Archive for the 'Likening the Scriptures' Category

Dandelions and Birds

Today, as I was sitting in the car with my babies, I was staring at a field of grass nearby. I sat, noticing all the dandelion stems. Not even the pretty tops, but just the stems. Stems that lead right to the roots. Those things that never seem to truly die, but just populate more and more, and take over the beautiful landscapes.

My daughter was also staring out into the same field. Not pulling her eyes from the field, she says, “Mommy, can I go play with the birds?” I realized that I hadn’t even seen them. Not one. As I thought about missing them completely, I realized that of course I would be focused on the dandelions. Why? My life is hard right now. The lives of loved ones is particularly difficult right now. I don’t understand why everything is happening the way it is, and I have a hard time dealing when so many things are out of my control. My focus is on the weeds that just won’t seem to go away.

It is true that we live with a limited perspective based upon our own life experiences, either those of our past, or, as is the case when life is hard, the experiences of our present situations. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 it says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I see through a glass, darkly. The more I thought of this I realized that collectively our life experiences would broaden our perspective infinitely. This is why the Lord can help us when we cannot see the way through difficulty. This is why things that we know, with every part of our minds, to be impossible, are possible through Him. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:6-7, we read, “He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; Which truth shineth. …”. He has gained the infinite perspective through the Atonement. This is the gift that He offers to us each and every day of our lives.

So, you who are having difficulties, you who are struggling, take your limited perspective to God. Ask Him to allow His son to help you to see the birds when all you can see are the dandelion stems. He will help you. He will take you out into the field of life and help you see more, to share some of His perfect perspective, and to be able play with the birds, you don’t even know are there.

Honoring Our Fathers and Our Mothers

Every Sunday, my family studies a talk from the most recent General Conference. In the days following, I will read it again on my own, to gain deeper understanding and really focus on the things that are being taught. A few weeks ago, we read the talk, “To My Grandchildren”, by President Henry B. Eyring (First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I think it really drew me in, because the focus of his talk seems to be on learning how we can truly have happiness in our families. This is something I am thinking about often and I tend to hang on every bit of instruction given on this topic.

President Eyring pointed out that all people are unique, with different experiences, but there is only one path if happiness is what we desire. He said, “Whatever our personal characteristics or whatever will be our experiences, there is but one plan of happiness. That plan is to follow all the commandments of God.” I’ve been recording the things the general authorities teach us to do in order to receive specific blessings. This one was so simply stated and straight forward. Do: Follow all the commandments of God. Receive: Happiness. In total confidence, I thought, “I can do that.” President Eyring continues by reviewing what the scriptures teach us of the commandments. He quoted the Lord, from Matthew 22 with the following account:

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Immediately my mind went to something that I learned a few years ago about the commandments. That is, that the statement that all commandments hang on these greater commandments, is true. Every commandment from God can be categorized as a way to love God, or a way to love others as we would ourselves. If we take the basic ten commandments, the first show our love to God: to have no other gods before Him, to have no graven images (of any type), to not take the name of the Lord in vain, to keep the Sabbath holy, and to honor our father and our mother. The remainder fit under the category to love our neighbors as ourselves, the first falling under both: to honor our father and our mother, to not kill, to not commit adultery, to not steal, to not bear false witness, and to not covet. My focus was drawn to the commandment to honor our parents, because it carries weight in both of these greater commandments.

“Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12). This commandment remains binding throughout our lives and can be understood in several ways: We should honor our fathers and our mothers who are our ancestors; we should be grateful to the father and mother who provided our earthly bodies; we should honor those who raised us in the knowledge of the truth. Above all, we should honor our Heavenly Parents. The way we honor all these fathers and mothers is by keeping the commandments.

I found the above statement when searching the gospel topics on lds.org, under the topic Ten Commandments. It seemed so fitting. Typically, when I think of this commandment, I think in terms of what I feel would honor my earthly parents, based on my own understanding and experiences. I was thinking I was doing a pretty good job at this. In pondering this more, I began to feel the need to go to the source. My parents, as President Eyring had stated, are unique and have had their own experiences and learning. What they feel honors them, may not be exactly the same as what I have been feeling. This proved to be accurate, as I called them to ask and learned some of their thoughts and testimony of this.

