Posts Tagged 'Love of God'

2 Chronicles Chapter 9

As king of Israel, Solomon had built the temple and a palace for himself. He had also worked to build up cities, highways, and more. His success was known among the nations. He was truly blessed of the Lord. This chapter begins:

1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
2 And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not.
3 And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built,
4 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her.
5 And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom:
6 Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard.
7 Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom.
8 Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the Lord thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice.
9 And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of Sheba gave king Solomon.
10 And the servants also of Huram, and the servants of Solomon, which brought gold from Ophir, brought algum trees and precious stones.
11 And the king made of the algum trees terraces to the house of the Lord, and to the king’s palace, and harps and psalteries for singers: and there were none such seen before in the land of Judah.
12 And king Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which she had brought unto the king. So she turned, and went away to her own land, she and her servants.

The Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon and wanted to test him. She visited him in Jerusalem and told him all that was in her heart. Solomon was able to answer her all the questions she had, with complete wisdom. Once the queen had seen this for herself, along with all the prosperity and success of his Kingdom, she was convinced of the truth to what she had heard of him. She told him this and that she couldn’t believe it until she saw for herself. She went so far as to say that what she had heard did not even come close to the level of his actual wisdom. She was impressed by the happiness of his men and servants. She praised the Lord who had given him the kingdom. She recognized that the God of Israel had loved his people so much that he blessed them with Solomon as their king and judge. She gave Solomon gifts of gold, spices and precious stones. Then, the servants of Huram along with his own servants, brought algum trees and precious stones, which Solomon used to make terraces for the temple and his palace, such as had not been seen in the land of Judah. Solomon gave gifts to the queen of Sheba of anything she asked of him. Then she and her servants returned to her own land.

13 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and threescore and six talents of gold;
14 Beside that which chapmen and merchants brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon.

In addition to his amazing wisdom, he was prosperous beyond any other. In one year, he recieved over 600 talents of gold. All the kings and leaders around, brought him gifts of gold and silver.

15 And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of beaten gold went to one target.
16 And three hundred shields made he of beaten gold: three hundred shekels of gold went to one shield. And the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.
17 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold.
18 And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays:
19 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not the like made in any kingdom.

Solomon made shields of gold, which he put in the house of the forest of Lebanon (like an armory). He also had an ivory throne made, which was plaited in gold and raised on a gold platform with six steps leading up to it. On each side of the throne, there was a lion, as well as on both sides of each step of the platform.

20 And all the drinking vessels of king Solomon were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold: none were of silver; it was not any thing accounted of in the days of Solomon.
21 For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
22 And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.

Instruments, tools, cups and such things in his palace, were made of gold. He continued to receive gold, silver, ivory, apes and peacocks from his men who went to Tarshish with the men of Huram. He was by far, the most wise and wealthy king of all the world.

23 And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.
24 And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, harness, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.

Many kings visited Solomon, to hear his wisdom. Each brought gifts of silver, gold, clothing, spices, horses and mules. Other nations must have recognized the power in the wisdom and strength of Solomon and Israel. In bringing gifts to Solomon, they paid him tribute and possible made an alliance with Israel. This would have meant greater peace for Israel during his reign. (see also 1 Kings 4)

25 And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.
26 And he reigned over all the kings from the river even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt.
27 And the king made silver in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycomore trees that are in the low plains in abundance.
28 And they brought unto Solomon horses out of Egypt, and out of all lands.

With the gift of so many horses and chariots, Solomon had 4,000 places made for them. He had 12,000 men as horsemen located in chariot cities and in Jerusalem. He ruled over Israel, as well as over the leaders of the nations bordering Israel. Solomon and Israel became very prosperous.

29 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?
30 And Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years.
31 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and he was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

Much of the history of Solomon was written in books and prophecies that are not contained in the Bible today, but were recorded by the prophet Nathan (prophet during reign of David as well as Solomon), Ahijah the Shilonite (prophet of Jeroboam’s time), and Iddo the seer. Solomon reigned for 40 years in Israel and then passed away. His son, Rehoboam, became the next king of Israel.

Solomon was a great king in Israel. His wisdom, wealth, and success were greater than any that lived at that time. As a result, Israel was a powerful and great nation in the eyes of the world. There has been no other ruler like him and Israel (I believe) has never been as prosperous or strong in the eyes of other nations since. All this was a blessing upon Solomon, for the good man he was at the beginning of his reign. The hand of God was with him and Israel during his reign. This story in the Bible reflects a gospel principle found throughout the Book of Mormon. In 1 Nephi 2:20, Nephi writes the words of the Lord, “And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise…”. (see also 1 Nephi 4:14, 2 Nephi 1:9, 20, 2 Nephi 4:4, Jarom 1:9, and Mosiah 2:22, 31) The Lord blesses those who are faithful to him with things that are spiritual, such as the gift of wisdom, as well as things that are physical, like wealth and safety from enemies. Even nations have been blessed as Israel was, and will continue to receive the blessings of God if they are led by leaders who strive to do good according to their knowledge. This is because God loves all of us. We are His children and He desires to bless us with all that we stand in need of and desire for our good.

