to have that be who we are and what we do.  To be defined by our witty disparagement?
On the other hand, to be a person at the tree (the tree is discussed earlier, in verse 10), encouraging, loving, calling out to loved ones, encouraging people to find happiness... a better goal.  I think we get popularity and wealth mixed up with happiness and love sometimes.  We think that having power or money or popularity or looks or brains or talent, or whatever it is... we think that makes us better.  That people who aren't like us, who can't compete on our level, well, ... you know. :)  Mockery comes a little bit too easily to mind when we have decided that we are better in some way.
Today, let's try to remember that the things we really want aren't in the huge and awesome building.  We can't become our best selves by being merely popular, or rich, or powerful.  We become our best selves by turning to God, and getting his help.  And we definitely can't become Zion people through mockery.  Instead, we need to learn to love, and support, and lift others.  Today, let's head for the tree instead of the building, and find the most valuable thing in the universe. :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Alma 41:5 -- On Getting What We Want

"The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh."
Alma 41:5


A lot of people think about life as a scorecard or a report card, and whatever score or grade we get in this life determines where we go afterward.  If we get an A+ and do lots of extra credit, we might make heaven, but if we get a C or an F, eternity is going to be a lot less fun.  Now, I really can't speak to the fun, but the whole scorecard idea is pretty much disproven by this verse and many others like it.
The idea of "getting what we want" makes us all drool a little, I think.  Wow, really?  A mansion, and a puzzle, and all the nectarines I can eat, and... yeah, you know the drill.  We start dreaming.  And maybe our dreams go too far; I don't know.  But truly, in this verse, God *is* telling us that we get what we want, after this life, and probably also an awful lot during this life.  The whole idea of restoration is basically offering us just that.  What we truly want.  That is different than the idle dreaming, because in dreams we don't usually think of the bad things that we want.  So, we also have to remember that getting what we want isn't always a positive.  In fact, if we want something bad enough, we'll get that too, and we can really wreck our lives with things like that.  Drugs, pornography, and other sins and addictions can trap us into patterns and habits that might as well be chains, because once we're hooked, we don't want to reach outside and do other things or learn other things or be anything more than we are.  They trap us in selfishness and we prize our addictions and sins more than we care about other people and their needs.
Sometimes we think that we can participate in a lot of bad things, but what we really want are good things, and it will all work out... but that doesn't really work out either.  If good things were what we *really* wanted, that is where our focus would be, and we wouldn't be participating in the bad things.  Today, let's remember that God gives us what we want.  We don't want the hard times, but often that is a way for us to get other things we want... experience, resilience, knowledge, patience, compassion, etc.  Let's really think about what we want, and talk to God about it.  Let's work on wanting happiness and goodness for ourselves and for others, and let's do better at avoiding evil and harming or offending others.  We don't really want *those* things, right? :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

D&C 137:7-9 -- On Desires and Acceptance

"Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;
Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;
For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts."
Doctrine and Covenants 137:7-9


I really like the fact that God has a plan.  He didn't just throw us all down here to sink or swim, with little chance of making it.  He not only works with us every day and is constantly available through prayer, but he also has a larger plan to save everyone who is willing to come to him.  *No one* falls through the cracks.
We are judged for our works and for our desires.  Actions and thoughts, decisions and yearnings.  And in some cases that helps us, as in these scriptures.  People who die without knowing the gospel, if they would have accepted it... if they desired the truth but just didn't know about it, then they get credit for that. :)  Not really "credit," because it doesn't work like that, but good people who are doing everything they can to be good, aren't going to be condemned because they didn't know about the church.  Only people who knowingly choose otherwise will be responsible for that choice.
Sometimes being judged for our desires isn't that good, because we still want something badly that isn't good for us, and is against God's will.  Those things we have to clear out of our lives.  God loves us, and sometimes we think that means he should accept us as we are, but God isn't going to bend and say "okay, okay, I accept your heroin addiction."  ... He knows that we are going to become worse people if he allows us our addictions, no matter how much of ourselves we have thrown into them.  He loves us, and wants us to be better, not worse.  He makes rules and asks us for our obedience because he knows that we can be so much more... so much less selfish.  So much more loving.  So much more confident, happy, and good.  And so he asks us to let go of whatever it is that is making us so preoccupied and insular.  He asks us to forget ourselves, forget what we want, and start serving and loving others.  And it's then that we learn what the ideal of Zion is about.  Community, harmony, love... and not letting anyone fall through the cracks.  And, amazingly, when we let go of ourselves, that is when we find ourselves... better, stronger, more loving versions of ourselves, willing to give and share and celebrate the success of other people.
Today, let's try to be the kind of people who desire and work towards the happiness of others... which is God's plan too.  To help everyone choose to be as happy as they possibly can be. :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

