Monday, April 27, 2015

People Made Clean Through Faith - An Incomplete Statement

Today I read 1 Nephi 12 and I was struck by something the angel said.  He tells Nephi that the garments of his people are made white through their faith in Jesus Christ.  It is interesting to me because the purpose of faith is to lead people to action, specifically to repent and be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  So it is interesting to me that the angel would tell Nephi that his people are made clean through their faith when that is incomplete.  What the angel is implying is that Nephi's people took the other 3 necessary steps in order to be made clean and pure through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I had never noticed before how this verse, verse 11, is written this way.  I wonder how many other implications are in the scriptures that I have just glanced over throughout the years?  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nephi is Perhaps the Only Person Besides John the Baptist to have Seen the Holy Ghost

Today I read 1 Nephi 11.  As I was reading I had a thought.  As best as I can recall, Nephi is the only person in the history of the world that has seen the physical appearance of the Spirit or the Holy Ghost.  There may have been others, but they are not recorded.  Millions and billions have felt His influence, but aside from John the Baptist seeing the Holy Ghost in the sign of the dove after he baptized the Savior, Nephi is the only person in the recorded scriptures that records he saw the Holy Ghost.  There have been a few people throughout history that have seen God the Father, Stephen when he was stoned, Joseph Smith at the First Vision to name two, and the appearances of the Savior are littered throughout the scriptures, angels appeared until thousands, but never the Holy Ghost.  I had never noticed that before when reading this chapter.  What a singular experience!  Truly something worth noting.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Lord Does Not Change

Today I read 1 Nephi 10 where Lehi prophesies to his children about the people in Jerusalem.  What struck me though was the last few verses where Nephi reminds us that the Lord does not change nor does He change His pattern.  He will always use the same pattern to communicate with His people.  It is only us people that change and that are tricked by the evil one into believing that He changes and what He did in the past is no longer what He does now.  I am reminded of Moroni who states that if miracles have ceased it is only because we have ceased believing in them.  The Lord will always try and help us, we just have to let Him.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Trust in the Lord

Today I read 1 Nephi 9 and it is refreshing to see how Nephi has such perfect faith in the Lord.  He freely admits that he doesn't know why the Lord commanded him to make a separate set of plates, but he knows it is for a wise purpose.  Nephi understands that the Lord doesn't just give strange commandments without a plan in place.  Sometimes it can be hard to remember that, especially if we are commanded to do something that makes no sense to us.  But like Nephi, I know that the Lord has a purpose for everything He does and if we will just have the faith to believe in Him, we will be better because of it.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sometimes We Just Have to Follow the Savior and Not Know Where We are Going

Today I read 1 Nephi 8 which is Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life.  A couple of things stood out to me as I read this chapter today.  The first was that when Lehi found himself in the dreary waste he saw a figure in a white robe that bade him follow.  But even though he was following the Savior, he was still shrouded in darkness.  This really hit home to me today as I am trying to make a very important life decision with my family that will literally change the course of our lives.  And like most decisions, I cannot see the end from where I stand.  I have to have faith that while I follow the Savior and involve Him in my decision making, He will guide me to the right place.  Just like with Lehi, even though he was doing the right thing by following the Savior, he still didn't see more than a few steps in front of himself.  Sometimes we have to put it all aside and just trust in the Lord that He will guide us when we allow Him to lead us. 

The second thought I had was, what is the purpose of this vision that Lehi was given?  In the book of 1 Nephi until this point, every vision that Lehi had been given was either for the direct benefit of his family, such as going to get the brass plates and getting Ishmael's family, or for the benefit of those around him such as the commandment to preach to the people at Jerusalem.  But this vision, did it really benefit his family?  Or was it entirely for our benefit in the latter days?  I'm not sure.  It is very possible that Nephi and his people studied this vision as part of their scripture reading during their day, but it is just as possible that this vision was given to Lehi for one purpose only; so that we would have it in the Book of Mormon for OUR benefit in this time.  It's one of those questions I will have to put on the back shelf until I meet the Savior face to face and can ask Him.  But I do know that we do have it now and it would benefit us greatly to study it and to learn the lessons we can from it.  Otherwise, the condemnation is on our heads.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nephi Has True Charity for His Brothers

Today I read 1 Nephi 7 and as I was reading it, some things stood out to me.  For example, this chapter was an argument between Nephi, his brothers, two of the sons of Ishmael and two of the daughters of Ishmael who wanted to return to Jerusalem.  I can't help but wonder what the other family members were doing during this?  Especially once it came to physical violence.  Were they so cowed by Laman and Lemuel that they were too afraid to come to Nephi's aid?  I can imagine they very well might have been.  It is difficult to intervene in some one else's argument.

