Friday, February 28, 2014

The Downfall of Nineveh is Prophesied

Today I read Nahum 2 and 3 which deal with the destruction of Nineveh.  I wondered while I was reading these chapters if Nahum was after Jonah, or before.  I would assume after since it seems this prophecy is not contingent upon them repenting, but rather is a given that it is going to happen.  It is always sad to read about the destruction of a people in the scriptures, even when I know it is justified.  Perhaps if we knew more about the atrocities they committed that would make it more easy to bear for me. 

For example I find no remorse in me for the city of Ammonihah in the Book of Mormon.  They burned the righteous women and children alive and cast out the men who believed Alma and Amulek.  I have no remorse in me for such people who would do this.  And part of me wants to believe it was only the men that were that wicked, but then I think of the ancient Romans and their Colosseum and the gladiators.  Women attended those games and cheered for blood to be spilled just like the men did. 

Sin is very infectious, including the most perverse and evil sins.  First we are offended, then we tolerate, and finally embrace.  We have to flee sin when it comes at us, no matter what, just like Joseph of Egypt did.  He saved his soul by refusing to sin, even if he suffered bodily for his righteous choice.  We need to choose what we want out of eternity and live our lives accordingly.  I know what I want and am living for it today and each day!  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nahum Tells of the Savior's Second Coming

Today I read Nahum 1 which is another book in the Old Testament that I have never read before.  Nahum talks about the Second Coming of Jesus in this chapter.  He talks about how the wicked will not be able to abide His coming and even the hills will burn with the heat of His coming.  When I was younger, I used to think that God would smite the earth with fire as a result of its wickedness.  Now however I understand that the fire is a natural result of the Savior's righteousness on the wicked, including the world.  Right now the world is in a telestial state, which cannot abide Jesus' righteousness.  Therefore it will be cleansed, just like a blacksmith would do with metal he is working with.  It will be purified by fire.  I had a mission companion that used to say tithing was fire insurance, because the scriptures state that if we pay our tithing, we would not be burned at his coming.  I think he was more right than he knew.  If we wish to survive in the Savior's presence, we need to be righteous and live as He does.  There is no other way.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Must Understand God in Order to Please Him

Today I read Micah 7 where Micah tells the Israelites that there are none of them that do good.  He tells them that the best of them are as a briar, or a thorn.  That may not seem so bad but when you compare a briar to a snake, you realize that it is like saying the prettiest dog of an ugly litter.  It reminds me of what we know of the middle ages.  None were on the earth except John the Beloved and the Three Nephite Disciples, that had the true Gospel.  As such, there were none that knew how to please God the right way because none had a correct understanding of His character.  Joseph Smith taught that in order to please Him, we have to have a correct understanding of who He is.  Otherwise, we will do the wrong things in an attempt to please Him.

Think of it this way.  A cat as a pet, thinks of his owner as a fellow cat.  Albeit a strange, very tall one, but still a fellow cat.  We know this because of the way that the cat treats his human.  When the cat is pleased, he purs, just like he did with his mother when he was satisfied to let her know he was happy and satisfied.  When he wants to bring his human a present, he brings something that would make him happy, a dead mouse, bird or other varmint.  The cat does not have a correct understanding of his human and so cannot properly please him.  Now, we understand the cat's intentions and shower him with love and praise but his gift does not truly please us.  Likewise, we might get praise from God and He might assist us if we are doing the best we can, but without a proper understanding of who He is, we cannot give Him good gifts that He finds truly acceptable and enjoyable.  We need to hold on to that knowledge and make sure we understand Him, otherwise, how can we become like Him?  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Israel is Ripened in Iniquity

Today I read Micah 6 where the Lord tells Israel of their sins and how they have failed Him.  The way all of the prophets seem to condemn the entire people of Israel, it actually makes me wonder if there were any righteous people at all.  I know in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities that were destroyed with them, there were not even 10 people found among them all that were righteous.  So knowing the nature of God, I would think that there were certainly righteous people among the Israelites or they would have been destroyed.