1 Corinthians 13:8-12 -- On Crumble-proof Love

"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
1 Corinthians 13:8-12


This is talking about charity, which is the pure love of Christ (Moroni 7:47), and how it never fails.  Other things fail.  Other types of love seems to crumble frequently... romantic love for instance.  Even prophecies, languages, knowledge... which are pretty permanent things.  Prophecies often are layered, with one fulfillment coming, and then another later, so they usually are pretty solid.  But we can also misinterpret them, or invalidate them by our disobedience, because almost all prophecies are tied to faith and righteousness in some way.  Languages die, and then it is tough to translate them later, or know how they were pronounced.  All the beauty of the literature and poetry has to be translated if it is to be enjoyed, and the wonder of the spoken language itself might be lost entirely.  Knowledge, one of the rare things that matters beyond this life, can also be lost.  We may have seen this in ourselves when we've lost the spirit, and we suddenly can't remember things that really mattered to us before.  Everything we counted on is somehow in doubt.  Other kinds of knowledge are lost because it just isn't true.  The papers claiming that this or that group were inferior because of race or gender.  The papers claiming that cigarettes were perfectly healthy.  The older beliefs about the earth being flat or the sun rotating around the earth.  Paul makes it plain that our perspective is flawed.  Our perspective on earth is like looking at everything far off through a telescope.  We will notice some things, and not others.  But after this life, we will see clearly, as God sees.  Which sounds pretty cool, and probably will surprise us a little at how clear things are.
So, until then, our perspective is flawed, and even the things that seem certain and lasting can fail us... so what can we do to make sure our footing is secure?  Paul tells us this as well.  "Charity *never* faileth."  God's love can get us through even the most challenging times, and it will endure even when it seems like our foundations are crumbling.  If we learn to love people in a pure, godly way, we will be able to stay on track.  The two great commandments are love God and love other people, and if we remember those, and do those things, then even when we don't understand and things seem to shift beneath our feet, we have something to hang on to.  We can rely on God's love for us, and know what to do by showing Christlike love for others.  Today, let's rely on love, even if everything else is chaos.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

3 Nephi 18:34 -- On Discouraging Disputation

"And I give you these commandments because of the disputations which have been among you. And blessed are ye if ye have no disputations among you."
3 Nephi 18:34


Wow.  I love the idea of a society without disputations.  Or even an individual life, or even a day. :)  It seems like it would be so great if we could resolve our differences in a better way, and come to consensus.  And, really, if we work at it, there are probably a lot of things that we don't really have to argue about.  Some things don't matter that much.  Some things do, but we could reach an agreement if both sides were willing to compromise.  And as we work to grow closer to God, hopefully we become more aligned to his will, and therefore each other as well. :)
I don't think that the whole idea of lessening disputations or even aligning ourselves with God means that we have to become little cookie cutter people, all the same.  I think God values our opinions and individuality, and loves the fact that we have different personalities and preferences.  I think the point is realizing that we are better individuals when we learn to get along with other people and consider their needs along with our own.
Today, let's work at trying to minimize our disputations, and eliminate them when it is possible.  Not saying we should just go along with things that we think are bad ideas, but let's realize that other people have good ideas too, and that compromise isn't a bad word.  It is a way for us to find answers that work for everyone, not just a part.  Let's look to God and consider the needs of the people around us, and hopefully we will find better ways of working together without so much disputation. :)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

D&C 59:23 -- On Peace in This World

"But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come."
Doctrine and Covenants 59:23


I really like the idea of "peace in this life" as a reward.  We aren't often promised specific blessings that we know will apply to our earthly lives, and often we see earthly prosperity that doesn't seem to be tied to righteousness at all.  And that's okay.  We're focusing on the long term, right? :)  Amazingly cool, then, that we are promised peace now.
Wait, though... when do we get it?  I want it today! :) ... I think the blessing is a byproduct of righteousness and faith.  We feel peace when we trust God that things will work out, even when they seem bad.  In Mormon 9:14 it tells us that "he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still."  ... I think that is sort of like this peace that we are promised.  It comes from the way we live and learn to look at things.  It isn't something that God lays over us like a blanket, but something he plants within us where we can always draw on it.
Today, let's do the works of righteousness, and learn how to be at peace.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Jeremiah 10:23 -- On Letting God Be the Boss

