Monday, September 30, 2013

Choose to be Happy

Today I read Isaiah 61 and there wasn't a lot I was intrigued by in this chapter.  As a matter of fact I really only liked verse 10.  "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God;".  There are a lot of things in this world that can bring us down, but there is a lot that can bring us true, everlasting joy also.  We need to make sure that we don't become weighed down by the troubles of the world and forget to look on all that is good out there.  Lehi declared that men are that they might have joy.  This world was created for us, that we might get bodies and have a fulness of joy.  We are not fulfilling the measure of our creation if we choose to be sad or upset all the time.  It is most definitely a choice, don't let anyone fool you either.  I used to say a phrase all the time, I'm not sure why I don't anymore, but the phrase is, have a good day, and if it's not a good day, make it a good day.  We have the power to change our attitude and despite what a lot of people think, our attitude is entirely up to us.  It is all internal and our choice.  So choose to be happy and full of joy.  The Gospel is the good news, we have every reason to be happy, so be happy!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The House of Judah Restored to Their Homeland

Today I read Isaiah 60 where Israel is promised that it will be a strong nation again one day.  I've never really thought about it before now, but as I sit here pondering it, I have to wonder, what percentage of the Jews actually want the land of Israel restored to them?  The Jews have been scattered for well over a thousand years.  They are dispersed among all different cultures and peoples.  Do they really want to be gathered in again to the land of Israel?  If I had to venture a guess, I would say probably not.  They are people just like the rest of us just trying to live their lives and be good people.  I'm sure there are a small percentage of the people that desire and hunger for their homeland, but most of the people of the house of Judah have not lived there for generations.  I'm sure this prophecy was more comforting to the people in the time of Isaiah than it is to the modern day Israelite.  A very interesting thought.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

We Are the Sum of Our Experiences

Today I read Isaiah 59 which kind of reminds me of the story Alma the Younger told his sons about his 3 day coma.  He was horrified at the prospect of standing before God and having God see all His sins.  Isaiah tells us here in this chapter that all of our sins will testify against us.  It is not a pleasant prospect!  There are plenty of things that I wish I had not done and would take them away if I could do it again.  I'm sure everyone has those moments/incidents in their lives.  I will say though that if by not doing those sins I would not meet my wife or have my daughter then I would still do them over again.  My family is too precious to me and I don't know if I could live without them.  Our experiences shape us, mold us, help us become who we are.  I would not be the man I am today if I had not served a mission.  I would not be as patient as I am today without serving a mission or babysitting my nieces and nephews all those years.  Everything we experience affects us.  For good or for ill, we are the sum of our experiences.

Now, this holds true for our personality when we arrive on this earth too.  We experience things in the pre-earth life too and they shape and mold our character.  Now all infants are created equal.  Some have more patience than others.  Some are just naturally happy.  Some seem to be predestined to get into trouble!  It's all because of our experiences before we were born on this planet.  We use them to better ourselves in this life.  Similarly, we need to use our experiences in this life to help mold us for the next one.  It's the only chance we have!  Until tomorrow.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Observing the Sabbath Day

Today I read Isaiah 58 where the Lord urges us to call the Sabbath a delight.  I have found in my life that when I rest from my physical labors on the Sabbath and use the time to do the Lord's work, my home teaching, attending Church for all of my meetings, visiting family, sick or afflicted, I am rejuvenated.  It can be a challenge for some to keep the Sabbath holy that is for sure.  Currently I am unable to keep the Sabbath day holy as I would like to be able to.  My work requires that I work, however even this I find is not as arduous as other work days.  The work place seems to have a calmness to it not present on any other day.  However, my preferred choice of course is to not have to work and to rest from my labors and spend the day with my family and my church friends.  If only the rest of the world could understand what a blessing the Sabbath is and would collectively observe it!  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Avoid Contention

