Monday, March 31, 2014

A Kindred Spirit

Today I read 1 Nephi 6 and I have to say, I feel a certain kinship with Nephi.  He states in this chapter that he writes with the intent to persuade men to come unto God, and that is the exact reason I have this blog also.  I started this blog almost 4 years ago now because of an article I read in the Ensign about using technology for good and for the purpose of spreading the Gospel.  So I started this blog hoping to be an instrument in God’s hands to help some few people who might be searching come unto Him. 

I am always thrilled to read my readers comments and I especially love it when someone tells me it has helped them or that they have been searching for what I wrote.  It has only happened 3 maybe 4 times or so, the rest of the comments are either thanking me for writing or sharing their own perspective on the chapter I read for the day, which is also very nice.  But to know that I have helped someone get through a tough spot, that is a wonderful feeling.  I am glad to know that my blog has helped even one person.  I love being an instrument in His hands.  I hope that others will find their way here and will find the help they need too.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lehi Give Thanks

Today I read 1 Nephi 5 and I like how Lehi and his family gave thanks to the Lord.  It is so easy to ask the Lord for what we need and to keep asking and asking because we always need so much help.  However it is not as easy to thank the Lord for the blessing that we enjoy.  Everything comes from Him, this earth we live on, our family all of our blessings.  Even if what we enjoy is the result of our own hard work, we still owe Him for our good health and for creating us in the first place.  We are, on the whole, an ungrateful people.  We need to do better about giving thanks for what we have.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nephi is Led by the Spirit

Today I read 1 Nephi 4 and I was interested in verse 6 where it says he was led by the Spirit.  Prior to today I had always assumed that Nephi meant that literally.  For example that he was walking along and the Spirit told him to turn left, etc.  However, today I don’t think that is the case.  The rest of the verse is very telling stating that he did not know before hand the things he would do.  I think Nephi was walking straight to Laban’s house but he did not know what he would say or do when he got there.  That is what I think he meant by being led by the Spirit.

I remember many times when I was a missionary I would be asked a question and would have no question how to answer it.  I would open my mouth and start talking, generally empathizing with the investigator or member I was speaking with and while I would be talking, I would suddenly know what I should say and what was the right thing for me to speak in order to help them.  This is what I think Nephi meant when he said he was led by the Spirit.  Perhaps I am mistaken though and Nephi really was told by the Spirit exactly where to go, but I don’t think so since the very next verse states that as he approached Laban’s house he saw Laban on the ground.  Nephi was absolutely full of the Spirit and knew how to rely on the Lord.  We can all take a good lesson from him in how we should act, especially when we have been given a direct order from the Lord.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Character of Laban

Today I read 1 Nephi 3, the very well known story of Nephi attempting to get the Brass Plates.  I have often wondered why Laban, clearly a wicked man, was so attached to the Brass Plates?  I mean he accuses Laman of being a robber and throws him out of his house, then he sends his servants to kill Nephi and his brothers when he sees their wealth.  So he is clearly not a man of God, so why was he so attached to the record?  Could it just have been petty pride?  The old I have something you want so I’m not going to give it to you act?  Or was there something else attached to it?

I really don’t have the answer and it makes me wonder about Laban and what he thought about the Brass Plates and the genealogy of his fathers.  Was he concerned about where he came from?  I doubt it.  Maybe his heart was hardened just to help Nephi rely upon the Lord and trust in him.  To teach him how to be more spiritual.  I think it certainly helped Nephi for sure, but was that really the reason?  I don’t know.  I do know that Nephi was very resilient and did not give up on the commandment the Lord had given him.  He gives us a great example to follow.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nephi's Heart is Softened

Today I read 1 Nephi 2 and I was struck by something Nephi says.  In verse Nephi states that he prayed to the Lord and the Lord softened his heart so that he did not rebel against his father.  However, why would he need to pray to soften his heart unless he was upset to begin with?  I have never noticed this before but I think Nephi was a little upset with Lehi about having to leave Jerusalem and his possessions.  It would make sense if he was upset by it, at least at first.  I mean he was a teenager.  How many of us when we were 13 – 19 years old would take kindly to our father waking us up at night saying we have to leave now and to take nothing but some clothing?  Not many I am guessing.  However, when faced with unhappy circumstances like this, we can either pray and try and come to terms with it as Nephi did, or just rebel against it and grumble all the way like Laman and Lemuel did.  I still find it interesting though that Nephi had to pray to soften his heart.  It’s not something we often think of about Nephi.