All of the things they shared made complete sense to me, but perhaps were not a focus I have had at this time in my life. Some of the things that my parents said would honor them, were being a good citizen and teaching my children to be a good citizen, being a good parent, being self-reliant, teaching my children the gospel, and being involved in family history. They felt that being a good decision maker, by searching (with the help of good and reliable sources), pondering and praying, would also honor them. One they felt strongly about, was being in contact with them more frequently, even by simply touching base with a quick update or picture on social media. The one that meant the most, was to honor them by taking care of one when the other passes away and they are left alone. I’ve learned through this study, seeking answers from them, and pondering the things that were shared, that even with the commandments which I have felt I am doing pretty well at, I can do so much more. If I can learn to truly honor my earthly parents, I know that I will be able to do more to honor my heavenly parents. I plan on putting the promise of President Eyring to the test, and I am pretty confident that if I strive to honor my parents more, in the ways that they shared with me, there will be greater happiness in my relationship with them, as well as with others in my immediate and extended family.

Challenge: If you are seeking greater happiness at home, study the commandments and try to live one better today.

Why Not Us?

As I have studied the story of the ancient Israelites, I have wondered a lot about the differences between now and then. Specifically, I have asked myself the question, why doesn’t the Lord destroy the rebellious as He did in the days of Moses? Through study and pondering, I have come to the conclusion that God does not treat us with the same severity because we are living a different part of the plan. We experience some of the consequences from the unrighteous Israelites, such as that of being scattered all over the world. In Genesis 28:14 we read, “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: . . .”. We also have the positive consequence of the blessings of Israel, which included that “all the families of the earth be blessed” by His seed. (see Genesis 28:14) Our lives include things that were instituted by God in ancient times, such as having the ten commandments as part of society. God needed to institute these things with firmness so that they would be a standard of living for us today. The Israelites were made to experience complete changes in their society to bring them to God. We have their foundation laid out for us, and now are required to live a life of faith to bring Israel back to the Lord. When we are not faithful, we still experience the consequence of destruction, but more often then not, it comes in a spiritual separation from the Lord and the Sprit of God. This spiritual consequence is of serious importance to our eternal reward and more destructive than a physical destruction in this life. Alma 13:30 reads, “And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.”

What are we to learn from allowing men today to become ripe in iniquity? God will give us every opportunity to return to Him in this life. There are eternal blessings that can only be received through faithful living on this earth. God wants us to have all that He has to offer us, and so He allows for us to choose either to repent and return to Him, or become so wicked that we rightly deserve the eternal consequences of sin. Ultimately, we should not be surprised that a great destruction is headed our way with the second coming of the Lord. The righteous will be greatly blessed at that day, and those who are deserving of the great destruction, will receive it. We cannot begin to know who will be a part of which reward at that day, but we can choose for ourselves, to live the best we know how, repent of our mistakes and transgressions, and be blessed through the mercy and forgiveness of the Lord. I like David of old, “trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.” (Psalms 52:8)

Sharing the Sunshine

I was looking back through some drafts I had written in the past and I saw this one and wondered why I did not finish writing it. I think it may have been because I had a plan in mind for my study already. I am a planner. Sometimes I have an internal struggle with where I expect my study to take me, and where the spirit guides it to go. Right now I am trying to get through the Bible, but really that is a huge goal. And the way I study, it is going to take a while. A long while. So, today I am going to break away from it for just a moment.

There are many places throughout the scriptures, which teach us how we should live as saints. There is one in particular that stuck out to me a while back, because it describes basic principles of living the gospel. In 1 Peter 3:8 we read, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous”. What does this mean to me?