Today I read Isaiah 57.  I liked the phrase I will not contend for ever.  Contention seems like a way of life in this mortal existence.  We argue with our siblings, with our friends, with random strangers, and about anything and everything under the sun.  You name it and people argue about it.  And the sad part is, most of the time, the arguments don't even matter.  People argue about things that don't even actually exist, such as TV shows or characters in a fiction book.  We even argue about the important things, such as religion.  But the Book of Mormon tells us that the spirit of contention is not of God, but rather of the devil.  When we argue and emotions get involved, it is not pleasing to Heavenly Father.  We can debate and we can discuss but we need to do our best to not become contentious.  It can be very challenging but it is the best way of things.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Strangers are Welcomed Into the House of Israel

Today I read Isaiah 56 which talks about the stranger joining the House of Israel.  In other words, those that are baptized into the house of Israel become members of the House of Israel, joint heirs with the covenant people.  I've always been fascinated with the lost tribes of Israel that disappeared from history, however, they are not really lost but rather were dispersed among the rest of the world as they traveled.  I cannot imagine any thing else happened to them.  I always wonder if when someone hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they feel that spark within them that resonates if they are a direct descendant of one of the lost tribes.  Some people have described hearing the Gospel for the first time as a feeling of home coming.  Of course this could also just be a feeling of being welcomed back by Heavenly Father.  Either way, the Gospel of Jesus Christ touches us in a way that nothing else in this world does.  And that's a good thing.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

God's Word Will Be Fulfilled

Today I read Isaiah 55, chapters 53 and 54 are both covered in the Book of Mormon.  The part of the chapter that I enjoyed was when the Savior said that His word would not return to Him void.  Heavenly Father has made it abundantly clear that His word cannot pass away unfulfilled.  If He or one of His authorized servants when speaking for Him have said it, it WILL happen.  We cannot hope it won't as such hope is unfounded and vain.  Now, the exception to this rule is if Heavenly Father has made His statement conditional upon ones faith or recants His statement.  Heavenly Father told Joseph Smith that the command to gather in Zion and build a temple was no longer in effect.  Like wise Patriarchal Blessings are prophecy for the individual but they are based upon the faith of the person and so if they do not come to pass it should not be looked upon as God being wrong.  Such thinking is entirely incorrect.  We can trust in God that He will not allow His people to be led astray with incorrect thinking.  We can always trust in Him.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, September 23, 2013

How Beautiful are the Feet

Today I read Isaiah 52 which always reminds me of Abinadi.  This is the chapter that the wicked priests of Noah question him about when they are trying to trap him in his words.  They particularly ask him what does it mean "how beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings".  Of course Abinadi knows they do not really want to know and are just trying to trap him.  I personally believe that the phrase in question is referring to missionary work.  Those that bring good tidings are missionaries.  Missionary work is essential for the Plan of Salvation.  Every person has to have the opportunity to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

We typically think of Justice when it comes to God as a bad thing.  If He were to rely on Justice, none of us would have a chance to return to live with Him.  However, God is also Just in that everyone will have an opportunity to hear the Gospel.  Anything less than that would not be Just.  In this case, Justice is a good thing and I for one am glad that God is a Just God and will not rest, nor allow His servants to rest, while there are still those who have not heard the good news of the Gospel.  Once that happens, then the work will be complete, but not until then and everyone who ever has lived, or ever will live, has an opportunity to accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Is Anything Too Difficult for the Lord?

Today I read Isaiah 51 and I did really notice any particular verses so much as I did concepts.  As I was reading the idea came to me, "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?".  All my life I come across situations that are challenging and that seem impossible at times.  I find myself questioning how to get past it.  And when I do that, I have to remind myself that Heavenly Father is able to do anything.  Nothing is too hard for the Lord. 

I once gave a blessing to a young woman who was having trouble staying pregnant where the Lord told me exactly what was wrong with her that she couldn't stay pregnant.  I did not know the medical term so He described it to me.  When she went to the doctor, that was exactly what was wrong.  I once gave a blessing to a man while on my mission , a blessing of comfort.  Later, after I returned from my mission, a former companion of mine who assisted me in giving the blessing told me that he went with the man to get his Patriarchal Blessing and it directly quoted some of the things I had said.  I once gave a blessing to my father who told me afterwards that I was directly quoting from his Patriarchal Blessing, I have never read before or since, for part of the blessing. 

