Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Stewardship Matters

Today I read Ezekiel 34 where the Lord talks about those that did not take care of the people in their stewardship.  I often wonder what the Lord will say to me when I stand before Him.  I often wonder if I do enough.  I try to magnify my calling and do what I am asked to do.  I try and be a good home teacher, a good husband, a good father, but I wonder if I am doing enough.  I know I don't make it to the temple often enough.  It is hard to juggle everything that I know to be important. 

The one thing I know I am doing well though is keeping work in perspective so that I can spend enough time at home with my family.  I never wanted to be one of those men who worked all the time and never saw their families.  I knew from a very young age that the reason for working was to provide for my family.  But money is only one aspect of a families needs.  Money will not take care of their spiritual or emotional needs. 

More than anything children crave family time and attention.  When I am awake my daughter rarely leaves me alone and when I am at work, she calls me every night to say hi and that she loves me.  I know that more than toys, new movies, books or whatever else I could buy her, she wants to spend time with me.  Similarly, my wife would prefer I help her around the house to show my love as opposed to buying her new things. 

If you feel you are working too much and don't get to see your family as often as you would like, then you are right, you are working too much.  I understand that we have to earn a living and it has to be enjoyable to us, but do our children really need a smartphone a piece, a new tablet and a TV in every room?  Or do they need a pleasant home, nutritious meals and good quality time with their parents and siblings?  Read any article that talks about what people on their deathbed regret and everyone of them will say they wish they had spent more time their loved ones.  I have personally never read one that said they wished they had earned more money.  When this life is over, will you have memories of the office that you smile over, or the time you spent chasing your 3 year old through the house playing tag?  I know what I want to be thinking of when it's my time.  Each of us needs to make a similar choice and I would advise us all not to delay that choice.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Lord Will Always Reward the Righteous

Today I read Ezekiel 33 where the Lord talks to Ezekiel and the people of Israel.  It's kind of nice because the Lord is telling the people of Israel why they can't have their homeland back right now.  The answer is obvious, they defiled it.  The Lord gave them certain commandments to follow and obey and they either could not, or would not do it.  The Lord will not always suffer the wicked to prevail, even if it seems like it.  He will always step in and right the ship so to speak.  It may not seem like it sometimes in our world but I promise that the Lord is very concerned with Justice and doing what is right and making sure that the righteous are given their due.  It may not be in this life, but the Lord will always reward those who do what is right, always!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Feeling the Spirit of God

Today I read Ezekiel 32 where Ezekiel speaks about the destruction of the Egyptians.  Like we have discussed before, a prophet of the Lord feels the love of the Lord for everyone alike.  God loves everyone, even when people are doing what is wrong.  Just as a parent loves his or her child no matter what, God loves all of His children.  He does not approve of what they do sometimes when they make incorrect choices, but He still loves them.  But He will not always tolerate them to continue to make wrong choices.  When people are ripe in iniquity He will wipe them off the earth out of respect for the Earth.  The Lord is the ultimate source of Good and all Good stems from Him.  When we do what is right, we feel His Spirit.  That is the real joy of living the Gospel, becoming closer to Him who made us.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Lord Will Overthrow Egypt

Today I read Ezekiel 31 where the Lord talks about the Pharaoh of Egypt and his fall.  As I have said and thought before, the Israelites must really have disliked the Egyptians for the Lord to spend so much time on the fall of Egypt to His prophet.  I suppose that would be like in our day the Lord telling us of the fall of Afghanistan or Iran and Iraq.  Personally though if I were a prophet receiving the revelation of God, I would not want so long and so much effort spent on the downfall of people.  No matter how many atrocities they have committed, they are still people and knowing that the Lord will make them face justice is enough for me.  I don't need to dwell on it or know the gory details.  Perhaps I am different and am not the norm, but I tend to forgive and not dwell on such things.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 27, 2013

God Prophesies He Will Destroy Egypt

Today I read Ezekiel 30 where the Lord tells Ezekiel that He will use Babylon to destroy Egypt.  I suppose this might be welcome news if the Israelites did not like the Egyptians, but as I recall they were kind of ambivalent towards them.  I'm honestly not sure why the Lord made a point of telling the prophets that He was going to do this, unless it was just to prove that He was God, which is always important.  In order to have faith in God, we have to know that He is God and that we can trust Him.  We have to know that He will follow through on what He says He will do.  We have to have a correct understanding of His character.  Perhaps that is what this prophecy is all about.  I'll just have to ask God one day to find out for sure.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

