Wednesday, January 31, 2018

1 Timothy 2:1 -- On Praying for Others

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;"
1 Timothy 2:1

I like the idea here of praying for everyone.  We often pray for our friends or the people in our families--people we really care about.  Maybe though we are getting things the wrong way around.  As we learn to pray for others, we learn to love them.  ... Thus, prayer can be the first step into better relationships. :) 

Let's try it God's way, and let's pray for everyone, and try to learn to love everyone.  Maybe we can start out with someone we just don't like that much.  Let's try praying for that person.  Just going to the Lord and talking about that person and how the Lord might be able to help them I think will be a good beginning... because God isn't just going to listen to us complain.  If we are going to pray for someone, we really have to be sincere, and find things that are positive about them, and if we are listening well, God will help us to understand why he loves that person more than we can imagine, just as he loves us.  Let's be open to that sort of learning today. :)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

2 Nephi 6:16-17 -- On God Fighting our Battles

"For shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
But thus saith the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant people. For thus saith the Lord: I will contend with them that contendeth with thee—"
2 Nephi 6:16-17

These are some great verses.  This is from some chapters in the Book of Mormon where Jacob (Nephi's brother) is teaching from Isaiah.  These verses are talking about the Second Coming, and the first verse is a question answered by the second verse.  Basically, yes... even law and power will be overcome in that day, because God will deliver his covenant people.  Isaiah, as always, is many-layered, so I think in talking about his covenant people he means specifically those at Jerusalem (mentioned in verse 8), but also the Gentiles (mentioned in verse 12), so in essence, all of us who "repent and fight not against Zion" (verse 12). He specifically also mentions that "none will he destroy that believe in him" (verse 14), which is a pretty amazing promise, likely specific to this event, but also true in a general, eternal sense.

My favorite part here is "I will contend with them that contendeth with thee."  The idea that God will fight our battles for us is an amazing promise.  I think, again, that the meaning here is many layered.  God likely doesn't mean that he will fight all of our battles for us, but specifically the ones at the Second Coming are included, as are, perhaps, other battles like that... ones where we have done all we can, and only a miracle will do.  I think sometimes we see that in our own lives, don't we?  Where we are the legitimate prey, and have broken God's laws.  It would be perfectly just to punish or destroy us, but in repentance, instead, we find God willing to save us even then.  ... I think that is what the atonement is--Christ willing to fight our battles for us in a spiritual way, just like he will fight this (at least partly) physical one for us at the Second Coming.

Today, let's do all that we can, and work to repent, and believe and trust in him.  He will fight the battles that we cannot.

Monday, January 29, 2018

John 14:20-21 -- On Love and Obedience

"At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
John 14:20-21

 Two really interesting ideas here.  One is that we are all part of God, and God is part of us... or maybe I am getting it wrong and it isn't "part of" but just we are in each other in some way that doesn't necessarily mean part of, but ... connected?  Either way, it is interesting, and I think cool.  Having God connected to us in any way seems pretty amazing.

I think it is with that background that this next verse really makes sense too.  It is also an interesting idea that love equals obedience, at least on a human-to-God level.  The way it seems to make sense to me, based on the preceding verse, is that the commandments are there to keep that interconnectedness between us and God going.  When we are obedient, we are strengthening and restoring that connection, and when we are disobedient, then we are breaking it... which on so many levels is exactly what love is as well.  Maintaining a connection with someone.  Between people it isn't obedience to each other so much as maintaining rules that respect and build the relationship... build it up rather than tear it down.  Sometimes we don't know all the rules because some of them are individual to a person... hot buttons and things that they cherish, etc.   We learn ways to manipulate and hurt them and loving them is choosing not to, and loving them despite flaws and imperfections... but still helping and encouraging them to be the best people they can be.

With God we don't know all the rules when we start out either, but God helps us out by giving us commandments.  Those will help us not only with our relationship with him, but with our relationships with other people, and with the world itself.  They will even help us deal with ourselves better. :)  Indeed, keeping God's commandments shows our love for him, and also our love for others, our love for ourselves, and our love for the idea of making things better.