It is very similar to General Conference today.  The vast majority of the talks over the years are about repentance and forsaking sin.  But that does not mean that everyone listening needs to repent and falls into that category.  Far from it.  Heavenly Father has taught through His prophets that a society generally chooses what is right.  It is only when a society chooses wickedly that they are ripe for destruction.  So, obviously Israel falls into that category now that I think about it.  They were wiped out multiple times by other civilizations.  I suppose that means that they were ripened in iniquity and ready for destruction.  I would say that is really sad, but then I look at our own society, spiraling out of control all the while proclaiming how progressive we are, skipping merrily on our way to hell.  It can happen to anyone, any society at any time.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Birthplace of Jesus is Foretold

Today I read Micah 5 where among the normal rebukes for being wicked, the prophet testifies that the Savior will be born in Bethlehem.  It is interesting that with this information being available, more people did not flock to Bethlehem and live there.  I know there are several Latter-day Saint families that when they heard the new temple will be built in Independence, Missouri, they moved there so they can be ready to assist with the building of the new temple. 

Perhaps the knowledge wasn't known.  I know that it is easy to think of how things are today and impose those thoughts onto ancient times.  However, the ancient Israelites did not have the scriptures as we have them today.  I know they had some scriptures that were in the synagogue because the Savior read from Isaiah during worship in his home town.  But perhaps the writings of Micah was not available before the Savior's birth.  Whatever the reason, we know that by the time of the birth of the Savior, this knowledge was lost.  Even the priests of King Herod had to look it up when the Wise Men came to worship Jesus.  How sad that the 2nd most important event in the history of creation was forgotten by everyone who was around to witness it!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Control Yourself

Today I read Micah 4 which seems almost an exact copy of Isaiah 2.  It talks about the last days.  The part I am most interested in states that the people will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, or in other words, there will be peace among the people and no contention among anyone.  I really look forward to such a day.  I am very tired of contention and war and people not having their emotions under control. 

It is sad really how bad things are in this world and how out of control people are.  We have people killing total strangers because they don't know how to process their own emotions.  Some might have a chemical imbalance or a mental disability, but that is for God to decide how in control of their own faculties they are.  For the rest of us, we need to learn to temper our emotions and to do what is right.  It is not ok to let our emotions run wild and unchecked.  We don't allow our children to do it, so why should we allow our adults?  Get it together and be in control.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Do Not Preach for Gain

Today I read Micah 3 where the Lord condemns those that use their spiritual gifts for money.  Specifically those that preach for money.  Now, at first glance, one wonders how the vast majority of the world could miss this.  But when you read the chapter, it is not extremely clear that the Lord is talking about them specifically.  It is very easy to see how one could miss it.  Fortunately, the Book of Mormon clears up any misconception about this concept.  The Book of Mormon frequently condemns those who preach the word of God to get gain.  They call it priestcraft in the Book of Mormon.  Sadly, in this day and age, you can find it everywhere. 

I cannot think of any other religion beyond the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who receive no remuneration for their service to God.  Sadly, the world sees no challenge with this.  They do not seem to understand how a person would avoid preaching certain topics when their payment depends on their congregation being happy.  To me it is self evident, that to preach only that which would keep the people happy would make sense when they pay your bills and can fire you if they don't like what you have to say.  Such a person cannot be trusted to teach the true principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Rather, let us teach as the Lord has said, to preach for the betterment of all men, not for our own gain.  This is what Christ did before us.  Shouldn't we desire to emulate Him?  Until tomorrow.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Search for Truth, Not What We Want to Hear

Today I read Micah 2 and 2 thoughts occurred to me.  The first was "wo unto them that call evil good and good evil" and the second was about a conversation I had with my wife last night.  The more I read the Old Testament and see how people in every generation would ignore the truth and search out people who would tell them whatever they wanted to hear no matter what, the more I realize it is a shadow of today.