I also wondered why he included that he was large in stature.  What does that matter to us at this point in his history?  I understand why he included that he was very young, but why large in stature?  I understand that he was good at making things with his hands, which we learn in later chapters, but again, it just doesn’t make sense to me.  Maybe however it was just as simple as giving us a description of himself, so we would feel closer to him?  That would make sense.  I’ll just have to ask him some day.  Until tomorrow.

Lehi Prays on Behalf of His People

Today I read 1 Nephi 1 and I was impressed with something I have never noticed about this chapter before.  I noticed that the reason Lehi saw his vision in the first place, is because he was praying for the welfare of his fellow Jews.  Much like Enos, his grandson would do almost 100 years later, Lehi was concerned for the people of his acquaintance and was concerned about the wickedness he saw.

I have never noticed this before.  I always thought that Lehi was just praying and the Lord chose him as a prophet and so he saw his vision.  But that is not the way it happened at all.  The Lord heard Lehi's prayers, knew that he was concerned about the welfare of his fellow people and decided to share with him what would happen to them if they did not repent.  I wonder if this was Lehi's first vision?  Had he seen any visions before this one?  We are not told because the record that Lehi kept was lost by Martin Harris when his wife stole it.  Whether he had a vision prior to this or not, I have a new respect for Lehi knowing that his vision came as a result of his praying on the behalf of his fellow people.  He was a great man indeed!  Until tomorrow.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Righteous Need Not Fear His Coming

Today I read Malachi 4 which is normally famous for its verses on family history, temple work and coming of Elijah.  However, I was actually struck by verse 2.  In verse 1 it talks about how the wicked will burn up as stubble when the Lord comes again.  But in verse 2 it actually speaks to the righteous.  It says that those who fear His name, the Son of Righteousness will rise up with healing in His wings.  We always think about all the wicked who will perish when the Lord comes again.  But it is a day of joy and gladness for those that love the Lord and keep His commandments. 

When we rely upon the Lord, we have a much grander view of the world.  We understand that this life is temporary and if we suffer in this life, that is ok.  If we endure it well, it will be to our benefit.  However, there are of course wicked perversions that are done by the evil of the world and while even those are to our benefit, they are not trials given to us by God to make us stronger.  Unfortunately with agency comes abuse.  There are plenty of wicked people in the world who abuse their sacred gift of agency and do that which is wicked and wrong in the sight of God.  I still don't know how God handles seeing it.  That is why I am not God, I couldn't stop myself from wiping such evil from off the face of the earth.  I need to learn temperance I guess.

Well, this is the last chapter in the Old Testament and so my nearly 4 year journey of recording my impressions as I read the scriptures comes to a conclusion.  I have read the entire standard works, something I have never done before.  I have read the Book of Mormon many times, but I have never read the Bible cover to cover.  I am going to start reading the Book of Mormon again tomorrow and I will continue to record my impressions and my thoughts.  It will be interesting to see how different they are from 4 years ago.  It has been a marvelous journey and a wonderful experience.  Thanks to all who have read and commented.  Even though I have not commented back, I have really enjoyed knowing that there are some who read what I have to say and that it has helped some people.  I hope it will continue to be a positive influence in the lives of others and will be an instrument for God to use in furthering His work.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Through the Refiners Fire

Today I read Malachi 3 which is famous for its verses on tithing.  However another part interested me as I was reading it today.  I liked the part about the Lord refining Israel like He refines silver.  I read a story once awhile ago where some women who read the scriptures together wondered just what a silver refiner does.  So one of them found a metal worker and asked about the refining process of silver. 

She was told that silver is a very delicate metal and that when the refiner wants to burn out the impurities he has to watch it the entire time because it is very easy to ruin the metal if it is in the fire for too long.  She then asked the metal worker how he knew the silver was done.  Supposedly the worker smiled and said that he knew because he could see his reflection in the metal.  Knowing these things it is easy to see why the Lord uses this analogy.  I truly believe that when the Lord gives us trials to help us grow, He watches us to make sure if we need His help He is there for us.  And the part about seeing His reflection in us, well that is easy enough to understand. 

