Posts Tagged 'Children of God'

Deuteronomy Chapter 32

In the previous chapter, Moses was commanded by the Lord, to make a record of the teachings he had given. As part of that record, we have this chapter, which is known as the song of Moses. It begins:

1 Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
3 Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.
6 Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?

I love the imagery of learning that is given to us in verse 2. When we are tender in our learning of the gospel, the teachings of Moses are simple as the dew in the morning, which is there waiting for us as we arise. When we have grown a little, his teachings are a light rain, and when we have grown in our gospel learning, the teachings are like rain showers on established grass. In all things, we grow line upon line and our learning builds upon what we have already come to know and understand. Likewise, if we do not allow the rain to come upon us in any quantity, our grass will wither and die.

The words of the scriptures, are a testimony of the Lord and His greatness, spoken to heaven and earth. When people go wrong, it is because they choose that for themselves. Those who live a perverse and crooked life, are not behaving as children of the Lord should. We are all His children, because He has created us and given us all, including His grace through the power of His atonement. However, when we are disobedient to His laws, we choose to no longer be considered His children and refuse the promised blessings for after this life.

7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
9 For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
12 So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;
14 Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape.

If any of the Israelites wondered about the history of their people, they should have been able to go to their fathers and elders, to learn of it. I know there are some people today, who would claim that we should not look to our history for learning, but everything about the scriptures teach us that this is not true. We need the stories of the people in history, to know how we should live now. They are a great example for us.

The people of the Lord, have always been led by his hand as His chosen people. He has taught His people and protected them.

15 But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.

When the righteous people have been greatly blessed, they forget the Lord who gave them all. Time and time again, the people of the Lord have turned to other gods and false idols, both old and new. The people forget the Rock of salvation, or the Lord, who brings their salvation.

19 And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.
20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
23 I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.
24 They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.
25 The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
26 I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:
27 Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this.
28 For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.

The Lord would hide himself from the people, because they forgot him and turned to other gods and wickedness. They would have mischiefs, fire, animals, poison, swords and terror come upon all the people, to destroy them. The people would be scattered and forgotten. These things would come because they would choose not to listen and heed the word of the Lord.

29 O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!
30 How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up?
31 For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
32 For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:
33 Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
34 Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?
35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
36 For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
37 And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,
38 Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.
39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.
41 If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.
42 I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.
43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

Wisdom is being obedient to the counsel of the Lord. The people would not understand that the Lord was the reason for their deliverances. They would choose wickedness over righteousness. I think the idea that the vine was the vine of Sodom, is to say that the fruit of the wicked, is wickedness. Instead of sweet fruit of the vine, they would have fruit of gall and bitterness. The Lord would bring vengeance and recompense upon the people and those who deserved wrath at His judgement, would receive it. Some day, the people would see that false gods could not be there for them in their need, but that the Lord is the only god. The Lord is the only living god. He can bring life, death, resurrection, and deliverance. Those who served the Lord, and would be his people, would be avenged and receive the Lord’s mercy.

I think of the rock mentioned in these verses. Our rock, is the thing that we choose to build our foundation upon. The only true rock that will not fail us, is the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The rock that the disobedient people would choose, would not remain in their times of difficulty. We can choose to place our faith and trust in a lot of things in this world, but only the Lord will remain a sure foundation for us.

When Lot first chose Sodom as a place for him to settle, it seemed a good idea. The land of Sodom was very desirous and it says in Genesis 13, that it was as the garden of the Lord. There are a lot of things in this world that look pleasing at first, and we are naturally drawn to them. Like Sodom, however, if these things are not pointing us towards righteousness, they will lead to an awful result of bitterness and destruction.

44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.
45 And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:
46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
48 And the Lord spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying,
49 Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession:
50 And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:
51 Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.
52 Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.