2 Chronicles Chapter 7

The temple of the Lord, which Solomon built, had been completed and dedicated. Many sacrifices and offerings had been prepared on the altars of the temple. The elders and priests of Israel were all gathered together in Jerusalem for this event, and the glory of the Lord was among them in a thick cloud that filled the temple. Chapter 7 begins as follows:

1 Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.
2 And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.
3 And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

At the conclusion of Solomon’s dedicatory prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the offerings and sacrifices that had been prepared. The glory of the Lord continued to fill the temple, so much so, that the priests were unable to enter. The Israelites that witnessed these things, bowed down and worshipped the Lord for his goodness and never-ending mercy. (see also 1 Kings 8)

4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord.
5 And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.
6 And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.
7 Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brasen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat.

Sacrifices were offered, including 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. The temple was thus dedicated, and the service of the priests began to be there. Everyone stood at the sound of the trumpets played by the musicians. Solomon dedicated the middle of the court, just in front of the temple, where sacrifices were offered by him. He had offered them there because the altar had not been sufficient to hold the offerings which had been given and prepared.

8 Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.
9 And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.
10 And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.
11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord, and the king’s house: and all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the Lord, and in his own house, he prosperously effected.

The feast associated with the dedication went on for seven days, in which a large number of the Israelites participated. On the eighth day, they held a solemn assembly. Then, the people were sent to their tents. They were happy and grateful for the goodness of the Lord shown toward King David, King Solomon, and the Israelite people. With that, the dedication and celebration were complete. Everything Solomon did for the temple and his own palace, prospered. (see also 1 Kings 9)

12 And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.
13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
17 And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments;
18 Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.
19 But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;
20 Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.
21 And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and unto this house?
22 And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.

Solomon was visited by the Lord in the night. The Lord told Solomon personally, that the temple was chosen by the Lord as a house of sacrifice. The Lord, who had power to bring drought, locusts or pestilences, promised Solomon that he would forgive those who humbly repented and sought him, and heal the land. He promised to hear the prayers of the faithful made in the temple. Additionally, he promised Solomon that his kingdom would be established in Israel continually, so long as Solomon remained faithful and obedient to commandments of the Lord. If, however, this was not the case, and Solomon turned away from the Lord, and was disobedient and forsook the instruction and commandments of the Lord, in effect seeking after other gods for worship, the Lord would remove them from the land of promise and cast the temple out as an example to all the world. The people would have a reminder from the temple, of the suffering brought to them by the Lord because they turned away from their God to worship other gods.

God will not continue to help and bless the life of anyone who forsakes him. I don’t believe this is simply because he does not like to be forsaken. God is a merciful Father, who honors our individual agency with perfection. He removes his blessing upon the people who do not remember Him and His commandments, because they would be held to a higher standard, in the day of judgment, if he continued to give them blessings that are reserved for the faithful. In Luke 12:48, Jesus taught, “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…”. Therefore, He allows men to suffer by the gods they choose to follow, in other words He allows them to suffer (or experience) from all that the world has to offer them, which is not eternally damning to their soul to the same degree. God does not want to punish us, He wants to bless us. He does not look for ways to help us fail even more. He does not want to put any of us in the position to be condemned further, but gives us the opportunities to choose to return to Him on our own. His love and mercy for His children, no matter if they choose to follow Him or not, is amazing beyond our understanding, and is the love and mercy of a perfect Father.

On the other hand, God gladly blesses men for faithfulness. We are blessed in many ways, including a happiness and peace in our lives. The people in Israel, who had gathered for the dedication and feast, left happy. They had experienced amazing things during the dedication. These experiences brought a response from the people, of gratitude to the Lord. In my own experience at temple dedications, there hasn’t been a visible cloud of the glory of the Lord, but I have felt full of the spirit. It is a feeling which is hard to describe other than to say it is like a burning in my heart and a feeling of joy and peace I wanted to last. Solomon must have felt true joy to have done this thing for the Lord. His experience did not end there, but he was then visited by the Lord, just as his father had been. This was a personal confirmation to Solomon, that he had followed the will of the Lord. He had done the things that were necessary to allow more of God’s children the blessings of the temple, because they could more fully keep the covenants they had made.

2 Chronicles Chapter 4

As part of the building of the temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon needed to craft all of the sacred items for use in the temple. Chapter 4 tells of those items and how they were made.

1 Moreover he made an altar of brass, twenty cubits the length thereof, and twenty cubits the breadth thereof, and ten cubits the height thereof.