No Lesson Learned

Today I read Ezekiel 29 and it may be because I am so tired, but I did not really get anything out of it.  It is one of those chapters that prophesies what is going to happen and so is profitable for learning and for showing the might of Heavenly Father, but beyond that, I got nothing out of this chapter.  Perhaps I would have done better if I were not so tired but it has been a great day and I am pleased with it.  Perhaps I will read this chapter again in the morning to see if the Spirit has anything to teach me from this chapter.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We Will Want to Please the Lord

Today I read Ezekiel 28 where the Lord promises to bring the Israelites back together some day and protect them.  It is always wonderful when the Lord promises something.  When the Lord promises it, you know for a fact that it will come to pass.  The Lord is trustworthy and will always bless us when we follow His word.  When we do what He says, we have His promise to bless us.  President Ezra Taft Benson said that nothing will surprise us more when we pass through the veil than how familiar Heavenly Father's face is to us.  There's a reason we feel inclined to seek Him out and do as He asks of us.  We love Him and want to please Him.  Just like our earthly children love us and want to please us.  I am excited to see Him again and remember Him.  I look forward to the day.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ezekiel Laments the Loss of Tyrus

Today I read Ezekiel 27 where he laments the loss of Tyrus.  He names off all the good that is in the city and among the people.  It is heartwarming to see Ezekiel focusing on the positive of the city that the Lord is going to destroy.  It shows that Ezekiel has the love of Christ in Him and that he loves all mankind, even those that are in the wrong.  It goes hand in hand with loving the sinner but hating the sin.  When I was a missionary it was so easy to feel the love of Christ for everyone I was serving.  It would just pour out of me and help me love all of those around me.  It really is no surprise that Ezekiel is the same way since he is a prophet.  When you are full of the Spirit it is easy to feel love.  What a world we would have if we were all full of love and the Spirit always!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Lord Takes Care of His People

Today I read Ezekiel 26 where the Lord tells Ezekiel that He will destroy Tyrus because they against Jerusalem.  This reminds me a lot of when the Lord would protect His people and destroy a city that was not taking care of their righteous people.  Like the city of Ammonihah in the Book of Mormon.  They killed the righteous women and children that lived in their city and as a result the Lord destroyed their city in just one day.  The Lord will always take care of his people and will not leave them to suffer without recourse forever.  He loves all His children, but He absolutely will not suffer the wicked to persecute and slay the righteous men and women.  When we obey His commandments we have His promise that He will give us blessings.  It will not always be in the way we imagine, but He will always come through for us.  We can count on Him.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

God Destroys the Israelites' Enemies

Today I read Ezekiel 25 where the Lord states that He will destroy the civilizations that were cruel to the Israelites.  Knowing the nature of God helps in this matter because it would be really hard to understand why the Lord would destroy and entire civilization just because they were not kind to the Israelites.  But understanding that the people mentioned are corrupt and full of iniquity are the real reason they were destroyed.  God does not kill people just for being unkind.  He does remove them if they are ripened in iniquity and ripe for destruction.  The fact that they refused to help His chosen people was just the icing on the cake.  But if you need proof of this, just look at Rahab who was spared.  Even though Rahab was a harlot, she was spared for showing kindness to the Israelites.  Our God is a God of mercy.  He loves those that follow His commandments, and those that repent.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ezekiel's Wife Dies as a Sign

Today I read Ezekiel 24 and the Lord had Ezekiel prophesy about the downfall of Jerusalem.  For a sign the Lord caused Ezekiel's wife to die however, He did not make Ezekiel feel sorrow or cause him to cry as a sign.  As signs go, this one would be fairly effective I feel.  It would be hard not to just lose my mind if I lost my wife, and so if I were not to cry because of it, something would be wrong for sure.  However, I think it is a very tender mercy on the Lord's part that Ezekiel would not feel sorrow at her passing.  I'm not sure how the Lord accomplishes any of the miracles that He does, but this one in particular is miraculous for sure.  I hope if my wife goes before me that the Lord will be similarly merciful to me.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Lord Tries Another Way to Explain the Israelite's Sins

Today I read Ezekiel 23 where the Lord makes a comparison of Samaria and Jerusalem.  He likens them to two sisters and then talks about how they turned themselves into whores and did not stay true to their love, the Lord.  There are times I wonder why the Lord makes so many comparisons about the sins His people are committing and if He is not just beating a dead horse.  But then there are other times where I remember being in school and having the teacher explain something to the class and it makes perfect sense to me, but then to others it is as if the teacher were speaking a foreign language.  But then the teacher explains it another way and suddenly it clicks for some more people.  The Lord is not trying to shove the fact that the people did not do that which was right down the throats of His people, He is trying to help everyone of them understand so that they can amend their ways and repent.  At least that is what it appears to be to me.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We Sin the Same Way