"O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."
Jeremiah 10:23


Sometimes it is hard to hear a lesson like this.  We rarely want to believe that anyone knows better than we do, *especially* about how to run our lives.  "You're not the boss of me!" we say.  And yet, on the other hand, we make pretty big messes of our lives when we go it alone.  We trap ourselves in lies, in addictions, in flimsy prison bars that we treat like iron... "that's the way I am."  And often the "way we are" really stinks.  We just accept the fact that we are mean, or addicted, or out of control.  We claim that we can't choose our emotions or desires... that instead we are slaves to them.
God offers a way to escape from the way we are, and shows us "a more excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:31.  He shows us that we can be so much more than we are now.  That we don't have to be trapped by habits or beliefs or desires that are dragging us down and making us unhappy.  We can follow his way, and be better and happier, and become better selves than we ever could dream on our own.
Today, let's allow God to be the boss of us.  Let's accept his help and his guidance, and take advantage of the chance to overcome our personal limitations through his grace.  Let's stop claiming that who we are is written in stone, and allow God to reshape us into something even better.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Alma 22:31 -- On Labels

"And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food."
Alma 22:31


The interesting thing to me here are the names for the lands.  Can you imagine living in a place called Desolation?  Yikes. ;)  And Bountiful just makes everything sound a little better.  It made me think about the way we label things in our lives, even ourselves sometimes.  We say "oh, I'm not good at that" or "that's just who I am." ... But is it?  If the land of Desolation was called something else, like Plentiful, or Beauty, or Canada even... wouldn't we start changing the way we think about it, and start noticing and focusing on different things?  And if we stop labeling ourselves and other people and assuming we just are a certain way, and realize that we can change... then maybe we can, and will. We do it with other people as well, defining them sometimes by the mistakes they've made, or by something that we don't like about them rather than by the potential God sees in them, and the hope that he has for them.  The hope that maybe we should have a little bit more of, for each other.
If we're going to choose labels for our lands, and our lives, the people around us, and ourselves, let's choose some positive ones.  Let's use words like Hope and Faith and Love.  Let's see the bounty around us rather than the desolation.  Not saying that we shouldn't see reality.  Only that there are a lot of things to focus on in reality.  The Nephites focused on the lack of trees in the north, but later people learned to make houses that didn't involve wood, and they prospered there as well. :)  With God's help, let's find the opportunities where we are, and choose positive labels for ourselves and the people we encounter.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Psalms 57:7 -- On Being Fixed

"My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise."
Psalms 57:7


I'm sure that the original meaning of "fixed" here is fixed in place, as in steady and unmoving, but when I first read it this morning it totally read as fixed as in repaired. :)  I like both interpretations.  Our hearts need to be steady, not always going back to the beginning and wondering about things we already know.  Like any relationship, if we spend all our time trying to reassure ourselves that the other person really loves us, or require constant "proof" of that fact, then we are stuck doubting our foundation and can never build on it.  With God, we learn about him and grow to know him, but we can't be requesting proof of his existence constantly when we already have the proof in front of us.  Once we've been converted, let's not need to be converted over and over again.  Let's stay steady, and strong, and true, remembering the things that God has done for us individually, as well as for all of humanity.  ... And if we remain fixed and steady, and build on that foundation, then the other interpretation can be true as well.  We come unto God in our brokenness, sometimes broken through external events, but also often having to break ourselves because we've gotten it wrong, and we have to work on improving parts of ourselves that are rebellious and that desire things that will hurt us further.  And no matter why we are broken, God rejoices in our humility and our willingness to change, and through him we are reborn, and become new, and our hearts *are* fixed.  With him, we don't have to be broken anymore.  Today, let's be thankful, and sing and give praise to God, who can repair even our souls.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Omni 1:2 -- On Wickedness and Returning to God

"Wherefore, in my days, I would that ye should know that I fought much with the sword to preserve my people, the Nephites, from falling into the hands of their enemies, the Lamanites. But behold, I of myself am a wicked man, and I have not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as I ought to have done."
Omni 1:2


I think we all feel this way about ourselves sometimes... that we're wicked or sinful or evil, and we haven't done what we should have done.  And on one level we're probably right.  We screw up, and we make bad decisions, and we really do need to change ourselves and our actions to fit more closely with who we should be and who we want to be.  On another level though, we are dead wrong.  We are never inherently evil.  Never wicked or bad people... only inherently good people making bad choices.  That spark of goodness is there within us all.  Our spirits know right from wrong, and they are drawn to good, and want to be good.  Of course we have that "natural man" part of us inside as well, and we have desires which are sometimes for bad things... but that doesn't make us evil either.  We can overcome those desires, and choose differently anyway.  We can let the goodness inside of us win, rather than letting the bad part win. :)  And that's the whole thing... we get to choose.  And while we're on this earth, we *always* get to choose.  No matter how wicked we think we are, we still have good inside us, and we can start letting it win at any point.  We can let go of past bad decisions and start making good decisions.
Today, let's not give up on ourselves and stop trying because we think we are past hope.  Let's acknowledge our bad choices and work on repenting.  Let's start letting the goodness inside of us win.  Let's sit down and have a talk with God: "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" (Isaiah 1:18).  He loves us.  He will always let us come back to him.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Psalms 27:1 -- On the Happily Ever After