Moses and Joshua spoke these things to the people of Israel. At the end of his words, Moses told them to take his words to heart, or to listen and follow all that he had taught them, and to teach their children to be obedient to them also. He promised them that if they were obedient, they would have their days prolonged in the land. Then Moses was told by the Lord, to go into the mountain to die and be gathered to his people, just as Aaron had done. Before he died, he was going to be allowed to see the land that he was not allowed to enter because he had trespassed against the Lord.

I love music. For me, a song can be in my mind and heart much easier than words alone. I don’t think I am alone in this, because we teach basic principles to our children through music, such as the ABC’s. Calling this chapter the song of Moses and reading that they were to take these things into their hearts seems quite fitting. This is part of why it is important for us to learn and know righteous and inspired hymns, which help us to remember the principles of the gospel, the purposes of life, and the amazing things that the Lord has down for his people. I am so grateful for beautiful music and the messages that I can learn from it.

God speaks to all people of the earth, and always has. While not everyone has always had the privileges of knowing the gospel, it is still for all people. I believe that their is one God who created all people. He knows and loves us all, and speaks to the world today through His chosen prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Just as He led the people through Moses, he leads today through the modern prophets. It is amazing to live in a time when a prophet can lead us and teach us the word of the Lord for our day.

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Lost Sheep

Today is a bit of a departure from my regular study. I ask that my regular readers please forgive the more personal nature of this post. I have been pondering on thoughts of lost sheep today, because my extended family is experiencing this as a very literal moment in their lives. The feelings I have in my heart are a bit consuming and I feel the need to share some of my thoughts. I have a family member who is missing. My 16-year old niece ran away this week, and I feel helpless in the situation, because I am far away from my sister and her family. I have thought and prayed for her and her family, with a heart full of concern and love for this young woman. Because I have chosen to fill my life with a study of the word of the Lord, I can’t help but think of the lost sheep, so often spoken about in the scriptures. In Matthew 18, we read the words of the Savior:

11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Related to this particular personal situation, I know that my Father in Heaven is also her Father in Heaven. He loves her more than I can even begin to understand, just as He loves every one of his children. We are his little ones. For some reason, his little child has forgotten this. She has forgotten the love of God. She has forgotten what she is worth. I know this must be true, because I know that the closest thing we can experience to the love that our Father in Heaven has for us, is to experience the love that our earthly parents and other family members have for us. It reminds me of a song that my kids have learned at church, called “The Family Is of God”. The first verse and chorus have the following words:

Our Father has a family. It’s me!
It’s you, all others too: we are His children.
He sent each one of us to earth, through birth,
To live and learn here in families.
God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be—
This is how He shares His love, for the fam’ly is of God.

I believe these words, and that part of the reason that He has established families here on earth, is so that we can feel a portion of his love, in a way that cannot be duplicated by anything outside of family.

The Lord also speaks of lost sheep in Ezekiel 34:16, which reads, “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick:”. I know that the Lord knows where she is and is mindful of her. I also know that she has been given the amazing gift of agency, and that if she chooses it, she may continue to be apart from her family. However, I believe, that God desires for her to find happiness within her family. I know that He is there for her, to save her, to heal her, and to strengthen her. He is there for her, just as He is there for each of us, when we have moments of doubt or fear, when we loose our way, or when we think that there is some other pasture which will bring us the things we seek. He is our shepherd, and his greatest desire is to find us and give us everything he has to offer, especially his love.

I pray that my beautiful niece can by physically found and given the help and love that she needs. I have a hope that there is a portion of her heart and mind, that will recognize or remember the things I have pondered about. I have a wish in my heart, that a moment may come when she will open herself up more, to feel the love of the Lord. In the deeper sense, I know that only he can truly save her from whatever is causing her to be his lost little child. I also know that it may take the efforts, inspiration, and love of others, to help her recognize this. I pray that there will be people out there, who will follow the inspirations they receive to find and help this precious daughter of God. I hope there is someone out there, who can be an instrument in the Lord’s hands, and help to bring her home. I hope there are those out there who can help to do this in more than just the physical sense, so that she can feel an outpouring of God’s love for her.