When we are going through our trials it can be very easy to lose sight of the goal and to get bogged down in the trial of the moment.  But it is wonderful to know that there is a plan and that God is looking out for us.  We are never alone.  The poem "Footprints in the Sand" is a wonderful poem that gives a good example of this principle.  When we rely on the Lord, He is always there for us!  We came here to grow and we can only do that through our trials and so He cannot protect us from everything, but He can help us and remind us that it is worth it and for a purpose.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

We Have Wearied the Lord

Today I read Malachi 2 where the Lord tells Israel that they have wearied Him with their words.  They ask the prophets how they have done this and the Lord gives an interesting answer.  He states that they have wearied Him by calling those that do evil, good.  I have never thought of it before, but it makes perfect sense now that I have read it, that it would offend God that we would lie and speak falsehoods and propagate incorrect doctrine.  I wonder why I have never thought of it before now?  Not only are we causing the Savior to suffer more because of the Atonement and Him taking on all our sins, but also we are offending God by speaking such lies.  It gives me much to think on and has caused me to rethink my entertainment and what I classify as "good".  Until tomorrow.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Israel Perverts the Lord's Sacrifice

Today I read Malachi 1 and the Lord is not pleased with Israel at all.  In this chapter He lists out their perversions and how they are sacrificing impure animals to Him on the altar and giving Him moldy bread in their offerings.  What a slap in the face!  I can't believe anyone would think that is ok.  I can't even think of a good analogy to express how terrible that is.  It reminds me of poor Nephi and all the talks he had to have with his older brothers and how they kept screwing up anyway.  The Israelites are a very real type and shadow of the rest of the world.  People are always repenting and doing better for a little while, then letting certain things slip and then finally stopping any pretense of doing what is right all together, then repenting when they need the Lord's help and it starts all over again.  President Ezra Taft Benson called it the pride cycle.  It is really easy to pick on the Israelites and marvel at their lack of faithfulness, but lets be honest with ourselves, is our society any better?

I recently read a poll that someone did, I'm not sure of how many people, that asked people if they thought Jesus would be pleased with modern day Christianity.  Over 80% of the people polled said
"no" He would not be pleased.  And yet, we do nothing about it.  Some search for the truth.  Some wonder and ask questions that most religions can't answer.  But the vast majority don't seem to care.  They continue on in their hedonistic lifestyle and search for the next thrill.  The next shiny object to capture their attention.  They have no purpose in life beyond getting through the next day.  And what is worse is that most of them sacrifice the most precious thing in their lives, their families, for a mess of pottage.  It makes me sad and I have purposefully chosen a career where I can keep my family first and most important in my life.  Because they are the reason I go to work, to care for them and make sure they have enough for their needs and some wants.  They are the most important thing in my life and always will be.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Mount of Olives Will Cleave in Two

Today I read Zechariah 14 which contains several more prophecies of the Second Coming of Jesus.  Among all the prophecies there are few that I find more fascinating than these, that the Mount of Olives will split in half and physically move when the Savior puts His feet down upon it.  Just the imagery of such an event is fascinating to me.  Now, it is probably nothing like I imagine it to be in my mind, but still, to see a mountain move, in all the recorded scriptures there are only two men who have ever accomplished such a feat, Enoch and the Brother of Jared.  There may be others, but these are the two that are recorded in the scriptures. 

I also find it interesting about the living waters, or the spring of water that is to break through underneath the new temple to be built in Jerusalem and will heal the dead sea.  I don't know what it is, just everything about the prophecies concerning Jerusalem at the time of Jesus' second coming is fascinating to me.  But I have always been a fan of the magical and out of the ordinary.  Perhaps that explains it.  I certainly believe it will all happen, I just think it will be interesting to see is all.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Israel Will Be Redeemed Eventually

Today I read Zechariah 12 and 13 which both have to do with the Second Coming of the Savior.  It is interesting to me just how many of the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets have to do with the Second Coming of Christ.  I personally think that is because they also have to do with the redemption of Israel, a topic they were extremely concerned about.  And I can't say I really blame them at all, because if you think about it, if we were told that our descendants would fall into apostasy and become degenerates and regress in technology and start behaving like brutes, wouldn't that cause most of us some anguish?  But if we were then told that it was only temporary and that at some point, they would be redeemed and would become a good and delight some people again, I think that would give us all some hope and we would much rather focus on that for sure. 

I know just from reading the Book of Mormon that Nephi was extremely upset that his posterity, people he would never know personally, fell away from the truth.  So upset in fact that it caused him literal anguish.  I'm glad the Lord let His prophets know there was hope and that Israel would be redeemed.  It was a very merciful thing to do.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Lord Will Not Protect The Unrighteous Forever

Today I read Zechariah 11 and first I have to say that I never realized before today that there were prophecies about Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus and casting the 30 pieces of silver down.  I wonder if Judas knew about the prophecy?  Somehow I doubt it.  That interesting bit aside, the part I found interesting today was when the Lord told Israel that He would no longer deliver them.  It made me wonder if the Jews fell into the same trap as the Nephites did, of thinking that all their great military victories were the result of their own strength and planning. 