Heavenly Father can do amazing things if we will let Him.  And He works through us.  We are His tools and His instruments here on the earth.  If we will work with Him we will be privileged to see some of the greatest miracles He can perform.  I could go on and on and I felt prompted to only talk about blessings today.  Hopefully this will help someone who reads this and will be the miracle they need in their life.  I have faith that Heavenly Father will make it so.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Lord Will Never Abandon Us

Today's reading was Isaiah 50 since chapters 48 and 49 are in the Book of Mormon, specifically 1 Nephi.  Isaiah speaks as the Savior in this chapter.  It always strikes me as odd that people would think the Lord has abandoned them.  The chapter starts by asking where is the bill of thy mother's divorcement, a phrase which the Savior uses to let people know that He has not abandoned them.  I can certainly understand that times can be rough and it can feel like we are all alone carrying the burden we face, but the fact is, He is right there beside us.

One of my favorite poems is "Footprints in the Sand" which illustrates this point beautifully.  The times that the man in the poem had the hardest time with are when the Savior carried him, He took all the burden onto Himself.  The Savior is always right there holding out His hand waiting to help us.  It is us who abandons Him, not the other way around.  He is always there waiting to help us, we just need to swallow our pride and ask Him for help.  He will NEVER abandon us.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Heavenly Father Destroys Babylon

Today I read Isaiah 47 where the destruction of Babylon is predicted.  When I was younger and Heavenly Father used to destroy entire civilizations I used to feel very sorry for the people.  I was too young to understand what those people where doing.  Typically they were evil and totally without the Spirit of the Lord.  They were full of iniquity and ripe for destruction to use the words of Nephi.  In the case of the American Indians, or Lamanites as we know they were, some of them were engaging in human sacrifice!  Should we really feel sorry for such people being destroyed by the Spaniards who arrived after Columbus discovered America?  The people of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to rape three men who came into the city for no other reason than they wanted to have sex with them.  Should such a people have any pity from others at their destruction?  I personally don't.  I trust that Heavenly Father, who does not delight in the shedding of blood, would not wantonly kill anyone, let alone an entire civilization.  Always trust Heavenly Father, that's my motto.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Counsel Shall Stand

Today I read Isaiah 46 and I liked the phrase, "my counsel shall stand".  God is telling the people of Israel in this chapter to avoid idol worship and that He is the only God.  Then He tells them that His counsel shall stand.  I take this to mean that what Heavenly Father says will stand the test of time, and it has.  This reminds me of John 7:17 where Jesus tells the Israelites that if any man will do His will he will know of the doctrine.  All we have to do is put it to the test.  Heavenly Father will help us know that what we are doing is His will, or if it is not.  What other religion promises that?  To not just follow blindly, but to ask our Creator if what we are being told is truly His will.  That is truly a blessing and we should not squander it.  If you are ever in doubt, just ask and He will tell you if it is truly His will or not.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Draw Strength from the Lord

Today I read Isaiah 45 and I liked the second to last verse that tells us we have righteousness and strength in the Lord.  It is easy to see how we can draw strength from the Lord, when we rely on Him and do as He asks of us, we are stronger for it.  We become a light unto the world.  We are better able to withstand temptation.  All of the evils of the world are more able to slide off of us, like water off the back of a duck.  Just like the hymn, that actually quotes Isaiah, says, He will strengthen us and uplift us by His omnipotent hand.  It can be hard at first to trust in Him so completely, but it is worth taking the time to understand how to do it.  We will be so much better off and better able to overcome the adversary.  It is something each of us should learn to do.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