The items designed, included a brass altar, which was 20 cubits square and ten cubits high. This was patterned after the altar in the tabernacle, but made larger. With the need to carry the altar, the one created for the tabernacle had to be crafted at its smaller size. In the temple Solomon built, it was designed in a larger size meant to be both a permanent fixture and to allow for more sacrifices at one time.

2 Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
3 And under it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast.
4 It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.
5 And the thickness of it was an handbreadth, and the brim of it like the work of the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies; and it received and held three thousand baths.

The basin, or molten sea, was circular and ten cubits in diameter. It stood 5 cubits in height and was ornamented with lilies. It was placed on twelve oxen to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Three oxen faced outward each direction: north, south, east, and west. (See also 1 Kings 7) This is the pattern for the baptismal fonts in temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built today, which are circular as well, and rest on the backs of twelve oxen set in this same way.

6 He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in.
7 And he made ten candlesticks of gold according to their form, and set them in the temple, five on the right hand, and five on the left.
8 He made also ten tables, and placed them in the temple, five on the right side, and five on the left. And he made an hundred basins of gold.

There were ten lavers, made for washing the offerings, while the larger basin was for the priests to wash. Ten golden candlesticks, or lamp stands, were made as had been for the tabernacle, and placed in the temple. These would be used to keep light continuously in the temple. Ten tables were made as well along with 100 golden basins.

9 Furthermore he made the court of the priests, and the great court, and doors for the court, and overlaid the doors of them with brass.
10 And he set the sea on the right side of the east end, over against the south.
11 And Huram made the pots, and the shovels, and the basins. And Huram finished the work that he was to make for king Solomon for the house of God;
12 To wit, the two pillars, and the pommels, and the chapiters which were on the top of the two pillars, and the two wreaths to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were on the top of the pillars;
13 And four hundred pomegranates on the two wreaths; two rows of pomegranates on each wreath, to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were upon the pillars.
14 He made also bases, and lavers made he upon the bases;
15 One sea, and twelve oxen under it.
16 The pots also, and the shovels, and the fleshhooks, and all their instruments, did Huram his father make to king Solomon for the house of the Lord of bright brass.
17 In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredathah.
18 Thus Solomon made all these vessels in great abundance: for the weight of the brass could not be found out.

The court of the priests was made, as well as the great court with brass doors. The basin was placed in the south-east end of the temple. Huram, a metal-worker of Tyre, crafted the brass (or polished bronze) pots, shovels and basins. He also designed the ornaments of the pillars, bases for the lavers (washbasins), the basin and oxen, pots, shovels, flesh-hooks, and all the other various items to be used in the temple.

19 And Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God, the golden altar also, and the tables whereon the shewbread was set;
20 Moreover the candlesticks with their lamps, that they should burn after the manner before the oracle, of pure gold;
21 And the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, made he of gold, and that perfect gold;
22 And the snuffers, and the basins, and the spoons, and the censers, of pure gold: and the entry of the house, the inner doors thereof for the most holy place, and the doors of the house of the temple, were of gold.

Solomon had all the golden vessels made, such as the golden altar, tables for the shewbread, candlesticks, flowers, lamps, tongs, snuffers, basins, spoons, and censers. The entrance of the temple, doors of the holy place and the doors of the temple, were also made with gold.

The temple that Solomon built, was not just a building of beauty, but it was a building of purpose. It was created for the sacred worship of God through sacrifices and service. In order to perform the rites and rituals that had been established by the Lord, they needed all of these items that Solomon made. Each item had a dedicated purpose and a specific way they were to be used. This can be related as well, to our bodies, which are also a type of temple. In 1 Corinthians 3:17 we read, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Additionally in chapter 6, verse 19, we read, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God…?” Our bodies are temples of out spirits and they are not just for beauty, but they are created for specific purposes designed by God. We worship God through the sacrifice and service of our own bodies. Each part has been created by God, with a specific purpose and use and we can choose to dedicate it to the Lord. I am forever grateful for the body I have been given and the things I am able to do with this gift. I pray each day that I might use it for good. Likewise, I am grateful for the temples of the Lord built today, and the service and covenants for which they are built. Temples are an evidence of the love we have for the Lord, and more importantly, the love God has for us. To have been given a place where we can commit ourselves more fully to Him, so that we can be made holy and complete, is a witness that God desires for us all to return to Him. Each temple is beautiful and glorious, as the temple of Solomon was in antiquity, but the blessing of the temple is so much more if we are willing to make the changes and sacrifices necessary to use it personally.

2 Samuel Chapter 22

David was a man of faith. He was not perfect, none of us are, but we can see in his example that he tried to turn to God often. David was the king, chosen by the Lord, to lead the people of Israel. In the world, he was raised above others, reverenced and in a way, worshipped by his followers, and he could have been a man of great pride. Nevertheless, he remembered the Lord and had a humility that has not always been found in those who have ruled the nations. David was a writer of songs and psalms. In his youth, David had been brought to King Saul, to play for him in the hopes of raising Saul’s depressed spirit. This was a talent and gift, which he used throughout his life, and this chapter is noted as coming from him as well. In the header, it calls this a psalm of thanksgiving.