The reason there are so many instances in the Old Testament and so many chapters on the destruction of Israel because they would not listen, is because that is what we have going on today.  It happens in every generation.  Think about the people who go through doctor after doctor until they finally find one that will tell them what they want to hear.  They refuse to accept the truth even if it is coming from the mouth of two or three witnesses.  But the moment they hear what they want to hear, they believe it, even if it is just the one person saying it.  They ignore ALL the other people and focus on the one person, because it is the "truth" they want to hear and believe. 

It is really easy to fall into this trap, and we need to make sure that we are searching out truth and knowledge and not what we want to hear.  There will always be someone saying what we want to hear, but we need to put it to the test that God has given us.  Does it contradict the laws of God?  Are there more than one witness saying it?  Do we feel the Spirit when we hear it?  If the answer is yes, no, and no, then we need to be wary.  And of course we can always pray and ask God.  He will tell us if it is from Him or not.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Micah Tells of the Destruction of Jerusalem

Today I read Micah 1 where the Lord prophesies of the downfall of Samaria and Jerusalem due to their wickedness.  It is sad how apparently the Israelites forgot all about the law of witnesses.  How the word will be established from the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses.  Well, the Israelites had about 100 witnesses and still they did not believe.  What is it about pride that blinds us to the truth?  Why is it that when we are full of pride the truth only angers us and causes us to lose ourselves even more in our incorrect ways?  It is only when we humble ourselves, or are compelled to be humble that we can see clearly again and see the truth.  It is sad that it requires such strong intervention at times from the Lord.  Sad that we will not choose to be humble and not puffed up.  Only we can make the choice to be humble though.  If we will make the choice, life will be much better for us though.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jonah is Taught His True Purpose in Coming

Today I read Jonah 4 where Jonah gets angry with the Lord for sparing the city of Nineveh.  He thought that the Lord was going to destroy the city of Nineveh no matter what was done and so after the people repented, he grew upset that the Lord was not going to destroy the city.  The Lord explained to Jonah that the people were like cattle, meaning they had not been told the right way of doing things and so had to be led.  That was the purpose of Jonah coming, to teach them the right way of doing things.  The Lord loves all of His people and wants everyone to be righteous and happy.  That is why we have prophets, to tell us the will of the Lord.  To help us understand what will make us truly happy.  If we will but listen, we can have true joy in this life.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Example of a Righteous Leader

Today I read Jonah 3.  I have always liked this chapter because, to my knowledge, it is the only instance in all of the scriptures where an entire people repent.  The Lamanites during the mission of the sons of Mosiah is a close second, but this is the only one I know of where everyone does it.  And that is a really awesome thing.  So often in the scriptures we read about how the people refused to repent and ignored the prophet, or called them a false prophet.  But the people of Nineveh did not do that.  I believe that in large part, it was due to the example of their king. 

Mosiah taught the people in the Book of Mormon that a wicked king leads his people to do much iniquity.  The flip side of that coin though is that a righteous king leads people to do that which is right.  People look to the example of their leaders.  We can see that in the history of the United States of America.  When JFK told the country that they should not ask what the country can do for them, but rather what they can do for their country, people took it to heart.  Now that our leaders are saying we need to take care of the people, people are responding to that too.  Just like children emulate their parents, people emulate their leaders.  If you are in a position of authority, then you need to make sure you are on the ball because your every move will be scrutinized.  Make sure you are setting the right example.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Obedience of a Fish

Today I read Jonah 2 where Jonah repents and the fish spits him out on dry land.  Now some might look at this chapter as how wonderful it is that Jonah is repenting, well who wouldn't at this point?  I mean he is in the belly of a great fish, most likely a whale, with absolutely no hope of rescue and very long, painful death ahead of him.  Who wouldn't repent at this point?  There is nothing really significant about that.  What strikes me about the story rather is what the fish does.

