Wednesday, September 21, 2016

3 Nephi 11:3-5 -- On Hearing and Understanding God

"And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came."
3 Nephi 11:3-5

This is an incredible chapter, where Christ comes to the people.  This part, near the beginning, is interesting because it talks about how the people heard the voice three times before they understood it.  I was thinking about that, and that I think our communications with God are actually a lot like that... and we often take more than three times, actually. :)  What helped these people was opening their ears and focusing on heaven.  And maybe that is what helps us too.

We often close our ears to God's voice, perhaps literally sometimes, but definitely figuratively.  We hear what the prophets say, but instead of applying it to ourselves we think... oh, this other person really needs this lesson. :)  Or we read the scriptures and congratulate ourselves on the things that we're doing well, and just kind of gloss over the parts we aren't doing.  Maybe opening our ears would be to listen and read and study, and apply these things to our lives, to think about how they apply to us individually, and how we can learn from them and change for the better.  Perhaps looking towards heaven means that we should focus on eternal life and the salvation of our souls when making decisions, rather than what our immediate desire is.  We still have to live in the present, but our decisions will be much better if we consider who we want to be long term, rather than just what we want right now.

God's voice should have an impact on us.  In these verses, it pierces and burns and causes them to quake, but it isn't harsh or loud.  I think sometimes we don't understand because we're letting other things distract us, and we're not feeling the impact of the spirit.  When we read and pray and study, it is important to take some time in a quiet place and clear our minds, so that we can not only understand God's word, but so that we can feel the spiritual impact of it on our souls.  Today, let's take that time.  Let's focus, and open our ears, and seek to understand God with everything that we have.  If we do, like these people, we will both hear and understand his message.

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