I know that God is real. I know that we are His children. I know that He loves each and every one of us. I know that we are the sheep of his fold and He will do all that He can to show us that love.

Update:
As of last night, she has been found and as I have been told, she is getting some much needed help. My heart if full of gratitude to all those who offered prayers, support to the family, to those who offered tips that led to her being found, and especially to God, who I am sure was watching over her and helped all those involved.

Deuteronomy Chapter 2

The prophet Moses, taught the Israelites those things which the Lord wanted them to know and remember. As a people, they had traveled for many years and had many experiences to learn from. These sermons were being given to the younger generation, who had not made the original covenants at Mount Sinai, because the older generation had already passed away as promised by the Lord. In the last chapter, Moses began to recount the journey of the children of Israel from when they left Egypt, until they had rebelled and fought against the Amorites against the word of the Lord. This had been in response to the promise that the adults would not live to see the promised land. The teachings of Moses continue as follows:

1 Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the Lord spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days.
2 And the Lord spake unto me, saying,
3 Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.
4 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:
5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.
6 Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.
7 For the Lord thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.
8 And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Ezion-gaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.
9 And the Lord said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.
10 The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;
11 Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.
12 The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the Lord gave unto them.
13 Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered.
14 And the space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the Lord sware unto them.
15 For indeed the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.

The Israelites began their journey into the wilderness, going around mount Seir and then when they had gone far enough, they were led to the North. They were warned of the Lord, about the people of Seir, who would fear them. The Lord told them to pass through without issue, because the land of the children of Esau, the posterity of the brother of Jacob (Israel), was not the land for them. They were only to buy food and drink from them. Moses teaches them, that the Lord provided for them all the years of their journey, because He knew them and had been with them the entire time. The Israelites went through the land of Seir, passing part of the land of the Moabites, which belonged to the posterity of Lot. Again they were told not to take issue with the Moabites in the wilderness, because it was not the land for the Israelites. They were led over the brook Zered. By this time, thirty-eight years had passed and all of the older generation had passed away.

16 So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people,
17 That the Lord spake unto me, saying,
18 Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day:
19 And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.
20 (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;
21 A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the Lord destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead:
22 As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day:
23 And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)

At that time, the Lord led them into the land of Moab, with a warning that they should not fight with the people of Ammon who dwelt there. The people of Ammon were also their extended family, as more of the posterity of Lot, and were not in the land of promise for the Israelites. I find it interesting that each of these lands, were the land of some other children of those we learn about in the scriptures. The Lord had given some of the land for the children of Esau and some for the children of Lot. This to me, is an example, that the Lord is there for all of his children, guiding all to the places best for them. Then, according to His will, they may remain there, or be removed based on their choices and the order of the plan of the Lord. I think that this may have all been because of the righteousness of Abraham, who cared for Lot and his posterity, as well as the righteousness of Isaac, who cared deeply for Esau as well. I believe that later in the bible, we see destruction and scattering come to these nations due to wickedness, just as it comes to the children of Israel. They will then loose the land, but this was not the time for that, because the Israelites had their own promised land to gain.

24 Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.
25 This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.

When they came to the land of the Amorites, they were instructed to fight them and take their land, which was prepared for them by the Lord. The Lord caused that the nations around, would be able to learn of the Israelite army, and fear them. This is probably why rulers, such as Balak, who had attempted to hire Balaam to curse Isreal, and caused their blessing instead, were afraid of their power and what they would do to their land.

26 And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,
27 Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.
28 Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet;
29 (As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the Lord our God giveth us.
30 But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
31 And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land.
32 Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.
33 And the Lord our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.
34 And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:
35 Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.
36 From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the Lord our God delivered all unto us:
37 Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the Lord our God forbad us.