Today, let's love God by keeping his commandments.  Let's strengthen that relationship, and through it, all the other relationships that we have.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

2 Nephi 26:33 -- On All being Alike Unto God

"For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."
2 Nephi 26:33

I like that some specific things are called out here, including race, slavery, gender, and religion.  Significantly, even after mentioning those groups, it says that "all" are alike unto God.  All as in... all.  Wow. :)

Sometimes I think that we leave certain people out of the group that we believe that God loves or cares about.  Maybe we leave out murderers or used-car salesmen, or homosexuals, or republicans, or immigrants, or democrats, or prostitutes, or a different religion than we are, or whoever else that we honestly in the moment can't relate to or we feel is destroying the world, or whatever else.

During Christ's life he interacted, I think on purpose in order to set an example, with many people that were pretty universally despised in the society where he grew up.  He forgave an adulteress, he brought the gospel to Samaritans, he ate with tax collectors.  And today, he *still* interacts with all the despised, wherever they are... wherever *we* are, because we are all despised by somebody.  God loves us no matter who we are, and he will talk to us if we reach out to him and he will help us learn of him and draw closer to him.

That isn't to say, of course, that doing whatever we want is the way to get to heaven, or that God is going to embrace our sins.  There is still only one path, and it is following Jesus Christ, and we still have to learn to repent.   I think that what this verse does mean is that that we should follow Christ's example of love, despite whatever sin or fault we see in another's life.  And it does mean that we, despite whatever sins we have committed, are welcome as we take steps to move closer to God and reach out to him for help.  He won't drive us away, and if we are his disciples, we won't drive each other away either.

Today, let's love the people around us, and let's come unto God, and rejoice in his love as he teaches us to become better than we are, and let go of things and behaviors and attitudes that are harming us.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Psalms 46:10 -- On Being Still and Moving Forward

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalms 46:10

I love this message, although I think that it is something that we rarely do.  It is hard for us to be still in our lives.  I mean, physically still maybe occasionally, but mentally still, emotionally still, spiritually still... we have a hard time quieting down our lives and really listening to God or even considering our own lives and making really good decisions. :)  We so often get worked up about things that are happening around us, and make ourselves completely stressed out and worried about things that we can't control, and we seem to forget that God *is* in control, and doing an excellent job of it actually, and that things work out for the best in the end.

Today, let's talk to God about whatever is stressing us out.  Let's get his take on it, and if there is something we can do about it, let's do it.  Let's repent, change, and work to make things better.  But for the things that we can't do anything about, let's trust God.  Let's be still, and know that he is God, and he's got it. :)  It will all be okay in the end, because God will make sure of it.  We don't have to stress about that.  And he will help us deal with whatever comes.  Let's take that time to be still in our lives, and find that connection to God.  And when we find it, let's trust in him, and then move forward with confidence and peace.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Daniel 4:24-26 -- On Humility

"This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule."
Daniel 4:24-26

This is Daniel interpreting a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar.  It's an interesting dream, because the king is told ahead of time why all of it would happen, and Daniel counsels him about it, but it all still ends up happening when he praises himself and doesn't remember God.

I think similar lessons happen in our lives, though hopefully they aren't quite as dramatic.  We all have to learn some humility, and understand that God is (and should be) in charge, and that we're still learning, and that doing things God's way always makes more sense and works out better in the long run, even when it doesn't seem like it in the moment.

I'm of course not saying that lessons like this are easy.  It is often very, very hard to let go of our ideas about ourselves being extra-super-cool and able to handle everything, and make all the best decisions, etc.  It can hurt the ego.  It's also really good for us in other ways though.  As we learn that we are just not always as cool as we think, we often have more room in our lives to notice how cool other people are, and realize that some of them are actually better than we are at some things... which helps us learn to cooperate and work together.  Humility, like all of our other lessons, is designed to help us, not hurt us.