There is a Proper Way to Receive Revelation

Today I read Isaiah 44 and I laughed out loud at one point.  Towards the end of the chapter the Lord calls Himself the Lord that maketh all things, He goes on to say He frustrates the tokens of liars and maketh diviners mad.  It tickled my funny bone for some reason.  I can just picture a diviner getting angry at his/her craft not working the way it should.  But I must admit, I had never considered that the Lord might actively stop those workers of dark magic from working their craft.  Now that I have read the verse it makes sense to me, I just had not considered it before.  Heavenly Father would not want those people going through other sources to find out such things and so it would make sense that such people are frustrated in their craft.  Heavenly Father has a plan for us, and He has laid out the right way for us to receive revelation. If we want to make sure that we are doing as we ought to be, the easiest way is to follow that pattern that He has set forth.  Once we do this, we will never have to worry if we are doing as He wants us to.  We will have the peace of mind that our life is being lived in accordance with His will.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rely on the Arm of Jehovah

Today I read Isaiah 43 where the Lord declares that there is no other Savior besides Him.  You would think such a statement would not need to be made, but in fact, we need to be reminded of it almost daily.  As a people, human beings rely on just about everything and everyone except the Savior, Him who created us.  We have even allowed imperfect science to tell us that there is no God because there is no evidence of God.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell said that true science and true religion are one and the same.  If there is ever a conflict between science and the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is the science that is at fault.  The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect, our science is not.  We need to trust in our prophets and those who know Him best to reveal His will to us and help us come closer to Him.  And the best part is, we don't have to have blind faith.  Each and every one of us can ask Heavenly Father if what we are hearing is indeed His will.  He will answer us.  It is a wonderful thought and very wonderful to know.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

We are Set for an Example to Others

Today I read Isaiah 42 and I liked how the Savior tells the Israelites that they are set for an example to others.  As I have mentioned before, one of my favorite scriptures is Alma 39:11 where Alma tells Corianton that because of his conduct, forsaking his mission for the harlot Isabel, the Zoramites would not believe Alma's words.  As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once it becomes know that we are members we are always on display.  People will always pay attention to what we are doing and will judge us for it.  Most of us have had that experience where someone will tell us that they knew a member of the Church once, and will then proceed to tell us how that member behaved and what impression it left on them.

The Savior means for us to be an example to the world.  He told the Jews that a city set on a hill cannot be hid, letting them know that they too were an example to the world of how to live and behave.  We are held to a higher standard as those belonging to God's church.  And that's ok.  But we need to remember who we are and act accordingly because people are always watching, and whether it is fair or not, they will judge the entire LDS church upon us and our behavior.  Play well thy part.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Put Your Faith in God

Today I read Isaiah 41 where the Lord talks to the Israelites and where part of the lyrics for the hymn "How Firm a Foundation" comes from.  The Lord chastises Israel about idol worship in this chapter and, although we have talked about this in the past, it still just boggles my mind that someone would worship a statue we all know that idol worship goes way beyond just bowing down to idols made of metal, stone or wood.  But I don't really want to go into idol worship again but rather what I was thinking about while reading this chapter was the Lord promises to uphold us if we will trust in Him. 

Now, it is possible that bad things will still happen to us, in fact it is almost a given.  But we can be sure if bad things do come our way that it is a trial to help us grow and not just a consequence of a bad choice or sin.  We cannot expect a life free of trials just because we are living the commandments.  Those who think this way do not understand that Gospel and what this life is all about.  We are here to learn and grow and the way to do that, is by experiencing trials that cause us to turn to God, or to other sources.  We will grow in whatever way we choose.  So it is up to us to choose the way we want to be, righteous, or worldly.  The two do not mix at all.  We cannot serve God and Mammon.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, September 13, 2013

There is No Searching for His Undersanding

Today I read Isaiah 40 and I really liked one of the last verses.  Isaiah says, "Hast though not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching for his understanding."  What a wonderful description of our Heavenly Father and our Savior!  He is never weary of hearing from us and no matter how often we come to Him and ask Him for help He will be there for us.