Men of Israel were sent to request peaceful passage through the land, planning to pay for all the food and drink they used both for themselves and for their herds. I think the Lord knew that the Amorites would be stubborn and not allow this because of the hardness of his heart, so the Lord allowed his heart to remain hard. The Amorites fought against them, beginning at Jahaz, and the Lord helped the Israelites to smite and defeat them in all their lands, except where He had forbidden it. Part of these lands they gained was the area that was later given to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and part of the tribe of Manasseh. All this was done, with the help of the Lord, and not on the part of the Israelites alone.

It was important for Moses to remind the Israelites that they had been continually blessed by the Lord. I am a firm believer in gratitude being an important trait to any who desire to follow the Lord. When we are grateful, especially to the Lord for his countless blessings, we become more devoted and loving because of increased humility. If the Israelites had been led to believe that they had done these things by their own strength and wisdom, they would have fallen away from the Lord because of pride. When I remember the blessings and tender mercies of the Lord in my life, I remember that I owe all that I have and all that I am, to Him. This gives me the desire to do all that I am able to further His work, and show my gratitude to Him in all that I do.

Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 9

(To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

One of the all-encompassing attributes of God for us to strive towards, is perfection. God is a perfect being. His plan for us is perfect. 2 Samuel 22:31 says, “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.” Likewise, in Proverbs 30:5 we read, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” There is purity in everything He has ever spoken. As we learn in Deutornomy 32:4, God is right and true to perfection. “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” We can fully depend on what He has said, to protect us. In 1 John 1:5 it reads, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” God is the creator of light and the source of all light. In his perfect light, he is the dispeller of all darkness. He is perfectly good and perfectly whole. We have been given a charge by the Savior in Matthew 5:48 which says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” While to some this verse may seem daunting, to me, this verse gives me great hope in the person that I can become. I can be perfect, otherwise why would the Savior have said this. The key is remembering that our perfection will come over time and through eternity. In Doctrine and Covenants 67:13 we are taught, “Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.” This life is just a life of preparation, we cannot become perfect now. We can however, strive towards perfection, by working on our shortcomings with patience in ourselves and with God. We have the example of Jesus Christ to look towards and we have been given the laws to follow, which help us to perfection. Christ’s love, charity, is pure. Colossians 3:14 reads, “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” We need to have the love of Christ in our hearts, in order to become more perfect. Just as God’s words are pure and we can trust in Him, we should strive for all that we say to be pure, right and completely true. We can strive to live in the light each day and do our best to dispel the darkness of our lives. This means, that we need to put ourselves in the best situations to have light, and avoid those things that we know are evil and wrong. As imperfect beings in mortality, God knows we are going to make mistakes, so in order for us to reach the potential of perfection, we have been given repentance through the power of the atonement. Doctrine and Covenants 76:69 teaches us about those who are a part of the first resurrection, when it says, “These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.” If we want to strive to be like God, we need to make use of repentance and the atonement every day of our lives.

God is a worker. We cannot number the works of God because they are so many. In Job 37:14 we read, “Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.” He started the work of our earthly existence, with the creation of our world. I am amazed every time I ponder on one of the amazing creations and works of God. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;”. His work is beautiful and leaves me with feelings of great reverence and awe. His work has continued throughout time and goes on today. We are a part of his work. The purpose of His work for us is learned in Moses 1:39, which reads, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” We live in an amazing era in the work of God. The prophecies of old are being fulfilled, such as that said in Isaiah 29:14. “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” Likewise, in 3 Nephi 21:9 we read, “For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.” The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is God’s marvelous work. God’s work is without end. God is not a being of idleness. If we are to work towards our potential to be like Him, we cannot be idle. Instead, we need to be an active part of the work of God. We need to be looking for ways to serve others. We need to be creating things of value in our lives. We need to further the work of God through building our testimonies, sharing the gospel, and doing work in the temple, so that all people can have the opportunity to choose eternal life.