I can also feel the love Nephi has for his brothers in this chapter.  How easy would it have been to allow Laman, Lemuel and those who wanted to go, to just return to Jerusalem?  It's not as if they were trying to stop Nephi and the others from journeying into the wilderness, at least not that we are told.  But Nephi loved his brothers enough that he did not want to see them get killed.  So he risked their wrath and violence, yet again, to try and talk some sense into them. 

I can empathize with Nephi quite a bit in this chapter.  I love my brothers and my sister.  I personally think that family is the most important thing in this life.  I could not just stand by and let them walk off a cliff that they were not aware of either.  Despite his temper, Nephi's love for his family was so overwhelming that even after trying to kill him, sort of, he still reaches out to them in love and tries to help them see the folly of their course of action.  That is true charity.  That is doing good to those that hate you and spitefully use you.  It is no wonder that when Mormon read the small plates he was pleased with what he found and saw no need to add anything to them.  We can learn so much from Nephi!  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nephi Writes the Things of God

Today I read 1 Nephi 6 where Nephi states that he does not write the things that would be pleasing unto the world but rather the things that are pleasing unto God.  Ever since I was little, I have loved Joseph Smith and been fascinated by his life.  I have also tried very hard to learn the lessons his life can teach us.  One of the most profound lessons his life teaches us is to fear God more than man, as he learned the hard way with the lost 116 pages he loaned to Martin Harris against the wishes of Heavenly Father.

Heavenly Father has told us many times that His ways are not our ways.  He understands that the world is very different from the way He lives His life and has tried to tell us that.  In this chapter, Nephi is displaying his understanding of that principle.  He knows that what the world wants and what God wants are different.  He knows that the things that are important to God are not the same things that will be important to mankind.  I am very grateful that God has provided us the scriptures and that we have them to understand His will concerning us.  Without them, we would be a very lost society.  I am also grateful that Nephi feared God and obeyed Him.  Without Nephi's diligence in keeping the commandments of God, we would not have the scriptures we do today.  Thank goodness for prophets that obey the word of God and help keep us on the strait and narrow path to righteousness.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Do We Treasure the Scriptures Like We Should?

Today I read 1 Nephi 5 and it got me thinking, what must it have been like to live in a world without access to the scriptures?  I can hardly even fathom such a world as that, but truth be told, for most of the history of Christian churches, the general population did not have direct access to the scriptures.  And it seems like in Nephi's time it was also true that the general public did not have access to the scriptures whenever they wanted.  Knowing this makes me feel really bad that I don't treasure my scriptures more, that I take for granted that I have 2 sets of scriptures in the house for me, 2 for my wife and the standard works on my phone and my tablet.  I know I should do a much better job of searching the scriptures and treasuring them up in my heart and in my mind.  It is something I will work on for sure.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Nephi's Feelings Towards Laban and Zoram's Feelings Towards God

Today I read 1 Nephi 4 and as I was reading a couple of things occurred to me.  The first one is that Nephi seemed to bear no malice towards Laban.  Granted he is writing this record a minimum of 8 years after the events actually happened so maybe he is just leaving that part out, but we know from his own words, that Nephi had a problem with his temper and getting angry at his enemies.  So it is interesting that in his words he seems to bear no hard feelings towards Laban at all, despite the fact that he had not only been an obstacle in fulfilling the commandments of the Lord, but also that Laban had tried to murder him and his brothers!
Now, would that justify in Nephi's heart murder?  Absolutely not!  Nephi  is a kind hearted man that abhorred blood shed so I can completely understand how he would still balk at being asked to kill a man, even a man like Laban who he knew to be a murderer.  It is just strange that Nephi doesn't seem to have any hard feelings about his treatment at the hands of Laban.
The other thought that occurred to me, and again this could just be the way that it is written, is that Zoram did not agree to going with Nephi and his brethren until after Nephi explained that it was a commandment from the Lord.  Nephi first tells Zoram that if he were to come with them, that Zoram would be a free man.  I can only assume that Nephi further ups the ante if you will because that wasn't enough to convince Zoram, by saying that Nephi and his brethren had been commanded by God to retrieve the records and take them to their father in the wilderness.  It is only after hearing that all that Nephi did was at the command of God, that Zoram gives his promise to go with them.

