Monday, October 12, 2015

1 Nephi 3:9-14

9 And I, Nephi, and my brethren took our journey in the wilderness, with our tents, to go up to the land of Jerusalem.

 10 And it came to pass that when we had gone up to the land of Jerusalem, I and my brethren did consult one with another.

 11 And we cast lots—who of us should go in unto the house of Laban. And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman; and Laman went in unto the house of Laban, and he talked with him as he sat in his house.

 12 And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, which contained the genealogy of my father.

 13 And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee.

 14 But Laman fled out of his presence, and told the things which Laban had done, unto us. And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness.
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So the guys took their super long journey back to Jerusalem. I learned yesterday in Sacrament Meeting that the path God has for us in by no means straight. Here it looks like the path to the promised land is back tracking, it might even feel like the path is dead ending as they struggle to get what they came for. Sometimes we might think that since we're doing the Lord's work and its good and true that it will be easy. But no scripture has ever said that, there are no examples of faithful men following God and having it easy. Joseph Smith was a faithful man of God and he was consistently taunted and threatened and treated with cruelty. But there is a difference from those people who just have hard lives because they choose dark paths of drug abuse and unrighteousness. Trials and hard lives come to all people but its those people who follow the Lord that receive the strength to overcome their trials.

Laman goes and asks for the plates and Laban says no and chases him out of his house. Then Laman perhaps feeling embarrassed gets angry and wants to go home. For me reading this hundreds of years removed from the story it seems rather babyish to throw a tantrum and want to give up. Throwing a trantrum is certainly not just for 2 year olds. We all throw tantrums, the scriptures might feel so removed from our high tech world but deep down, people are people. How often do we feel guided by the Spirit to do something and then throw a fit and/or give up when times get tough? Being a faithful following of God and Christ isn't easy it requires work. But work helps us grow into the people God needs us to be and that growth brings happiness. Like a parent trying to teach their children how to cook an clean so that they might be more capable. God is trying to teach us things we may not always be super excited to learn. But with faith and humility we can do hard things.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sacrament meeting

There was some talks in church today that really touched me. They were talking about developing Christlike attributes or attitudes I didn't quite catch which one. But something hit me. Don't confuse the straight and narrow path to heaven with the plan God has for your life. Your path on earth will not be straight and narrow. Trials, mistakes, teaching opportunities, learning opportunities--they cause the path to meander, the path may spin in circles, the path may lead by the same scenery several times. You may reach a dead end and have to turn around not because you were going the wrong way but because God's path doesn't always make sense. God's ways are not our ways. We are learning faith, patience and a whole host of worthy attributes. We are learning to have a good attitude about the path, learning to adapt, learning empathy for others. We don't know all things. Ours is not to question and know all things. Ours is to follow in faith knowing the answers will come later. If we stay close to the Spirit, pray continually for guidance the road won't be easy but our burden will be light as we receive peace from God that we're doing the right thing. The peace that passeth all understanding. The peace that doesn't make sense to the outside world, but the peace that comes from God knowing that He is well pleased with us.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

1 Nephi 3:1-8

1 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father.

 2 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.

 3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.

 4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.

 5 And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.

 6 Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.

 7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

 8 And it came to pass that when my father had heard these words he was exceedingly glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord.
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The scripture made famous by seminary-- Nephi 3:7. I think if we remember back to chapter 2, Nephi was praying and gaining his own testimony. His father had taken the family on a new adventure and the children were confused. Laman and Lemuel complain, Nephi sees his fathers actions and it seems to me that he saw his father's example and really thought about his father's actions. How did Nephi gain a testimony that when the Lord gives you a commandment He'll help you accomplish it? I think Nephi learned that by watching his father. Lehi had heard the prophets, felt the Spirit stir his humble heart and he prayed. Then the Lord gave him a commandment, a job to do. He told Lehi to teach the people and when the people rejected him the Lord didn't leave him hanging. He never leaves his followers hanging. Yes some of the prophets die teaching and exhorting people to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but I am convinced just as Nephi that the Lord never leaves us. In Lehi's case the Lord led away from personal harm to a land of promise. Those people he did not lead away in this life still earned their own land of promise with God in heaven.