Today, even though it might be hard for us, let's learn some humility.  Let's remember that God is smarter and wiser and cooler, and that he will teach us how to be so much better if we can work on listening to and learning from him.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Alma 53:9 -- On Being Good Inside and Out

"And thus because of iniquity amongst themselves, yea, because of dissensions and intrigue among themselves they were placed in the most dangerous circumstances."
Alma 53:9

This is an interesting chapter where the bad guys win a lot because the good guys are arguing and fighting among themselves.  I think that it is a good reminder to us that it isn't enough just to wear the white hat. :)  We also have to be living the right way, and doing the things that God asks.  The things that God asks are always things that will help us to learn and grow, and to become more unified with others, and happier overall.  They are things that help us to become good on the inside, not just on the outside.

Today, let's work on being good rather than focusing on dissent and intrigue.  Let's work on love and unity and helping the people around us rather than on tearing others down and hating.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

D&C 138:18 -- On Freedom from the Chains of Death

"While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;"
Doctrine and Covenants 138:18

This is part of a section talking about the spirit world, and this is the part where Christ visits them upon his death, and before his resurrection.  It is an interesting insight into that in-between time, and shows a lot about the continuity of the self after death and the fact that our hope in the gospel and our faith in Christ continues after death, not to mention the message that although there is a time where we will be without our bodies once again, it won't be forever... one day we too will be resurrected, because of Christ's triumph over death.

Today, let's remember that there is something worth working for in our far future, and try to make decisions that will help us not just temporarily, but in the very long term.  Let's trust in and rejoice in all that Christ has done for us, and look forward to the eternity he has granted us in perfect, resurrected bodies--free from the "chains"/limitations of being without them.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

D&C 93:31 -- On Receiving the Light

"Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light."
Doctrine and Covenants 93:31

This is a good reminder that God is being straight with us.  He has gifted us with the things that we need to make the right decisions.  He has given us a conscience and a chance to learn the truth.  Today, let's learn it.  Let's accept it.  Let's embrace truth wherever it is found, and fill our lives with its light.

As we do so, we will grow closer to God, who is the source of all light and truth, and we will understand more and more about this world and our place in it, and the purposes of God.  Let's be willing to receive what God grants us, and trust him over all of the distracting, tempting falsehood that surrounds us.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Matthew 14:35-36 -- On Reaching Out to Christ

"And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;
And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole."
Matthew 14:35-36

The idea of having the chance to be in the presence of Christ and to reach out to him is a powerful one.  These people recognized that power, and they had the faith to be healed just by touching his clothing, as the woman with the issue of blood was healed.

I wonder sometimes if we have the same kind of faith, just to reach out to God and get his help in our lives.  He surely is offering it, and if we have the faith, he will lift us and help us to figure out ourselves and our place in the world, and how to make a difference.  We might not all be healed or helped in the same way, but we will be helped, and healed, in the ways that will help us to learn and grow and become what we can be.

Today, let's have the faith to reach out to God through prayer and through learning more about him.  Let's talk things out with God and ask for healing and help in the ways that he knows will help us, and let's trust him to bless and help us in the ways that we need, as we keep talking things out with him daily. :)  We can have God in our lives, if we will reach out to him.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mark 7:6-7 -- On Improving Our Obedience

"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
Mark 7:6-7

This is a good warning against self-justification.  We often interpret the Lord's commandments to suit ourselves, carving out some exception for our own benefit or thinking that surely God makes an exception in our case.  I'm not saying that exceptions don't exist; only that claiming exceptions to God's laws for ourselves is a hugely arrogant thing to do, and it would probably be better to always assume that we are part of the rule and let God tell us that we are in a circumstance where an exception needs to be made rather than ever assuming that we are an exception.

The exception used in this chapter is an example from the Law of Moses, and it was a loophole for getting around certain financial obligations to parents, thus trying to get around the commandment to honor our parents.   Today, let's remember that we should never treat God's law like we treat tax law--looking for every loophole and exception that we can find, so we can do and pay less.  Instead, with God, we should be looking for ways to improve our obedience rather than avoiding it.  We aren't going to be perfect in obedience anytime soon, but we can work on being better than we were last week, or maybe even better than we have ever been. :)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Alma 42:18 -- On Law and Conscience

"Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man."
Alma 42:18

I like the idea here of God granting us a conscience, so that we have something internal to help keep us on track.  We sometimes feel thrown to the wolves and like the whole life thing is just too overwhelming and hard.  We forget though how much we have going for us, because of God--including the whole law/conscience thing, but so many other things that he does for us and helps us with each day.

