Wednesday, October 18, 2017

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 -- On the More Excellent Way

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

In the last chapter, Paul talked about amazing gifts (prophecy, miracles, etc.) and how we should seek them in our lives.  Then he said that there was a more excellent way.  This is what he says is the more excellent way.

The way we use the word charity in our modern world is a little bit different than Paul intends here, which we can see in the third verse.  Charity isn't bestowing all our goods to feed the poor, although that is a good thing, among all the other good things that Paul mentions, like prophecy, knowledge, faith, sacrifice.  And these are amazing things, as are the things that he mentioned in the last chapter.  What could possibly nullify all of these and make them "nothing"?

The answer is, which we also read about elsewhere in the scriptures, is that "charity is the pure love of Christ" (Moroni 7:47).  It is the lack of that pure love that can make all of those amazing and miraculous other things (that we *should* seek) seem to be nothing.  ... And that's a huge challenge sometimes.  It's not even always easy to love those closest to us, let alone love our enemies, as Christ asks.  And yet, without learning that love, the rest of our work on our other amazing talents profits us nothing.

This, of course, doesn't mean that all is lost if we are used to being generally grumpy or insular, or if we yell at other people in traffic. :)  We have time and space to learn these things... that's what life is for.  But, eventually, we need to learn to have out "hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another" (Mosiah 18:21).  And, you know, just in case we don't have a 300 year lifespan ahead of us, we should probably get started now.  Maybe the first step is just being polite to a telemarketer, or smiling at the person checking out our groceries.  We can graduate to more advanced things when we're ready. :)

Today, let's work on learning to love the people around us.  Let's develop our desire for unity, and work on being kind, even to people that don't agree with us, politically, religiously, or otherwise.  As we do so, all of those other cool talents we have will mean much more, and we'll be learning what Lehi called the greatest of all gifts, and partaking of God's love in our own lives and sharing it with others.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

1 Corinthians 12:29-31 -- On Cultivating our Gifts

"Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
1 Corinthians 12:29-31

Previously in the chapter, Paul was talking about how we are all needed, just like all the parts of the body are very different, but still absolutely needed.  Then, here, he mentions some specific things that are needed. Paul talks about gifts here, but not just any gifts... specifically some of the "best" ones.  Ones that we should want to have.

Moses said "would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:29).  The gifts of apostles and prophets aren't things that we are restricted from seeking, nor are they impossible to achieve.  Of course, obviously, God keeps his house in order and we can't all be overlapping with each other in terms of being the spokesperson for God with the authority to administer his kingdom on the earth.  So what does seeking these types of gifts mean?  ... I think it is the idea of receiving revelation, and having that close relationship with God.  Nephi's father was a prophet, but Nephi wanted to see what his father had seen for himself.  And he prayed and asked for it, and God showed him.  If we all did have that close relationship with God, and were obedient to God so that we could retain that level of spirituality, it would surely make the world a better place.

Teaching is a gift dear to my heart, and miracles, healing, tongues, and interpretation are all excellent gifts as well... things that we can all have, as needed in doing God's work.  But we probably don't all need them at the same time, and the fact that we have different gifts helps us to be humble and learn to be unified with others, because we need them to help us out sometimes.  We're all awesome in different ways... none of which are unimportant or worthless.  We can develop whatever gifts we have, and then work on some new ones... hopefully getting better and better as we progress, and also helping others to do the same.

And then the clincher at the end.  All of this is super-important, but Paul is going to show us something even more excellent. :)  We'll talk about the "more excellent way" tomorrow. :)

Monday, October 16, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 -- On Rejoicing and Prayer

"Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

This is great stuff.  The advice to "rejoice evermore" seems to indicate that always rejoicing is possible, and even essential.  I think that we often don't realize that, or we forget.  We think that life has ups and downs, and too often we think that we get stuck in the down part.  But just like Mormon 9:14, learning to be happy now is a choice.  Our external circumstances might not be that great, but we still get to choose how we react to things, and whether or not to abide in Faith.  That doesn't mean that the down times aren't going to come, but it does mean that we can learn to weather the storm and find joy even in the hardest times.

The second verse I think is inseparable from the first.  In order to get that spirit of rejoicing into our lives, we need to be praying, all the time.  We need that relationship with God, and we need to trust him even (or perhaps especially) during difficult challenges... because he can help us, and get us through it all.

Today, let's rejoice, and let's pray, and maybe even both at the same time. :)  With God, life can be good all the time.  Not saying it is easy, or that we can get there quickly or without a lot of work... but it is possible, and an amazing goal to work toward.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Psalms 36:9 -- On Light and Darkness

"For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light."
Psalms 36:9

The phrasing here is interesting "in thy light shall we see light."  Thinking about it physically it seems sort of weird.  Darkness is what allows you to detect light more clearly... isn't it?  If you have light, it might be harder to see more light, because they just blend together and maybe get brighter.  If we think of it symbolically though, then I think it becomes clear.

If we have God's light in our lives... his influence, his guidance and clarity, then it becomes easier to see the light around us... the light of goodness in the people around us, the light of hope shining to guide our way out of the darkness of sin or despair.  God's fountain of life offers life to any who drink from it. :)

Today, let's invite God's light into our lives, and let it banish our darkness.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Alma 11:22 -- On Faith before Fear

"And Amulek said unto him: Yea, if it be according to the Spirit of the Lord, which is in me; for I shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord. And Zeezrom said unto him: Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being."
Alma 11:22

This verse intrigues me because I wonder why someone would try this.  Why does it matter so much to anyone else if someone believes in Christ?   And of course the overall question when it comes to things like this is " I think sometimes we do things like that when we're overconfident in our own opinions and we want to prove someone else wrong, or corrupt, or prove that they aren't better and definitely don't know more than we do.

Zeezrom turns into a good guy later in the story, but right here when he is in bad guy mode, he seems to just be focused on tripping up the good guys... catching them in a lie, showing the people that they aren't really sincere, or whatever.

In Moroni 1:2-3, Moroni is talking about the people who will put anyone to death that isn't willing to deny Christ.  I think that is the other factor here... why doesn't it matter so much that we *don't * deny God?  Why not get rich here (6 onties was a lot of money), or live among other (Moroni), or save yourself from the Fiery Furnace (Shadrach Meshach and Abednego), etc.?

I think the ultimate answer here is that it matters because part of what we have to learn in life is putting faith before fear.  We have to learn to trust God, no matter what.  If we deny him because of fear, or greed, or loneliness, or whatever other reason, then we're getting our priorities mixed up.  We're forgetting the lessons of the scriptures... that those that stand with God are more numerous and powerful than those that stand against him, even if we can't see it.

Today, let's remember to place God first in our priorities, and worry about *his* will before anyone else's, including our own.  As we put him first, everything else in our lives will work better, and we'll be focusing on things that lead to happiness and peace.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Helaman 15:3-4 -- On Being Chosen and Chastened and Loved

"Yea, wo unto this people who are called the people of Nephi except they shall repent, when they shall see all these signs and wonders which shall be showed unto them; for behold, they have been a chosen people of the Lord; yea, the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them.
But behold my brethren, the Lamanites hath he hated because their deeds have been evil continually, and this because of the iniquity of the tradition of their fathers. But behold, salvation hath come unto them through the preaching of the Nephites; and for this intent hath the Lord prolonged their days."
Helaman 15:3-4

I like how these verses show the love of God for all of his children, whether obedient or not.  Even though it uses the word hated, it is clear that God hates sin and not the people committing the sin.  Instead of just favoring one group over another, God consistently blesses the obedient, and shows mercy on the disobedient, giving them time and space, even through generations, to realize their errors and find repentance.  The obedient would not learn if he didn't chasten and try them, and so he does so... not as a punishment, but as a refinement.  God is always helping us to learn and to become our best selves... if we're chosen, we have to remain chosen.  And if we've been led astray by incorrect or evil traditions, God shows us the way back, not just dismissing us as bad guys, but as also worthy of his attention and help.