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
Psalms 27:1


I like this idea: we never have to be afraid, because God is in our lives, strengthening, enlightening, and saving.
We hide it pretty well, but I think we are often afraid.  We worry about losing our jobs, health issues, children's well being, the choices of others, moving, societal ills, paying the bills, our families, our friends... so many things we worry about and are afraid of.  And some bad things might happen, for sure.  All of our fears are not unfounded in that way.  However, with God, there isn't anything that we can't handle.  We can face any challenge and weather any storm when God is with us.  We might lose jobs, have people close to us die, face serious health problems, or any of a number of other things that we worry about.  But God can get us through all of it.  He never fails us.  Today, let's try to calm our fears and have confidence in God.  Whatever we face, we can face it with him, and things will turn out okay in the end.  God is the author, and with him we can find the happily ever after. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Isaiah 58:10 -- On Sacrifice and Suffering

"And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:"
Isaiah 58:10


I like the idea of our light rising in obscurity, and that even the darkness in us will be light.  Not sure how that works, but definitely cool. :)  This verse is part of a chapter talking about fasting and keeping the Sabbath Day holy, both things that sometimes require some sacrifice.
Sacrifice is an interesting topic, and one that we don't always understand.  When we think of sacrifice, we often think of suffering, and unfortunately, we often think that is the point of the whole thing.  We try to get God's attention through some "extra" suffering, like going without food for a few days, but when we do things like that, we are kind of missing the point.
The animal sacrifice of the Old Testament was done away in Christ, but God does still ask us to sacrifice.  He asks us for the specific sacrifices of a broken heart and a contrite spirit (Psalms 51:17, Moroni 6:2, D&C 59:8, and many others).  And he still asks us to pray and to fast.  I think the problem is that we get it wrong sometimes, especially with the fasting part, and think it is just about inconveniencing ourselves, or about pure suffering.  In verse 5 of this same chapter (Isaiah 58), God asks "Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul?" and the answer in the scripture (including this verse) is clearly no.  The Law of Sacrifice isn't about affliction or suffering or giving up something to get something.
Sacrifice is about overcoming our own selfish desires, and putting the Lord's will first.  By itself, not eating accomplishes nothing spiritual at all.  The point of fasting is replacing that attention, time, and effort with something else that God wants us to focus on instead.  As God asks us in this verse, if we help the hungry and afflicted, that is the point.
Now, by arguing that sacrifice isn't about suffering, in no way am I saying that the gospel is easy and we don't have to suffer. :)  Sometimes we do. When we partake of addictions and get wrapped up in bad habits, that happens, and it can be soul-wrenchingly difficult to change ourselves for God.  As it says in Omni 1:26, "offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved."  Offering a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and our whole souls... these are all good sacrifices, but also often painful. :)  And sometimes just living in this world causes suffering, with health issues and the results of bad choices in society in general.  Let's just not get it wrong and think that suffering is the *point* of the whole thing.  It happens sometimes, but it is only the side effect of changing our lives for God, of putting his will before our own.  Helping other people is the point of fasting, and putting God's will before our own is the point of sacrifice in general.  Suffering isn't the point of anything.
Today, let's give acceptable sacrifices.  Let's help the hungry and the afflicted instead of ignoring them.  Let's choose to break our hearts and reforge them rather than loving something else more than God.  Let's feel sorry for our sins and repent.  If we need some extra sacrifices in our lives, let's do some simple things like reading some scriptures instead of doing something else that we want to do with that time.  Let's pray instead of hitting the snooze button again.  Let's replace something we want to do or be with what God wants us to do or be instead.  Let's bear up our current burdens with God's help, and let's try not to think so poorly of God as to believe that he wants us to do any "extra" suffering.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

D&C 16:3-4 -- On Form Letters and Personal Messages from God

"And I will tell you that which no man knoweth save me and thee alone—
For many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you."
Doctrine and Covenants 16:3-4