Let's look to God for the help that we need, and trust that if we are willing to do God's will, God will help us make our lives better, and the world around us a better, kinder place.  Let's work on it.

Friday, January 19, 2018

2 Chronicles 24:20 -- On Not Forsaking the Lord

"And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you."
2 Chronicles 24:20

One of the footnotes here points to Mosiah 7:29, which says in part "I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not."  ... I think that we sometimes feel that this whole idea is unfair.  We want God to bless our lives all the time, whether we are doing the right thing or not.  And other times it seems arbitrary, because we see people who we think aren't even trying to be good prospering.  God is supposed to be there for us all the time, right?

I don't think that "prosper" here means much in a monetary way.  That isn't really what God is about.  Prospering here is having the spirit, being able to feel God in our lives and commune with him on a daily basis.  Monetary gain is often fleeting, and although God of course blesses us that way sometimes, when we need it, it doesn't follow that rich people are worthy and poor are not... or the other way around.  Just like health and sickness aren't related directly to holiness either. 

God is there for us all the time, at least in a repentance way... he is there if we truly want to repent and work with him, but it isn't always easy.  He isn't going to reward us for bad behavior in a spiritual sense... we actually have to want to do better in order to connect with God and get his help in doing so... he forsakes us exactly as much as we forsake him.  When we turn around, he will be there... but we have to turn around.  We don't get to have spiritual comfort in our lives just because we want it.  It's the kind of comfort that at least partly comes from our confidence that we are on the right track, and in tune with God... we can't get it if we aren't.  ... Today, let's make sure that we don't forsake the Lord, and lose that precious connection.  And if we already have, let's do everything we can to correct that mistake and return to the Lord.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

1 Timothy 2:1-4 -- On Prayer for Everyone

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."
1 Timothy 2:1-2

This is a great reminder that we should be praying for each other, no matter what position any of us is in, and no matter how we feel about people's choices or actions.  The idea is to be able to live life in peace, and praying for others is much better generally than attacking each other or trying to drag each other down.

I'm not saying that there aren't evils to fight or that we shouldn't try to change the world for the better.  Only that the quietness and peace of our own souls, and of our friendships and society should also be considered.  On the whole, we seem to complain about many things that we can do nothing about.  In those cases, perhaps it is better to pray... praying for others in positions of authority, and also for needed change.

Today, let's remember that all of us are children of God, and that God loves us all... and therefore we are deserving of prayer.  Let's pray for those in authority, whether we like them or not, so that they can make good decisions and bring quietness and peace to our lives. :)  And let's all pray for each other and try to make changes for good in our lives, and in our decisions that affect other people.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Acts 2:37-40 -- On Hearts and Actions

"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation."
Acts 2:37-40

This is a good reminder of what we should do when we feel that "pricking" of the heart and know that we need to act in the service of God.  Peter counsels us here to repent and to be baptized.  Repentance is something that we can do every day in striving to improve and grow closer to God, and the promises that we make at baptism are things that we can strive to live by, and renew, each week as well... as we live our lives, and as we take the sacrament.

I love the idea that these things aren't a heavy obligation or a burden, but a promise... a happy, awesome thing that can help us know how to save ourselves--through coming to Christ, and changing our behavior and our hearts as we learn to be better people with God's help.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Helaman 5:6-7 -- On Being Good

"Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.
Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them."
Helaman 5:6-7

I love this admonition from Helaman to his sons, asking them to be good.  So often we get wrapped up with other things that matter so much less... like whether we are right, or whether we are bored, thin, or fashionable.  So many things that we get caught up in, but this is the important one.  Are we good?  Are we listening to and learning from God, and becoming better and helping the people around us?

Today, let's work to follow the admonition of Helaman, and do that which is good, and let it be said of us also, that we are good.  That is a worthy thing to strive for.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Psalms 139:23-24 -- On Openly Asking for Correction

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Psalms 139:23-24

This could be a message to God claiming to be sin-free, but as I was reading it, I was thinking of it more as a plea for help.

