Monday, December 31, 2012

The Syrians Flee in Fear

Today I read 2 Kings 7 where the Lord delivered the Israelites out of the hands of the Syrians.  The Lord caused the Syrians to hear a large host and so in their fear they fled before the host of armies they thought was coming to snuff them out.  They left behind their food and their clothes and money and everything they had brought with them.  This was prophesied by Elisha that it would happen and a man near the king scoffed that it could happen.  For his disbelief he was slain by the people at the order of the king.

I kind of have a problem with this.  I mean, killing a man just because he doubts something is going to happen?  It's almost tyrannical to me.  Of course the Lord can do as He wishes, but I think there was more of a conversation that took place here other than a "I doubt that" or "Maybe if food rained down from heaven" as is recorded in the scriptures.  It just seems like a very harsh penalty for such a natural reaction to tell a starving people that food will be so plentiful that the price of it will come back to normal.  I mean if someone told me that the price of gas tomorrow would be only $.50 per gallon I'd tell them they were crazy!  Even if the Prophet said it, I'd still have my doubts.  I would hope but I would not be confident that it would happen.  That's human nature.  So much of the Old Testament seems out of sorts with what I know of Heavenly Father and His nature.  I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around it sometimes.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

They that be with Us are More than They that be with Them

Today I read 2 Kings 6 which contains some fun stories and also some sad stories.  In this chapter Elisha and some men of Israel are chopping down trees when the axe head fell off into a pool of water.  When Elisha heard it, he grabbed a stick and threw it into the water and the axe head started to float.  I have often wondered what kind of a stick it was to cause the density of the water to change so that the axe head floated.  I am very intrigued by it and wish it was written so we can know. 

This chapter also contains the very cool story of Elisha and his servant.  They are surrounded by the armies of the host of Israel and Syria.  When the servant of Elisha sees it, he fears and asks Elisha what they can do.  Elisha then teaches a principle which every Christian should take to heart.  He tells his servant that "they that be with us are more than they that be with them."  The servant is then shown how they are surrounded by chariots of fire and angels.  It is a great lesson to learn.  While we are not always surrounded by angels and chariots of fire, we are always watched over and protected by Heavenly Father and those who serve Him.  We are never alone, a wonderful lesson to learn!  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Naaman the Leper is Healed

Today I read 2 Kings 5 which contains the story of Naaman the leper who came to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy.  Most know the story that Elisha sent a servant to Naaman telling him to go wash himself in the River Jordan 7 times and he would be clean.  Naaman becomes very upset by this request and leaves Elisha's presence.  Naaman's servant however is a very wise man and reminds Naaman that if Elisha had asked him to perform a huge task he would have done it without question, how much simpler is it to just wash himself in a river.  Fortunately for Naaman, he does it and is healed.

The rest of the chapter is about Naaman wanting to pay Elisha for healing him.  Elisha states that he will take no payment and send Naaman on his way.  Elisha's servant however, runs after Naaman, lies to him by telling him that Elisha sent him to get some money and clothing for some men who were coming and took payment.  For his lie and his greed he was struck with leprosy.  I have given a lot of Priesthood blessings for the sick and for the comfort of the person receiving the blessing and I cannot imagine taking a payment for doing so!  It is always an honor to serve my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and to take a payment for doing it is just silly in my mind.  While I think Elisha was harsh to curse his servant's children with leprosy, I do think it is fitting that his servant himself should be struck with it.  Taking payment for doing the work of the Lord is just unthinkable.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Elisha Raises a Child from the Dead

Today I read 2 Kings 4 and it is wonderful to find such a gem of faith in all this rubbish of unbelief in the rest of the Old Testament.  This chapter contains a story of a Shunammite woman who has great faith and a tender heart.  She and her husband made friends with Elisha and always made sure to feed him when he was passing by their way.  After doing this for awhile, they set up a spare room for Elisha to stay with them as he journeyed to where he was going.  As best I can tell, she did not expect anything from this kindness, she just recognized that he was a prophet and so wanted to care for him.