Today I read Ezekiel 22 where the Lord lists out all the major sins that the Israelites have committed over the centuries.  And you know what?  It's not anything we don't have today.  For all our sophistication and technology and learning, we are still committing the exact same sins they were thousands of years ago.  Nothing has changed.  This tells me that if we don't want the same fate as the Israelites had, we need to repent and do better.  Because the Lord will only give so many chances to repent and become better than we are.  If we squander them, there generally aren't second chances.  We have to make the most of our time here and repent when we make mistakes, daily.  Otherwise, how can we expect our fate to be any different sine God does not change?  Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Heavenly Father Tries to Warn Us Over and Over Again

Today I read Ezekiel 21 where the Lord lets the Israelites know that they will be destroyed for their iniquities.  On the one hand, it seems like the Lord is just beating them over the head with this information, but then again, I think of my own daughter, just 3 years old, and how often I have to tell her things that seem obvious to me.  We are finite beings and have finite understanding.  When we try and grasp some things, it is beyond our reach.  Much like understanding why a stove is hot is beyond most toddlers comprehension.  Some of them get it, but not many.  Most have to experience it first hand.  And the rest of us are that exact same way when it comes to matters of the Spirit.  We try to understand and we sometime succeed.  But more often than not, we fall short and have to be told time and time again.  It is only through repetition that we will learn.  Fortunately, unlike some earthly parents, our Heavenly Father never gives up on us.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Lord's Wrath

Today I read Ezekiel 20 and it honestly reminds me a lot of a parent reminiscing about a child who tried their patience over and over again.  We all know that adult that when we hear about their childhood we are amazed they are still alive and their parents did not kill them in their sleep.  This chapter reminds me a lot of that.  The Lord is listing out all the things that the Israelites did wrong and exactly why He did not pour out His wrath upon them.  The Lord had plenty of opportunity to wipe out the Israelites, they did not have a good track record for keeping His commandments and doing what was right.  But He spared them time and time again for the righteous sake, because it was not everyone who was doing that which was wrong.  I can only think of 2 instances where everyone was participating in the sins, the Flood and Sodom and Gomorrah.  With the Flood all the righteous were taken up to live with Enoch and we all know about Sodom.  We also know that God does not do anything unless it is justified.  I am sure when we know every little detail about those two incidents, we will wonder how God was so merciful for so long.  Let's not have that said of us.  Repent and be better.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Being a Prophet is Like Being a Parent

Today I read Ezekiel 19 where Ezekiel laments for Israel.  It must be hard to be a prophet.  I think of it as being like a parent.  You want the best for your child but can't force them to be good and so you sit back and have to let them make mistakes.  It is hard to let them run off and do their own thing, but it is the only way they will learn.  God is the same way.  He knows we will make mistakes, but if he does not allow us to make the mistake, then we won't grow.  I have to allow my daughter to learn from her own experiences and she will not grow if I always tell her no, that's not a good idea.  She needs to learn and understand it on her own.  Just like the rest of us, if Heavenly Father doesn't give us the space to grow, we won't become better than we are today.  I understand it is really hard for Him to watch us make such silly mistakes, but it is the only way we will learn and grow.  It's a challenging thing for sure.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 13, 2013

We Will Not Be Punished for the Sins of Our Fathers

Today I read Ezekiel 18 where the Lord tells the Israelites that they will be punished for their own sins, and not for the sins of their parents.  That is a comfort to know, especially if you have parents that are not doing what they are supposed to do.  It reminds me a lot of the second article of faith, that man will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgressions.  We each of us have to make our own choices in life and we will have to stand by those choices one day.  A good rule of thumb is, if you don't want to have to stand before God one day to explain why you did something, don't do it!  Because each one of us will have to stand in front of Jesus Christ one day and explain our lives and the way we lived.  That can either be a relaxed and enjoyable interview, or a very uncomfortable and heart-wrenching interview.  The choice is ours and no one else's.  Do what makes you truly happy.  People who are sinning know that they are doing what is wrong, they can feel it, they have just turned down their conscience so that they cannot hear it anymore.  But it's there and they will have to own up to what they have done like the rest of us.  Just remember that God is always watching you and that helps curtail just about everything that we could do wrong out of your system.  Try it.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Don't Stick Around for Oathbreakers