1 And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:
2 And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

A key to humility is gratitude. In this psalm David expresses the Lord’s hand in the things of his life. In particular, David was grateful for the Lord’s power of deliverance in his life. He recognized that God had been the reason for his life being spared when others, specifically Saul, had tried to kill him. He uses words to describe the Lord, which show that he felt the Lord was strong. Words such as “rock” and “fortress”, which were things that were firm and steadfast, dependable and unmovable. David felt the protection of the Lord in his battles. Anyone who knows of David in the bible, knows of David’s trust of the Lord in his fights. This is the same man, who went when he was young and unskilled in battle, volunteered to fight Goliath. He knew the Lord would fight for him then, and he knew he would continue to fight for him when the cause was right.

4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;
6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
7 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.
9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.
11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.
12 And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.
13 Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.
15 And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.
16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
17 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;
18 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
19 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.

David recognized that he could depend on the Lord and ask for help through prayer. He knew that he had personal weaknesses, including fear. Yet, the Lord had heard his prayers for help and delivered him from those he feared. In our own distress, we can call upon God. When we have fear, sorrows, doubts, sadness, loneliness, frustrations, or any kind of distress to our soul, we can pray to God for help. The Lord wants us to have joy and be happy. In our humility, he will help us find our way.

20 He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
21 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.
23 For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.
24 I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.
25 Therefore the Lord hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.

David knew that the Lord had blessed him for his righteousness. When he chose to do what was right, according to the laws and judgments of God, he was rewarded. As I initially read this, it seemed that this psalm was written before his decision with Bathsheba and Uriah, because he said that he had kept the ways of the Lord, and his actions at that time where not according to the laws and statutes of the Lord. Until that point of weakness, it seems that David had lived righteously and had been greatly blessed for his cleanliness. However, the companion manual in my current study states that these last few chapters of 2 Samuel, were praise offered at the end of David’s life. Perhaps, it is that David recognized what he had done, and had strived to repent and return to those things that were righteous. We are not characterized by the mistakes we make, when we choose to correct them, turn back from them, or move forward from them, especially when we do so with the help of the Lord. Although David had not lived a perfect life, he had tried in most things, to live in a manner that was pleasing to the Lord. He had suffered quite a bit for his choice, but his life as a whole had been greatly blessed for his righteousness.

26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.
27 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.
28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.

God extends mercy to those who are merciful and saves those who are afflicted, but He also causes those who are haughty, or lifted up in their own pride, to be brought down. There will come a day when it will not be pleasant for those who fill their lives with deceit and sin.

29 For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness.
30 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.
31 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.
32 For who is God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God?

God provides light to those in darkness, and makes all things possible. David teaches us that the ways of God are perfect. I like the phrase used here, “the word of the Lord is tried”, because I think it reminds us that we can test the word of God, and it will always be perfect and true. God is the Lord and a rock to those who trust in Him.

33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
34 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.
35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.
37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.
38 I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.
39 And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.
40 For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.
41 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.
42 They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the Lord, but he answered them not.
43 Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.
44 Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.
45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.
46 Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.

God is strength and power. He has the strength to do anything, and he will be there for those who remember Him. God has the power to help us overcome enemies, especially when that enemy is our own weakness to temptation and sin. His power can make us closer to what He is, which is perfect. When we are striving to do what is right, God helps us to stay grounded, firm on the path that will raise us up rather than that which leads us down to misery. He will bless the righteous with the things that they stand in need of, which in David’s case, was to have the strength in battle to defeat those that were trying to destroy him. In doing so, God gave David the power to rule over strangers.

47 The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.
48 It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me,
49 And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
50 Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
51 He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.

David reminds us that God lives. He praises God for his personal salvation and success against those that stand against him. David knew he and his posterity would be forever blessed by the mercy of the Lord.

It is so important for us to have gratitude in our hearts, and most especially for God who gives us blessings beyond our comprehension and understanding. I second the testimony of David, that we have a living God. He is good and loving, merciful and kind, strong and powerful. He will bless those that follow Him. He will give out just rewards when the time comes for all of us to be judged. He will welcome the faithful home, with open arms and blessings beyond measure, because He loves us beyond measure.

Ponderizing – Week 10 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is 2 Nephi 28:30.

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

God is our creator. He knows how every particle of our being works together and allows us to breathe, move, think and love. He knows how we learn, and while we all learn at different paces and our learning is focused in different areas from one another, there is an eternal principle that applies to all people. We learn by building on the things we already know. This is why it takes time to build a vocabulary. This is why we study our alphabet and sounds for quite a bit of time before we start to read. This is how we are able to retain the basics in order to understand deeper concepts. In keeping with this eternal principle, and because God desires for us to learn and gain understanding and knowledge, God distills his teachings upon us in this manner: line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.