These recent posts about our potential, are just a sprinkling of all that God is and all that we can become as His spirit children. I am grateful to have the opportunity to improve upon the person that I am and to become more like Him. It is so important for us to spend time learning the attributes of God and reflecting on our own lives to see where we are. We have been given the great opportunity to make the most of our time on earth. God did not send us here to idle away our days, or to wander aimlessly. He has shown us the way. He has given us the gospel and most especially His Son, Jesus the Christ, so that we might learn how we could live to be the best we can be. God as given us a glimpse of our eternal potential and just how amazing we can be. There are so many times in life, when I get down on myself for who I am or how I am behaving. I am so glad for the gospel and the ability to study the scriptures, which gives me a greater hope of who I will become someday if I am willing to try a little harder. I truly hope that more people will see their potential and turn to God where they can find hope, peace, love and joy.

To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 8

(To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

God is a law and standards maker. As mentioned before, God our father gives us commandments and boundaries to keep us safe and happy. In Doctrine and Covenants 132:21 we read, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.” God has established the law and He must be just in upholding it. He sets consequences for following the laws, as well as disobeying them. Because He is perfectly just, He must follow through with the consequences, whether they be blessings for the good or punishments for the bad. The pattern of laws and consequences, is an eternal pattern. In Doctrine and Covenants 88, we learn this about the kingdoms that will be rewarded to people after this life. Verse 38 teaches us, “And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.” God is bound by laws Himself because they are eternal. To become like God, we must learn how to obey and create laws and standards in our own lives. We become more like Him, when we live His laws with exactness. We also work towards our potential when we set goals and then give ourselves standards to live by in order to attain them. When appropriate, we should set standards for others as well, as with the case of our children as mentioned previously.

Along the same line as being a just judge and a law maker, God is merciful. In Deuteronomy 4:31 we read, “(For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.” God is merciful because he loves us. He does not forget the things that he promises to us and He gives us every opportunity to return to Him. This is always the case, for all people in all times and seasons. However, His mercy can only be applied to us, if we allow Him into our lives. In Psalms 103:17 it says, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;”. God must fulfill the laws, as said before, but in His mercy, created a plan where we could be forgiven and have the choice to return to be with Him. In Alma 42:15 we learn, “And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.” Jesus Christ went through the atonement so that we all could have the mercy of God shown to us. In order to gain this god-like quality in this life, and ultimately to become perfect at it in the eternities, we need to become more merciful towards others. The Savior taught this to us in Luke 6:36 which reads, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. When others do wrong to us, intended or not, we need to have greater compassion towards them. Learning how to be more forgiving even with the worst offenses against us. This can be extremely difficult at times, but there is such a great blessing of peace and happiness that comes from being a forgiving person. I often reflect on the way that others treated the Savior during his ministry. He was ridiculed, persecuted to the fullest, and many times others desired to kill him to the point of his actual death. What amazing forgiveness he extended, when He, knowing the thoughts and desires of all men, asked God to forgive us all. Knowing the hatred and intentions of those men who condemned Him, He bled and died for the salvation of their souls. That was a perfect act of mercy and if I can only become a small portion of that, I know I will be blessed beyond measure for it.

(Coming tomorrow: Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 9)

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Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 7

(To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

Another attribute of God, is that He is eternal. Moroni 7:22 reads, “For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.” There is no beginning or end to God. It is hard for us to understand the eternal nature of God, because we look at the world in relation to time on our earth. I think an important thing to realize in relation to God’s eternal nature, is that He is unchanging and faithful. 1 Nephi 10:19 says, “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” Likewise, in Doctrine and Covenants 35:1 we read, “Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever.” And again in Doctrine and Covenants 20:17 it says, “By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them;”. We can depend on God to stay the same. 2 Timothy 2:19 teaches, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” There is a dependability that we can have with God, which we cannot have with any person on earth. The way to work on this attribute and strive towards this Godly potential, is to be a dependable person now. We need to be someone that others can depend on. More importantly, we need to be the kind of person that God can depend on. We need to work on our faith and stand firm in the gospel. This is not say that we don’t want to progress. Progression is a type of change. The good kind of change, is having a sure foundation and building upon that to become better. The kind of change that will have us leaving our path to our potential, is allowing our faith to waiver, turning back to the person we were before our conversion process began, returning to old habits, and so on. Becoming more like God, means that we have the kind of faith that will remain strong, even when the difficulties of life crash down upon us.