Eventually the woman does ask Elisha for something, she asks for a son since she was barren.  The Lord blesses her with a child, but as the child gets older it dies, I'm not really sure how, it doesn't say that I saw.  However, Elisha is granted the ability to bring the child back to life.  It is wonderful to see this good woman's faith in the Lord rewarded and all her selfless acts repaid in kind.  I know not every story gets a fairytale ending, but it is nice and heartwarming when it does in fact happen.  Until tomorrow. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Elisha Sought Out by the Kings

Today I read 2 Kings 3 where Elisha is asked by Jehoram if he will be successful in going to war against the Moabites.  I can certainly understand the idea of asking the prophet if your efforts in warfare will be successful or not.  It would be a very large temptation for sure to have someone whom God will speak to on your behalf. 

It is a shame that the people in these scripture stories don't actually use the prophets for something good and to know how they can best serve the people.  But not everyone is concerned about others like they should be.  Even in our age it is a fading principle.  I mean, how many people around the world, or even in our own country, could we have fed for the amount of money we spent on Christmas presents?  And I am not innocent of this either, I could do more for those around me.  And in our time, we don't have to ask our prophets what we should do, we have a conference every 6 months where we are told exactly what God would have us do!  It's wonderful.  Now if we could only follow it and do what they say.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Elisha is the New Prophet

Today I read 2 Kings 2 and I have to say that the more I read the Old Testament, the less I feel I know about God and the Gospel in general.  This is the chapter where Elijah is translated and even though I have read this chapter before, I don't recall before today that the reason Elijah was translated in such a fashion, a chariot of fire going into heaven, was in answer to a request that Elisha made to have a double portion of the Spirit of the Lord.  I did not remember that at all, Elijah told Elisha that if he saw himself, Elijah, translated then his request would be granted.  I'm not sure why I never picked up on that before today.

The rest of the chapter is establishing Elisha as a prophet of God.  He parts the river Jordan, just as Elijah did in the early part of this chapter.  He heals brackish waters.  And in what is probably one of the most surprising stories in all of the scriptures, he kills 42 teenagers who make fun of him.  This is yet another story where I maintain that there just has to be more to the story than what is written here.  What is written is that while Elisha is walking, some youths come out and say, "Go thou up bald head."  So essentially they are making fun of the fact that Elisha is bald.  So Elisha turns back and curses them.  In response, 2 female bears come out and kill 42 of them!  Talk about your anger management issues.  And God allows it!  So like I said, I have always felt there has to be more to this story than what we are told.  It just doesn't make sense otherwise.  Everything I know about Heavenly Father just tells me that He would not allow even His prophet to wantonly slay 42 people, youths even, just for being mocked.  This story has always seemed strange to me in that regard.  Like so many other things in the Old Testament, I'm sure we'll know one day.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Elijah Slays His Enemies

Today I read 2 Kings 1 where Ahaziah the king fell down through his roof and got sick.  He sent some messengers to ask the priests of Baal-zebub if he would recover and Elijah intercepts them and tells them that the king will die.  When the king hears that Elijah is the one that made the prophecy he sends a captain and his company of fifty men to apprehend Elijah.  Elijah calls down fire from heaven to consume the men and then calls down fire again to consume the second company of men that come to Elijah.

I understand that Elijah is just doing as the Lord would want him to do, or he would never have the sealing power, however, I can’t understand why the Lord would want 102 innocent men to be killed just to prove a point?  Although, I suppose if they were truly innocent then their deaths would not be a tragedy.  But still, why would Elijah just wantonly kill them like that?  Surely there was another way he could have proved his point.  I have always thought that Heavenly Father would think like was precious and so would want to preserve it as much as was possible, but perhaps that is not the case.  I truly don’t know.  It’s one of those questions I will have to ask Heavenly Father when I see him.  Whatever the reason, when the third captain approaches with his company and shows proper humility, Elijah lets him live when the angel of the Lord appears to Elijah and tells him to go down with the man.  I’m sure I would have reacted the exact same way as that third captain.  Obviously Elijah was a prophet so why provoke him?  And yet so many did.  It just makes no sense.  The people have very short memories it would seem.  I wonder if such a thing were to happen in our day and age how people would react to it?  Maybe it’s a good thing I won’t find out, I hope.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ahab Dies

Today I read 1 Kings 22 where Ahab continues his war against Siria.  It is so interesting to me, Ahab, despite everything he has seen Elijah do, still has priests of false gods hanging around.  He is trying to decide if we should go up to war or not, and so he asks his false priests if he should and they all say yes.  However, despite all his false priests, he still has at least a small spark of what is right because he also asks Micaiah, a prophet of Heavenly Father.  Micaiah, despite all that the other priests have said, tells Ahab not to go up or he will die.