If God intended for us to have all knowledge at once, or even in just a short span of time, we would not have needed to live any longer than that short amount of time. Yet, we live and are learning to the day we leave this mortal life. And, I believe, that our learning may continue after this life, for as long as is necessary for us to gain a perfect knowledge. In his perfect understanding of His creations, God gives us time to learn and time to grow in knowledge.

This verse teaches us that we can choose what to do with the teachings that come for God. The first option, is to hearken to God’s precepts and to listen attentively to His counsel. The second option, is to decide that there has been enough knowledge given by God. The promised consequences of choosing the first option, are wisdom and more teachings to learn from. On the other hand, the promised consequences for choosing the second option, is that the knowledge one already has, will be taken away. This may seem unloving of God, to remove our knowledge from us. It is not, however, something that changes the perfectly eternal love of God for his children. In fact, it is a gift of love, because there will be a day when all will be judged. Those who have a knowledge of His teachings, will be held accountable for how they lived their life according to that knowledge. In His great and eternal mercy, God removes those things which we cannot seem to handle, so that we will not be held accountable for actions against those things that we clearly have not understood.

This life is a gift of preparation for our eternal lives. We were given this opportunity to work towards something. We choose if we will move forward in our personal progression, or if we turn away from that. There is no option for standing still when time continues to move forward. We have a blessed opportunity to learn from God each and every day of our lives, so that we can become better people.

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

I am so grateful for the patience and wisdom of God. He is truly long-suffering with me. He is loving and knows me perfectly. I know that there are many things I am taking a long time to learn, but thankfully, I also know that God will only give me what I can handle at this time. When I have chosen to live according to what I learn, I know He will give me more to learn from. I hope that more of God’s children will have a desire to learn rather than to give up on God in His role as their teacher. I know He is our loving Father and that His greatest desire is for us to grow in the light and truth of His teachings, because it will bring us back into His presence and allow us to continue to progress in the eternities. He wants to see us grow into beings of great wisdom and knowledge. We need to be patient with God in what he gives us to learn. Likewise, we need to be patient with ourselves in our level of learning. Finally, we need to remember to be patient with others, who are also learning line upon line in their own lives.

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 11

Moses continued to instruct the Israelites on the laws, statutes, and ordinances of the Lord, in preparation for their gaining the promised land. These things were so important for them in that day, just as they are important for us to learn of now. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
2 And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm,
3 And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land;
4 And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the Lord hath destroyed them unto this day;
5 And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place;
6 And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel:
7 But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did.
8 Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;
9 And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

This message was directed towards those adults, who had experienced the miracles and wonders of the Lord during the long journey in the wilderness. Because they had witnessed so much and been greatly blessed by the Lord, He could have greater expectations of them. It is such a blessing and a huge responsibility to have made covenants with the Lord. When we do this, and learn truth through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, we are held to a higher standard than those who have not. One of the things that gives me great peace of mind, is knowing that we will each be judged for what the Lord knows we have a knowledge of. I will not be judged for the same understanding as the prophets who have witnessed greater things, but I will be judged for an understanding that is greater than those who have gone without the gospel in their lives. The Lord was not going to hold the children of the Israelites to the same standard as those who had seen the waters of the Red Sea part, and had witnessed the ground open up when men had openly rebelled against Moses and the word of the Lord.

The Lord wanted the people to follow His commandments, so that they could be blessed with strength. The strength they needed was both physical and spiritual strength (strong of heart, strong in the faith, and strong in spirit). If they did this, the Lord could answer his promise to their ancestors and allow them to inherit the promised land. This was a promise of a loving God, who desired to give blessings. I believe this promise of the fathers, is still a promise today that will be fulfilled completely, when all the people will come to know that Jesus is the Christ, and will turn to Him in faith. Our Father in Heaven loves us also and desires to give us all the blessings He has. Likewise, we are expected to keep His commandments. Modern revelation teaches us of this same commandment to love the Lord. In Doctrine and Covenants 59:5 we read, “Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, saying thus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.” Our own promised land will be the blessing for those who remember to keep these things.

10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
11 But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:
12 A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.

The promised land was beautiful and had plenty of rain water to provide for the land and people. As the land of promise, the Lord watched over it and cared for it. I am sure that He continues to watch over that land today. I believe that there is a “promised land” awaiting us after this life. We are promised that the blessings of the celestial kingdom will be the greatest that God gives. He has prepared it for us, and is caring for it now, so that it will be a beautiful place of plenty for all those who earn that reward.

13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
15 And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
17 And then the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you.