Through His eternal love for His children, God is a giver of gifts. In James 1:17 we read, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” A friend said once, that she imagines that God has a vast basket of blessings for each of and when we choose to live according to the laws He has given, the basket is turned over upon us, but that the blessings remain there is we choose not to have them through the way we choose to live. I believe that God desires to give us all that He has to offer us, which is everything really. As stated before, God gave the greatest gift to us in the giving of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. (See John 3:16) 1 John 5:11 reads, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” It is through this gift that we can receive eternal life. That combination, Eternal life through Jesus Christ, is the greatest gift of all the gifts of God. In Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 it teaches us, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” The gifts that God give to us, usually depend upon the life we choose to live. There are some gifts that are given to all, for being children of a loving Father. Every person is given the gift of some of the light of Christ within us. Every person is also given talents. We learn of this in 1 Corinthians 7:7 which reads, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” When we seek for greater gifts in the spirit of seeking to be more like God, we will be given more talents and other gifts. In order to work towards the potential of Godliness, we need to be more willing to give of what we have to others. When our children behave as we have asked them, we should give them gifts. This doesn’t mean giving physical gifts all the time, but more often than not, it is giving a greater witness of our love and appreciation for them. Give a hug. Give a note of thanks. Give a smile. Give time. We really should be willing to give of our abundance to all mankind. Giving gifts is one of the great ways that we can show others we love them and care for them.

Another attribute of God, which we can strive towards, is that He is just. In Deuteronomy 32:4 we read, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” God is the ultimate judge of all mankind. In that judgement, He is perfectly just. In Mosiah 29:12 we are taught, “Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.” This is so true. Men are so easily swayed by their own backgrounds, beliefs and biases. Knowing that God is the one who will judge me in the end, gives me a much greater hope in receiving what I truly deserve. We can work towards becoming perfectly just as God is, by keeping our own judgements to righteous judgements. There are appropriate times for us to judge something or someone, but most of the time, we judge where we do not have a right to do so, and with motives that are anything but righteous. The Savior taught us a lesson regarding judging in his sermon at the temple, found in 3 Nephi 14.

1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (See also Matthew 7: the sermon on the mount)

We cannot judge others for things, when we are not perfect ourselves. So we learn to be more like God, when we restrain from judging others this way. Instead, we need to focus on forgiving others and seeing the good in them. We can work towards our potential by trying to see others through the loving perspective of their Father in Heaven, and as the people that they can become through His power.

(Coming tomorrow: Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 8)

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Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 6

(To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

To continue the study of the attributes of God:

7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

These verses from 1 John 4, are about God being loving. God is caring and kind. In Isaiah 63:7 it is written as, “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.” And again in Jeremiah 31:3 we read, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” There is no greater love than the love that God has for us. We learn of this love also in John 3:16, which reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This was the ultimate sacrifice, which is evidence of God’s love for us. We can strive for that kind of love and the potential of having god-like love, by willing making sacrifices for others during our mortal lives. Sacrifices show that we are willing to put the well-being and happiness of others above our own selfish desires.

In addition, God shows his love by helping us to see the error of our ways. In Doctrine and Covenants 95:1 we read, “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you—”. The love of God, requires those loved to be chastened in order to become better and be kept safe. We show a greater and more god-like love, when we work to keep our loved ones safe from the destruction that Satan brings. It is important that we put aside the ways of the world (which would teach us not to say or do anything, and just watch our loved ones destroy themselves) and remember our duty to bring those who have strayed back to the way of the Lord, through loving persuasion and kindness.

One of the qualities that I hear of most as an attribute we should have is being charitable, which is the purest form of love. In 2 Nephi 26:30, we read, “Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.” To become like God, we need to develop our own charity. Charity, is having a heart full of love towards others. In 4 Nephi 1:15, after the Savior had left the Nephites, we read, “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” Striving to live in a way where we do not cause contention because we have such a great love for others, will bring us closer to our godly potential.