These are some interesting verses that were given as a revelation to Peter Whitmer, Jr.  One of the interesting things about these verses is that they are exactly the same as verses in the previous section, directed to John Whitmer.  I think sometimes this sort of thing bothers us.  If God is going to tell us something, we want it to be personal, and individual, not just a generic form letter sent out to all his fans. :)  Here's the thing though... I really think that this was personal to both John and Peter.  They had both been wanting God to let them know what they could do that would be of the most worth.  And they had prayed about it to God, and he is responding to them individually.  As observers, it might seem generic, but the message isn't generic to the one it is given to.
Sometimes scriptures in general seem generic to us, or directed at someone else, or written in someone else's dialect, and definitely not meant for our ears... and yet, if we give them a chance, they can be deeply meaningful on a personal level.  The scripture that inspired Joseph Smith to find the truth was written hundreds of years before he was born, and directed initially to other people... and yet, it was also meant for him, and for us, and for everyone who reads it in the future.  God's ideas and messages have staying power, and combined with prayer and inspiration, we can be directed to the exact verses we need as a part of our daily study.  God is personally involved in each of our lives, and even though we all get some of the same messages from the spirit, telling us to read, and pray, and treat others kindly... that doesn't make those messages generic.  We all have things that we personally need to read, things that we personally need to pray about, and things that we personally need to overcome as we learn to love others.  Same ideas, different applications, because we have different lives.  But the fact that the ideas are the same is a great thing, because that also allows us to help each other out.  Maybe what I am learning in my life about love or scripture study can help you.  And maybe what you are learning about prayer or faith or kindness can help me.
Today, let's help each other grow closer to God, and let's find the personal messages in God's words, even when they might seem generic.  Let's get to know God better through prayer and learn how much he loves us individually.

Friday, June 12, 2015

D&C 50:34 -- On Giving Credit and High Fives

"He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive."
Doctrine and Covenants 50:34


I like this, maybe in kind of a shallow way, but it seems to be that this is basically asking us to give God credit, and be thankful when he gives us some credit.  It seems very bonding and high-five-ish. :) ... But still an amazing idea.  Even though we don't always acknowledge it, I think most of us crave some validation.  And we love it when someone compliments us for things that we've done.  Just a simple "good job" can make our day, as a child or as an adult.  We want people to like us and think we are cool... to give us some credit. :)  So, when we can do that for God, and when we can be thankful that he does it for us... seems like a good idea.  An idea that helps us move towards Zion.  Today, let's give each other some credit, ... and maybe even a high five. :)  Let's show people that we appreciate them and value their efforts.  And let's give glory (and credit) to God for his amazing blessings, and rejoice when he validates us as well. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Psalms 5:1-3 -- On Morning Prayer

"Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.
Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.
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 5:1-3


This is David addressing the Lord, and I think it is a good example.  He calls upon God and asks for his attention, and he also shows a commitment to the communication from his side.  He will talk to God in the morning, and focus his attention on the things of God.
There are a lot of things that seem complicated in the Gospel, and maybe this is one that doesn't have to be.  Very simply, part of making God a priority is putting him first.  Including him in our days at the beginning. :)  So, let's try it.  Today, let's call upon God in the morning.  Let's look up and consider things from God's perspective before we look back down at the other things we have planned into our days.  I'm confident that if we take even that small step in our efforts to put the Lord first, our days will go better.  Let's pray. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Matthew 20:1-2 -- On God's Payment

"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard."
Matthew 20:1-2


These are the first two verses of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  These verses show that the first laborers agreed on a price, and went out to work in the householder's vineyard.  The parable goes on to show that the householder continued to hire people throughout the day, even some people at the very end of the day who only worked for an hour.  And then he paid them all, from the people who had worked the shortest time up to the people who had worked the longest.  And he paid them all the same.
It's an interesting story, and often in thinking of wages or prestige, we think about how unfair that is... yeah, if we came in during the first hour, sure we agreed that was a fair price, but after seeing everyone else paid the same, it now seems unfair.  We're totally not here to discuss labor and employment issues, but if we think about it instead from God's perspective, I think it makes more sense, and it helps us to consider building Zion... reaching for that perfect society where there are no poor among us.  If we work for a whole day and get a fair wage and are able to feed our families, is it really a bad thing that the other people are able to feed their families as well?  And if we are talking about salvation... Are we upset when we have kept the commandments for longer and then someone rises out of the gutter, turns around his life, and gets to partake of salvation as well?  Like the story of the prodigal son, shouldn't we rejoice instead that our brother has come back to us? :)
I think sometimes we are resentful.  We wish we could live it up for most of our lives, try all those bad things, and then repent on our deathbeds, and still be saved.  But when we focus on the timing, I think we are missing the point.  The timing mattered so much to those first people, but the point is that we are trying to build a community of people who love each other and who are working towards each other's salvation.  If one of those last people were our sibling or significant other, would we still feel cheated, or would we be grateful that they made it, late or not?  And truthfully, if we had tried all those bad things, could we even be certain that we would have made it back at all?  Do we even know for certain that in terms of this parable we aren't the ones that came at the very end?
We're all different people, with different challenges.  If we find a way to come to an understanding with God, and find salvation... that gift is beyond price.  We could work for 90 billion years in the vineyard and not deserve it.  Truthfully, the difference between working all day and working one hour is meaningless when we consider God's generosity.  Today, let's be thankful to God for allowing us to learn, and work, and find our way, and let's try not to be resentful of others who seem to have a better deal.  Likely, they have just as many challenges, but they are ones that we don't recognize as easily as our own.  Let's be grateful to God and rejoice when anyone repents, and let's do some repenting of our own, so that we will all be able to be saved, together.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Luke 18:1-7 -- On Persistence