The second part, there is no searching for His understanding, is also very comforting.  Heavenly Father does not change.  He has told us His Gospel and what we need to do in order to return to Him.  We don't have to wonder what His will towards us is.  He has already made it known to us.  For example, when I was in my early 20's I used to hear young men preparing for a mission talk about how they wondered if serving a mission was the right thing for them to do.  They would talk about this great spiritual journeys they would go on to get an answer.  These young mean bother me so much.  They already have their answer of whether serving a mission is right for them.  President Kimball said that EVERY worthy young man should serve a mission.  President Monson has renewed the call calling missionary service a "priesthood responsibility".  There is no need to seek out personal revelation on this matter, an answer has already been given.  And it is wonderful to know that we don't need to search out His Gospel.  Nephi tells us in 2 Nephi 32 that no "more will be given until He shall manifest Himself to you in the flesh."  We need to stick to what we have been taught and told and all will be well with us.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Isaiah Prophesies the Captivity of Jerusalem

Today I read Isaiah 39 where Hezekiah entertains some guests from Babylon and Isaiah tells him of the captivity of the Israelites by Babylon.  What is really strange though is the response Hezekiah gives.  Far from being upset about this, he seems happy and pleased with the knowledge.  Perhaps I am just reading it wrong, but it sure seems like he was pleased and started praising God when Isaiah told him all his wealth would be carried away and his sons would be made eunuchs in the palace of Babylon.  I guess it is a good thing that he knows you can't frustrate the will of God and he has accepted that, but you think he would be a little upset that his kingdom will be despoiled by Babylon.  Very strange indeed.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Listening for Answers to Prayers

Today I read Isaiah 38 where the Lord agrees to let king Hezekiah live for 15 more years after Hezekiah prays and reminds the Lord how he has always kept the commandments and tried to do what was right.  The Lord also gives a pretty dramatic sign of the sun going back 10 degrees.  I have often wondered if the earth suddenly went backwards if anyone would notice it really.  I think this chapter gives me my answer, it clearly happened here, but other than it happening, no one really noticed or complained, at least that is recorded.  There were no real lasting effects that I can see.  Just a fun side note.

What I was really impressed about in this chapter is that the Lord granted Hezekiah's request.  In the scriptures, and in modern day life, the Lord doesn't usually change His will to match ours.  Now, He is our Father and loves us and wants us to be happy.  But I have not really seen too many examples of Heavenly Father doing really drastic things like lengthening out a person's life.  He does answer prayers, just not always in the manner we expect.  Often times He will use one of His servants to answer someone else's prayer.  I have found however, when things are really important, He tends to answer pretty quickly and definitively.  We just need to train ourselves in listening for those answers.  Until tomorrow. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Receiving Revelation

Today I read Isaiah 37 where King Hezekiah comes to Isaiah for advice.  I always wonder why people in the past went to the prophet to talk to God.  Did they not know that God answers prayers and they can pray on their own to get their answers?  It reminds me of the Book of Mormon when Moroni sends a messenger to Alma to find out where the Lamanite army went.  Now those are big questions, but I still think Moroni could have asked God himself.  He was after all a very righteous man.  So why I wonder did so many people seek out the prophet instead of just praying on their own?

I really don't have an answer but perhaps it is something like when people seek out the Bishop for advice now instead of praying on their own.  Or asking the Bishop or Stake President for a blessing instead of their home teacher or their father/husband/brother.  I will freely admit that with Priesthood keys comes revelation for the prepared mind and it is not unheard of for Bishops to receive revelation specifically for an individual in his ward.  But I have to think that most of the time when a person comes to the Bishop for advice the first thing he will ask is have you asked the Lord and made it a matter of serious prayer?  Each one of us can receive revelation for ourselves and our children.  A father can receive revelation for his wife and children.  I would assume a wife can receive revelation for her husband, she can certainly receive revelation for her children.  Each one of us should be comfortable taking any challenge to the Lord and be confident in receiving an answer.  We don't need to seek out our priesthood leaders for every decision we need to make, even the big ones we can get answers on our own.  We just have to have the faith and ask, I promise He will respond.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Have Perfect Faith in God