The children of Israel received a promise of the Lord, that if they would obey the commandments, particularly to love the Lord and serve Him completely, they would have rain in its season. The land would bring forth good harvest, and the fields would be good for their cattle. The people were warned to watch for being deceived in their hearts, to turn to other gods. Serving other gods would bring the wrath of God upon them and remove these promised blessings, leaving them to perish. I think that the fulfillment of either of these promises would show that the earth is the Lord’s and He has power over it and the elements which provide for it. He still has this power today, and I know that we can be blessed with rain and good harvest for our righteousness today.

18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

These great promises required that they remember and cherish the words of the Lord, teaching them to their children at all times of the day, and keeping memorials on their person and around themselves as reminders. In doing this, they would be blessed with a multiplying of their days in the land, as well as the days of their children. This is another power and gift from God that he offered to the Israelites and can provide for His people today. I think that we will receive great blessings if we treasure the words of the Lord, both from the ancient and modern prophets. I believe that we are also greatly blessed by teaching our children and keeping reminders of these things around us as often as possible.

22 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;
23 Then will the Lord drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
24 Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.
25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the Lord your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.

If they were obedient to the commandments, they were promised that nations would be driven out of the land. The Israelites would gain the land of great and mighty nations, wherever they would go. With the help of the Lord, nations would fear them even before they got there to drive them out of the land.

26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day:
28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
29 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.
30 Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh?
31 For ye shall pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein.
32 And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.

Obedience would bring a blessing from the Lord and disobedience would bring a curse. The Israelites were to place a blessing on mount Gerizim, and a curse on mount Ebal. They would do this later, by reading the law of Moses and in a sense, dedicating the land to the Lord and to righteousness. They would be able to cross the Jordan River, posses the land and live there, as long as they were obedient.

Their is an eternal law of blessings, which teaches that when the Lord promises a blessing for a commandment, He is bound to give that blessing. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 130, where we can read:

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

I think also, that when he promises a curse for failure to keep the commandments, He is bound to that curse, because the promises of God are perfect and complete. This is especially poignant for those who have made covenants with the Lord. Modern revelation found in verses such as Doctrine and Covenants 41:1, teach us this principle. “Hearken and hear, O ye my people, saith the Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings, ye that hear me; and ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heaviest of all cursings.”

The mercy of the Lord, however, can be extended when we turn back to Him and keep His commandments. That mercy does not mean that we will not suffer something for our initial disobedience, but it does allow for us to receive forgiveness and eventual relief from the suffering we bring upon ourselves. I am grateful for the hope that promised blessings brings to my life. Moroni 10:32 reads, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” This gives me a great source of strength, when choosing to live righteously can seem so challenging.

Exodus Chapter 2

The children of Israel had been in bondage to the Pharaoh’s of Egypt for many years. In the previous chapter, it was learned that Pharaoh was afraid of the power and strength of the Israelites, so he had commanded the death of all the Israelite baby boys. The book of Exodus continues as follows:

1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.
4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

A Levite couple had a son, who they were able to hide for the first three months of his life. Then the wife made an “ark”, which I think was like a basket, and put the baby in the basket and put it in the water. The baby’s sister watched over the basket to see what would happen to it. I cannot even imagine the feelings of the Israelite women when they would learn they had had baby boys. How heartbreaking it must have been to know their babies were going to be hunted. This mother must have been very brave to first hide her infant for 3 months, or at least hide that it was a boy, and then to place him in the water, not knowing what might happen to him there. She must have known that this was a better chance for a life, than being found and drowned in the water as other Israelite boys were, and trusted that the Lord would provide a way. How painful it must have been to give him up to the elements like this.

5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.
7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?
8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother.
9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.
10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

Pharaoh’s daughter went to the water to bathe and she found the basket. She found the Levite baby in the basket. Even though she recognized the crying baby as a Hebrew child, she had compassion and decided to keep him. She had her maid find the baby’s mother to be his nurse, which she did. When the boy was old enough, his mother took him to Pharaoh’s daughter to be raised as her son. She named him Moses which to according to the footnote, meant to beget, or to have a child. What a blessing this was for Moses and his family. The odds that the daughter of Pharaoh, who could command others to follow her will, would be the one person to find the basket and then would decide to save this infant even though he was a hebrew, is a miracle. To be the mother of Moses, and to find out that not only was your baby okay, but that you would be allowed to nurse him and watch over him until he was weaned, would have been amazing I am sure. I am also pretty sure it was much easier to give him to Pharaoh’s daughter, knowing that he would be kept safe and given all the blessings that life could have afforded him. Moses’ mother must have known that he would not be made to serve as all the other Hebrews were, and that his life would be much greater than she could offer to him at that point. I wonder if inspiration led her decisions through this difficult time as a mother. I think it would be interesting to know how his mother felt and to see what kind of woman she was. All I can figure, is that she must have been a woman of great faith in the face of great adversity.