First, The Lord expects us to be unified. We need to be one, whether in our marriages, in our families, at church with other saints, or really anywhere else where we hope to have strength. We need to be working towards the same goal or at the least, walking in the same direction. In Peter’s epistle to the saints of his day, I think he was teaching how they should have been within the church. As saints and members of the church of Jesus Christ, we need to have the same goal in mind. That goal is the same goal of our Father in Heaven. We need to have a goal for the salvation of mankind. Do we desire for others to live with God again, as we desire it for ourselves? Do we knit ourselves together so that we can all reach that goal together? Mosiah 18:21 reads, “And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.” When I think of this, I imagine linking arms with the sisters in Relief Society. Knitting requires 2 needles to work. These two needles bring two sides of the work together. The work becomes one whole without separation. We can be one in our purpose when we meet together often as the yarn of our own work, and use our spiritual gifts and talents to link with one another. Then our hearts will become knit together and we will strengthen, enrich, and uplift one another. With that one eye, one faith, and one baptism, we can be strong enough to stand firm in the gospel.

The Lord wants us to have “compassion one of another”. We should care for the temporal and spiritual welfare of others. If one of us suffer, we all suffer. In 1 Corinthians 12:26 we read, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” This makes me think of family life. It is often said that a happy Mom, means a happy home. It is interesting to me, to watch how the attitude of one individual in the home, can determine if we all have a good attitude. Attending to the needs of others, benefits all of us. We should willingly give to the poor and needy. Paying tithes and offerings is one way which we can give to those in need. Also paying closer attention to the lives of others around us, we will be able to see and even discern needs that are there. The instruction given in these latter days can be found in Doctrine and Covenants 52:40, which says, “And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple. (empahsis added)” What else can we do? We can visit those who are alone, such as the widows. President Monson, our prophet today, has given us a great example of being there for the widows. When he was bishop, he made it a point to be there for the many women in his ward, and he remained loyal friends to them for the remainder of their lives. In addition, we can pray for others. As we pray and serve, we will feel deeply for those around us and the welfare of others will effect us in meaningful ways. That is the kind of compassion the Savior has for each of us. Compassion leads us to greater faith and service. It was recently my privilege to serve at a funeral for a gentleman in our church. I enjoyed doing the service, but even greater was the opportunity to watch as many gathered together in compassion one of another. I watched as every detail of the help was done with the upmost in care and consideration for what those in mourning would need. There was an incredible outpouring of love, even in the simplest things. This kind of compassion is so beautiful and is one of the best ways we can show the light of Christ to others.

Compassion leads to charity, the pure love of Christ. Disciples of Christ should love each other as brothers and sisters. The love I have for my siblings causes my mind to be focused on them often. I want them to have true happiness and joy. I want them to have peaceful family lives. I care deeply for how they are doing, even though I am far from all of them. We should love one another, whether our actual kin or not, with the desire to remain brothers and sisters in the eternities. Having a love like this will help us to fellowship one another continually. In Doctrine and Covenants 38:24, the instruction for us is to “let every man esteem his brother as himself…”. The Savior taught by example in this. In John 15:13, He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He loved all people with the brotherly love, and He showed us that love, by giving His life for us.

To be pitiful is to be full of “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others“. Followers of Christ should be tender hearted and compassionate. It is our duty to take on one another’s pains and burdens, or to make them lighter in whatever ways we can. We should be sensitive to others and easily moved to love when we see others in need. This epistle of Peter does not teach us to have a little pity for others, but to be full of it. Our hearts should be filled with care and concern for others who are having any kind of difficulties in life.

Finally, we are taught to be courteous to one another. Show others the honor and respect they deserve as children of God. Be genuinely polite to others. A difficult, but important way to remain courteous, is to refrain from gossiping. Our comments of others, should always be positive and uplifting. Showing others the kind of respect you would want them to give to you.

Being of one mind, having compassion one of another, loving as brethren (and sisters), being pitiful, and being courteous come with ease and grace when we have the light of the gospel active in our lives. A song which goes right along with this is “You Can Make the Pathway Bright”. I love the words, and often think of them in the mornings as I prepare for the day ahead.

You can make the pathway bright,
Fill the soul with heaven’s light,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
Turning darkness into day,
As the shadows fly away,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

I have experienced darkness in my own heart at times. There are many who suffer from deep depressions, feelings of hopelessness and much more. We can help them, by sharing our sunshine, which is the light of Christ in each of us.