Today I read Isaiah 36 where Isaiah tries to convince the people of Israel that putting your trust in man and the arm of flesh will not deliver them.  He asks them if the gods of the Assyrians have ever done anything to prove they are real and able to save mankind.  Of course the answer is no but it is a lesson that the Israelites need to learn again and again.  I can understand where the Israelites are coming from, it is hard to trust in something you have never seen or experienced yourself.  I would find it really hard to have complete faith in the Lord saving me from a flesh and blood enemy.  It is not that I don't believe He would protect me if He said He would, and I believe the scriptures where He has done so in the past, but having an enemy look you in the eye with a weapon and coming at you.  But we need to get to the point where we have perfect faith in Heavenly Father and that He will take care of us.  Once we get to that point, anything is possible, we can move mountains.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Desert Shall Blossom as the Rose

Today I read Isaiah 35 which as I read it, is about Utah.  Isaiah mentions that the redemption of Israel shall occur when the desert blossoms as a rose.  We know now, through the gift of hindsight that the desert blossoming as a rose is Utah, and the way that they transformed the desert into a sanctuary.  If I am not mistaken, Brigham Young even referenced this prophecy once to the Saints.  I may be mistaken about that though.  I cannot even begin to imagine who hard it must have been to turn an unforgiving wasteland like the Salt Lake Valley into the pleasant, enjoyable place to live it is now.  The lack of water alone must have been daunting.  You got to hand it to those early saints, they were dedicated.  But after all they had been through, perhaps turning a desert into a place to live with green plants wasn't so daunting after all.  I will close with a funny story from my past.  I am originally from Kentucky.  We had a family move out to Kentucky from Utah when I was around 15 years old.  Once the children or the father, I can't remember which, asked my family who planted all the trees.  At the time I was really confused because at that time I didn't know that most of the trees in Utah were planted and not growing up naturally.  My dad smiled and replied that God planted them.  It makes me chuckle to think about it still.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Second Coming Will Destroy the Wicked

Today I read Isaiah 34 which talks about the Second Coming.  I once heard it said that to know what will happen at the Second Coming of the Savior, we need to look at what happened at the First Coming.  I think of it rather as what happened at His Resurrection.  Most, maybe all, of the wicked people in the Americas were killed by storms, earthquakes, fires and tornadoes.  The Lord wiped their wickedness off the face of the earth.  He will do so again when He comes again.  He will take all those that are wicked and not living and terrestrial law and remove them off of the earth.  There will be people from all walks of life and those that do not belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that are spared because they are righteous.  All those that can abide a terrestrial law will live and survive the glory of the Lord.  Elder Bednar stated that he meets people all the time that won't, perhaps even can't, look him in the eye when he shakes their hand.  If we cannot look an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ in the eye, how do we expect to look at the Savior and meet His gaze?  Food for thought and knowledge for the future.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Imagery of Isaiah

Today I read Isaiah 33 which is a great example of why Isaiah has a bad reputation.  I have no clue what I just read about.  Per the chapter headings it was about apostasy and rebellion prior to the Second Coming and the Lord purifying the wickedness after His coming again.  I did not get that at all from this chapter.  The poetry of Isaiah is very beautiful and probably makes perfect sense to those that were raised in the ways of the Jews as Nephi stated.  But I don't always understand what Isaiah is trying to say, and this chapter exemplifies that perfectly.  Perhaps if I was full of the Spirit I would understand it, but I am mortal and am not always full of the Spirit so I am left to my own devices.  My dad, a convert to the church, once told me that he tried to read the Bible many times before he was a member of the Church and he never understood it.  It was not until afterwards when he had the Gift of the Holy Ghost that he was able to understand the Bible.  I believe him because even with the gift of the Holy Ghost there are many situations where I don't understand what I am reading about.  That is my problem though and I need to work on being more righteous.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What Makes Israel so Special?

Today I read Isaiah 32 and it talks about how the land of Israel will be desolate until the gathering and restoration of all things.  As I was reading, I have to say I was thinking about all the conflict over Jerusalem throughout the years.  And everything I have ever seen about Jerusalem tells me it is a desert.  To me that is just crazy, that's like fighting over Death Valley, California!  There are much better places to live.  But Jerusalem has always been special and wonderful because it is where Jesus Christ lived and walked.  But the other thought I had, since the land of Israel is really not that great, why did God choose that land for His people?  Was it better back in the time of Moses and only became a desert since that time? 