Did they, like the Nephites, really believe that they were so strong and learned in the art of war?  Or did they recognize the Lord's hand in preserving them?  Surely they knew, as did the Nephites, that the Lord had won their battles anciently such as the battle of Jericho, but did they lose sight of who they were and think they were so different from their ancestors that they no longer needed God?  Of course I do not have the answers to these questions, but I suspect that the Israelites too forgot their God and did not recognize His hand in their salvation.  Just like our society is losing sight of our own roots and instead leaning on the arm of flesh to save us.  We will find out all too soon how the Lord was preserving us just as He always has those who obey Him.  And it will be a sad day indeed when that happens.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Lord Will Scatter Judah and Joseph

Today I read Zechariah 10 where the Lord tells Israel that He will scatter Judah and Joseph among the nations of the earth to preserve them.  I'm sure that most of the Israelites of the day and their descendants, did not view being scattered among the nations of the earth as a preserving technique, but it most certainly was.  The other 10 tribes of Israel disappeared from history.  They have not been heard from again.  They are lost.  However, the tribe of Judah was never lost, they have been here since the fall of Jerusalem.  And the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, or the tribe of Joseph, were never lost either but rather were preserved for a special purpose in God.  I am sure that it did not feel like a tender mercy when God scattered them, but the alternative is not very pleasant to think about.  God always does things for a reason, even if we can't understand the reason.  The best thing to do is to trust in Him and believe in Him that it is for our benefit.  If we do that, we will never go astray.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Prophecies of the Savior

Today I read Zechariah 9 where the Lord speaks of His triumph over evil.  It is a shame that the Israelites did not understand the scriptures that they had.  I sometimes wonder if they read them personally or like the people during the middle ages, if they relied upon their priests to teach them the word of God.  Either way, they did not understand the scriptures and the prophecies of the Savior's coming. 

Some of them did.  For example in this chapter we read that the Savior will ride into Jerusalem on a colt.  This was fulfilled on palm Sunday, and most of the Jews in Jerusalem that day recognized Him for what He was, their Savior.  However, they still did not understand His mission at the time.  They assumed that He was going to throw off the rule of the Romans.  They did not understand that the sins of the world and the evil of the world had to be overcome.  They did not understand that their spirits were in far worse jeopardy than their physical tabernacles ever were.  If they had only understood, what would the result have been?  Of course I am speculating on what never could have been.  The Savior had to be betrayed and crucified by His people to fulfill the prophecies.  So even if more people had recognized Him, it would not have turned out any differently, it could not have.  Still, it is fun to speculate and wonder.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Evil Before the Millennium

Today I read Zechariah 8 which tells of the redemption of Israel and the rebuilding of Jerusalem in the last days.  My favorite verse in this chapter was actually the very last one where it says in the last days that people will grab hold of the Jews and state that they know God is with them.  It reminds me a lot of the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the last days.  The more I read about them, the less I want to be around for them.  However, it will also be a wonderful time because it will be when the Savior ushers in a new era of peace and prosperity.  A time when the devil will be captive and none will give ear to his whisperings.  But for every spiritual experience that occurs there is an equal temptation.  So for us to have the ultimate spiritual experience, we have to have the ultimate lack of spirit either before or after.  There must be opposites in everything.  So we have to pass through the evil to get to the good in this case.  But it will definitely be worth it.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Have Compassion on Your Fellow Man

Today I read Zechariah 7 where the Lord reproves Israel for not caring for one another.  I remember the first time I learned that the sin for which Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed was actually because they forsook the poor and did not care for one another.  I found it really hard to accept at first.  We are all taught that they were destroyed for their sexual sins, which were quite heinous to be sure, but the Lord ultimately destroyed them due to their lack of compassion on the poor and the afflicted.  Here Heavenly Father is reproving the Israelites for the same thing.