Today I read Ezekiel 17 where the Lord explains to the Israelites why the Pharaoh of Egypt did not save them from the king of Babylon.  I have always wondered why people would trust a traitor, or someone who does not keep their promises.  What makes them think that the person in question won't do it to them one day also?  It's the exact same thing with becoming involved with a person who is married and then continuing when you find out they are married.  Why do you think that even if that person leaves their spouse they are not going to cheat on you?  What makes you so special?  The answer of course is nothing.  But for some reason so many people don't look at it that way.  People are fickle, I get that much.  But why would we knowingly put ourselves in the path of such people and stay there even after their true nature is exposed?  That is what we really need to ask ourselves.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Sin of Sodom

Today I read Ezekiel 16 where the Lord tells Ezekiel about the many sins of Israel.  You know it's bad when the Lord compares Israel to Sodom!  I have looked everywhere for the scripture that appears in this verse though.  The Lord tells Ezekiel to tell the Israelites that the sin of Sodom was haughtiness and failing to take care of the poor and needy.  People always tend to think of the sexual perversions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that certainly was a problem, but the main issue was always the lack of compassion for their fellow man.  To be told that you are worse than Sodom is quite an issue in my opinion, however, I would wager strong money that we are worse than Sodom today in our culture.  We need to become better about becoming one, like the saints of Zion were.  They were of one heart and one mind with no poor among them the scriptures say.  If we hope to live with God again, we need to get that way too.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Spirit of the Lord will Not Always Strive with Man

Today I read Ezekiel 15 where the Lord compares Israel to a vine that does not produce anything.  He draws the analogy of what good is a tree that has vines and that is all.  He says it is no better than any other tree and He is right.  Once the Israelites stop fulfilling their covenants there is really nothing that makes it special.  The Lord Himself said that if we will obey His commandments, we will have blessings but if not, then we have no promise.  It is up to Him whether He will bless us or not.  Just because you are the chosen people, does not mean you are any more precious than other people.  You need to live the commandments and do as the Lord asks to continue to be the promised people.  The Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man God says, we have to earn it and keep it with us through our actions.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Israelites Would Not Believe the Ancient Prophets

Today I read Ezekiel 14 and I find it sad and a little amusing that the Lord tells Ezekiel to tell the Israelites that even if they were preached to by Noah, Daniel or Job they would not repent.  This reminds me a lot of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.  The rich man asks Abraham if he can go back and warn his brothers about the awful fate that awaits them if they don't change.  Abraham replies back that they have all the prophets writings.  If they won't believe the prophets and change for them, then a visit from the rich man, even from the grave, would not change them.  Likewise the Lord tells Ezekiel that even a visit from revered prophets of old would not be enough to change their behaviors.  That is really a sad commentary on the state of the Israelites, but would that be any different from today?  If Jesus Himself appeared in Time Square, New York performing miracles, how many people would actually acknowledge Him as the Savior?  How many would declare it to be phony and a trick?  Almost everyone I suspect.  Although the prophecies of the Second Coming do state that everyone will know Him and will recognize Him for who He is, so maybe I am doing the people a disservice.  Somehow I doubt it though.  We have become a very cynical people, slow to believe anything, even when witnessed with out own eyes.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

False Prophets Shall Know that God is God

Today I read Ezekiel 13 where the Lord speaks directly to those false prophets who purposefully lead the Israelites astray.  He condemns them and tells them that He will take His people away from them and they will know that He is the Lord God.  It almost makes me think that the false prophets don't even believe in God and are doing what they do as a spite to the people that believe in Him.  It reminds me of the cliche about those old southern preachers that preach miracles that are charlatans and don't even really believe in Christ.  Such will not be treated lightly and are absolutely taking the Lord's name in vain.  I would not want to be in their shoes for any reason when they come face to face with God.  Just like with Sherem in Jacob 7 from the Book of Mormon.  He knew his fate was awful and feared to come face to face with God with good reason.  No, I would not trade places with him for anything.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ezekiel Continues to Prophesy About the Fall of Jerusalem

Today I read Ezekiel 12 where the Lord has Ezekiel prophesy the scattering of Israel.  He also has Ezekiel do things that will signify the scattering of the Israelites, and then the gathering them in at the last day.  It is more of what we have read before.  It never fails to amaze me how the Lord will give so many chances to His people and while He lets them know that it will certainly happen, He tells Ezekiel to warn the Israelites nonetheless.  He really does love us and gives us every chance.  And we know from the Book of Mormon that He will save the righteous and give them an opportunity to escape.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ezekiel Sees the Future in Vision