Today, let's remember God's blessings and mercy, and let's thank God for the extra time he gives us to learn and to repent.  We've all been good guys and bad guys, and I think one of the most reassuring blessings that we have is exactly what these verses show us... that we are *always* loved, and looked after.  God is always looking to teach us and help us, and gives us space to repent and change.  Let's do so.  Let's realize the great love that God has for us and get to know him better... today, and always. :)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

2 Kings 1:9-13 -- On Respect and Humility

"Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.
And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly.
And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight."
2 Kings 1:9-13

This is an interesting story that seems kind of scary.  The king sends a detachment of the army off to the prophet to get him.  The prophet defeats the army.  ... It happens again.  And then, the third time, the king sends the army off to get the prophet.  The king hasn't changed at this point, but something else has: respect.  The third man is still fulfilling his mission to the king by going, but instead of commanding the prophet, he now understands where the real power lies, and he begs for his life and the lives of his men.

This kind of echoes the way that we deal with God.  We start out by attempting to command him.  We tell him to prove himself to us, or to solve a problem for us.  And we wonder why our commands are going up in smoke. :)  ... We don't really get anywhere with God until we approach him on our knees and sincerely ask for his help.

Today, let's learn from the lesson of Elijah and the King.  Let's not attempt to command God, or ask anyone to do anything contrary to his will.  ... That's just a death sentence... if not literally, then still figuratively.  Let's instead go to God with humility and plead for his help in saving us and the people around us.  As we do, God will preserve us, and help us to learn and grow and become our best selves, and powerful influences for good in the world.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

2 Corinthians 2:14 -- On Triumph in Christ

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."
2 Corinthians 2:14

I love the idea here of triumphing in Christ.  Looking at our lives, and considering the fallen state of man, I think we often realize how difficult it can be to survive, continue, and finish the race, let alone thinking about any kind of triumph.  And yet, with Christ, it is possible to do so much more than survive.  We can enjoy--fly--dance--soar.  We aren't bound to a plodding pace, or restricted by our weaknesses anymore.  He can make us strong, and able, and powerful enough to overcome any trial.

Today, let's team up with Christ, whose team *always* triumphs.  Let's savor our knowledge of God, and look to him for solutions rather than trying to go it alone.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Romans 4:20-21 -- On Staggering Not

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform."
Romans 4:20-21

I wonder sometimes how many miracles we miss, just because we are rolling our eyes and thinking "yeah, right" instead of going to work and making it happen.  ... This is God promising a child to parents that were clearly unable to have one.  That's a leap of faith.  ... and think of the Brother of Jared, and Noah, and Nephi, all asked to build ships.  If God asked me to build a ship, I might briefly toy with the idea of buying a LEGO ship, but other than that, probably something I'm not likely to consider.  ... And maybe that's okay, where God doesn't really need us to build ships, but more figuratively, how often does he ask us to do something that does make sense and that we can easily do, and we don't do it because it is inconvenient or uncomfortable?  Let alone the harder, more miraculous things?

Today, let's stagger not at the promises of God, no matter how unlikely they seem.  Let's jump in and do the things that we know that God wants us to do, because those things lead us to, and prepare us for, the greater miracles that God has in store for us.  Let's be ready, and fully persuaded, that God can perform every promise.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Proverbs 23:3-4 -- On Deceitful Meat and Trusting God

"Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom."
Proverbs 23:3-4

These verses are at the end of a little aside about sitting down to dinner with a rich man... don't desire the super-cool and expensive stuff that he has to eat, because it is "deceitful meat."  That phrase seemed kind of weird to me, and what it made me think of is liver.  When liver is cooking, it smells really good, but then if you eat it, it tastes totally different than it smells.  A similar thing happens sometimes when a store freezes nectarines before selling them, in order to keep them "fresh."  Typically, it leaches out all of the flavor, so the nectarine looks awesome on the outside, but the flesh when you bite into it has become pretty tasteless.  That's my interpretation of "deceitful meat." :) 

I think that is the same sort of thing that God is warning us against here.  He asks us not to get caught up in what *looks* like what we want, because it isn't really as good as it looks, or smells. :)  He needs us to look deeper, and not only that, but not to trust out own wisdom... the wisdom that tells us to work at being rich, because that is what is going to matter.  God's wisdom is what matters, and whether it seems like the coolest thing or not... God's way is ALWAYS the best, and it always leads to the most joy and peace.

Today, let's talk to God about where our own wisdom and his wisdom diverge, and then let's work on getting ours more in line with God's, because after all, he's God, and loads wiser than we are. :)  He doesn't get fooled by the alluring look or smell or taste of something.  He knows whether it is good or bad, no matter the outward properties.  Let's learn to trust him over our own judgment, and try to do as he asks, even when something shiny tempts us in another direction.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

D&C 56:14-17 -- On Counseling the Lord's Way

"Behold, thus saith the Lord unto my people—you have many things to do and to repent of; for behold, your sins have come up unto me, and are not pardoned, because you seek to counsel in your own ways.
And your hearts are not satisfied. And ye obey not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.
Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!
Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands!"
D&C 56:14-17

This is some good advice from God.  I think we counsel in our own ways a lot... but God clearly prefers that we counsel with him and adopt *his* ways.  The rest of these verses seem to be examples of counseling in our own ways.

It is interesting and cool that he addresses both the rich and the poor here, rather than only one side or the other, emphasizing generosity and service to others, and work and self-reliance.  Both groups of people, although seemingly opposite, were "having pleasure in unrighteousness" even though they could have satisfied their hearts with the truth of God.

Today, let's specifically seek God's counsel, and work to adopt his will into our lives.  Let's focus on living the gospel, no matter what circumstances or labels the world throws at us.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Helaman 14:31 -- Having Our Actions Restored to Us

"He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you."
Helaman 14:31

When I was reading this today I had just been watching one of those television courtroom-drama shows, and I was thinking that we so often want other people to pay.  We often think "he totally deserved it" when bad things happen on shows, instead of "Wow, what a shame," or "Oh, how sad." ... and unfortunately, sometimes we carry this over even into the real world, having a retribution mindset, thinking that people deserve to have bad things happen to them if they are mean, etc.

The problem with that thinking, of course, is that *we* are the mean people sometimes.  We are the ones yelling at someone in traffic, or upset that someone is being idiotic, and determined to point it out.  Retribution seems like a really good idea until we're looking at getting the things that *we* do returned on our own heads.  Then it seems kind of scary.

Today, let's remember that everyone needs space to repent.  Instead of judging people and hoping for immediate condemnation, let's do what we can to help people grow and change.  Let's support that possibility and stop to think before we do things, and maybe not do them if we don't want them coming back to us someday.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Psalms 108:12-13 -- On The Help of Men and the Help of God

"Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies."
Psalms 108:12-13

We often try to give things or other people a central place in our lives instead of God, and I think that is the context of "vain is the help of man."  Certainly, people around us can help us in certain ways, and we can, and should, help others.  But the only one that can save us in gospel terms, and grant us salvation, is Christ.  No one else can step into that spot for us, and no one can replace a relationship with God in our lives.  Indeed, if we try to put a person in that spot in out lives it can actually be quite toxic to our relationship, because we are expecting more than a regular person can give, or be,

Today, when we need help from our troubles that we can't handle alone or with human help, let's call upon God, who hears and answers prayers.  People can't do that, but let's also listen to God's promptings and be willing to act on his promptings to be God's answer to prayers as needed.  Let's be careful to make sure that God is at the center of our lives, and at the top of our priority list.  Let's not confuse what people can do versus what God can do.  Hopefully with God's love in our hearts we won't have any enemies that need treading down, but if we ever do... it belongs in his hands, not in ours, or in any regular person's.  Through God we can do valiantly. :)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Isaiah 30:18 -- On Waiting, and Waiting

"And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him."
Isaiah 30:18

This is an interesting verse.  Sometimes we wonder why the Lord delays his coming, or why he waits to administer justice to the evil... to clear the bad our of the way so that the good can grow.  I think that this verse addresses that.  God waits so that he can be gracious to us.  He delays judgment so that we can take the time to repent, and have that chance to not be on the evil list.  The judgment will come, but he gives us a chance to avoid it.