When we ignore those of our own society, it says something about our priorities.  When we don't even have compassion on those people we see on a consistent basis, we are absolutely full of iniquity.  If we are so far gone that we are without love for our fellow man, we need to repent.  Zion is having no poor among you because you are of one heart and one mind.  You care for your neighbor as you care for yourself.  That is how the scriptures describe the city of Enoch.  That is how heaven will be.  If we hope to live with God one day, we need to care for others the way He cares for them.  And it starts today.  Repent if you need to, otherwise increase your efforts and do more.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Jesus is the Savior, a Reminder

Today I read Zechariah 5 and 6.  I went on to chapter 6 because honestly I could not make any sense out of chapter 5 at all.  I read it twice and it did not make any more sense to me the second time than it did the first time.  In chapter 6 Zechariah sees a vision of the Savior and is told that the Savior will reign forever.  Now, on the surface this might not seem like something big and noteworthy, however I think we all will agree that it is something everyone in the world needs to be reminded of, because I don't think too many people understand it any more.  They are too caught up in the things of the world and don't understand that Jesus is the Christ.  His word is law and the elements obey Him.  They are a lot more obedient than we are as a whole I might add!  When we stop and purposefully recognize Him as our Savior and our leader, we will be a lot better off.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Mysterious Vision

Today I read Zechariah 4 which is another vision that Zechariah sees.  I honestly did not gain anything from this chapter.  Although the last verse does intrigue me.  I am not sure what he means by the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the world.  Now, I have heard in the past, and I cannot remember where I have heard this, that the first presidency of the church of Christ on the earth are Jesus, Adam and Noah.  I think that is one of the statements that Joseph Smith made once.  But I honestly wonder if it means what we think it means?  I'm not sure.  Much like the scriptures themselves, I think that statements made by the Lord's anointed ones can have multiple meanings.  However the two anointed ones are that Zechariah saw in his vision, I'm sure they are good and righteous men who have fought the good fight.  Beyond that, I don't really need to know who they are.  It is not important to my salvation.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Satan is Real

Today I read Zechariah 3 where Zechariah sees in vision where the Lord rebukes Satan.  It is a scary thought to think that Satan is a very real person and knows us personally and how to tempt us so we will falter.  I think of Joseph Smith's experience right before he had the first vision where he was physically attacked by Satan and Joseph had no relief at all until the Savior and Heavenly Father appeared.  Satan is very real and he hates us with a passion.  His one desire is to see us fail and to have us lose our glory.  If we give in to his temptations and settle for worldly pleasures, that is exactly what we will be doing too.  We owe it to ourselves not to give up or falter.  If we want to be the best that we can be, we need to stand strong and cast him out as Jesus did before us.  We have a great example in Moses.  He cast out the devil using the power of the Savior and we can do the same when we are confronted with him.  Don't give up your birthright for the filth of the world.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, March 10, 2014

God Protects Those that Serve Him

Today I read Zechariah 2 where the Lord shows Zechariah a vision of Jerusalem and promises to be its protection if Judah will but serve Him.  My dad and I have a debate that we have talked about off and on for years now about where a country that truly serves God needs a standing army.  He says we do not, that we need to put our faith in God and He will fight our battles for us like He did with the city of Enoch.  I say we do need a standing army because God steps in after all we can do.  The Nephites always had an army, the battles the Israelites had always had an army which the Lord upheld in order to keep them safe.  Neither one has been able to convince the other and the worst part is, there is amble evidence to support both sides. 

The one thing that we both agree on though, is that the Lord protects the righteous.  I have talked extensively in the past about Heavenly Father protecting those who keep His commandments.  How I have miraculously survived experiences that would have maimed if not killed me.  Even my non-LDS friends always attributed this to righteous living.  And rightly so.  The scriptures are replete with examples of God protecting the righteous.  So whether God requires us to have an army to protect our countries or not, the one thing we all can agree on, is that the best way to convince God to step in and help in times of need, is to live His commandments!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

They Wander the Earth To and Fro

Today I read Zechariah 1 where the Lord shows Zechariah that Jerusalem will be rebuilt.  But the part that got me thinking was a phrase found in verse 10 and 11.  Zechariah was shown a vision of some trees which he was told represent angels that the Lord has put on the earth to wander to and fro.  I had never thought before if there were angels always on the earth, but it does make sense.  It was either Joseph Smith or Brigham Young who said that the Saints had entertained angels unawares.  I wonder if I have ever met any angels in my time here on the earth without knowing it? 

Now that I think on it, there was an instance in college where I was walking down some stairs and seated under the stairs was a man I had never seen before, but as I was walking away he distinctly said, "Hi Fred".  I turned and waved and said hello to be polite, but to this day I have no idea who he was.  I had never seen him before or since.  Was he an angel, probably not.  But it's fun to think on such things and try and add some mystery to strange events.  All will be revealed in time and then I will know if I have entertained angels unawares.  Until tomorrow.