11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.
12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?
14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.
15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.
17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.
18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?
19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.
20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.
21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
22 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Moses grew up and as he watched over the burdens of his brothers, he saw one of them being beaten by an Egyptian. I gather that he knew he was Hebrew heritage even though he was raised by an Egyptian, which I had not realized before. I thought he did not know until he was grown. In any case, when no one was looking, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid his body. It became known among the Hebrews, who did not seem to appreciate what he had done for them. Moses feared for his life because of what he had done. Pharaoh heard what Moses had done and sought to kill him for it. Moses ran away from Pharaoh, to the land of Midian. The daughters of the Midian priest came to the well where Moses was, so that they might water their flocks. As a sidenote, the footnote says that the priest, Reuel, was a descendant of Abraham as well, through Abraham’s wife named Keturah. Later in Exodus, it calls the priest by the name of Jethro. There were shepherds at the well, who tried to send the girls away, but Moses helped them and watered their flocks for them. The girls returned to their father and told him what had happened. Their father, asked where Moses was so that he could offer to feed him, probably a common gesture for helping protect one’s family. Moses stayed with the priest and married his daughter Zipporah. They had a son named Gershom and we learn in later scriptures that he had a second son as well.

This story of Moses is found throughout several passages of scripture in the Bible. In these verses, we learn that he cared for his hebrew brothers even though he was raised by Egyptians. Here it seems as though Moses’ initial intentions with the Egyptian man, was to kill him, but I have to wonder if he intended to stop him and perhaps hurt him, but that the death was not his intention. Another passage related to what happened seems to portray it as less than intentional. In Acts 7 we read the following:

24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.

This seems to say that he fought in defense of the Hebrew, supposing that the Hebrews would see that he was able to help them. I don’t think that Moses would have intentionally killed someone and turned out to become the man and prophet he eventually became. Rather, Moses was a man who would defend his brothers from the pain that was being inflicted upon them.

In the verses in Exodus chapter 2, we see again the desire in Moses to help those in need. He was a man of compassion. Just as he had done with the hebrew in Egypt, Moses defended the daughters of the Midian priest when they were being oppressed by others. We learn more of Moses in verses such as Number 12:3, which reads, “(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)” He was meeker than other men of his time. In Acts chapter 7 we read the following about Moses:

22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.

Moses was a wise man, because he had been taught as a child of Egyptian royalty would have been taught. I believe that he was able and willing to be inspired by the spirit. It says that “it came into his heart to visit his brethren”, which I am taking to mean that he was inspired to go out and see them. Being raised as Egyptian royalty, I am sure not many of his adoptive family would go out and see how the Hebrews were doing. He must have felt the whisperings of the spirit and followed them. After killing the Egyptian, he came to some of the Hebrews who seemed to have been fighting with one another. He tried to be the peacemaker between these men, who turned their frustration and possible fears upon Moses.

Later, we read the following passage found in Hebrews 11:

24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Faith is a Sunrise

Here it teaches us that Moses was a man of faith. Even though Pharaoh could have killed him for it, he denied his adoptive family as his and turned to his Hebrew heritage. He could have continued to live a life of luxury in Egypt, but instead he left his Egyptian lifestyle and family. He chose instead to accept his Hebrew blood and the hope of blessings through the Lord. Moses was indeed a great man and he had some great qualities, which made him perfect for his mission to lead the children of Israel from bondage. He was a chosen prophet of the Lord and is a great example to us of Christ-like qualities that we should be striving to have.

Exodus chapter 2 continues as follows:

23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.
24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

Meanwhile, Pharaoh died and the Israelites cried to God for help out of their bondage. God heard their cries and remembered the covenant He had made with their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They had been promised that their posterity would be led out of bondage and returned to their promised land. It was’t that God had forgotten his promise, but that he was aware of them and it was time to fulfill a portion of the promises made to their ancestors. They would soon be delivered form bondage.

God is always there for His people. The children of Israel were there in bondage for quite some time, but not without the loving care of a Father in Heaven. They were not left alone in their trials. I am sure that they continued to have the weight of their suffering made to feel as less than it was, according to their individual faith. In the perfect timing of the Lord, Moses was brought along, protected and guided to become the prophet of the Lord. He was preserved and prepared to be the man to lead them from the life of bondage in Egypt. I am so grateful for the living prophets we have today. I know that they are called to lead us out of our own bondage as well. I believe that God loves us just as he loved the Israelites in ancient times and I know that He desires for all his children to follow the prophet to safety and eventually to return to be with Him again.