Instead of taking Micaiah's advice however, Ahad gets upset stating that Micaiah never has anything positive to say and goes up to war anyway.  Sure enough, he dies in battle.  I almost wish it had recorded his last thoughts to see if he saw the irony that I see in the fact that he died, or if in fact he died cursing God.  It doesn't really matter but I sometimes feel that some people's entire lives are a huge warning to other people on what NOT to do with themselves.  At the very least we can learn from Ahab's life to follow the prophets and listen to what they say.  We certainly know what happens when we don't!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ahab and Jezebel Wrongfully Acquire a Vineyard

Today I read 1 Kings 21 where Ahab desires a vineyard of one of his subjects.  The man does not wish to give Ahab his vineyard or even sell it.  So, Jezebel, Ahab's wife, has the man killed, much like David did with Uriah.  And so the man is slain by false witnesses at her orders, and just like with David, the murder is attributed to her.  As it should be, she is the Queen and she ordered it. 

I don't know how I would react if I were ordered by someone in power over me to do such a thing.  I would like to think that I would refuse, and feel quite strongly that I would.  However, how would such an act be viewed by Heavenly Father I wonder?  We do believe in being subject to kings, rulers, magistrates and the governments of the world.  But murder is wrong unless so ordered by God Himself.  So which would be the greater sin?  To kill someone unjustly by order of a King/Queen or President?  Or to refuse such an order and most likely go to jail or be slain myself?  Truthfully I don't know and pray I will never be in a situation to find out.  One thing I think would happen though, I think the Spirit would guide me in such a situation.  I think I would know in the moment what the right choice to make would be.  Honestly though, I hope I am never in that kind of a situation to begin with!  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ahab Makes War on Syria

Today I read 1 Kings 20 where Ahab goes to war against the king of Syria.  It never fails to amaze me how the leaders of men will get an idea in their head or get offended and suddenly that is a just cause for hundreds of thousands of men to die.  I suspect that anyone who has ever started a war will have a lot to answer for when the time of judgment comes.  It's just another reason that I don't really want to be a leader of men.  You are responsible for so much more than your own actions.  I know it will all be according to the plan of God, but that is how I feel if I have a say in it.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Elijah Hears a Still Small Voice

Today I read 1 Kings 19 where Elijah flees from Jezebel's wrath.  She was unhappy that Elijah had killed all the priests and had proved that Heavenly Father was God.  And as he was fleeing for his life, he came to Horeb.  While on the mount he heard a great wind, followed by an earthquake and then a fire.  The writer of the book of Kings makes a point of showing that Elijah did not hear the voice of God in any of these things, but rather heard the voice of God as a still small voice.  This is one the favorite scriptures General Authorities and others like to use to show we need to be listening for God's voice in the right places.

As I have said before, Joseph Smith taught that we must have a correct understanding of God's nature if we are to have faith in Him.  If we are to serve Him, we must have faith.  So in other words if we are to serve God, we must have a correct understanding of His character.  The General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are correct.  We must be ready to look for the voice of God in the right places and circumstances.  If we are not prepared for it, we might miss it completely.  No one else will prepare us, so it is up to us to understand God and get ready to hear the still small voice when God decides to talk to us.  The scriptures state if we are prepared we shall not fear.  Likewise I say that if we are prepared, we shall not miss our opportunity to serve!  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Elijah Challenges the Priests of Baal

Today I read 1 Kings 18 which is perhaps the most funny chapter in all of the scriptures.  Elijah shows himself again to King Ahab and tells him to gather all the people of Israel and all the priests of Baal.  When they all arrive Elijah chastises them for being wishy-washy.  He tells them that if God is God to worship Him, or if Baal is God, to worship him.  So he proposes a contest.  They each build an altar and put a sacrifice on it and pray to their God to send down fire and accept the sacrifice.

The priests of Baal spend all day calling to their god without success.  And in a move that always makes me laugh out loud, Elijah starts to mock them.  He tells them to call out louder that perhaps their god is asleep and needs to be woken up or maybe he is out on a journey.  It is sometimes hard to reconcile Elijah as a prophet of God, but this is obviously ok with Heavenly Father or Elijah would not have been allowed to do it.  Still, it is a very funny episode indeed. 