And we, in turn, wait for him *because* he is waiting for us.  If we were all perfect it would go much faster both ways, but because we are not, God gives us the space to learn and to change.

It's kind of weird to think about the reason for evil in the world is mercy, but it seems kind of baked into the whole *idea* of the world, not only to delay judgment.  In order to bring us through the plan of joy, God had to grant us free agency, which means being able to choose either way.  If he only allowed good, or immediately punished bad, then that would pretty much negate any choice we made, and we'd end up just doing what God said all of the time.  Instead, God wanted us to grow and become independent thinkers... to learn the differences between different choices and to have a chance to choose to be who *we* wanted to be.  And here we are. :)

Today, let's choose to be good, and learn to love the good. :)  Let's patiently wait on the Lord, as he kindly waits for us.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

2 Nephi 2:2 -- On Afflictions and Opposition Leading to Gain

"And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain."
2 Nephi 2:2

This is Lehi, talking to his sons before his death, both individually and collectively I think, since although he is addressing Jacob here, later in the chapter he teaches many gospel lessons and addresses his sons in the plural.  He mentions the afflictions and sorrow that Jacob has suffered at the hands of his brothers (if they are also present during this blessing, this is probably a reminder to them as well), and then Lehi tells Jacob that God will "consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain."  I think this whole idea is amazing.  It is similar to the make weak things strong idea.  God makes our trials into blessings, and through hardship and pain, we become glorious.  And that's all of life, right?Instead of the unchanging Garden of Eden where they stayed as they were, we are in a world where change and growth became possible.  It's hard and painful to do those things, and so we often shy away and wish we could go back to the garden, but we're here for a reason... a good one. :)  So we can grow and learn and become more than we were before.

I think that we can learn in other ways than pain, but there is opposition tied to all of it (see verse 11).  We don't have to feel pain to study and pray or work hard at something... but we still have to fight against our own inertia and distractability.  We have to start a project and follow through with it, for a loooooong time sometimes, not just jump ship when we get a little impatient.  That's tough too.  I think most of all though, this is cool because God really does care, and he makes every second of every moment  of our lives MORE than worth it, no matter what we go through.  He makes it count for something... something amazing and something that gets us to change and be better, and if we follow through and never give up, something that qualifies us (with his help) for heaven. :)

Proverbs 31:30-31 -- On Restoration and Behavior Modification

"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."
Proverbs 31:30-31

This is part of a series of verses that describes a "virtuous woman," and it seems to echo a lot of verses that have to do with restoration.  The ideal woman here isn't promised eternal life and exaltation, though she will surely get those as well, but the reward she is promised is the fruit of her hands, and the praise of her own works.  This seems to go back to some of the basics we learn elsewhere, like "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12).

Perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is something like "What reward would we receive if we had our actions returned to us?"  Likely it would be an extremely mixed bag, with some kindness mixed in with lots of snarkiness and perhaps some outright rudeness (remember this includes what we say to other drivers and telemarketers). :)  ... I don't know about you, but if I am going to get back what I am putting out there, I definitely need to improve.

Today, let's work on not focusing on favor or beauty, but on respecting the Lord and his commandments, and treating others with wisdom and kindness (see verse 26).  Let's not treat anyone in a way that we wouldn't want to come right back at us.  Let's do better, and be more loving, caring, and inclusive.

Monday, October 2, 2017

3 Nephi 10:4-6 -- On Gathering Chickens

"O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.
And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.
O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart."
3 Nephi 10:4-6

This is just after some terrible destruction, and right before some amazing blessings.  ... Which, come to think of it, is a place where we often find ourselves in life.  Sometimes we allow the past destruction or hardship to harden us, looking for and expecting only the bad, but God has amazing things in store.

Speaking to the people who have suffered terrible loss and probably a lot of fear, God first reminds them that he has often gathered them to nourish and care for them.  He then says that he would have done even more of that, if they would have allowed it.  And the, last of all, he says that he yet *will* gather them (and us), if we will repent and return to him with "full purpose of heart."

The theme of God's consistent and always present love for us comes through strongly here.  He wants to always gather us and protect us, but so often we refuse.  Even so, if we turn around and change our minds (and hearts), he will still gather us.

Today, let's remember that destruction isn't all there is, and find hope in God.  Let's look to him and be humble and faithful enough to allow him to gather us and care for us.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Daniel 3:15-18 -- On Faith and Consequences: "But If Not"

"Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
Daniel 3:15-18

There are some great things here.  In the first verse the king asks "Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?"  He asks it rhetorically, as though there were no answer, because there was no God that could save them from him.  And yet....

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are amazing here as well.  The king just told them that if they don't worship the idol that he has offered that they'll be killed.  Pretty extreme consequences.  They could just have played along, pretending to go along, gone through the motions, kept their faith quiet.  Instead, they answered the king boldly, and told him basically that his question was *not* merely rhetorical, but that their God was certainly able to deliver them.

And then, the clincher: "But if not" ... Basically, they knew that God had the ability to save them, but even if he chose not to, for whatever wise, godly reason, they trusted in him, and they weren't going to worship any other God.  ... In the end, God did save them, and even the kind said "there is no other God that can deliver after this sort" (verse 29).  It's a story about the amazingness of God. :)  But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego didn't know for sure that it would work out like that.  They had faith anyway, no matter what God chose to do.

I think that it is often hard for us to have that kind of faith.  When we're faced with symbolic furnaces in our lives, we sometimes agree to do whatever the king/authority figure wants.  We have a hard time standing up for God and what we believe when it looks like it is going to cost us something. That of course doesn't mean that we shouldn't love or work with people that don't believe the same things.  We should love everyone, and we can unite in many common purposes with people not of our faith.   When it comes to doing as God asks though, that requires some faith and effort on our part in order to be true to God.  Today let's work on that.  Let's stand strong for God, and not cave when anyone asks to compromise our obedience.  Let's remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and have faith that God can deliver us... but if not, let's still do exactly as he asks, no matter the consequences.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Proverbs 12:20 -- On Being a Counselor of Peace

"Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy."
Proverbs 12:20

Wow, I really like this.  It makes me think of our attitudes as well as what we think about each day. Are we allowing hate, irritation, temptation, frustration, and whatever other negative emotions to play center stage in our lives?  I think maybe we all do sometimes.  And so we all have to learn the hard lesson of how to turn our thoughts to God.

I think there are some clues here about how to do that.  Avoiding deceit is probably one... and not imagining evil.  And then some positive things that we can do rather than just things to avoid.  We can counsel peace, and look for joy.

There are negative and positive things all around us, and good and bad, and tons of different ways that we can react to what happens each day.  Imagining evil could mean many things, but to start with let's not imagine punching people or wishing they would disintegrate. :) It probably also means let's not equate other people's actions *with* evil.  Almost all of us are trying to do the right thing, not intentionally making it harder for each other. :)  Let's also counsel peace.  Instead of encouraging people to get back at someone else, maybe we could counsel conversation and understanding instead.  Instead of getting agitated by other people's actions (driving or otherwise), let's figure out how to find some peace and joy during our journey.

Today, let's try to focus on the peaceful and joyful things around us, and not let evil into our hearts.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Isaiah 14:5-8 -- On Smiting versus Singing

"The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us."
Isaiah 14:5-8

These verses are talking about the gathering of Israel and the Millennium.  I really like the symbolism here, with wicked, angry leadership on one side, and quiet, restful rejoicing on the other: Smiting versus Singing.  Seems to me that the singing side is way the heck better, right?  And yet, we swing so far to the other side sometimes, we risk corrupting ourselves with evil.

Today, let's stay as far as we can away from the smiting side.  Let's not be angry, or worry about being in control.  Let's remember that attempting to force others to do what we want is a bad idea.  ... Let's stick with God and make the trees happy. :)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

3 Nephi 1:8 -- On Faith and Scorn

"But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain."
3 Nephi 1:8

In this part of the Book of Mormon the believers are waiting for a specific prophesied time when a specific sign will be shown, signifying the birth of Christ.  And the unbelievers are all "ha ha... you guys are morons" ... but significantly worse than that, because they were planning to kill them if the sign didn't show up.

Not all the people on the street corner than claim to have information about the .  But God *does* speak to prophets, and people, and sometimes his information is awfully specific.  So, if we believe in prophecy, then sometime we're going to be on the mockee side as well.

I really like that even though people were already mocking them, and the time was approaching, that they didn't give up and say "oh, we meant a *symbolic* three days of light," or worse, join the scorners.  Instead, they "steadfastly" watched.  They were worried, but they stuck it out and trusted God.  And God came through, as he *always* does.

General Conference finishes up this weekend.  As we listen to the prophets and inspired speakers, let's not be the mockers.  Let's trust God despite scorn, and looks ti him for the fulfillment of our faith and hope.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

2 Nephi 9:18 -- On Faith, Action, and Joy

"But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever."
2 Nephi 9:18

This is a good reminder that the kingdom of God has been prepared for *us* and that God wishes us a fullness of joy, forever. :)  It's also a good reminder that there are going to be challenges along the way, and that we should be prepared for them, and accept them as part of the journey and the learning process rather than freaking out and thinking that God suddenly doesn't love us.  He does... he *always* does.  Just like in marriage, parenting, friendships, and world citizenship however, love isn't enough all by itself.  The fact that we love doesn't change the world alone.  We have to combine it with faith and action.  And so it is with the kingdom of God and eternal joy. :)

Today, let's invest in and work towards the things that God has prepared for us and *wants* to give us.  Let's change ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us through love, goodness, faith, and the consistent, patient effort that it takes to build good relationships and the foundations of anything else good as well.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Psalms 3:5 -- On Sleep and Sustaining

"I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me."
Psalms 3:5

I like this idea of sleeping and awaking being part of God sustaining us.  The rest that we need is part of God helping us, waking us up is part of it... and really, everything is, right... waking and sleeping, God sustains us constantly.

I think that too often we see God as a peripheral aspect of our lives, and the point here (and elsewhere in the gospel) is that he is *the* central aspect of our lives.  And the more we acknowledge that, and make him our central priority, the better things work, because we are tuning in to God's will and learning to walk his way, which is the way to peace and happiness.

Monday, September 25, 2017

3 Nephi 18:18-20 -- On Prayer and Wheat

"Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you."
3 Nephi 18:18-20

This is an interesting scripture in a lot of ways.  I love the reminder to watch and pray always, and that our relationship with God is what saves us from temptation and other negative consequences.

The "sift you as wheat" part seemed kind of strange to me at first, because this is something that God also says he will do, right?  In Matthew 3:12 it says that God will "gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."  Getting rid of the bad parts of ourselves seems like it is going to happen either way.

What protects us from Satan's sifting is praying to the Father in the name of Christ, which got me thinking about the atonement and why that had to happen.  Christ satisfies justice for us, in order to extend us mercy... he grants us a space between sin and death where, if we choose to do so, we can repent and change... and that, I think is the difference between Satan's sifting and God's.  Timing.  That essential time that we need to realize our mistakes and learn from them... that priceless space that Christ bought us to choose for ourselves what we want to become, despite mistakes.  God doesn't sift us until the very end, when we've had time to grow and develop and become more wheatlike and less chafflike. :)  Satan wants to sift us now, and we clearly aren't ready for that.

Today, let's pray and develop our relationship with God.  Let's thank God for the time and the space we have to learn and grow and choose, and let's ask for his protection and abide in his love, asking for the things that are right, and trusting that he will always help us.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

D&C 18:10 -- On the Worth of Souls

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;"
Doctrine and Covenants 18:10

I really liked the mention of this scripture in the recent women's conference, talking about how worth and worthiness are different.  When we sin, we lose our worthiness (and have to repent to get it back), but we never lose our worth.

Let's remember this today... that our souls, and everyone's souls are of great worth to God.  We matter, and we are children of God--inherently worthwhile. :)   Overcoming our tendency to sin, and improving our lives and our capacities as we learn to be more like God is also important... but let's never think that because we do a bad thing that we have somehow lost worth.  God still loves us, and if we ask, he will help us to repent and change, and move closer to eternal joy. :)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mosiah 3:20-21 -- On Knowledge and Changing

"And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent."
Mosiah 3:20-21

This is a good reminder too, that when we know the truth, we are responsible for that, and we need to do something about it.  ... Just saying that makes it seem like some onerous task, but the truth is that embracing the truth can only make our lives better.  It isn't some horrible thing.  I think the "blame" part here is just that it's going to be our own fault if we don't accept God's offer to help us and clean up our lives.  We all need his help (except little children), because we make mistakes, and we choose bad things.  God is the reason that those bad things don't have to be on our consciences forever.

God gives us the chance to repent... kind of like a reset button or an extra life in a video game, right?  We can start again, replay the level.  Do it right this time.  We can't really rewind life, but we can make better choices in similar situations, and learn that lesson.  That's what repentance is about... God helping us to still be able to learn the lessons that we screw up on the first try.  Because of him, we can still progress and keep learning and master the things that are hard for us.

Today, let's work at not being responsible for our own downfall.  Let's clean up our lives.  Let's use the knowledge that we have of our Savior, and apply it to our lives.  Let's learn, so we can be brighter and better and blame and guilt-free. :)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Romans 2:1 -- On Giving Others a Chance

"Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."
Romans 2:1

Such a good reminder.  So often we look at others' weaknesses without considering our own.  We might not do the *exact* same thing as someone else, but we all have similar weaknesses.  We justify our own while looking down on others, which, as the verse says, tends to condemn us.

How do we change this?  Probably practice, like everything else.  We can start by trying to see things from other people's perspectives and asking ourselves how we would feel if we were in their situation, or just remember that we also have done things that we have needed forgiveness for.

Today, let's work on giving others the same benefit of the doubt that we give ourselves... a chance to change, to repent, and an assumption of the heart being in the right place. :)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Luke 1:37-38 -- On Welcoming the Will of God

"For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."
Luke 1:37-38

Mary is amazing here.  God, through an angel, tells her that nothing is impossible, and she believes him.  ... Can you imagine the world, or even just our individual lives, if we all accepted God's words and commandments so easily?  I think that things would move dramatically towards the positive.

Today, let's believe God when he tells us that nothing is impossible... that he can help us become and accomplish anything.  Let's welcome his will, and accept whatever God throws our way.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

D&C 98:14 -- On Enemies and Worthiness

"Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy."
Doctrine and Covenants 98:14

This is a good scripture for when we need some perspective.  So often, our troubles threaten to overwhelm us because we are hyper-focused on them  This scripture basically tells us that we can take a step back, remember that all things have their purpose and place in God's will, and look for a way to conquer the situation rather than fighting (or running away from) the person.

Today, let's work on being grateful for, and taking advantage of, the opportunities that God gives us to improve and prepare, rather than getting annoyed when things are less than ideal. :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Proverbs 29:6 -- On Sin and Freedom

"In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice."
Proverbs 29:6

This struck me today because sometimes the gospel is so simple, but we still miss it. :)  This verse is basically telling us that sin is a snare and a burden to our souls, and it prevents us from singing and rejoicing because we feel that weight.  ... The weight is there because *we* want to be different and better, not because God is somehow forcing us to be. :)

Today, let's remember the simplicity of freeing ourselves from sin.  We'll be lighter and cleaner and happier.  Instead of trying to justify our own misery, let's work on letting it drop out of our lives.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ecclesiastes 7:9 -- On Hasty Anger and Default Choices

"Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools."
Ecclesiastes 7:9

A good reminder that, as it says so many other places in the scriptures, anger is almost always a bad idea.  (See Colossians 3:8, Psalms 37:8, 2 Nephi 4:29, etc.)  The exception seems to be righteous anger, but pride is still a no, and we still need to learn to love our enemies, so that's a very fine line to walk.

I like the advice about hastiness.  We read in many places that God is slow to anger, and that seems like a good example to follow.  Too often that is our first or default choice, rather than other options. Perhaps today, we can work on our anger and try not to let it be our default choice.  Coming up with another default choice (perhaps kindness or love?) is a huge challenge and will take a lot of practice, but it's worth it because it is all part of learning to walk God's path, right?  Let's try it together. :)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

D&C 100:1 -- On Trusting God To Do As He Likes

"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power."
Doctrine and Covenants 100:1

This is an interesting verse.  Joseph and Sidney were praying to the Lord on behalf of their families, which they hadn't seen in several days.  And in this section, this is the only verse that addresses their concerns.  God tells them that their families are well, but doesn't guarantee their safety or wellbeing in the future, he only says "I will do with them as seemeth me good," which leaves it wide open... and then he launches into what he wants Joseph and Sidney to do in the area they are in.

This is not to say that he did not comfort the men at all.  I think the reminder that they were in his hands helps, and there are some cool verses in this section in that regard.  In verse 12 God tells them "let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end," and in verse 15 "let your hearts be comforted; for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly."  Those are some great comforting words. :)

So, why no assurances about their families?  I think the idea here is probably faith.  He's basically telling them (as he tells all of us from time to time), I know what I am doing, and I have this handled.  Whatever God's will is, that's what we need to accept.  Sometimes we, like Sidney and Joseph, find ourselves in situations where we are worried about something that we can't possibly control.  In situations like that, all we can do is turn to the Lord, trusting that he will be there when we can't be, and we have to recognize that God's will *is* always the right thing, even when it isn't what we wanted.

Today, let's remember that God will do "as seemeth [him] good" ... and that his will in all cases is going to be better overall, in an eternal sense, than however we wanted to control the situation.  We can, and should, prepare for whatever we can, but God has the rest handled.  It's not easy, but sometimes we have to let go of worries that we can't do anything about and leave it in God's hands.  As we listen to the Lord and focus on the things that are in front of us that we *can* do something about, he will bless us and help us to be able to make a difference.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Psalms 121:4 -- On Sleep and Making Time for Others

"Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."
Psalms 121:4

I never really thought about whether God slept or not.  We know that he rested when he was done creating the world, but this verse and, really, all we know about him, suggests that he does not sleep--since he is always aware of us, and always there to help us when we need it.  Indeed, the whole idea of this verse is to assure us that God will never put us on hold, or get back to us after the weekend.  He is always there, assisting and protecting us.

Although we always want to learn to be more like God, forgoing sleep is probably not the best way to do that in this case.  Instead, perhaps a different aspect of the lesson will work. :)  Today, let's make time for the people around us, even when it isn't perfect timing for us.  Let's do what we can for others, and bring joy into their lives through service as we learn to love as God does, and to be there for each other, as much as we can be, as he is always there for us.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Abraham 5:8 -- On Planting for Eternity

"And the Gods planted a garden, eastward in Eden, and there they put the man, whose spirit they had put into the body which they had formed."
Abraham 5:8

I like the details here.  The Gods planted a garden (gardens take time)... presumably that helps us know that the seed comes before the tree.  Not a chicken or egg, but close. ;)  The Gods also put the man's spirit into him.  It had already existed, but it needed to be united with the body.

There are other tidbits in the story... it not being good for man to be alone, which tells us something about community I think, the trees that were planted were only the ones that were nice to look at and good for food, so we know there were other trees, or the distinction wouldn't be made, and then of course the plural "Gods," which I always like because it shows us that, like Adam, it isn't good for God to be alone either, and that he also is the member of a community.

Today, as we work on building our own paradises, let's remember that gardens take time, and need to be planted, and also that community is necessary, and that we are spirits with an immortal nature.  Let's have patience and faith, and belief in ourselves, and in others, that we can do good, and be a force for change, to make the world a better place.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Alma 37:40-41 -- On Faith, Slothfulness, and Progress

"And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.
Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey"
Alma 37:40-41

The beginning of our selection is talking about the Liahona.  A tool that worked by faith.  Interesting, right?  Unfortunately, they were slothful, and stopped maintaining their relationship with God, and when they did, they stopped progressing.

Slothfulness I think affects us all occasionally... and it is a good thing to remember that when we are slothful, we aren't going to progress... it's just dead time.  In order to become who we want to be, and have a good relationship with God, we have to do those things, every day, that help us progress.

Today, let's remember the small miracles in our lives and not take them for granted.  Let's be diligent, and get back on track, and progress towards the happy ending that awaits us. :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Jonah 2:7 -- On the Fish of Remembrance

"When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple."
Jonah 2:7

This is part of a prayer that Jonah was praying to God while he was actually inside the big fish that swallowed him.  ... Talk about desperate situations.  And when it was bad, Jonah remembered the Lord, and the Lord heard him, and helped him.

Hopefully none of us are going through what Jonah went through. ;)  We do, however, have our own trials and challenges to face, and when things get bad, we can also turn to God.  No matter how bad things are, God is always just a prayer away.

It's sad, really, that we so often wait until things are desperate to call upon God, or to take his advice. Today let's try remembering the Lord before having to get swallowed first. :)  Let's pray, and trust in God's deliverance.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

JST Romans 7:24-27 -- On the War Within

"And now I see another law, even the commandment of Christ, and it is imprinted in my mind.
But my members are warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
And if I subdue not the sin which is in me, but with the flesh serve the law of sin; O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, then, that so with the mind I myself serve the law of God."
Joseph Smith Translation: Romans 7:24-27

This is an interesting passage about inner turmoil.  The mind is talked about as the place that is influenced by Christ, and the body as the place of sin and death.  It makes it clear that the goal is to subdue sin.

Sin is talked about as captivity and as death.  ... Scary.  And this part is fascinating: "who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"  Confusing at first, but I think, with the symbolism that we have going here that there is a war between mind and body, and if the mind doesn't come out on top (which is the good, ideal result), then there is a possibility that the body might win.  I think the idea here being that if we let the body win, then the mind is trapped there, and who can deliver us from our own choices like that, you know?

Today, let's let Christ, and our minds, take precedence in our lives.  Let's learn to let go of sin, and to work with God and not against him.  Let's not be passengers in our own bodies, unable to control ourselves and in need of deliverance.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Abraham 4:18 -- On Attention and Obedience

"And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed."
Abraham 4:18

This is an excerpt from the creation story, and I thought it was interesting today because the Gods were organizing all of these things, but they hadn't happened yet, and so they had to keep track and follow through on all of it.  Maybe it just took time to happen.  I really like my imagined idea of God up there, checking in to watch the progress, kind of like hitting refresh on your browser over and over, waiting for an update. :)  I know God doesn't have to do it that way, but I think he followed what was going on, with that same feeling and interest in every detail.

I also think that he follows our lives like that as well.  It's easy to feel lost and unimportant among the myriads of people around us, in our society, on earth, and think that we are lost among them.  But God isn't a fallible human, losing track of people, and he doesn't offer us less because there are more of his children to care for... he is capable of giving us all as much attention and love as we can handle. :)

I think there is also a timing issue here.  God & Co watched and waited until they were obeyed, and after that, moved onto the next phase of creation.  A similar thing happens in our lives, because the principles of the gospel build on each other.  So, God has to watch us to make sure we get the first part before he can give us the second part... it takes obedience to progress.

Today, let's remember how involved God is in our lives.  Let's reach out to him, and let's work on our obedience, so that God can help us to progress.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

2 Nephi 1:21 -- On Arising from the Dust

"And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;"
2 Nephi 1:21

This is sort of sad.  It is Lehi, pleading with his wicked sons basically on his deathbed to stand up and do what's right.  I think that the phrase "arise from the dust" is because he had seen a vision of the future, and what happened to their posterity, and he was pleading with them to change it.  To change the future by arising from the dust of the "past" and making better choices.

I think the same sort of interesting time-travel is possible for us.  Even if we haven't seen a vision of our own future, we can get an idea from looking at the pattern of our lives so far.  Are we really going to get to those things that we keep putting off?  Are we really going to change that habit that we keep engaging in, even though we know that we should do better?

The answer is, not unless we wake up, and arise from the dust.  In order to change the future... to be that ideal self later down the line, we have to change who we are today.  ... So let's get on that, and avoid the curse of our own inaction.  Let's stand up, and be men (or women), and let God change our hearts while we change our actions.  Let's be more than we are, and make the future a lot brighter. :)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Luke 6:21, 25 -- On Hunger and Happiness

"Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
. . .
Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep."
Luke 6:21, 25

These verses, taken together, are interesting.  The chapter has more interesting juxtapositions, but I liked this one because the comparison of weeping and laughter.  In one way, it is warning us perhaps about the human condition.  That we need to be careful of becoming overconfident or complacent about good fortune--or too despairing about bad fortune--because things are cyclical, and bad and good will come to us all.

In another way, maybe it is talking about our priorities.  Maybe we need to be willing to suffer in order to learn laughter.  Perhaps we need to be able to be open and vulnerable and willing to experience sorrow in order to learn love and service and happiness.

It's an interesting way to think of the concepts, but when we compare the Lord's strategy here to our usual strategy, which is usually hunger-->obtain food and sorrow-->watch a comedy (okay, perhaps that is an oversimplification, but the point is that we go straight for the payoff).  Maybe what God is asking us to think about here is that breadth of experience, and having an open mind and heart will serve us much better than single-mindedly trying to satisfy one need.  I know: well-rounded education.  Who knew God was a fan.  But I think he is. :)

Today, let's think about what we face each day, and make sure that we are going to be okay (and that we can stick with God) no matter what comes.  Hunger and sorrow shouldn't be able to tear us away from our God who will bring us fullness and joy.  By the same token, satisfaction and happiness should not lure us into forgetting our God, or our great need for him.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Job 28:12-15 -- On God and Wisdom

"But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?
Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.
The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.
It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof."
Job 28:12-15

These verses highlight the importance of wisdom, and talk about how valuable it is.  They also ask *where* it can be found.  That's an interesting question... and in our society we often think that wisdom *is* something you can buy... with tuition or research grants, or whatever else. :)

Today, let's remember that there is an answer to where Wisdom can be found, and that answer is God.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Ecclesiastes 5:2 -- On Being People of Few Words

"Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few."
Ecclesiastes 5:2

This is good stuff.  So often we start actually believing that we know what we are talking about so much that we can challenge God, or think that maybe he is making a mistake, or being unjust.  Which is really just absolutely hilarious, since ... we're mortal, and he is immortal.  We've got 104 years of experience, max (at least that we can remember), and he's got, well, eternity.  He's the creator of the universe, and we... made something with LEGOs once.  You know?  This whole arrogance with God thing just doesn't make any sense.  He's in Heaven, and we're on Earth... and we need to learn a lot to be able to be where he is.  Listening rather than talking might be a good idea.

Today, let's work on our humility.  It's never a really fun lesson, but recognizing that we have a lot to learn is often *essential* to actually learning it.  Let's speak less and think and listen more, and when in doubt remember that God is right, and we are wrong.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Proverbs 24:16 -- On Rising Up

"For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief."
Proverbs 24:16

This verse seems to be illustrative of the difference between the wicked and the righteous.  So often we think that good people are that way inherently, or that they are somehow more powerful or more pure.

The truth is, good people just keep trying where the wicked decide to give up.  God has room to work with us when we are persistent and committed.  He can turn failure into success for any of us if we give him enough opportunities. :)

Today, let's remember to get back up, every time.  Let's be committed to solving our problems and loving our neighbors in the Lord's way.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Psalms 18:28 -- On Enlightening our Darkness

"For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness."
Psalms 18:28

I really like the idea of God enlightening our darkness.  We generate a lot of it sometimes, and we just don't always have the spark that we need to light our own candles of hope or love or resolve or whatever it is that is needed... and when we don't have that ability, God is there for us.  He grants us the power that we need to stand up and try again, believe again, or whatever else is needed.

Today, let's remember that with God, we never need to be afraid of the dark.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Alma 30:7-8 -- On Law and Choice

"Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.
For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve."
Alma 30:7-8

These are some interesting verses talking about law and choice.  Sometimes we're tempted to want God to step in and enforce his laws--but one of the central reasons we are here on Earth is so that we can have a choice to learn and choose for ourselves.  Not only does religious freedom (for all religions) and the separation of government and religion protect people from being coerced into joining one religion over another, it also protects God's will that we make our own choices in this regard.  Everything in the gospel is designed to help us find that truth for ourselves.

Today, let's try the virtue of the gospel, and find out for ourselves whether it improves our lives or not.  Let's look to God, and remember that the ideal (at least before Christ's return) isn't necessarily a religious government, because those seem to inevitably go wrong.  It's a place where everyone has the ability to choose for him or herself, without feeling forced or coerced one way other another by those in authority.  Let's make our own choices to serve God... and keep loving all of our fellow human beings who choose otherwise.  :)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Moroni 1:3 -- On Denial, Suffering, and Truth

"And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life."
Moroni 1:3

If Moroni had been willing to deny the Christ, he wouldn't have had to run for his life, or to wander for years alone.  We've been reading about the pioneers in Sunday School recently.  If they had been willing to deny Christ and the truth of his gospel, their lives could have been much more comfortable, and they would have avoided heartbreak and terrible loss in so many cases.  ... So why?  Why *choose* suffering?

The reason of course is that it's true.  Christ lives, and his gospel is true, and those facts are worth all the suffering that we endure for his name.  I'm sure that it doesn't always feel like it at the time, but God can, and will, lift our burdens and make them light.  He can, and will, bless us so much that we will look back on every pain and sorrow as completely worth it.

Today, if we are suffering for our beliefs, or for any other reason, let's remember the source of our hope, our faith, and our deliverance.  Let's be like Moroni, like the pioneers, and like so many others throughout history.  Let's stand up for Christ, and do what is right and good, no matter what.  We will encounter obstacles on our journey, but the happy ending is ever before us, a true and enduring promise from God that someday we will rest from all troubles, and care, and sorrow (Alma 40:12).

Saturday, September 2, 2017

D&C 1:31 -- On Sin and Cinderella

"For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;"
Doctrine and Covenants 1:31

This is a great verse that reminds us that sin isn't just something that we can learn to accept in our lives, or that God will ever accept from us.  It needs to be rejected, and we really do need to change.

Those are important things to remember.  On the other hand though, I think sometimes we take this verse (and the similar one in Alma 45:16), and think that they mean that when we sin that God hates us or that sin makes us into worthless slugs.  Neither is true.

When Cinderella wanted to go to the Ball, but she was dirty and gross from cleaning, and didn't have an appropriate gown, her grunge and lack of resources didn't make her a bad person, and the royal family never personally hated her, or she wouldn't have gotten in, even after washing and changing. :)

Similarly, we aren't slugs because we sin... and God does not hate us.  We still have to clean up our lives and repent.  We still have to prepare and find the resources that we need in order to change, grow, multiply our talents, and magnify our callings.  We still will not get into the the Ball (or Heaven) if we are not clean and prepared.  But in the meantime, God loves us, and wants to help us.

The Spirit is like the Fairy Godmother in the story, helping us know how to do the things that are necessary before we ask for admittance.  And God gives us the power to do the impossible... to transform ourselves from dirty kitchen wench into princess.  He knows our potential, even under the grime (and sin).

Today, let's remember that we do need to change, and to not be complacent about that, but also that there is no need to hate ourselves during the process.  Let's look to our Father, who loves us and will help us, and who will teach us to change and grant miracles in our lives, if we will just keep trying.  Cinderella might be fictional, but she can teach us a lot about courage and determination in spite of obstacles.  Let's do as she did, and get clean and ready, so that we too can live our dreams.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Matthew 8:13 -- On the Sliding Scale of Trust

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

This story begins with a centurion who is worried about his sick servant, and who comes to Christ for help.  Jesus told him that he would go and heal him, and the centurion told him that he didn't need to actually come.  He could just say it and it would be done, just as the centurion could command the soldiers under him and get things done.  This is Christ's response.

I like this verse because, like so many other cool things in the gospel, God gives us a sliding scale.  Not *instead* of something more concrete, but in addition to.  If we need something concrete, God offers us the concrete option, just as he offered it to the centurion.  But if we offer more faith, God gives us more--returning more blessings for every tiny step we make progressing in the gospel.

Today, let's take that phrase "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee," and incorporate it into our lives (in a positive way), as the centurion did.  The more we trust God, the more God can work with us, and the brighter the hope.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

D&C 45:57 -- On Abiding the Day

"For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day."
Doctrine and Covenants 45:57

Malachi 3:2 contains an important question.  Speaking of Christ, it asks: "But who may abide the day of his coming?"  This verse seems to be at least a partial answer.  If we are wise, receive the truth, and take the Holy Spirit for our guide, then we will be able to abide the day.

Wisdom is a common theme in the scriptures.  Jacob 6:12 says "O be wise; what can I say more?" ... Clearly, however, the wisdom that will allow us to abide the day is not the wisdom of the world.  Nor is the truth here the twisted self-deception that often gets labeled truth by the world, and often by us as we accept and embrace the world.  In order to have the wisdom and the truth that this verse talks about, we need to be listening to the Lord and heeding his counsel, which means taking the Holy Spirit for our guide.

Learning to listen to the Holy Ghost and really allow God to guide us is sometimes hard.  We can get confused about what thoughts and inspiration is coming from our own brains, and what is being given to us by God.  It takes faith, prayer, and some action and experimentation.  Since we know that the Spirit only leads us to do good though, we're safe to start out by going with any thoughts or promptings that encourage us to do good.  If it was our own spontaneous thought, great... it's never going to be a bad thing to take the time to do something good.  And as we act on good thoughts and promptings, the Lord has more opportunities to guide us and teach us to recognize his voice.

Today, let's work on tuning in to God's wisdom and truth, and on following the Spirit.  Those are good preparation not only for abiding the day of his coming, but any day, including right now. :)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

John 5:8 -- On Rising, Walking, and Making things Better

"Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk."
John 5:8

This statement by the Savior is directed to a man who "had an infirmity thirty and eight years" (verse 5), and who was waiting by the pool of Bethesda, hoping to find some way to be healed, even after all that time.

To me, taking up the bed shows us a couple of things.  First, it illustrates that the man still had hope and faith.  The scripture records no hesitation or doubt... just that immediately he was healed and took up his bed and walked.  Indeed, he likely was initially unable to fulfil such a commandment, but the Lord gave him the power to fulfil it, and he was willing, and did so as soon as it was possible.

The other thing that I see here is a lesson about healing.  Like so many other things in life, sometimes we think that healing is the end of all of our struggles.  If we could just be whole, physically, mentally, spiritually..., then everything would be okay.  What we don't realize until later is that healing is the beginning of the journey, not the end.  We get so used to hiding behind our weaknesses that even when they aren't there anymore, sometimes we try to hide in them anyway, and don't do the work that it takes to actually more forward and improve.

Today, as God heals us, of sin, of doubt, of fear, and so many other things, let's take up our beds symbolically and walk--becoming more than we are.  Let's take the gifts that the Lord has given us and expand and even multiply them, taking the baseline that God has given us and making everything better. :)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

3 Nephi 22:4,10 -- On Shame and Kindness

"Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee."
3 Nephi 22:4,10

Reading this chapter today made me think that these two verses seem to go together in a lot of ways, even though there are 5 other verses between them.

These verses are about the last days, and the Lord telling us that there is no reason to fear, because all of the stupid things that we did when we were young are going to be wiped off the slate.  We won't remember the bad things, or guilt-trip ourselves with replays of the scene in our minds.

And why is the Lord protecting us from shame and reproach like this?  Because even when the hills disappear, God is there.  Because his kindness is eternal, and he is promising (and delivering) kindness.  He promises us Mercy, and God doesn't break his promises.

Today, let's work on not being afraid of earthly shames.  Let's move on and repent and change, knowing that God can help us forget the bad things, and that he loves us, and will never leave us without kindness, and will always be leading us towards peace.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Alma 37:35 -- On Learning Wisdom in Our Youth

"O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God."
Alma 37:35

What struck me about this today is the thought of learning in our youth.  As we get older I think that we probably all collect some regrets, and one of the general things that we regret is the way that we spent our time, or missed opportunities.  Learning to keep the commandments of God is a *great* way to prevent some serious regret when it comes to God.

That doesn't mean that repentance is pointless at all.  Repentance is a real and beautiful gift, and it can restore us to perfect cleanliness and hope.  It unfortunately won't give us back years of our lives or let us live them over again, making better choices.  And *that* is why we should probably learn some wisdom as quick as we can. :)

Today, let's start learning (or continue learning) to keep the commandments of God.  Once we get that touch of wisdom we can see so clearly that God isn't restricting us.  Rather, he is protecting us and helping us avoid the huge pitfalls of life.  The more we listen to him, the less painful it has to be.  ... And that's some wisdom right there.  Let's try to listen and learn and love, and limit the damage from our rebelliousness as much as possible. :)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Alma 4:3 -- On Learning from Affiction

"And so great were their afflictions that every soul had cause to mourn; and they believed that it was the judgments of God sent upon them because of their wickedness and their abominations; therefore they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty."
Alma 4:3

None of us enjoy afflictions, but I like the fact that they are useful and not pointless.  God tells us that he will "consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain" (2 Nephi 2:2), which I think means that God can use even the bad things in life to help us to learn, grow, and find joy.

In this verse, their afflictions caused them to remember God, and their duty to him.  I think that is a common side effect of afflictions, for example this verse: "In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me." (D&C 101:8).  Sometimes it takes something negative happening to kind of wake us up and remind us that we need God.  ... Now, I definitely think it would be better if we could remember God *before* something bad happens, and not saying that I love afflictions either, but perhaps we need them sometimes, at least until we learn a little better. :)

Today, let's remember that there is a purpose for afflictions too.  We don't have to think that they are fun, but perhaps we should be open to the lessons that we can learn from them when they do come.  Let's remember our duty to God, and look to him as he promises us that "all things wherewith [we] have been afflicted shall work together for [our] good" (D&C 98:3).

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Alma 13:13 -- On Entering Into God's Rest

"And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest."
Alma 13:13

This chapter is talking about people in the scriptures and how they obtained God's rest, and here Alma calls us to repentance and asks us to do as they did, so that we can also enter.

Doesn't rest sound awesome?  I think of God's rest as way better than sleep or a day off, but really a time/place where there aren't any anxieties anymore.  Nothing that you have to worry about or stress over.  Just time to focus on good things.  I could be way off of course, but if it's God's rest, you know it has to be pure good. :)

A lot of times I think that we look at calls to repentance as guilt-trips or a form of dislike and condemnation.  And perhaps, from people, that is an unfortunate aspect of condemnation or judgement.  But when God asks us to repent, it isn't about making us feel bad, and it isn't about hatred or intolerance.  It's because he sees that we're on a road that doesn't lead to happiness and he wants to save us, and get us back on the right road--the one that leads to him.