You can speak the gentle word
To the heart with anger stirred,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
Tho it seems a little thing,
It will heaven’s blessings bring,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

There is so much power in kind words. Responding to others’ negativity in kind, does nothing to help any situation. If we choose to share our light with kindness, cold hearts will warm and hard hearts will soften.

You can do a kindly deed
To your neighbor in his need,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
And his burden you will share
As you lift his load of care,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

Thinking outside of our own lives is the key. When we serve others in need, we share the light of Christ. Small acts of kindness are not that hard to do if we just pay attention to others around us. Opportunities to serve are all around us.

You can live a happy life
In this world of toil and strife,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
And your soul will glow with love
From the perfect Light above,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

We will be happier, others around us will be happier, and life will seem easier, when we live and share the gospel light with others. Why? Because it is His light, the light of Christ. Everyone loves to have a little more sunshine in their life. I know I do. I hope that I can be less selfish and less focused on those things that do not matter in the grand scheme of things, so that I can serve Christ by sharing His gift that has blessed my life so much. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

A Testimony of Me

Earlier this week, I read the following in Alma, chapter 17:

39 And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king, and then went in unto the king, bearing the arms which had been smitten off by the sword of Ammon, of those who sought to slay him; and they were carried in unto the king for a testimony of the things which they had done.

This verse caused me to ponder on a question. What acts do I do which are a testimony of me? The things that people see us do in this life, will stand as a witness of the type of person we are. We can imagine what people might say about us after we leave this life, based on our actions and deeds. Ammon was strong and faithful in his actions, which the servants saw and bore record of to the king. Will others see who I truly am or want to be in the things I do? What do I need to change to improve what others witness of me? This is what I hope to think about more in the next couple of weeks, so that I can be a better person and stand as a witness of Christ more in my life. What is their testimony of me?

Having the Fullness of the Gospel

Today, I was reading the words of the prophet Abinadi (see Mosiah 13), which he spoke to the wicked King Noah and his priests. This chapter makes me more grateful for the fullness of the gospel in my life. Abinadi teaches them that the law is nothing without the atonement, but also that without understanding the law we cannot receive the blessings of the atonement. In verse 11 he teaches them, “And now I read unto you the remainder of the commandments of God, for I perceive that they are not written in your hearts; I perceive that ye have studied and taught iniquity the most part of your lives.” We must write the words on our hearts. We must be willing to give the laws of God a strict priority in our lives. They must be held sacred and dear to us as anything else which we allow near our hearts.

Then in verse 28 we read, “And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses.” Knowing the laws does nothing for us, if we do not believe in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We can follow the commandments all our days, but if we don’t understand them fully we cannot benefit from our righteousness. The fullness of the gospel, teaches us that Christ is the Savior and that he fulfilled the law of Moses. We now should be living His law, which is the higher law and the law which will gain us access into the kingdom of God. Knowing His law and knowing Him, is the way to return to God again. I am so glad that I have this knowledge and I hope and pray that I will improve and become the righteous woman that God knows I am capable of becoming, so that I can live with Him again someday.

Taking Offense

Today I was reading the words of Limhi in the Book of Mormon. In Mosiah, chapter 10 we read the following:

11 Now, the Lamanites knew nothing concerning the Lord, nor the strength of the Lord, therefore they depended upon their own strength. Yet they were a strong people, as to the strength of men.
12 They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers, which is this—Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers, and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren, and they were also wronged while crossing the sea;
13 And again, that they were wronged while in the land of their first inheritance, after they had crossed the sea, and all this because that Nephi was more faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord—therefore he was favored of the Lord, for the Lord heard his prayers and answered them, and he took the lead of their journey in the wilderness.
14 And his brethren were wroth with him because they understood not the dealings of the Lord; they were also wroth with him upon the waters because they hardened their hearts against the Lord.
15 And again, they were wroth with him when they had arrived in the promised land, because they said that he had taken the ruling of the people out of their hands; and they sought to kill him.
16 And again, they were wroth with him because he departed into the wilderness as the Lord had commanded him, and took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, for they said that he robbed them.
17 And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.