"And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?"
Luke 18:1-7


This is an interesting parable, and it is repeated with a different emphasis in D&C 101:81-84.  This parable is told a little bit backwards from other ones.  In many others, the story is told, and then we figure out what it means.  In this one, the verses start out with the lesson that we are supposed to learn, and then illustrate it with a story. :)  The lesson is that we are supposed to always pray and not faint, and the story backs this up with an illustration. :)
Prayer, and life, require persistence.  We often want to just ask once and get our blessings immediately, or at least with next-day delivery.  But God is not FedEx, and we're not ordering mittens.  My students used to want to turn in a rough draft and get an A... and I am not above that either.  I did the same in school sometimes.  But a rough draft is never, ever our best effort, and one prayer is never our best effort either.  It's like expecting someone to want to marry us because we posted a nice photograph online, or thinking that being in love with someone is enough and it is smooth sailing after that.  If only relationships, or love, were that easy.  Like the widow in the story, it takes an awful lot of persistence to help things work out in life.
In essence, God is telling us not to give up... to keep trying, even when things look dark or hopeless. Things get better, if we keep working at it.  Today, let's take this lesson to heart.  Let's never give up.  Let's keep praying, and trying, and working for a better life, a better self, and a better world.

Monday, June 8, 2015

D&C 58:27-29 -- On Not Waiting for the Commandment

"Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned."
Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-29


You know, sometimes I think we have this whole God thing upside down.  We want him to solve our problems for us, and we want him to take away the pain, and we want him to snap his fingers and give us a billion bucks and a private island.  But the whole purpose of this life is to learn for ourselves, and if he does everything for us, then we learn nothing, except how to ask for and accept handouts.
This is not to say that we are on our own.  We aren't, at all.  God asks us to look unto him in every thought (D&C 6:36), and we are taught that "the words of Christ will tell you all things what you should do" (2 Nephi 32:3).  Things that we can't handle alone, God will help us with, and he *always* wants us to talk it over with him... hence the pray always idea.  But it is like our earthly parents.  They want us to learn, and grow, and become independent.  They don't want to be feeding us mashed bananas and  changing our diapers when we're 45.  Our teachers don't want us to come to class and expect to be spoon fed facts to regurgitate on tests.  It would be much more fun, for them and for us, if we would engage with the subject, ask questions, see the possibilities, and start figuring it out on our own.  So it is with God.  We're here to learn and to grow, and yet we stop in the middle of learning to walk and essentially say to the Lord, "Wait, before I go any further, what's in it for me?"
Today, let's stop doubting and lollygagging. :)  Let's do some research in the scriptures to find the answers to our questions instead of expecting to be told.  Let's try it God's way instead of balking before we start.  God will still always be there for us, but let's learn to jump in and do good without waiting for a prompting, so we can learn more and be more.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

D&C 59:3-4 -- On the Blessing of Commandments

"Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength.
And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me."
Doctrine and Covenants 59:3-4


I like that these verses are talking about rewards and blessings and "commandments not a few" are mentioned. :)  We don't usually think of commandments as blessings or rewards, but I really like the idea that they are.  Really, where would we be without God's help, giving us commandments and helping us know what things we can do to be happier, not only in this life, but for eternity.  Really, following them gives us so much more freedom in the long term than they restrict.  It's when we sin that we are trapped and limited in progress, and when we obey that zillions of possibilities open up.
Today, let's remember what a great blessing commandments are.  Let's give them a try, and see that living them makes everything better.  And, as always, let's be thankful to God, who made all of this possible, and who loves us beyond our current comprehension.  He loves us in a good, mature, healthy way--not agreeing with everything we say, or protecting us from consequences when we screw up, or going along with our really bad ideas, but doing everything possible to help us learn and become better, happier, and more content and loving people.  Let's go to him in prayer and find out who we can be.  :)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