Elijah has left no doubt that Heavenly Father is God.  The way he went about that contest was masterful.  We are not told if God told him to do it that way, or if Heavenly Father just honored Elijah's request for it to be that way, but either way we can know that God was pleased as He honored Elijah's request for fire from heaven.  He proved without a doubt that Heavenly Father is the God in Israel.  I wonder if all those people in that crowd stayed true to Heavenly Father the rest of their lives, or if like so many others they fell away once the magnitude of that miracle had worn off?  How would I have reacted?  I guess we'll know one day.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Elijah Enters the Scene

Today I read 1 Elijah 17 which introduces us to Elijah.  Elijah is one of my all time favorite prophets.  If I had been a prophet back in the ancient days I imagine I would have been like Elijah.  My favorite scene is not in this chapter, but we'll get there.  This chapter lets us know that Ahab was not favored of the Lord as He sent Elijah to tell Ahab that He was sending a drought.

After Elijah had lived near a brook for 3 years being fed by ravens sent by the Lord, he left and went to a town where God told him to search out a widow He had prepared.  Elijah found the widow and asked her to make him a cake for him before she made one for herself and her son to share before they died.  You know, growing up I was always impressed by the faith of this good sister, feeding a stranger before she fed herself and her son, but now, I have to wonder, what was her thought process?  I mean, if it had been me, I'm not sure I could have stopped myself from thinking, "Well, I'm going to starve anyway.  Maybe what this guy says is true and maybe it isn't, but since it really won't make a difference if I eat this cake or not, sure, why not?"

Now, I could be doing this good sister a HUGE injustice.  It does say that she was prepared of the Lord to receive Elijah, so maybe she knew he would ask this of her and she already had the faith necessary to take him at his word.  Most likely she did.  I imagine she was prepared much like Amulek in the Book of Mormon was, who saw and angel who told him to feed a man of God who had fasted much and was hungered.  Perhaps the widow knew she would have to feed Elijah and so it wasn't a matter of despondence but rather of faith, of believing what God told her.  We will know one day.

The last few verses of this chapter contain one of the greatest miracles of all time!  The widow's son dies while Elijah is there at the house and Elijah raises him from the dead!  To my knowledge this has only been accomplished by a few others in all of history.  The only ones I know of are Nephi at the time of Christ's Resurrection, Jesus Himself, and Elijah.  There might be more in the scriptures that I am forgetting about, but it is a rare occurrence for Heavenly Father to allow someone who has died to come back to this earth.  I once heard that Heavenly Father is very concerned with how people enter this life, and how they leave it, and everything I have seen and learned since that time I heard that statement has only confirmed it.  After the unpardonable sin, the two worst sins a person can commit are murder and then adultery/fornication.  Life is sacred and only Heavenly Father can decide who leaves this life without consequence and while we have been allowed to help participate in the creation of life, it needs to be on God's terms, not ours.  Anything else will earn us His wrath.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We Cannot Escape Justice

Today I read 1 Kings 16 which continues telling us the story of the kings of Israel and of Judah.  What is interesting to me is how the Lord will use the wicked to punish the wicked.  The number of times that the scriptures record that someone killed the king to take over the kingdom and it was because of the word of the Lord is quite frequent.  The Lord will use the wicked to punish other wickedness.

Now, just because it was according to the word of the Lord does not absolve the person of the wicked deed they did.  Just because Jesus Christ had to die to save the world does not mean Pilate is blameless for killing Him.  We are responsible for our actions, prophecy or not.  But the one thing I take away from this, is even if we feel our actions are justified because the person we are doing it to "deserves it", we will still be punished and held accountable for those actions.  There is no escaping our actions.  Just as the second Article of Faith states that man will be punished for our own sins and not for Adam's transgression, so we will be punished for our own sins and not because it was done to someone who was wicked.  We cannot escape justice.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Diamond in the Rough

Today I read 1 Kings 15 which chronicles the life and death of several different kings.  Not surprisingly, most of them are wicked.  What IS surprising however, is one or two of them are righteous.  How hard it must be to be a righteous prince in a wicked world.  What would it be like to want to do what is right but to have a father who does what is wrong?  Abraham would know, he lived that life. 