There was no truth in the beliefs of the Lamanites. Lamen and Lemuel had taught their posterity, that they had been wronged in all areas of their lives. They taught them that they had been led away because of iniquity, they had had their rights taken away from them by their younger brother, they had their property taken from them, and more. Their children, did not know any better, and the traditions and beliefs continued through generations. All of this hatred and desire to kill the people of Nephi, came from taking offense for things that they actually were doing wrong. My understanding of offense, is that it is generally a way for Satan to convince us that the things we are doing wrong actually make us in the right. This is such a devious way to lead people away from God. If we find ourselves in a position where we feel we are being offended by another, we should first look to ourselves and see what is there. Perhaps the things that are said and done are truly not right or good, but when we look to ourselves instead of placing blame on them, we should find it within ourselves to be more forgiving of others faults and wrong-doings. If we do not do this, we run the risk of being the reason for many souls being lost through our own posterity.

A Worthwhile Role Model

I have been reading the beginning of the Book of Mosiah, found in the Book of Mormon. I absolutely love the words of King Benjamin to his son and his people. We don’t know much about the life of King Benjamin, but we do know that he was a righteous ruler over the Nephites in Zarahemla. He lived a life of service to his people, without causing them to have burdens of servitude or taxes to him. His people loved him and he loved them. Because of the type of man he was, the spirit was able to teach the people through his words. King Benjamin is a worthwhile role model and someone that I hope to meet someday. It is important for us to remember that we can best teach others when we serve them, or rather, our service allows greater opportunity for the spirit to touch the hearts of those we serve.

Overcome to Receive

Last week I didn’t do much of posting here, because I was asked to teach the lesson in our Sunday School class. This lesson was on four chapters in the book of Revelations. Revelations is a difficult book to teach about, because of its symbolism. However, I enjoyed the challenge a lot. They key for me, is to try to find the message that John was writing, and not to focus too much on the names of the places, or the deep doctrinal stuff found there. Those things will come to me after I have gained a simple understanding of these chapters.

The thing that I got most out of this lesson, was that we all will have something or multiple things in this life that we will need to overcome. The list of things that come from these chapters included not being willing to give service and love, fearing our trials or the things others may say or do when we stand for truth and righteousness, pride, greed, immorality, apathy, and so on. Satan, who we are currently fighting against every day, knows which of these things we struggle with the most. However, we have the Savior on our side.

Through His atonement and saving power, we have the power to overcome. When we choose to accept His power and atonement in our lives, we will overcome. Then we can receive the amazing promised blessings, which John writes about. We can live with God again, we can have our sins forgiven, we can achieve salvation and become like our Father in Heaven, and ultimately receive all the blessings that He has to give. What an encouraging and powerful message this is in my life. I find a great deal of hope in this lesson and it gives me the push I need to continue trying to live a righteous life and stand firm in the face of all the temptations and trials that Satan places in my path.

Continual Call to Repentance

This morning I read the book of Jarom, which is one chapter in the Book of Mormon. I think the majority of this chapter teaches us that finding strength in the Lord, will bring us prosperity and protection from our enemies. It is a confirmation of the promise given to Nephi when they reached the promise land. This promise said that if they would be righteous they would prosper in the land. The thing that stuck out to me the most today, is the need for a continual call to repentance.

The Nephites at this time, were living righteously and prospering because of it. Jarom writes the following:

10 And it came to pass that the prophets of the Lord did threaten the people of Nephi, according to the word of God, that if they did not keep the commandments, but should fall into transgression, they should be destroyed from off the face of the land.
11 Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.
12 And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.

In order for the righteous to continue in righteousness, they needed constant reminders of the commandments, the consequences of disobeying the commandments, and the need to repent. I think that we can get in a place where we feel like we know enough of what not to do, and we have heard all about repentance, so we don’t need to focus on those parts of the gospel. This is not so. If we want to continue in righteousness, then we need to listen every time the prophet and apostles speak. We need constant reminders of the ways that Satan is trying to trap us. We need our hearts to be pricked by the word of God, so that we will remember our need for repentance. We cannot become complacent or stagnant in the gospel. We need to be working continually to remain worthy of the blessings that God has promised.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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