Anyway, I can see Nephi watching his father and scrutinizing his actions. I could see Nephi asking sincere questions and really wanting to know more about the change his saw in his father. Then he went to the Lord. 1 Nephi 2:16-- Nephi prayed to know the 'mysteries of God', perhaps the mysteries he refers to has something to do with his father's behavior. Nephi then says the Lord visited him and softened his heart. Could it be he came to know why his father had led them to the wilderness? Could it be he understood why his father better? Nephi says "that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father". I think Nephi's testimony starts out watching his father and recognizing the pattern that the Lord gives commandments and then helps you accomplish those commandments. Its a valuable lesson he has learned from praying and observing his father. And now all the is about to be tested as he himself is given a commandment. Nephi prayed and the Lord prepared him. Nephi reached out in faith just like his father had done and the Lord gave him a commandment. Nephi is really to serve just like his father. We pray with faith and the Lord strengths and tests our faith at the same time as we are given commandments. Don't just sit there believing-- put your money where your mouth is. Let's go! Faith is verb!

How proud Lehi must have been as Nephi bore to him his fresh testimony! He must have had that new glow of someone who has just found the gospel. I imagine Lehi and Nephi similar to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ... "Behold this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."  Lehi was well pleased with Nephi, he knew he had prayed and sought out his own answers and had been 'blessed of the Lord'.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Holy Ghost

Someone told me recently that the Holy Ghost can't teach you anything new but can only bring to your remembrance things you already know. Is that true?

Moroni 10:4-5
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

According the verse 5 it seems like the Holy Ghost can tell you the truth of all things. But in verse 4 it says when "ye receive". Sounds like this model can be applied to receiving (or being taught) anything. Basically when we are taught, told or hear about anything that doesn't make sense or feel right we can pray and ask God and he'll tell us through the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost if its good and true.

John 14:26
 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

In John it says the Holy Ghost will teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance. It makes sense to me that bringing things to your remembrance is how the Holy Ghost teaches us all things. As we ponder later, as we go about our lives, the Holy Ghost can help us remember things so we further understand them in our current situation. So it would seem Sunday worship, General Conference, daily scripture study help us to fill up on the gospel making it easier for the Holy Spirit to help us remember. As we pray and ask and ponder the gospel we invite the Spirit to help us make connections.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

General Conference

Its General Conference today and its wonderful. So many great talks to go back and study! One from the morning session talked about praying and asking the Lord, "what lackest I yet?" like the young man in the New Testament. Ask the Lord, 'what do I need to do?' or 'what should I work on next?' I look forward to going back and studying each talk.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Is It Still Wonderful to You? by Bishop Gérald Caussé; April 2015

Is It Still Wonderful to You?
By Bishop Gérald Caussé
First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

My wife and I had the great joy of rearing our five children near the magnificent city of Paris. During those years we wanted to offer them rich opportunities to discover the marvelous things of this world. Each summer, our family took long trips to visit the most significant monuments, historic sites, and natural wonders of Europe. Finally, after spending 22 years in the Paris area, we were getting ready to move. I still remember the day when my children came to me and said, “Dad, it’s absolutely shameful! We’ve lived here all our lives, and we have never been to the Eiffel Tower!”

There are so many wonders in this world. However, sometimes when we have them constantly before our eyes, we take them for granted. We look, but we don’t really see; we hear, but we don’t really listen.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus said to His disciples:

“Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:

“For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”1

I have often wondered what it would have been like to live at the time of our Savior. Can you imagine sitting at His feet? feeling His embrace? witnessing as He ministered to others? And yet so many who met Him failed to recognize—to “see”—that the very Son of God was living among them.

We too are privileged to live in an exceptional time. The prophets of old saw the work of the Restoration as “a marvelous work … , yea, a marvelous work and a wonder.”2 In no previous dispensation have so many missionaries been called, so many nations been opened for the gospel message, and so many temples been built throughout the world.

For us, as Latter-day Saints, wonders also occur in our individual lives. They include our own personal conversion, the answers we receive to our prayers, and the tender blessings God showers upon us daily.

To marvel at the wonders of the gospel is a sign of faith. It is to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us. Our amazement also produces spiritual strength. It gives us the energy to remain anchored in our faith and to engage ourselves in the work of salvation.

But let us beware. Our ability to marvel is fragile. Over the long term, such things as casual commandment keeping, apathy, or even weariness may set in and make us insensitive to even the most remarkable signs and miracles of the gospel.