3 Nephi 12:42 -- On Challenging Commandments and Building Zion

"Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away."
3 Nephi 12:42


Almost the same verse is found in Matthew 5:42 as well.  It's the same area that asks us to love our enemies and to be perfect.  So, definitely, this is one of the more challenging things that God asks us to do.  I think it makes sense along with the rest of the challenging things though, if we think about building an ideal society, or how we affect our current society as a group... if everyone hated people back, the world would get worse, not better.  So, it makes sense for God to ask us to learn to love our enemies.  And a world where everyone refuses to share would end up pretty bad as well too.  So, God asks us to give.  Yes, indeed, it is a hard thing to do sometimes.  We have ownership issues, and we often feel like things are still ours after we give them away... we don't want to give to someone who isn't going to take care of whatever it is like we would.  And it is completely true that sometimes when we give, our money or items or time or whatever it is could be misused or unappreciated.  ... but the idea is getting closer and closer to perfection.  Making things better rather than worse.  Thinking about what we do in terms of whether we are improving the world, or worsening it.
In Zion, the ideal city that was taken to heaven and which will be restored in the last days sometime, there were no poor people.  Not because God forced people to share, but because they love each other, and they want to take care of each other.  They chose to give.  They chose to love, and forgive.  And if we want to build the kind of society that those people can return to, we need to figure out how they did it... how they thought, why they did what they did.  The cool thing is that they obeyed God, so we know that we are on the right track if we are working on that.
I wonder how God feels about the things that he has given us.  Life itself, our bodies, this earth, our friends, our families, and all of our blessings.  It's a good thing indeed that he gives to us when we ask, rather than refusing to give when he knows that we are going to misuse our gift.  Otherwise, none of us would be here in the first place. :)  Let's work on emulating our divine example, and let's really try to step up and be much more than we have been.  Let's work on some of these hard things, and give and love and serve, even when it is hard or seems unrewarding.  We're making ourselves into Zion people. :)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mosiah 4:19-20 -- On Beggars and Choosers

"For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend on the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
And behold, even at this time, ye have been begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy."
Mosiah 4:19-20


I was thinking today about the phrase "beggars can't be choosers,"  which reminded me of this scripture.  I have said that phrase before many times, and even once accidentally said to a friend of mine who was homeless.  I regretted that last one as soon as it came out of my mouth, but in thinking about it today, I think I regret most of the times. As King Benjamin mentions in the verses above, we are all beggars when it comes to God.  Everything we have and are is in some way dependent on him, and our futures and eternities we owe to him too, because he made all of that possible.  But, as King Benjamin also mentions, he never treats us like beggars.  Even though in any negotiation we are at a complete disadvantage, still he makes agreements with us, and does everything he can to uplift us and make us better.  He forgives us and loves us, even though we aren't very good at forgiving and loving.  And beggars can't be choosers, right?  Except we TOTALLY are.  We want everything this way or that way, always things aren't good enough, or we need more, or we ignore all the crazy amazing blessings we have and ask for that other one, and often that one that we should really never have.  Even though we are beggars in a very real way, and thus should accept what God gives us and be grateful... we're always asking for more, and better, and different, and being very choosy and picky about what we accept and what we don't. :)  God, in his infinite love and mercy puts up with us, because he is our father, and he is teaching us along the way.  He wants us to learn to make correct choices, so he allows some of the crazy ones while we are learning.
Today, let's remember that we are beggars asking for steak dinners and not just scraps or a few coins.  Let's be overwhelmingly grateful to God, who often gives us extravagant things even though we have no right to ask for them... and even when he doesn't, he still lets us choose our own way, and never makes us feel that we are unworthy of his notice.
And maybe, before we say "beggars can't be choosers" next time, let's think about whether we should follow God's example and let beggars choose a little more. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Jeremiah 7:23-26 -- On Moving Forward

"But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.
Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:
Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers."
Jeremiah 7:23-26


You know, sometimes we look at the Old Testament (or other scripture) and think, why would they do that?  And we think that if we were in that situation, we would TOTALLY listen to the prophets, or do what God said, and avoid those negative consequences. :)  But are we, like them, moving backward and not forward, and doing worse than our fathers?
God offered our ancestors a screaming deal.  Here he is, a being that has intelligence and abilities just at a guess at least 21 orders of magnitude greater than ours.  Probably closer to infinite, but let's use a number just for comprehensible comparison.  He offered to help them, if they would just follow his instructions about how to have a better life.  And it seems like most of them were like "nah, we prefer to screw up our lives."
The huge thing is that God still offers us the same opportunities.  If we will obey him, he will be our God, and we will be his people.  If we walk in the ways that he commands us, it will be well with us. :)  He still sends us prophets.  We have the ability to tap into that huge amount of knowledge and power, and make our lives at least ten times better than they are now.  It is our choice.  God is asking us every day if we want to cash in on his deal, or whether we prefer to screw up our lives.
Today, let's take advantage of the amazing deal God has offered us.  Let's do as God asks and learn the lessons he asks us to learn.  Let's read and pray and learn to love God and our neighbors.  Let's find out what the prophets have said and follow their advice.  If we do, not only will we be overwhelmed with God's spirit and his love, but our lives will be better than we could ever dream of making them ourselves.  Let's move forward and not backward.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