Sometimes we need God's help to root out the bad parts of ourselves.  We find ourselves angry or bitter or despondent, and we realize that we don't want to be those things, and we can go to God and ask him to help us change.  To search us and find those wicked ways in ourselves, and lead us in his way instead.

I think God is the only real solution when we find out that we are not people that we're proud of.  Maybe we realize that we're being mean and resentful, or angry and want revenge, or whatever it is that is interfering with becoming who we really want to be.  Today, let's look to God for that help to change our hearts and become kinder and stronger and more giving, loving, and open.  Let's let go of hatred, envy, pride, and vengeance, and let's find the peace that surpasses all understanding, in Christ.  With his help, we can overcome anything.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Abraham 4:26-27 -- On a Godlike Community

"And the Gods took counsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness; and we will give them dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them."
Abraham 4:26-27

I like the version of the creation story that is in Abraham because it illustrates some things that you don't always see in other versions.  One of them is the idea that the creation was a group effort.  The idea that God works with other people I think works really well with the idea of building Zion, taking care of each other, and finding joy in a community of Faith.  God doesn't do everything alone, and he doesn't expect us to either.  I mean, of course, we need to stand up for the right things and not let others drag us down into sin, but having people that love and support us and who pool their ideas with ours so that we can make better decisions... these are good things, and I am glad that we have an example of God working with others to accomplish his will.

I also really like the fact that it makes clear that being in the "image of God" is not only a guy thing, but that we are all in the image of God as humans, and that God in the plural, or the people working to help God in the creation... they weren't all men, they weren't all the same, and that the image of God includes diversity and difference in external appearance.  Although of course God is united in his work, glory, and purpose. that doesn't mean that people striving to follow God or become like him have to be cookie cutters, or stepford wives, or androids.  We need to abandon sin, but we don't have to abandon self. :)

So, maybe these things aren't that big of a deal all the time... we already trusted that God makes everything right, and that he loves us and causes all things to work together for our good.  But sometimes it is good to look at details like this just so that we know what kinds of ideals we are striving for.  Today, let's not get off track and expect every one of God's followers to be the same, or to face and overcome challenges utterly alone.  We need each other, and our personalities and different ways of looking at things are valuable to God.  Let's learn from each other, and love each other, as we strive to become more like God, and join in his work.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2 Corinthians 8:2-3 -- On Finding Joy Despite Trials

"How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;"
2 Corinthians 8:2-3

I love the idea here that even in great trials and poverty, we can still find joy, and give to others, blessing their lives.

I think that we often get caught up in our own struggles and trials and become insular, unable to reach out to others because we are so caught up in and focused on our own trials.  And yet, with God's help I think that reaching out to others is one of the best ways to distract ourselves from our own trials, and find joy.  We can be there for each other, no matter what is going on in our own lives.

Today, let's try not to worry about our external poverty or our own challenges, and be willing to reach out to others, so that together we can all make each other's burdens lighter, and find joy, no matter our circumstances.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Psalms 37:7 -- On Stress Free Waiting

"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass."
Psalms 37:7

This is good advice, to be able to rest/be calm and wait for the Lord.  I don't think that it means inaction... we should still be "anxiously engaged" in doing the right things, but I don't think that anxiously means actually stressed out either.  We can have confidence in the Lord, and know that there is no need to freak out... or fret. :)

Today, let's not worry about the people who are doing evil, or prospering by doing wrong.  Let's be calm and rest in the Lord, waiting for him, and for his plan to be brought to fruition.  Everything will work out in the end, and we won't need to fret ourselves about anyone else, because God will make it all right, and help us all to get the very best ending that we can possibly get.  Let's just chill a little, and work on being the best people we can be, and helping the people around us.  God will take care of the things that we can't possibly control, and likely would kind of muck up even if we could.  We don't have to hang on to that anxiety.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

2 Corinthians 8:14 -- On Equality

"But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:"
2 Corinthians 8:14

I like the idea here that we have enough to supply each other's needs.  God teaches us to love and share not by distributing equally in the first place, but by allowing the distribution to be unequal, and then watching to see how we will solve the problem of our brothers and sisters not having enough... or of our fellow beings having more than we do.  Will we grow compassionate or covetous?  Will we share or steal?  Will we be content with what we have, or continually crave more?  And will wealth get in the way of our learning the lesson that all things come from God, and that he will provide for his people?