I would like to think that no matter how I was raised I would have been a righteous man, but how can I know for sure?  For all I know if I had grown up with some of the problems that some people do that I read about, I could have grown up to be a criminal!  That is why it is so nice to see some people make it, even when they are surrounded by evil.  It is wonderful to know that some people will be righteous no matter what situation they are put in.  It gives me great hope.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Reason We Obey

Today I read 1 Kings 14 where the words of Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 are proved.  Jeroboam seeks a boon of the Lord for his son who is sick.  However, Jeroboam was not a righteous man, he did not follow the commandments of God at all.  As such, when he came to ask the Lord for help, the Lord did not help him.  And I do not view this as the Lord being cruel, when we don't follow the commandments, the Lord can choose to bless us or not.

There are a myriad of reasons to follow the commandments of God, and wanting blessings is certainly one of them.  It is not the best reason to do what God says, that would be because we love Him, but it is not the worst reason for choosing to obey either, fear of punishment.  It is the same with following our parents or our bosses at work.  We can follow the rules for fear of punishment, because we are promised rewards or because we respect/love them.  All three ways will accomplish the same result, we will be obedient, but if you were the parent or the boss, wouldn't you rather your children/employees respect you rather than fear you?  I'm sure it's the same with God.  He'd much rather have our love, than our fear.  I think the blessings might be the same either way, but the relationship we build with our Heavenly Father isn't and neither is the outpouring of the Spirit.  It is MUCH better to obey out of love.  Try it and see!  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Prophet Visits Jeroboam

Today I read 1 Kings 13 where a prophet of God is sent to chastise Jeroboam and convince him of the error of his ways by showing him a sign.  Unfortunately, Jeroboam does not believe the sign he is given and as soon as he is made whole again he goes back to the error of his ways.  Signs cannot give a person faith, the faith has to come first.  That fact was proven over and over again in the early days of the church in this dispensation.  Signs are used to confirm faith, not give it in the first place.

Unfortunately for the prophet, he does not stay true to his charge.  He was told by God not to eat or drink any food in that part of the land.  However a false prophet tells him that God has charged him with feeding the prophet that met with Jeroboam and so the real prophet eats and drinks and is slain because of his disobedience.  It is sad really, how harsh the punishments were in those days.  I mean, where's the chance for repentance?  I know Heavenly Father knows the hearts of men and He is perfect, but the way some of these stories are written just makes me wonder.  I'll be glad when I know the whole story and I'm confident it will all make sense.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rehoboam Throws His Kingdom Away

Today I read 1 Kings 12 where Solomon's son, Rehoboam is crowned and takes over being king.  The people come to Rehoboam and ask him to relieve the burdens that Solomon his father placed upon them.  Rehoboam then does one of the dumbest things I've ever read about in scriptures, he not only denies their request, he flings it back in their faces and mocks them saying that not only is he not going to lessen their burdens, he is going to add to them.  It's one of the most bone headed moves I have ever heard of.

Now, the scriptures state that it was according to the word of God, and I believe it, but I do not think that God influenced Rehoboam to do this.  I think he did it all on his own.  I honestly think the man was an idiot at this point and had no idea what power was and what it meant.  He learned really quickly however.  He sent a tax collector to the tribes of Israel after this and they killed him.  The only tribe that stayed around Rehoboam was Judah, and personally I think the only reason they stayed is because they didn't want to leave their homes in Jerusalem.  Just my thought but I can't think of another reason why they would have stayed with such a tyrant. 

The rest of the chapter is about Jeroboam, who was crowned king over the 10 tribes that left Rehoboam.  In an effort to hold onto power, he urged his people to not go up to Jerusalem to worship in the temple, but rather built 2 golden calves and offered them to the people for their worship.  The worst part is that the people do it.  It seems that these people never learn their lessons.  They just keep making the same ridiculous mistakes over and over again.  I don't think I could have been around such people, they would have driven me crazy.  I'm glad that I didn't live in those days, I couldn't have handled it.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Solomon Loses His Kingdom

Today I read 1 Kings 11 where Solomon loses favor of the Lord and is told his kingdom will be taken away from him for marrying non-Israelite women and for worshiping false gods.  I cannot imagine having 700 wives and 300 concubines!  What a mess that would be!  Every time one of my friends finds out I am a Latter-day Saint and asks me if I can have more than one wife I always ask them the same question, "Would YOU want more than one wife?  Because I can barely handle my one wife."  And every time the person smiles, laughs and admits that I have a point. 