D&C 18:10-13 -- On Rejoicing with God

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.
And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!"
Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-13


In the Book of Mormon King Benjamin and others counsel us to remember that we are less than the dust of the earth, which is true in terms of obedience, and a good thing to remember humility-wise.  But this is also true.  We are worth a great deal to God.  Christ suffered our pain so that we could have a chance to repent.  He saved us from a hopeless state, since this is something that we couldn't do for ourselves.  And he was resurrected, opening the way for us to be resurrected as well.
I really like the joy part... that God not only values our souls as a group, kind of generically, but that he has great joy in each of us individually when we accept his gift, and take that chance he has given us to repent and change and become better.  He's happy for me, for you.  He notices us and loves us individually.  He knows what it is like for each of us, because he went through it for us and actually felt every pain that we feel.
So many things to be thankful for, but most of all, for God, who saves us from death, and gives us a chance to repent and save ourselves from suffering as well, if we accept the gift of his atonement and take that chance to repent and change.  It's kind of like a get-out-of-jail-free card.  If we have screwed up our lives (and we all do sometimes), we can go to God and repent, and change, and become the person we want to be ... still, even after being the person we don't want to be for a long time.  It's the biggest gift that anyone has ever given anyone else.  Let's take advantage of this opportunity, and get in there and change.  Let's become who we want to be and even more than that... who God knows we can be, which is always better than our dreams. :)  Let's not forget dust and humility, but let's also remember that our souls are valuable to God, how much he loves us, and how much he wants to rejoice with us as we change and become new and shiny and brighter than we ever have been, with his help.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

D&C 57:11-13 -- On Working With the Spirit

"And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William W. Phelps be planted in this place, and be established as a printer unto the church.
And lo, if the world receive his writings—behold here is wisdom—let him obtain whatsoever he can obtain in righteousness, for the good of the saints.
And let my servant Oliver Cowdery assist him, even as I have commanded, in whatsoever place I shall appoint unto him, to copy, and to correct, and select, that all things may be right before me, as it shall be proved by the Spirit through him."
Doctrine and Covenants 57:11-13


This section begins with the Lord telling Joseph Smith where the city of Zion would be built.  The Lord tells us that we should buy the land for an inheritance, and proceeds to give other people assignments for being "planted" in the area.  I like that idea of being planted so that we can grow bigger and stronger and more beautiful.  It is also cool how people were assigned to do basic things, like run a store, become a printer, and do some editing. :)  I'm an editor, so I might be a little bit too excited by this part, but the idea that Oliver Cowdery would edit "as it shall be proved by the spirit" is a really cool thing, and I was thinking that it could apply to almost any career or occupation, because God's work isn't just official church business... it is the whole world, and our community and society.  Everything we do that isn't against God's commandments or will we should be able to do with the spirit.  I don't think we realize that sometimes, or consider praying about the work we do... but imagine if we all did.  What if we all prayed to be able to do good, and to touch people's lives, and to make the world better in whatever we did?  We can't all be in the meetings where internationally significant decisions are made, and we can't all raise or teach the next generation, but we can all, wherever we are, lift and help and do everything in our power for God... not just outside work or school hours, but *inside* them as well.  It *does* matter to God how we edit things, as above... so it must matter when we do infinitely more significant things as well, right? :)
Today, let's remember that God is interested in our lives, and he is interested in the impact that we have on the world around us.  He wants our light to shine brightly.  So, let's pray to be able to do that.  Let's pray for our leaders, not just church leaders, but CEOs and Presidents and parents as well.  Let's pray that our companies and our schools and our organizations will be successful in doing good to others, and making the world better.  God can do miracles, and he can touch hearts.  Instead of giving up, let's invest more, pray more, and have the spirit with us *always,* in everything that we do.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Psalms 144:15 -- On Happiness with God

"Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord."
Psalms 144:15


I think sometimes we overcomplicate that gospel, and it is good to remember some of the basics.  For instance, this scripture, that reminds us that living the gospel brings happiness.  Any day when we wake up and pray and read our scriptures is a better day than days where we don't take that time.  I think if we remember that, it makes it easier to take the time, and to keep up with the little things, because we remember that when we have God with us, our lives are just better.  Ups and downs still come, but with the Lord, we're able to get through the hard times and enjoy the good times even more.  Today, let's remember the simple truth that we are happier when we have God in our lives, and let's make sure to invite him in consistently, and talk with him throughout the day.

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