Going right along with love, God helps us. In Psalms 54:4 we read, “Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.” God does not love us from afar, but rather, is there to help those who allow Him into their lives. I cannot count the number of times that I have felt the help of God in my life. He is there both in the hard times of my life, as well as the good. We can work on this potential of being the greatest helper, by being an instrument in His hands now. When we have the gift of the Holy Ghost, as are living our best, inspiration will come to us as to how we can help others around us. God gives us many opportunities to love and serve His children. We cannot reach our potential, if we choose not to follow the promptings He gives us.

(Coming tomorrow: Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 7)

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Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 5

(To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

We are the spiritual offspring of God, and as such, we can become like Him. God is omnipresent or present everywhere in spirit. In 2 Corinthians 6:16 we read, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Our bodies are temples, made by God for us, to house our spirits. All people are born with the ability to receive inspiration from the spirit of God. If we make and keep the necessary covenants with God, we can be given the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which allows us to be able to have the spirit of God with us at all times. God, as our loving Father, makes himself available to us whenever we are ready to receive Him. There are so many times in life, when I wish I could be in different places at the same time, each for good reasons. I think that to show we are striving for our potential to be like God and have the power to be wherever we may be needed at any time, we need to show that we can manage our time and energy wisely. Asking ourselves if we are doing the best things with our time, is the key to becoming aware of this. There was a talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, entitled “Good, Better, Best”, in which he explains the need to prioritize even just the good things in our lives, to learn what are the best things for us to do with out time and energy. In that talk, Elder Oaks starts by saying the following:

We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.

When we really take a look at ourselves and seek for our true potential, sometimes the good is just not enough. Elder Oaks goes on to say the following:

The First Presidency has called on parents “to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles. … The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place … in … this God-given responsibility.” The First Presidency has declared that “however worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”

Part of seeking for the way to do the best, is to really know what sources will help us to know the best things we can be doing. Following the counsel of God’s appointed leaders for us, and moreover, following the personal inspiration of God through His Spirit, will let us know what the best things are that we can do now and ways in which we can become more like God.

We have the potential to become holy, even as God is holy. In Leviticus 19:2 we are taught the righteous standard of God. “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.” We cannot be striving towards our potential, if we are not striving to be holy. In the Bible Dictionary it describes holiness in the following way:

. . . things or places were holy that were set apart for a sacred purpose; . . . Similarly a holy person meant one who held a sacred office. The Israelites were a holy people because they stood in a special relationship to Jehovah. Under the guidance of the Prophets it was seen that what distinguished Jehovah from the gods of the heathen was his personal character. The word holy therefore came to refer to moral character . . . in the writings of the Prophets it is clearly laid down that the value of worship in the eyes of God depends upon the personal character of the worshipper.

We can become holy as individuals, when we use all that we have been given (such as our minds, bodies, and talents) for sacred purposes. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear [or reverence] of God.” Turing our will to Gods and doing the things that He expects of us, will sanctify us and holiness will be the result.

(Coming tomorrow: Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 6)

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Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 4

(To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

God, our Heavenly Father, is omniscient or all-knowing. We therefore, have the potential to become all-knowing. In 1 Samuel 2:3 we read, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” God knows about everything thing he has created. In Moses 1:35 we read, “But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.” The Lord knows of every plant and animal. The Lord is aware of us. He knows us completely. As we work to be more like God, we need to work on knowing our own creations better. Do we recognize the things that we make with our hands and minds? Are we trying to get to know our children as well as God knows us? In Luke 16:15 we read, “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” God is aware of the deepest desires of our hearts. 1 Samuel 16:7 reads, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Again in 1 Chronicles 28:9 we read, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.” God knows more than just our desires. He knows what we need, more than we know what we need. In Matthew 6:8 we read, “Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” We need to become more in tune with our own relationships with our family and what they desire and need, by looking deeper. When we look outside of ourselves more, we will recognize the needs of others and be on the right path to becoming like God.