Now, that answer makes it sound like being married is a chore, but that is not the case.  I love my wife more than anything in this world.  The only thing/person I love more than my wife, is God Himself.  However, I could not imagine having another woman in my life.  I make mistakes and my wife makes mistakes and she frustrates me sometimes, just like I frustrate her.  I could not imagine having to go through that with two women at once.  And then there is the challenge of having the multiple wives get along.  It seems like a big headache that I don't need.  If plural wives ever comes back to the church, I will really struggle with it.  I would have to pray long and hard to be certain it was what God wanted of me.  I don't think I will have to deal with that in my lifetime, but if so, I will cross that bridge when I come to it.  For now, I will focus all of my attention on my wife and making her happy, and that is enough for me!  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Danger of Wealth

Today I read 1 Kings 10 where the Queen of Sheba comes to meet Solomon and test his wisdom.  I am a curious how kings and those with lots of money seem to always buy lavish things and spends lots of money just showing off how much money they actually have.  How much better could he have improved the lives of his people if Solomon had used that money to help his people?

The old saying goes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  I think it should include that money corrupts also.  There is a reason that Jesus stated it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven.  Most people do not seek for riches with the intent to do good.  But rather to have the riches themselves.  To hoard it.  The other day I saw the movie Bruce Almighty, where a common man is given the power of God.  After a week God appears to him and asks what he has done to help other people.  Bruce replies that he has been righting a few wrongs in his own life first.  That's how most people who suddenly come into money would react too.  They would only focus on their own lives.  Which is fine at first, but after a point, you need to use your blessings to help those around you.  That is why most of us cannot handle a lot of money, we don't know how to use it.  We can handle being poor, just not being rich.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

God Appears to Solomon Again

Today I read 1 Kings 9 where the Lord appears again to Solomon.  The Lord is pleased with Solomon and with the temple that he has built to God.  He accepts it and makes Solomon a promise, however the promise is two way.  The Lord tells Solomon that He will accept the temple forever if he and his children will serve Him always.  However, if he or his children go after strange gods then God will reject the temple, even destroy it, and the Jews will be scattered and become a byword.  With the blessing of hindsight, we all know which one of those happened. 

We have talked about how temples are the pinnacle of society.  Our purpose on this planet can only be fulfilled through temple worship.  It is good that Solomon's temple was accepted by God, that means he built it for the right reasons.  It is very possible to do the right thing, such as build a temple, for the wrong reasons.  With Heavenly Father, why we do something is just as important as if we did it or not.  You can pay your tithing all year long, but if you do it grudgingly or upset that you have to do it, then you might as well not pay it at all.  The best thing to do if you have trouble following a commandment for the right reasons, is to pray.  Heavenly Father can help you change your nature so that you will live the commandments with the right attitude.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Solomon Offers a Prayer

Today I read 1 Kings 8 where Solomon puts the Ark of the Covenant inside the new Temple.  Afterwards Solomon offers up a prayer to God.  Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately.  I have read several Ensign articles about it and I have have several talks in church focus on it.  I think most of us don't focus on prayer like we should.  I know personally I have not had very good prayers recently.  I wish I could pray like I did as a missionary.  Part of the key I think is to pray when I'm not so tired, so I can really focus on what I am saying and what I want to say and pray for.

If you think about it, prayer is really spectacular.  We have a direct link to God that we can use at any time.  Whenever we want, we can tell Him what is happening with us and tell Him all about our day.  We will never get a busy signal and He will never be too busy to listen to us.  It's really amazing that the God of the entire universe is interested in me, and all of us.  If we take the time to speak to Him, He will listen and will answer us.  Why would we squander such a resource?  We owe it to ourselves to take advantage of prayer.  Just remember that sometimes the answer might be "no" for what we ask.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Solomon Finishes the Temple

Today I read 1 Kings 7 which finishes up the building of the temple of Solomon dedicated to Heavenly Father.  The one part that I was most interested in was the molten sea, or as we would call it in our day, the baptismal font.  This chapter describes in great detail how the baptismal font was made and how it was placed on the back of 12 oxen.  This is the same way our baptismal fonts today are made.  It does not state in this chapter that the baptismal font was placed under the ground, but I will wager that it was.