The last verse of the chapter states that God spoke with the fish and then the fish vomited Jonah out of its stomach.  It doesn't say the Lord caused the fish to get sick or that the Lord compelled it, but rather the Lord spoke to the fish.  The phrasing of this verse suggests to me that the Lord had a conversation with the fish and then the fish made a conscious choice to obey what the Lord was asking it to do.  How intriguing that an animal would be more obedient than a man!  Jonah was given a command and ran away.  A fish was given a command and obeyed without question.  We could certainly learn a lot from the example of our non-human roommates on this planet!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jonah Runs From His Responsibility

Today I read Jonah 1.  Like most little boys, I was always fascinated by the story of Jonah.  How awesome to a little boy is the story that someone gets swallowed by a fish?  As a teenager in school, I was homeschooled for part of my highschool and my Mother used videos from a school out in Utah for one year.  I remember the teacher telling us that there was a story of a whaling crew where a man fell overboard and they could not find him so he was presumed dead.  A few days later they caught the whale they were hunting and as they were cutting it up, they noticed the stomach was moving around like something was alive in it.  They cut open the stomach and there was the missing crew member!  His hair was bleached white and his skin had several burn marks from the acid in the whale's stomach but he was very much alive.  I can't remember how long he was in there if it was only 3 days or more than 3 days but again, very fascinating.  Of course we can make the obvious reference to the Savior's death and resurrection in that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights.

However, the most amazing part of this story to me has to be the sailors.  They are very superstitious and cast lots to determine who is as fault.  However, when they discover that Jonah is the problem, Jonah tells them to cast him into the sea and the sea will be calmed.  However, to their everlasting credit, the men refuse to do so.  They don't want to kill poor Jonah.  They keep trying to make it to port so they can be safe, they don't want to kill Jonah, even if he is the reason for their current troubles.  That is amazing!  I don't think I am more impressed with another group of people in the entire bible.  I have always been intrigued with the sailors in this story and would really like to meet them one day and see how many of them converted once they heard the Gospel message.  I'll wager more than a couple.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Downfall of Edom is Prophesied

Today I read the book of Obadiah.  Obadiah, like so many before him, prophesies the downfall of a people, in this case the people of Edom.  Throughout history, or at least so we read in the scriptures, people have wanted to know the will of the Lord concerning them.  And yet, surprisingly, when they hear it, they reject it.  They call the prophet who is telling them the unhappy news, a false prophet.  Instead of changing their behavior to change their fate as the prophet tells them to do, they look for someone else to tell them that all is well and keep living as they see fit.  As if they know more than the Lord!  The brazenness of people never fails to astound me. 

About the only people who, as a whole, accept what the prophet tells them and changes their ways, are the people of Nineveh as recorded in the book of Jonah.  Everyone else in the scriptures seems to rationalize their sins by thinking that if God is upset with them, then there must be a problem with God.  I have honestly never understood how Satan managed to convince the world of that one.  It shows an utter lack of respect for God.  It is just one more reason that I am glad I found the church early and gained my testimony right away.  I was very lucky and I try very hard to not take my testimony for granted.  If only all people would do the same.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Israel is Scattered Like Leaven

Today I read Amos 9 where Amos is shown and told that Israel will be spread about among all nations.  It makes me wonder and as I was reading I had this though.  I think Israel was spread about in order to act as leaven.  Yeast is only a tiny part of the whole product in bread and bread products.  It is not very much but its effects are huge.  Perhaps Israel was scattered about the various countries of the world to act as yeast.  To be a tiny part of each country, but to have far reaching effects.  It would not surprise me if that were the reason.  Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways we know, and as such we don't always understand what He is trying to tell us.  The rest of the time though, He wants us to work it out in our minds and form our own conclusions.  I think this is one of those times and this is what I have come up with.  I invite each of you to do the same and ponder on this yourselves.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Apostasy is Prophesied