The Book of Mormon describes a period, very similar to our own, that preceded the coming of the Messiah to the Americas. Suddenly the signs of His birth appeared in the heavens. The people were so stricken with astonishment that they humbled themselves, and nearly all were converted. However, only a short four years later, “the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, … and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen.”3

My brothers and sisters, is the gospel still wonderful to you? Can you yet see, hear, feel, and marvel? Or have your spiritual sensors gone into standby mode? Whatever your personal situation, I invite you to do three things.

First, never tire of discovering or rediscovering the truths of the gospel. The writer Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”4 Do you remember the first time you read a verse of scripture and felt as if the Lord was speaking to you personally? Can you recall the first time you felt the sweet influence of the Holy Ghost come over you, perhaps before you even realized it was the Holy Ghost? Weren’t these sacred, special moments?

We should hunger and thirst every day after spiritual knowledge. This personal practice is founded on study, meditation, and prayer. Sometimes we might be tempted to think, “I don’t need to study the scriptures today; I’ve read them all before” or “I don’t need to go to church today; there’s nothing new there.”

But the gospel is a fountain of knowledge that never runs dry. There is always something new to learn and feel each Sunday, in every meeting, and in every verse of scripture. In faith we hold to the promise that if we “seek, … [we] shall find.”5

Second, anchor your faith in the plain and simple truths of the gospel. Our amazement should be rooted in the core principles of our faith, in the purity of our covenants and ordinances, and in our most simple acts of worship.

A sister missionary told the story of three men she met during a district conference in Africa. They came from an isolated village far away in the bush where the Church had not yet been organized but where there were 15 faithful members and almost 20 investigators. For over two weeks these men had walked on foot, traveling more than 300 miles (480 km) over paths rendered muddy by the rainy season, so they could attend the conference and bring the tithes from the members of their group. They planned to stay for an entire week so they could enjoy the privilege of partaking of the sacrament the following Sunday and then hoped to set out on the return trip carrying boxes filled with copies of the Book of Mormon on their heads to give to the people of their village.

The missionary testified how touched she was by the sense of wonder these brethren displayed and by their wholehearted sacrifices to obtain things that for her had always been readily available.

She wondered: “If I got up one Sunday morning in Arizona and found that my car wasn’t working, would I walk to my church only a few blocks away from home? Or would I just stay home because it was too far or because it was raining?”6 These are good questions for all of us to consider.

Finally, I invite you to seek and cherish the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Most wonders of the gospel cannot be perceived by our natural senses. They are the things that the “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, … the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”7

When we have the Spirit with us, our spiritual senses are sharpened and our memory is kindled so we cannot forget the miracles and signs we have witnessed. That may be why, knowing Jesus was about to leave them, His Nephite disciples prayed fervently “for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.”8

Although they had seen the Savior with their own eyes and had touched His wounds with their own hands, they knew that their testimonies might dwindle without being constantly renewed by the power of the Spirit of God. My brothers and sisters, never do anything to risk the loss of this precious and marvelous gift—the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Seek it through fervent prayer and righteous living.

I testify that the work in which we are engaged is “a marvelous work and a wonder.” As we follow Jesus Christ, God bears witness to us “with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.”9 On this special day, I bear witness that the wonders and marvels of the gospel are anchored in the greatest of all of God’s gifts—the Savior’s Atonement. This is the perfect gift of love that the Father and the Son, united in purpose, have offered to each one of us. With you, “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. … Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!”10

That we may always have eyes that see, ears that hear, and hearts that perceive the wonders of this marvelous gospel is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Church talks

A good friend said she had been given a challenge to read and study all the General Conference talks from April before the next General Conference. Here is it October and another General Conference is approaching. I want to do the same, read and study General Conference and other talks from the church. There are so many amazing talks from the church that teach me and fill my soul with light. Between the scriptures-- Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and church talks I could study forever. Plus the amazing library of good books I have gathered over the years. Never a reason not to study.

I just listened to a talk from Women's Conference, "Discovering the Divinity Within". WOW there is a lot there. I will have to take it in parts and really think on it. I have never given much thought to divine nature. 

At church on Sunday the lesson was on the talk "Is It Still Wonderful To You". Another talk with a lot there to study! So much there to learn if I can just find a way to drink from its pages! Its a talent that I want to learn, to study a talk, to take it apart and look deeply at its teachings.