Baptism for the dead is one of the most sacred ordinances available to mankind.  To my knowledge Latter-day Saints are the only religion today that explains how God can be Just and yet millions if not billions of people have died without ever having a chance to hear about Jesus Christ.  Through our understanding of the Gospel and vicarious work for the dead, we know that all who have lived on this Earth at any point will have an opportunity to hear and accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  What other religion can promise that?  All religions have their good parts and portions of truth, but as I stated, to my knowledge, Latter-day Saints are the only ones who have any kind of answer other than damnation for those who died without baptism or knowledge of Christ.  And it is wonderful to have that knowledge!  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Solomon's Temple

Today I read 1 Kings 6 where the details of the temple of Solomon are laid out.  Now this I can completely understand going over the measurements in great detail.  Temples are the most important buildings in the world and need to be built just right by those who are authorized to do so.  Not only that, but Solomon's temple is extremely important to the Jews, the House of Israel, and will need to be rebuilt one day as I understand it.  These details will be the key to making sure that happens. 

Temples are the pinnacle of any civilization.  When God asks a civilization to build Him a temple, that means they are ready for the saving ordinances, the highest ordinances, and to act as Saviors on Mount Zion.  Anyone who has ever been to a temple before knows the peace that comes with helping those who cannot help themselves.  It is a feeling beyond compare and one that I wish could be shared with the entire world.  Maybe someday they will be given the opportunity to know what that feels like.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Solomon Starts Construction on the Temple

Today I read 1 Kings 5 where Solomon makes a trade agreement with Hiram for timber to build a temple.  It must have been a very pleasing experience for Solomon to get permission from God to build a temple for his people.  I imagine it was a similar experience to when President Hinckley received the revelation to build small temples.  That was very exciting news and I imagine President Hinckley was just bursting at the seams to tell the good news to the Saints. 

Temples are perhaps the most wonderful thing in all of creation.  To have a place where Satan's influence cannot penetrate and where saving ordinances can be performed for those who have passed on it nothing short of remarkable.  Growing up in the church I took it for granted and always knew about the temple, but I can only imagine the wonder someone must feel when they find out about temples for the very first time.  Just like Solomon does in this chapter, only the finest materials are used in temple construction, this is of course out of reverence for Heavenly Father, for it is His house.  When you walk inside of one and feel all your cares and worries just melt away, it is truly wonderful.  I wish everyone in the entire world could feel that peace.  Maybe someday they will, in the Millennium.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Wisdom of Solomon

Today I read 1 Kings 4 which lists out all the princes in Israel as well as all the places that provide provisions to Solomon.  Again, probably good information to have if you are a historian, pretty worthless from a Spiritual point of view.  Chapters like this make me wonder just what plain and precious truths were taken out of the Bible?  It is reading these type of chapters that make me realize that only including the spiritual matters into the Book of Mormon was the right thing to do for sure.  It makes me very grateful to Mormon for all his hard work in abridging it for us.

The tail end of this chapter however once again remarks on the wisdom of Solomon, the wisdom that God granted him because of his request.  It would be really nice to be that wise and to have the understanding of people that God has.  I am pretty sure that is how God granted Solomon his wisdom.  Although we can easily pray and cultivate the ability to make righteous judgments.  Heavenly Father may not appear to us or send us an angel, but we still have an open line of communication to Him and we can ask Him for the wisdom to see what is best and right in life.  If it is in our best interest, He will grant it to us, if He knows He can trust us with it.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Solomon Gains Wisdom

Today I read 1 Kings 3 where the Lord appears to Solomon in a dream and asks him what he would that God would do for him.  Solomon asks for the wisdom to judge righteously so that he can give proper judgements for Israel.  Later in the chapter the famous dispute between the two harlots comes before Solomon with the dead baby and the living baby.  Now that I am a father, this story has much more weight with me.