Conference Questions – Purpose for Serving

Recently, I watched the 182nd Semi Annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I watch conference, I am always filled with the spirit and a desire to be a better person and draw closer to the Savior. I love to take notes. When I first started being a note taker for learning in church settings, I would write everything I possibly could down. Including what the speakers said, as well as the little lessons the spirit would teach me during the talks. Once that became a habit, I learned that I should really be focused on writing down the things that I am personally taught by the spirit. So, with that as my focus for note taking, I found myself writing down questions that I should be able to answer. The thought then came to me that these are questions that I could attempt to study on this blog. To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

On Sunday morning of conference weekend, Sister Linda K. Burton, the new General Relief Society President, gave a great talk entitled, “First Observe, Then Serve”. It focused on seeing the needs of those around us and serving in Christ-like ways to fill those needs. It reminded me a lot of one of the cartoons that I have watched many times with my kids. In the movie Robots, there is a phrase that is used throughout and is a main point for the film. It is, “See a need, fill a need.” Ever since I first saw that movie, that thought has often come to mind as I have tried to serve others. Anyway, the thought is along the same line as the message of Sister Burton’s talk. In her talk she said the following:

Sometimes we are tempted to serve in a way that we want to serve and not necessarily in the way that is needed at the moment. When Elder Robert D. Hales taught the principle of provident living, he shared the example of buying a gift for his wife. She asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?” If we adapt that question to ourselves as we serve and ask, “Am I doing this for the Savior, or am I doing this for me?” our service will more likely resemble the ministry of the Savior. The Savior asked, and so should we, “What will ye that I shall do unto you?”

My next question in this series is do I serve for the Savior or myself? I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into this question before hearing this. Then I was talking to a friend afterwards and she said that she had been feeling selfish in her service, because she wanted to serve to make herself feel better. I had never thought one way or the other about it, but I know now that it is a great question to ask ourselves. True Christ-like service is not done to help us with our own issues. It is true that we can be greatly blessed because of our service and the blessings may be that our own problems seem easier to bear, but we cannot choose to do service with that as the goal. Rather the goal of service, should be to help another without expecting anything in return.

I love the scripture found in Mosiah 2:17, which reads, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” When we choose to do service for God, our entire perspective changes. We will begin to ask ourselves if this thing we are doing is something that God would do if He were standing there in that moment. We will open our hearts to greater direction from the spirit as well. When we do this, we will learn to have charity, or the pure love of Christ, for those we choose to serve. That is because we cannot serve as God would serve, without becoming more like God.

As I pondered this question, I was reminded of Matthew 6:24 when it says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” Usually when I think of this scripture, I am focused on serving the Lord or Satan. However, I think it applies here as well. If we are serving to get something out of it for ourselves, we are serving ourselves. We are the master then. This verse teaches us that we cannot be serving God as well as another master, even if it is us. If our focus is doing good so that we can get something out of it, we leave no room for service to or for God. It’s in moments like these that I feel the Savior would say to us what he taught his disciples many times during his ministry. It would sound something like, “You wanted this to be the outcome, well then, you have your reward.” If only we would recognize the greatness of the blessings that the Lord will give us for serving for Him instead of for us. If we truly knew what could come as a result of serving for the right reason, I am sure there would not be this desire to do things for ourselves.

I know that sometimes we get caught up in life and as we repent we desire to do the things that God has asked of us. It can be difficult to jump right in with the perfect perspective on service to others. At times like these, we need to leave ourselves out of it, and make our service a matter of acting in faith to God. In Mosiah 7:33 we read, “But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.” We need to be diligent and do our best, then the Lord will provide for our needs.

Our service to God, is how we show Him that we love him. In Doctrine and Covenants 42:29 we read, “If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me. . .”. This thought is found all throughout the scriptures. In John 21:17 we read, “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” I know that I will be serving for the right reasons if I am doing it out of love for the Lord. In Deuteronomy 10 we read the following:

12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (emphasis added)

We worship God, when we love and serve Him. I know that as we strive to serve and love God, the desire to serve others will come naturally to us. I am far from great at this, but I know that even service to those in our own homes is of great importance and should not be overlooked. This is where most of my service happens on a daily basis. I know now that I should really think about the reasons I choose to serve those in my home. If I am doing it to make myself feel better, then it is not being done for the right reasons. If we can be more mindful of the real needs of those around us, we will do better to serve them the way the Lord would have us serve. I hope that more of us can find a way to take the natural selfishness out of our daily acts of service, so that we can truly make this world a better place.

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)

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.
Testimony

Testimony

I made an album with my dad in 2011. Check it out!

Testimony

Digital Downloads (mp3) available directly from the site.

Current Study

Currently I am studying the The Old Testament. I will be studying from the LDS - King James Version of the Bible (see link below). I am studying along with the book, Scripture Study for Latter-day Saint Families: The Old Testament by Dennis H. Leavitt and Richard O. Christensen.

Learn More:

The Book of Mormon

You can order a free copy of the Book of Mormon here:

Book of Mormon Request

Archives

Follow me on Facebook:

My Wonderful Husband and Artist


%d bloggers like this: