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.

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