I fear that we leave a lot to be desired in our overall societal wealth management skills, and unfortunately, we would probably all love to be instant billionaires rather than seeking an "equal" portion on a worldwide scale.  Today though, let's individually try to learn to trust in God rather than in money.  Let's look to him in thanks and prayer, with gratitude for what we have, and a willingness to help others.  Let's share our abundance, and strive to learn to be content with seeking equality rather than always being upset that we don't have private islands and luxury jets. :)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

D&C 64:23 -- On a Day of Sacrifice

"Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming."
Doctrine and Covenants 64:23

We don't like the idea of sacrifice very much.  The idea of getting things slowly is okay.  Waiting is usually okay... we can delay pretty well.  The idea though that we have to give things up is really hard.  Why?  Shouldn't we be able to have everything?  ... We're kinda greedy like that, I think.

I don't know whether there are sacrifices that we are going to need to make in the eternities.  I kind of don't think so, since this is the time when we are learning all of the hard stuff, and sickness and death and sorrow will be done away.  But the principle is an important one nevertheless.  Part of building Zion is making sure there is enough for everyone--that we aren't leaving anyone out and that there are no poor left to suffer.  In order to ensure that, we have to "sacrifice" some of what we have, to make sure that others are provided for. 

We also have to learn to sacrifice our own desires in order to follow God, and eventually to learn to want what he wants as well.  That can be a lot harder than giving up material possessions, because those desires that we have to let go of are often things that we have used to define ourselves, and we can feel that losing them is losing who we are on some level.  And it is, on the same level where we have to lose ourselves to find ourselves.  Still a net positive for us, definitely, but it can be a huge hurdle.

Today, let's be willing to sacrifice for God.  Let's realize that sacrifice is necessary to teach us selflessness and true, Christlike love.  Let's work to put God's will before our own, even when it isn't fun or comfortable.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ecclesiastes 2:11 -- On Finding the Point

"Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 2:11

 The whole book of Ecclesiastes is kind of asking "What is the point?" ... What is the point of life, why are we here, why do we do what we do, etc.  It's a big theme in the scriptures, although often less obviously stated, and this also seems to be a big theme of normal life I think... everyone at some point kind of asking the same thing. What is the point of all of this?  Why am I living this life or going through these motions?  What does it all accomplish?

This verse temporarily concludes that there is no point to the works and labor put forward.  It seems pointless in the moment.  We often feel similarly--that there is "no profit" in anything that we do, and that whatever we work towards seems empty.

I think that this verse, and so many times in our lives where we feel similarly, are calls to look deeper and to find things that truly matter.  Our daily work isn't always going to be fulfilling, and there isn't always going to be a deeper point to all of the things that we have to do in our lives, but there are a lot of things that do truly matter, and we can dedicate at least some parts of our lives to things like that.  So, I guess that the question is... what truly matters?

Ecclesiastes concludes that keeping the commandments of God is the work of man.  One thing that matters, probably because it has eternal impact.  It's a good conclusion, but God's commandments are pretty broad, and they also incorporate work, so coming back to this verse... if we are working at the commandment of God (as in supporting our families, etc.), then it isn't all pointless. :)  But also we can break it down further.  Some things matter and last and some things don't.  It's a good thing to think on and decide for ourselves.  So much of what takes up our time and attention everyday really doesn't matter, but often the way that we do all of it does.  Those small interactions with others... the relationships that we are building (or breaking)... the way that everything that we do impacts who we are.  It's usually those small things that are building us into the people that we become, and those tiny things that form this society that we live in.