Today I read Amos 8 where the Lord tells Amos that He will send a famine of the word of God.  Or in other words, there would be an apostasy, which we know came to pass.  I have often wondered why it was necessary for there to be an apostasy.  Why couldn't the church have endured?  I know there is the obvious answer that God said it would happen so it had to happen, but why did God prophesy it?  Was it really so inevitable?  Looking back on everything now I see how it happened so slowly and gradually, line by line, piece by piece.  But with continuing revelation, couldn't the original apostles have held it together and made sure the church was strong?  There is the other aspect that the people of the world weren't ready.  It was a very different place back then.  Were the people of the world ready to go to the law of the Gospel?  I'm not sure.  I know that it is one of those things that I look forward to asking God about what I see Him.  I can't wait for all the knowledge of what really happened through out history.  It will be awesome!  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Amos is Called to be a Prophet

Today I read Amos 7 where Amos tells the story of how he was called to be a prophet.  It has always intrigued me that, at least in ancient times, the Lord picks those that the world would not consider worth their notice.  It really gives worth to the scripture that the Lord uses the weak things to confound the strong.  Amos said that he was a herdsman and a gatherer or fruit.  This seems to be a very common theme to use herdsmen and shepherds no doubt as another symbol as Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd and as His followers as His flock.  Even today if you study the lives of those who are our prophets and apostles you will find very ordinary men who were asked to be God's leaders here on the earth.  It gives me hope that if an ordinary man who wasn't even a full tithe payer for part of his life like Howard W. Hunter can become a prophet, then surely I can live the commandments and do all that is asked of me too.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Be Anxiously Engaged

Today I read Amos 6 which tells us woe to those that are complacent.  It actually says something a little different but that is the meaning I took away from the scripture.  When we get complacent, we let things slide, things that should not be left undone.  Things like scripture study, church attendance, temple attendance, family prayer and scripture study, family home evening and all the other things we all know we should be doing.  It is usually, for most people any way, only when we feel a sense of urgency that we do all these things.  Now the sense of urgency can come from a need in our life, desire, or just plain stubbornness to do what we know we should be doing.  But all three of those reasons either create a real, or an artificial sense of urgency.  And either one is better than saying all is well in Zion.  We need to be anxiously engaged, like the scriptures tell us.  That is when we will be most happy and most safe from sin and deviance.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Embrace That Which is Right

Today I read Amos 5 where the Lord admonishes the Israelites to seek out that which is good and right and to avoid doing the wrong things.  It never fails to amaze me how Satan has done such a good job of convincing the world that sin is fun.  Everywhere you look we are inundated with commercials of people doing that which is wrong and it seems like so much fun.  We have become convinced that sin is the right thing to do and that to not allow sin is a crime.  Just take a look at marriage for homosexuals.  We all know that homosexuality is a sin and yet Satan has managed to convince the vast majority of the country that if we don't allow them to live their lives as they see fit, we are bigots.  Satan has made us completely overlook that it is possible to love the person but condemn the act.  He is very good at what he does and he is extremely clever.  He makes his arguments seem so logical and right.  But deep down we all know what is really right.  Unless we have smothered the Light of Christ in each one of us, we know the right path for us to take.  We know that we should be standing up for what is right.  We can't fall into the trap of thinking that tolerance means acceptance.  It doesn't!  We need to embrace the right and cling to it.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ancient Israel Ignored the Signs from God

Today I read Amos 4 where the Lord points out the things He has done to the land of Israel because of their wickedness.  What is crazy to me is the fact that they don't repent, even after all of this.  If I saw rain all around me except on one particular field like the Lord says He did, I would start to wonder for sure.  It just amazes me how dense people can be.  And not just the ancient Israelites.  As we have stated in the past, people in this day and age overlook miracles that happen all around them.  They are there to be seen, but we are far more willing to write it off as coincidence in this day and age for some reason.  Does that mean that the people of ancient Israel would write it off as coincidence too?  That doesn't really seem like something the people of that time would do though.  From what I understand, the people of that day and age were very superstitious and always claiming something came from God.  But they did not repent, no matter what the Lord did to them.  Very sad indeed.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Lord's Patten for His People