Today I read Ezekiel 11 where Ezekiel is shown a vision of the destruction of Israel and the gathering again in the latter days.  What must it be like to be shown a vision of the future?  I imagine it must be really weird to be honest.  I mean to be living in the middle ages and be shown visions of cars and airplanes?  That would be really mind blowing I think.  But I will wager that the prophets of old when they were shown such visions were not so focused on our technology as they were what kind of people we are.  And we know from Moroni's account that he was not impressed at all.  Probably the other prophets were not either.  We are not a people that puts God first in our lives, or even second, third, fourth or fifth.  God is almost an afterthought to most people.  And yet the very first commandment is no other gods before Him.  We are not doing a good job of following that commandment.  Now, I am not saying that other demands for our time are not as important as Heavenly Father, but what I am saying is that we allow other demands to become MORE important that God.  This is not pleasing to Him at all.  We all have some repenting to do.  No time like the present!  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ezekiel See Exaulted Animals in a Vision

Today I read Ezekiel 10 where Ezekiel has a vision that reminds me a lot of John the Beloved's vision as recorded in Revelations.  John sees animals with four faces and four wings, much like the animals that John saw that the Lord later revealed to Joseph Smith were animals that were exalted for fulfilling the measure of their creation.  It is interesting to me, because apparently other worlds have different animals than we do, which I think is really neat.  I like our animals here, but it is kind of awesome to think that other worlds have other animals that seem really weird to us but then again, our animals would seem really strange to us if the inhabitants of the other worlds could see them.  It does kind of make you wonder however why Heavenly Father shows His prophets these visions, it does not seem to have been terribly essential to Ezekiel's salvation that I can tell.  Perhaps Heavenly Father just wanted to show Ezekiel something he would appreciate.  Like an artist displaying his artwork.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Heavenly Father Knows Who You Are

Today I read Ezekiel 9 where the righteous are marked and passed over when death comes.  It honestly reminded me quite a bit of the 10th plague of Egypt where the Israelites painted their door frames in blood for the passover and the destroying angel did not slay their children.  This type of chapter is a comfort to me, that I am known to my Heavenly Father and He knows of my desire to be righteous.  I knew that He knows me by name already, but it's always nice to be reminded!  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ezekiel is Shown the Wickedness of Israel

Today I read Ezekiel 8 where the Ezekiel is shown in vision the wickedness of the people of Judah.  It is interesting that Ezekiel would need to be shown.  Surely like Mormon he recognized the people being wicked and sinning on his own?  Perhaps this was just to help him learn even more conviction for the calling he had been given.  I do not envy those prophets that lived during this time, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Lehi.  Their lot was a tough one.  But they played well their part!  All I can hope to do is emulate them.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Jerusalem Will Be Destroyed Because of Idol Worship

Today I read Ezekiel 7 where the Lord tells Ezekiel about the destruction of Jerusalem and its inhabitants.  Part of the reason they were going to be destroyed is their fixation on idolatry.  I can understand that putting other gods before God is easy to do, we do it all the time here in modern times too, but what always baffles me is making idols.  Why would you care so much about worshiping a golden calf?  Or any other statue?  It sounds so lame and dumb to me personally.  Maybe because I was reared in the church so I know better.  Maybe it sounds really wonderful to other people, but I really can't imagine why.  It sounds so foreign to me.  Oh well, I don't have to worry about that in myself, I just have to make sure I am not putting other gods before Him.  And that I am focused on what I should be doing!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

God's Word WIll Be Fulfilled

Today I read Ezekiel 5 and 6 both about Israel being punished for their sins.  I liked a phrase that the Lord used in chapter 6, "and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them."  People sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that when the Lord has said something will happen, perhaps it won't.  Now, I am not speaking of when the prophets say that we need to repent or this will happen.  In those settings, if we repent we will absolutely avoid the calamity that the Lord caused to be prophesied.  However, people sometimes mistake the goodness of God as a carte blanche to sin and avoid His warnings.  Make no mistake about it, God does not want to punish us, anymore than we want to punish our children.  But He is God, which means He has to keep His word, or the universe would cease to exist.  So if we don't shape up when He gives us the opportunity to do so, then we will absolutely pay the price He warned us about.  God's word cannot pass away, and unless He retracts His word, which I can only think of two times that He has done that, we had better believe that what He is warning us about is going to happen.  Until tomorrow.