But I must say, what kind of sick and twisted individual is that second harlot?  I mean, it make perfect sense that the mother of the child would do just about anything to keep her child alive when Solomon said he would kill it, but the other woman, being perfectly fine with slaying an infant?  What is wrong with that woman?  If I were somehow in this position and such a thing were said to me, I don't care if it was the king, I think I would have to ask if the person was insane!  I really don't see how this would work with two rational human beings.  What person in their right mind is ok with killing a baby just to avoid being proved wrong?  Absolutely crazy.  Although, perhaps God knew this woman's heart that it was black as coal and so gave Solomon the idea.  I truly don't know, but I look forward to knowing the full story one day and perhaps talking with God about it.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Solomon Slays His Brother and Two Other Men at David's Behest

Today I read 1 Kings 2 where David dies and gives final counsel to Solomon.  I have to say that this read through of the Old Testament has given me new insights into David's character.  In this chapter he counsels and tells Solomon that he should have 3 men killed, one of them Solomon's own brother.  It is crazy to me, David tells Solomon that Joab had slain innocent blood, and maybe he had, but whatever happened to vengeance is the the Lord's?  Who is Solomon that he should take revenge on those men without the Lord expressly telling him to do so?  I have to say indeed that I am quite disappointed with David as I have been re-reading the scriptures.  He was a great man, until he became king.  It sure seems to me that power corrupted this once great man.

And for Solomon to slay his own brother and two other men at the beginning of his reign.  He is starting his reign as king in bloodshed, that is not a good sign.  Vengeance is mine, said the Lord, I believe he meant it.  The only one who can authorize a life be taken unnaturally is the Lord Himself.  Now, perhaps David and Solomon were following some part of the Law of Moses that I don't know about, but if that were the case, why wouldn't David have said something about it to Solomon?  Why would he just say don't let them die a natural death?  And why wouldn't David have told Solomon that the Lord had told him to slay those men if in fact He had done so?  No, this was nothing more than David helping Solomon to secure his kingdom through bloodshed.  At least that is how I read it.  And if I am wrong, then I will accept it, but I would have to be shown proof in the scriptures or revelation from God.  Because otherwise it is pretty clear to me already in the scriptures what happened.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Solomon is Crowned King

Today I read 1 Kings 1 where David's son, Adonijah, tries to take the kingdom because David has not appointed anyone to be king after him.  Apparently, Adonijah was not a very just man, because Nathan the prophet was very afraid of him taking the kingdom, so he plotted with Bath-sheba to have Solomon inherit the throne.  They went to David and had him acknowledge Solomon as the new king and had him crowned.  When the supporters of Adonijah heard it, they were all afraid and stopped plotting immediately.

Solomon was an interesting king and we will spend the next few days and weeks reading about him.  I hope and pray that the Spirit will be with me as I do so, so that I may glean the lessons from these chapters that God would have us all learn.  Solomon was called the wisest king of Israel and his wisdom was great.  I hope we can apply that wisdom to ourselves in our day so that we can know what God would have us do, and then do it.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Lord Slays 70,000 Men

Today I read 2 Samuel 24 where David takes a census of Israel which for some reason I cannot figure out, angers God.  I think it has to do with David overstepping his authority, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why taking a census of his people is something that would anger God.  I cannot help but feel that this is yet another example of us not having the full story.  Because of David angering the Lord, over 70,000 people in Israel were slain. 

I once met a man on my mission who stated emphatically that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament had to be two different beings.  The more I read the Old Testament, the more I am inclined to agree with him.  The Heavenly Father I know just doesn't seem capable of slaying 70,000 men because one man angered Him.  That is kind of like me getting angry at my daughter for something my wife did.  It makes no sense to me at all.  Maybe one day I will understand it, I can hope because it really does bother me.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

David Talks about His Army

Today I read 2 Samuel 23 where David numbers his household and his men at arms, listing their great deeds out in detail.  It is chapters like this that make me question the Old Testament.  There are good things to be found in the Old Testament for sure, the book of Isaiah with all his prophecies about Jesus and His life is wonderful.  The creation and the exodus of Israel are fantastic, but why on earth do we need an entire chapter of David listing out his captains or men at arms or whoever they are?

History is a great thing and I am personally fascinated by it, however I have never been intrigued or wanted to know all the minute details of things.  I am not an accountant that gets giddy over numbers or a military man that is intrigued by battles.  I want to hear about the history defining moments.  And when I read the scriptures I want to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want to know how I can be a better man and better serve my God and my family.  I don't want to hear about David of old's family and his mighty men that slew so many Philistines.  It's chapters like this that in the past have made me give up on reading the Old Testament.  I do not get any spiritual strength from it.  Maybe with prayer I can have Heavenly Father help me as I read it and give me ideas on how to use what I am reading in my own life.  I can hope anyway.  Until tomorrow.