Heavenly Father declared it a land of promise from the beginning, perhaps it was to try the people of Israel, to give them trials and keep them humble.  I don't know.  But I do know that the only reason anyone wants it today is because it is considered holy due to the fact that Jesus lived there when He was on the earth.  Several Apostles have visited Jerusalem and they say that the Spirit is there is very strong, especially in the garden tomb.  I have never visited Israel, but perhaps one day I will have the chance and might be able to understand what makes it so special for myself.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fear God, Not Man

Today I read Isaiah 31 where Isaiah warns against trusting in man instead of God.  It is an easy trap to fall into, but one that is detrimental to our development.  If we are going to live with God one day, we must put His will ahead of our own.  Joseph Smith fell into that trap when he feared upsetting Martin Harris more than he did upsetting God.  And as a result, we lost the book of Lehi.  I once had a decision to make whether to follow what God wanted me to do, or whether I was going to go my own way.  It wasn't all that hard to choose to follow God, but it was almost physically painful giving up what I wanted to follow His plan for me.  But if I hadn't, I would not be where I am today.  I would not have married my wife or had my beautiful daughter.  I once heard it described that we see things straight on, like we always do, but God is looking down from above, so He can see what's around the bend when we can't.  If we trust in Him, we will not be disappointed.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Giving Up Our Favorite Sin

Today I read Isaiah 30, we skipped chapter 29 as it is recorded in its entirety in 2 Nephi.  Chapter 30 is about the scattering of Israel.  I often wonder if the Pharisees of Jesus' time dismissed Isaiah as a false prophet because they didn't want to believe his words.  I know the Nephites would always dismiss the true prophets of God because they spoke the harsh truth and would embrace the false prophets because they liked what they were teaching.  I guess it's hard to throw off that natural man who wants to believe everything is hunky dory and listen to the hard truth about ourselves.  Even though if we were honest with ourselves we know what we are doing wrong and what our challenges are.  So why do we resist changing so much? 

The answer of course is obvious, the natural man is an enemy to God.  Which means we are in opposition to God when we are in our natural state.  We have to decide that we don't like the way we are and that we want to change.  Only God and the Atonement of Christ can help us change.  But we have to decide it is what we want.  We have to give up our favorite sin, and that can be very hard.  It's our favorite for a reason.  But when we decide we want to be like God more than we want our favorite sin, that is when we can change for the better and can allow the Atonement into our lives.  It's a wonderful feeling indeed.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

God Teaches Us Line Upon Line

Today I read Isaiah 28 and here Isaiah teaches us an eternal principle of revelation.  Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk a few years ago about revelation.  He said that similar to light brightening up a sky or a room, revelation can either be gradual, a little bit at a time, or all at once, similar to turning on a light switch in a darkened room.  Isaiah also teaches us this principle, that we are taught line upon line, here a little and there a little.  Believe it or not, it is my understanding and belief that Heavenly Father does this for our own protection.

He who sinneth against the greater light, hath the greater condemnation, the scriptures state.  The reason Heavenly Father instructs us only a little at a time is so that if we sin against what light and knowledge we have, it is not as detrimental to our development as if we had a full understanding of the Gospel.  Heavenly Father is a Just God and He wants to do right by His children.  Just like I would not hold my 3 year old accountable to the same level I would a teenager, He doesn't want to have to punish us for sinning against concepts we are not yet ready for, either mentally or spiritually!  This is yet another of God's tender mercies that Nephi talked about in the Book of Mormon.  Far from being frustrated that God does not tell us the enter plan right out of the starting gate, we should fall to our knees and thank Him with every fiber of our being that He is wise enough to give us only a little at a time until we prove we can handle what He has already given us.  Don't yearn for things you don't understand.  You don't know what you are asking for.  Until tomorrow.