Since they go right along with being all-knowing, the next attributes we can strive to have more of, in order be like God, are the attributes of intelligence and wisdom. God is more than all-knowing, He is intelligent and uses that intelligence with perfect wisdom. God’s glory is intelligence. We learn this in Doctrine and Covenants 93:36, which says, “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” In Doctrine and Covenants 88:41 we read, “He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.” We cannot even begin to understand the things that God understands, because of the eternal and infinite nature of his intelligence. Mosiah 4:9 says, “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.” It would be outrageous for any person to consider himself as having more knowledge, intelligence or wisdom than God. There is so much more for us to learn than we could possibly imagine. In 2 Nephi 2:24 we learn that “all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.” Often times, the natural response to something difficult is to question why God would do something to us, or why He would allow something to happen to us. The question can always be answered with this scripture, and it is that God does all things in wisdom. He knows us, comprehends us as well as our pasts and futures. He knows what we will learn from every difficulty we face in life. In our search to become more like God and get closer to our potential, we should be seeking after greater knowledge and intelligence. Not the way the world would have it, but the way God can give it to us. We should seek to have the spirit with us, so that we can learn truth of all things. Then when we have more intelligence, we need to try to be wise with the choices we make. There is no point to having a greater understanding or comprehension, if we are not trying to use it wisely. The blessing of wise choices and actions, is that we are then capable of understanding and learning even greater things. God wants us to become more intelligent and wise and He will bless us if we strive for this with sincere desire and faith.

(Coming soon: Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 5)

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Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 3

(To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

Part of the role of a father, and especially of God who is our Father in heaven, is to be a creator. Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Likewise, in Doctrine and Covenants 76:24 we read, “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” God is the creator of all things. We need to reflect on the things that we choose to create in this life, to be sure they are good. There are many things, that were first created by God and have since been altered by man for that which is not good. This also means that we cannot idle away the precious time that we have here. The modern prophets have counseled many times for us to be anxiously engaged in good causes and to strive to do the work of the Lord in our daily lives. In addition, we need to do our best to learn about these wonderful creations of God, because as Doctrine and Covenants 132 states (mentioned previously), we have the potential to be a creator for eternity. Our knowledge will bring us closer to understanding how it is that God created the amazing world we have around us. Again we read in John 1:3, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” There is nothing, in its most basic elements, that was not created by God. We do have the potential to make wonderful and perfect things of our own worlds without number.

Another attribute of God, is that He is omnipotent, or all-powerful. In Matthew 19:26, we read, “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” I think there are many in the world who try to find a problem with the idea of God because of this point of doctrine. Impossible is man’s idea, instilled by Satan to stop us from reaching the potential that we have. The natural man in us, would think that surely God could not do this one thing for us, which we feel would ultimately bring us joy. It is not true. 1 Nephi 7:12 reads, “Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.” We need to believe in God, act in faith, and reflect on the things that He has done for us. In Jeremiah 32:17 we read, “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:”. There are many things in this life, that we say we are incapable of doing. Especially those things that the Lord asks of us. This is not so. We have the potential to have all power. The power of God is the priesthood. In Doctrine and Covenants 11:30 we read of the priesthood when it says, “But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. Amen. (emphasis added)” We can be given power of God in this life. How do we use the power that has already been given to us? To answer this question, we can look to the power of God as a creator which has been given to all people in the ability to bear children. Do we abuse this power or treat it with the sacred respect that it deserves? I know that the priesthood power, which was given to men in ancient times, has been restored to the earth. This power is there for righteous and worthy men to bear all the power that God gives to mankind. Men who have the authority to use this power of God, should consider how they make use of it. If we can learn to honor and use the priesthood power well, we have the potential to have all the power of God after this life.

(Coming tomorrow: Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 4)

To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions


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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