Today I read Amos 3 where the Lord reveals His plan for communicating with His people.  He tells Amos that He does nothing until He has first told His prophets that it will happen.  Now, one of the things to remember about this prophecy, is that it does not have to be the current prophet He has told.  For example, the Lord tells Amos in a few more verses that there will be an apostasy later.  Amos lived hundreds of  years before the apostasy actually happened though.  So just because He has not told His current prophet to remind the people about it, does not mean the Lord has broken His pattern and done something without telling His prophets.  The Lord is constant and unchanging.  His word must be fulfilled and so if He says He will only do something after telling His prophets about it, you can be assured that is the way it is going to happen.  It is a great comfort knowing the Lord will never deceive us and will always follow His pattern.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Lord Will Have a Righteous People

Today I read Amos 2 where the Lord reminds the Israelites that while they are His chosen people, that does not give them license to do all sorts of evil and get away with it.  The Lord reminds them that the land was another people's before it was theirs and that the Lord will not always suffer the unrighteous to people His land and continue to sin.  Even though it is not the promised land, the land of Israel was promised to the Israelites and the Lord cleansed it of those who were there before them.  the Lord does not love the Israelites more than He does others, but because they were more righteous, to begin with, He allowed them to live there, to fulfill the promise He made to their fathers.  It is a great reminder for all of us.  We will not always have His Spirit to dwell with us if we do that which is wrong in His sight.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Amos Preached Destruction of the Wicked

Today I read Amos 1 where the Lord talks about the things He will do to the enemies of Israel.  I wonder if the people of Israel need constant reminders and that is why so many of the prophets focus on these things.  I understand that the prophets just tell the people what the Lord tells them to say, but it just makes me wonder why the Lord keeps reminding His people that He will punish the wicked?  You would think that the righteous would get the message and do what is right no matter what.  And the wicked?  Well I guess it would be very interesting to see the numbers surrounding what percentage of people actually repent after being told that they will be punished over and over again.  We know the Lord never does anything without a reason, so we can at least be assured that there is a purpose behind it.  We just need to find it so we can apply it to our own lives.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Joel Prophesies about the Second Coming

Today I read Joel 2 and 3 where Joel talks about the prophecies of the last days.  These last two chapters reminded me a lot of the Book of Mormon, specifically the books of Enos, Jarom and Omni.  How they did not write a lot, but the things they did write were of great importance.  The same could be said of Joel.  He did not write much, but what he did write is of great significance to those who are faithful and watch the signs of the times carefully.  All Latter-day Saints should watch for the coming of Christ, but since we don't know when He will be returning, we need to make sure that we do what is right always and live the commandments as if He were coming today.  That is the only true way to ensure we are worthy to greet Him on His return.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Joel Prophsies Times of Want

Today I read Joel 1 and I'm not quite sure what I read to be honest.  He talked alot about plagues and destruction, but I did not understand through the reading why all of this was coming to pass except that it said the day of the Almighty is at hand.  If this is describing the times as they lead up to the Second Coming, I really don't want to be around for it.  It sounds quite awful.  However, I do not think it is in reference to the Second Coming.  I can't tell you why I feel that way, but it is just the impression I get as I was reading.  I think it is referring to another time.  I hope the rest of the book of Joel is easier to understand.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ephraim Returns to God

Today I read Hosea 12 and 13 which continues expounding on the many sins of Ephraim and why he is being punished.  In chapter 13 it states that Ephraim will eventually forsake his ways and return to the Lord.  We are seeing that fulfillment now.  The Saints of Zion are turning to the Lord and being righteous.  Even though we are seeing an unprecedented amount of filth and degeneracy in our world, we are also seeing people turn to the Lord and doing what is right in waves.  We are like a lighthouse against the storm.  The winds howl and the sea rages, but we stand strong and true as beacons of light to the world.  Guiding lost souls back to safe harbors.  That is our purpose in the last days.  That is how we can best serve God in these troubling times.  Stand tall and be true.  Until tomorrow.