I have commented before that Zoram really does not get enough credit but I today I have to wonder even more about the character of this man that we really know next to nothing about.  We know he was a God fearing man and a true friend to Nephi and that he was a servant to Laban and not a free man.  And that's really about all we know.  I think when we meet him, we will find a very humble, righteous servant of God.  Much like Sam, Nephi's brother.  It's often the unsung heroes of life that are the most worthy of our emulation.  And I think that Zoram falls into that category nicely!  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nephi's Brother Follow Him

Today I read 1 Nephi 3 and it is interesting to me that as often as Laman and Lemuel complain about Nephi trying to be a ruler over them and what not, they sure do listen to his counsel a lot.  After giving a good faith effort where Laman goes to the house of Laban and gets cast out as a robber, Laman, Lemuel and even Sam it seems, are ready to return home in failure.  However, Nephi steps up and gives a very impassioned speech about fulfilling the commandments of the Lord.  And as I stated up above, for all their bluster about how much they despise Nephi, the rest of his brothers listen to him and go along with his plan!
I have found that this is the way with natural born leaders.  Something about them just makes others want to follow them.  I wonder if Laman and Lemuel even realized that they were following Nephi and his advice or if, like a lot of men, they thought it was their own idea or just didn't want to argue or any number of other ideas for going along with it.  It just seems a little funny to me that for all the many times they complain that they don't want Nephi to be a ruler over them, they never seem to mind following his plans except for a few times that are recorded in the scriptures.  And maybe that's the difference, maybe we just don't have their arguments for each time recorded.  I guess we'll know some day.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How Does He Always Seem to Know What We Need?

At 35 years old, I know that I should no longer be surprised at the omniscience of God, but sometimes I am still caught of guard by it.  Today I read 1 Nephi 2 and in the first verse I found a message the Lord had prepared just for me.
The first verse reads that the Lord appeared unto Lehi in a dream and spoke to him.  To be clear, the Lord did not appear in a dream, but the Spirit made it clear that the next message was as much meant for me today, as it was meant for Lehi when he first received it.  "Blessed art thou [Fred], because of the things which thou has done; and because thou hast been faithful..."  I'm not ashamed to admit that tears came to my eyes.  I like most people worry about my standing before the Lord and especially with my admitting yesterday that I have not been reading the scriptures like I ought to have been, I would not be surprised to learn that the Lord was not only frustrated with me, but upset with me to boot!  But to learn that He was not only pleased with me, but happy with me, was more than my heart was prepared to handle this morning.
This General Conference was particularly special to me.  It was only 2 days ago but I already feel like it happened a while ago.  I feel like all of the speakers were speaking directly to me.  I was able to take something away from every single talk, which in years past had not been the case.  And as a result, I found several areas, mostly Spiritual, that were found lacking.  After talking with my wife and daughter, I have recommitted myself to doing better.  And after only one day receiving a confirmation from the Lord that I am on the right path is a wonderful thing I had not expected.
The Lord knows us individually.  I know this for a fact.  We are His children and He loves us as much as we love our earthly children.   I believe what President Ezra Taft Benson said that when we see Him again His face will be familiar to us and we will be surprised how well we remember Him.  I want to live my life so that I can return to live with Him.  The time is now to start on that path.  Use the time wisely.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Afflictions - Blessings in disguise?

So as you readers may have noticed, I have not posted a new post in almost over a year.  Well, something Elder Ballard said in the Priesthood session of Conference struck me right between the eyes.  He asked if us to consider for a moment as if we were having a personal interview with him and the first question he asked us was do we search the scriptures regularly.  I had to answer that I do not.  Ever since I stopped doing this blog, I stopped being regular about my scripture reading.  What is sad about that statement, is that for the past six months, I have been so sick with my physical health that I have been unable to work, so you would think that this would be the time I would spend the most time reading the scriptures and doing the most for my spiritual health!  So, I took his point to heart and while I was reading 1 Nephi 1 this morning something struck me and I decided to talk about it.

In the first verse of 1 Nephi 1 Nephi states that he has seen much affliction in his life.  For those of us familiar with his life, we know this is both true, and an understatement.  But I got to thinking about that word, affliction due to the last six months in my own life and my eyes wandered down to the footnotes.  To my great surprise, after a Topical Guide reference for affliction, there was a reference for Blessings and Gifts from God!
Needless to say this kind of blew my mind and caused a few minutes of reflection and thinking on my part.  It also brought to mind a blessing given to me at the beginning of my health challenge given to me on Thanksgiving day last year by my father in law that said in part that I should not look upon my health challenge as a trial, that anything that brings me closer to Heavenly Father is a blessing.  So it led to this though, I know that God gives us trials to help us grow and that some trials are due to our own mistakes and choices we make.  But perhaps afflictions, which by the very definition of the word carries a negative connotation, should be thought of in a more positive light and as a chance to grow also.  I know that it has given me much to think on for myself and the way I view my health challenge moving forward.  Until tomorrow.