Today, let's take some time to think about what we are doing.  It's a new year, and a good time to change it up and make things a little bit more meaningful.  Let's let go of some of the things that don't matter, and embrace more of the things that do.  Let's try to make the little things count... treating other people with respect and kindness, and let's try to be the people that we want to become.  Let's work with God to make our lives and the world around us better than ever before.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Psalms 70:4-5 -- On Rejoicing in the Lord

"Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.
But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying."
Psalms 70:4-5

I like the idea of being glad in the Lord, and if we seek God, it seems like that is a really good idea.  Seeking something that makes us happy is a lot smarter than seeking something that scares us or freaks us out.  The more we get to know God, I think the closer that we will be, because the more we understand him, the more we really know his love and his concern for us, and the more we really want his guidance in our lives.  It's sort of like elections in a way, right?  We have a choice about who we want to be the spiritual leader in our lives, and our attitude and actions show which way we vote.  Although we often want to vote for ourselves, unfortunately we aren't even on the ballot, not having the same kind of power or influence that God and Satan have to help or hinder.  We can, of course, choose to be self-serving, but that is just another vote for Satan, much as we often want to believe otherwise.  When we get to know God, we realize more and more that this is who we really want as a leader, because he cares, and he wants our happiness rather than our misery... which is what Satan wants, and what we so often unfortunately choose for ourselves.

Today, let's seek God, and rejoice and be glad in our choice.  God isn't going to instantly make our lives perfect, because we still need to learn stuff, but when we plead to him for help and comfort, he will answer our prayers, and help us through even the hard times that we bring on ourselves.  He is everything that we could want in a leader, a parent, or a friend.  His love overcomes all of the emptiness and even hatred that we encounter in life, and more than makes up for it.  Let's trust in his love and guidance today.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Moses 1:7 -- On One Thing

"And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee."
Moses 1:7

God tells Moses here that he is going to show him one thing, out of all his (God's) works, because if he would show him more, he couldn't remain in the flesh on the earth (verse 5).  And the one thing that he shows him (at this viewing and later in the chapter as well) is the earth.  But that one thing is vast... he didn't just show him a globe or a picture.  He showed him everything about it.  Every particle of the earth (verse 27) and "the ends thereof" which I am guessing means the whole timespan of the earth as well (verse 8), and every person on the earth (verse 28) during that whole timespan.

To me, I think this shows how clearly and how thoroughly God sees.  We often want to think of God as a being with human frailties, but he has none.  He doesn't forget us, or get confused or overwhelmed or angry without a cause.  He sees and knows everything that is, on our earth and elsewhere.  Let's not forget that and start thinking that we somehow know more than he does, even about ourselves.  He can see us much more clearly than we know ourselves or our loved ones, and he simply has better information and better ability at every single thing.

Today, let's get to know God, and learn to listen to and be guided by him.  He is the fountain of a vast and deep knowledge that isn't available from any other source, and we can become more and better than we are by following him.  A side benefit to all of this is that he also loves us, and so all of this knowledge and improvement isn't stark and purely intellectual, but loving and caring.  He is our father and he wants to comfort and guide and help us through even the smallest challenges in our lives.  We know so much less, but we are not beneath his notice.  He understands and cares, and is willing to listen to every prayer.  Let's be like Moses and work to learn as much of "one thing" from the Lord that we can.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Ezekiel 34:11-12 -- On Seeking and Finding

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day."
Ezekiel 34:11-12

I love these verses because they show the personal interest that God takes in caring for us.  He doesn't just delegate it to someone else, and he doesn't only care about reaching most of the flock... he cares about every single individual, and he seeks each of us out.

On one level maybe it raises our hackles because we are being compared to sheep, and we want to think that we are big and independent and grown up, but honestly, compared to God we really are children, and I think that the analogy is meant to be comforting, indicating that God won't leave us lost.

Today, let's be grateful that someone, especially God, is willing to search us out to gather and to save.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Psalms 27:11 -- On God's Way

"Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies."
Psalms 27:11

Asking for the Lord to teach us and lead us is probably a good idea always, not only when we are confronted by enemies (or being our own enemies I suppose).  I think maybe the more that we really understand God the more we realize that everything is working together towards his will, and when that is our goal as well, we fit into that pattern and everything works toward our good as well (because that is God's will).   Don't misunderstand... I don't mean everything will work out as we want it or that we will get what we want.  Only that it will all work together for our good, which is quite a different thing.  But I think it is a better thing overall than those others... it's just hard to see that except in hindsight.