Today, let's do as Alma (and God) suggest, and repent so that we can enter into the rest of the Lord.

Friday, August 25, 2017

2 Nephi 2:14 -- On Acting

"And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon."
2 Nephi 2:14

Some good things to remember, that God exists and that he created all things.  By themselves those are huge, incredible truths that we often overlook or take for granted.  But I love the extra bonus part at the end of this verse--"things to act and things to be acted upon."  It makes me think of our own free agency, and how sometimes we sit around like lumps, waiting to be acted upon, when maybe we should be up and acting instead.

Today, let's remember the huge truths of God's existence and creation... and then let's do something about it.  Not saying that rest isn't good sometimes, because it totally is.  But today let's remember that sometimes we need to act, and not just wait to be acted upon. :)  Let's have faith, and start doing good and learning and growing without having to be prompted. :)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Galatians 3:10-11 -- On Living By Faith

"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."
Galatians 3:10-11

These are some interesting verses talking about law, justice, and faith.  We often think of laws as protective, and thus they usually are, but here they are also talked about as a curse.  In this case, I think, because none of us can actually fulfil the requirements of the law... we become, in a way, cursed, because of our own failure and sin.  Because none of us can fulfil those requirements, none of us are justified.

Instead, we rely on our faith in and the mercy of Jesus Christ, who faced the law for us, and paid the price that we owed, and who asks in return only that we continue to strive and to repent and change.

Today, let's repent and change, and keep working on our own worthiness.  Let's trust God to help us through the demands of justice, and live by that faith--knowing that God will help us succeed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 -- On Life with God

"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

I love the hopefulness here.  In the verse previous to this, it asks us to have hope, and these are the reasons.  Because God hasn't decided to hate us and he doesn't want us to suffer.  What he *has* planned for is our salvation.  And Christ died, not so that he could guilt-trip us into doing things his way... but because we really needed it.  It was our only chance of being able to live with him forever... and he *wants* that.  He wants to live with *us.*  Which seems crazy sometimes when we think of our little selves compared to everyone and the universe... but it is absolutely true.  He loves us, individually, more than we can even imagine, and he wants a personal relationship with us all, and for us all to come back home after this life.

We yearn so much for God, but I don't think that we really realize and understand how much he yearns for us as well.  All of this--creation, life, everything--is for us... so that we can learn and grow and become the people we hoped to be, and prepared ourselves for an afterlife where we can be together, reunited, and find joy with him... all of his children restored to him, and joined together as a gigantic family. :)

Another super cool thing here is the phrase "wake or sleep," meaning, I think, in life or in death.  That means that we don't have to wait.  Unity with God is something we look forward to after this life, but it is also something that we can work for, and have, in this life, if we strive for it.

Today, let's strive. :)  Let's love God as much as he loves us.  Let's do everything we can to learn and to be able to return to him again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

John 14:1-2 -- On Believing and Getting There

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."
John 14:1-2

These are really comforting verses, and I really love the idea of God caring about us so much that he worries about us being troubled.  I mean, he knows things are going to be awesome in the end and that joy and peace are waiting for us--but he still doesn't dismiss our temporary worries as faithless and meaningless.  Instead, he encourages us and comforts us.

Christ encourages us to believe in him, and in his father.  Those are the things that we need to do in order to be prepared and to triumph.  I also love the mansions part.  I have no idea if we are going to get literal mansions, but even if it is just the symbolic idea of a mansion... a place where you feel safe, and where you have everything you need all the time... I think it will be amazing either way.

Today, let's work on not letting our hearts be troubled.  Let's believe in Christ, and trust that he is preparing a place for us.  Let's trust him, and work with him, and get there. :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

3 Nephi 24:2 -- On Abiding the Day

"But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap."
3 Nephi 24:2

This verse (and the almost identical verse in Malachi) is about the second coming of Christ.  The way that it is written it sounds kind of like a rhetorical question.  Who will be able to stand?  Obviously no one.  A refiner's fire is incredibly hot, to separate the pure, precious metal from the lead and dross, and to burn away other impurities, and fuller's soap is incredibly harsh, but it gets out the dirt and the oils so that the fabric is perfectly clean and white.

On one level that sounds super scary and feels like if we aren't perfect, we won't make it through that process.  On the other hand though, I think it is hopeful.  Comparing Christ's coming to refiners and fullers means that we're still at the potential stage.  Both of these processes are things that you do to prepare things... to make them better and get them ready for something great later.  If the analogy were to hospice care or layoffs, then I'd be a little scared.

I think the idea here is that we have to be willing to let go of the dirt and oil and lead and imperfection within ourselves--and that's who will abide, and who will be able to stand.  People who have already allowed God to change them into shiny, pure, clean potential. :)  Today, let's talk to God and let him work on us, and cleanse us.  Let's be willing to let go of the bad parts of ourselves, and become prepared, so that maybe we can enjoy the second coming instead of being scared.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Psalms 94:16-18 -- On Standing Against Iniquity

"Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.
When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up."
Psalms 94:16-18

It's hard to stand up to iniquity, and we often wish for someone else to intervene and save us. Sometimes the Lord does stand up for us, but much more often, he strengthens us so that *we* can stand up.  Without that help, our souls might remain silent and just go along with whatever it is.

Sometimes our feet start to slip when we are standing against iniquity as well.  We want to believe that standing up is enough, and that is all there is to the struggle.  But when we start to get tired and worry that we are going to go down and fall off the path, God is merciful and he helps us, and gives us something to hold on to.

Today, let's partner with God to give voice to our souls, and to establish a firm foundation for our feet.  Let's hold to the iron rod of his gospel, and always be willing to stand against iniquity, and instead choose love, and hope, and goodness.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Proverbs 1:10 -- On Not Consenting to Sin

"My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."
Proverbs 1:10

Simple, right?  When we think of sinners enticing us, we often think of kids or teens, because that's when peer pressure hits us hard, and we are hyper-concerned about what other people think, and even when we're out on our own for the first time and are trying to figure out our own way.

Unfortunately, we are enticed even as we age, sometimes from areas we wouldn't expect.  We face ethical challenges at home, in the workplace, in social situations, and even sometimes at church.  It's hard to stand up for what we believe when no one else is standing with us.  It's hard to be in situations where we feel mocked or looked down on for trying to live the right way.

Another thing that is difficult is making sure *we* aren't part of that group that is doing the enticing, either by accidentally triggering others' weaknesses or just through inaction.  It isn't easy to stand up, or stand out, but often when we do, we help other people who are also uncomfortable with the situation.

Bottom line, the verse says it all. We need to make sure that we aren't consenting to bad things.  Today, let's walk away from those sinners.  Especially the ones inside ourselves. :)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hebrews 4:1 -- On Fear and Respect and Preparation

"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."
Hebrews 4:1

Fear is an interesting idea in the scriptures that is often hard to understand.  We're asked to love God, and read that "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment" (1 John 4:18), and yet we also read "Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13), and lest we ascribe the idea of fearing God to the fulfilled Mosaic law, here it is in our scripture for today: "Let us therefore fear."  ... Yikes, right?  Why would we want to fear, or have fear in our lives?

Most of the time in the scriptures when we're told to fear God, it means respect.  No one should attempt to climb Mount Everest without a healthy fear of death for instance.  You have to respect the mountain, or it *will* crush you.  Not because the mountain hates you, but because you weren't prepared for the challenge.  And life is like that too.  It's a challenge that we need to respect and plan for.   D&C 38:30: "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear."

This verse is about fear, but not fear of God.  More a fear of failure.  Not the immobilizing, overwhelming kind, but again, the respect kind.  We need to respect the challenge before us.  If we're going to be able to accept what God offers, it's going to take some effort and some work to become the kind of people that can stand in his presence.

Today, let's take hold of God's promise of rest, and let's be prepared for it.  Let's have a healthy fear of becoming worse than we are, and turn that into motivation to become better.  

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