I really think that is what Faith is though, right?  It is learning to realize that however things work out that God is aware of us, and having that confidence that things *will* work out for good in the end.  Instead of waiting until they do work out and we're all relived and can relax a little from all of the stress we were causing ourselves, wouldn't it be amazing if we could figure out how to have that supreme confidence up front that even if we can't see the reason know, we know that there IS one, and that God knows what he is doing?

Today, let's work on having that trust and faith in God... not that our lives will run smoothly or that we will be spared from inconvenience, pain, illness, or heartbreak, but that everything we do go through will lead us to good, and if we stay the course and keep walking in God's way, that everything will eventually work out for the best, happiest outcome imaginable for everyone.  Sometimes the short term answers aren't what we want to hear, but God's long term salvation is available to anyone willing to weather the path that leads to it.  God's plain path and his straight and narrow way is almost never the easiest way, but it is always the good and right way.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Jonah 2:5-6 -- On Life Brought Up from Corruption

"The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God."
Jonah 2:5-6

This is part of the story of Jonah and the whale, where Jonah is praying to the Lord during his harrowing experience.  You can kind of feel how bad it was for him through those words "even to the soul."  And knowing that God could save Jonah in his extremity I think offers hope to all of us in our own extremities, because God can also save us, no matter how soul-wrenching our situation.

Today, let's look to God in our extremities and know that he can save us.  Let's pray, and work, and become, making the changes that we need to make to become the people we want to be.  If Jonah didn't have to be stuck where he was, we don't have to be stuck where we are either.  If he didn't have to be hopeless, we don't have to be hopeless either.  God is listening.  Let's reach out to him, and work out our salvation. :)  He can save us from death and from corruption, and he can make us new and clean.  Let's be willing to reach out to him, today.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

D&C 131:7-8 -- On Seeing More

"There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;
We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter."
Doctrine and Covenants 131:7-8

This is interesting stuff.  We already know that there is a lot of stuff that we don't understand that God can teach us, and this is a hint at one of the things to come... the idea that some matter is more fine or pure, and that perhaps someday we will be able to see a lot more, when our bodies are changed, presumably at resurrection, is fascinating.

To me, I think it helps to remind us that God can see / understand much more than we can, on so many levels.  If we can't see everything there is to see, we likely have just as much to still learn in so many other ways, right?

Today, let's remember to look to God for instruction.  Let's humble ourselves and realize that we have limitations that we need God's help to overcome.  He can see what we cannot, physically and spiritually, and he can help us and prepare us for what is to come.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 -- On Comfort from God

"Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

The "everlasting consolation" part here is awesome, and I just like the overall fact that God comforts us.  Even though we're here for a reason and we need to learn, God knows that it is going to be hard for us sometimes, and he helps us through it.  It's so clear that God really loves us when he helps console us even through the necessary adjustments in our lives... even when we're in the wrong.  He understands, and helps.  It doesn't mean that we don't have to learn the lesson, and work at being the good guys, but he does know that it is hard, and he wants to help us to be as happy as possible through the challenges.

Today, let's work on being the good guys, and let's remember that we can go to God in our distress... always, no matter what.

Monday, January 1, 2018

John 20:19-20 -- On a First Day of Gladness

"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord."
John 20:19-20

Imagining what it might have been like to be there, this scene with Christ and his disciples seems overwhelming.  It says "Then were the disciples glad," but that has to be a vast understatement considering what they had been through in the week previous, right?  Their knowledge of and confidence in Jesus Christ changed so much over those few days, and their hope and confidence in the future was so much more certain... not just being able to apply lessons from the past to everyday life, but firsthand knowledge of Christ overcoming death, and a chance to talk to him about it.  Beyond amazing.

I'm sure that the feeling of starting a new year is less amazing and impactful than this day was for the disciples, but I thought it was a good comparison, and maybe something that we could think about as we look forward to the new year, and the rest of our lives. :)  That hope that Christ offers is right there in front of us, always available, and if we take some time and go to a quiet place, we can also talk to Christ about all of it, just as his disciples did during his earthly ministry.

Let's hold on to hope today, and this year, and always, as we trust in Christ, and look to God in all that we do.

Total Pageviews