Posts Tagged 'Plan of Happiness'

Ponderizing – Week 8 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is
2 Nephi 25:26.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Jesus-Portrait

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everything I do to live my faith and my religion, revolves around the understanding that Jesus is the Christ. That He is the Lord who, under the direction of His Father, created the world I live on today. That Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, who spoke to the prophets of old, and cared for His people. He came down to the earth, to live and die for all mankind. He has made it possible for all men to live forever as resurrected beings. He is the only way that we have the opportunity to return and live with our Father in Heaven for all eternity. This opportunity can only come through our acceptance of His infinite atonement. He has done his part, but we need to choose to accept Christ into our lives and live faithful to Him and His commandments. Through the atonement, we can repent and be forgiven of all our sins. The faith and hope I have in Jesus Christ, has blessed my life beyond anything I ever thought possible.

As a covenant member of the church of Christ, I have a duty to share that understanding with others around me. This scripture is one of my favorite verses in all of the scriptures, because I am a parent. I personally find so much joy in believing in Christ, and I have a great desire to share all that I can about this with my children. I believe that families on earth, can be families in heaven. The gospel teaches that each person much choose this for themselves, and so if I hope to have my family with me forever, I have a responsibility to teach them of Christ and the power of His atonement. How will my children know Him, if I do not speak of Him? How will they know that He can bring the greatest joy, if I do not rejoice in Him? How will my children know that He is still actively leading His people today, if I do not teach them about the prophesies of Him that have come to pass and are still to come? How will they know where to go to learn of Christ, if I do not show them the importance of reading the holy scriptures and modern revelations, where the prophets’ writings of Him can be found? How will they know, that Christ is the only way to becoming and remaining free of the bondage of sin, if I do not do all that I can to teach them this truth? This freedom is the only way to have true happiness in our lives. This is eternal happiness.

There are places that people can learn of these things without their parents, such as church, but the best place for children to learn is within their own homes. A parent, who has already gained a testimony of Christ and his mission, would be shirking their greatest responsibility by selfishly keeping this knowledge to themselves. I understand that whether I have my own children or not, my responsibility would still be to help others in my sphere of influence, to learn these eternal truths, because everyone should have the same opportunities to learn them if possible.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Jesus taught, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) My heart yearns to tell the world as Alma’s of old. “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.” (Alma 29:1-2) In no other place does this mean more to me, then in my home. Jesus Christ, who’s birth we celebrate at this special time of the year, is the way.

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D&C Section 29 (Part 3)

This is a continuation of the previous post: (Part 2)

This revelation was given just before the second conference was held. It was given through Joseph Smith and witnessed by six elders of the church.

“All My Judgements Are Not Given unto Men”

“But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit (v. 30).” We are unable to fully understand all the judgements and powers of God. He is all-powerful and we are only to believe that his judgement will always be just. We will earn exactly what we deserve. Those of us who have taken on the responsibility of the gospel, will be judge according to the laws and commandments that we have learned. Those who do not have the gospel, will be judge by what they learned in this life as well. We will each be held accountable for only the things that we have learned.

“All Things unto Me Are Spiritual”

“For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal (v. 31)—First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work (v. 32)—Speaking unto you that you may naturally understand; but unto myself my works have no end, neither beginning; but it is given unto you that ye may understand, because ye have asked it of me and are agreed (v. 33). Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created (v. 34). Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual (v. 35).”

The manual I am using helps to explain the meaning of this. God created all things spiritually first. Then the fall happened and all things became temporal. In the end everything will become spiritual again. The Lord explains this to us in a way that we understand things to be. Then the Lord says that for him, all things are spiritual because they have no end and no beginning. The concept of eternity is hard for our mortal minds to comprehend. This is why He explains it the way he does. We may see the commandments given by God, as either temporal or spiritual. A commandment to pay tithing may seem temporal, because we are physically paying money to the Lord. However, every temporal commandment is given for the welfare of our spirits and so all commandments are spiritual.

“Adam . . . Whom I Created”

The manual I am using points out that in this revelation, the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking in a way that is called “divine investiture of authority”. This manner allows him to speak in the words of God, the Father. This is why the Lord says these words, even though God created Adam. I can understand why some might find the words confusing, but for me it doesn’t matter whether it is the Lord, Jesus Christ, speaking or the words of God, the Father, because they are one in mind and purpose. It is not something I need to worry myself over.

The Lord goes on to speak about Satan and his followers, and how they have been given the ability to tempt man (including Adam) so that we could use our agency and learn. Adam was tempted and transgressed, was cast out of the Garden of Eden and became spiritually dead. Man was given a Savior to redeem us and we are here in a time of probation before we die and are resurrected. Those who believe will receive eternal life and those who do not will receive eternal damnation. We will gain the reward we deserve for the desires that we have (v. 36-45).

“Little Children Are Redeemed from the Foundation of the World”

“But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten (v. 46); Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me (v. 47); For it is given unto them even as I will, according to mine own pleasure, that great things may be required at the hand of their fathers (v. 48).” The Lord had provided the way, through the atonement, for the redemption of all those who are unable to sin. This includes little children, as well as those who are “without the law” or do not understand the law. This was part of the plan of Salvation, from its beginning.

Parents have a great responsibility in teaching their children. In D&C 68:25-28 we read, “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents (v. 25). For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized (v. 26). And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands (v. 27). And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord (v.28 ).” It is a law that we must obey as parents, or the sin is counted against our own souls. It is our sacred duty to raise our children in understanding of what is expected of them when they are to be held accountable.

“He That Hath No Understanding”

“And, again, I say unto you, that whoso having knowledge, have I not commanded to repent (v. 49)? And he that hath no understanding, it remaineth in me to do according as it is written. And now I declare no more unto you at this time. Amen (v. 50).” We will all be judged according to our level of understanding. A child does not understand the concept of sin and therefore cannot be judged for those things they do wrong. Instead, the atonement provides the way for them to go directly to the celestial kingdom and be made perfect.

I wonder if many of the saints were concerned about this at the time that Joseph prayed for guidance. It seems that it was important for the early saints to understand the plan of happiness or salvation as it pertains to those who do not yet understand it. What a blessing it is to be a member of the gospel and to have the “big picture” laid out before me. I am so glad to know where I have come from, why I am here, and where I am going.

2 Nephi, Chapter 11

 Jesus-Portrait

Who are the three witnesses of Jesus Christ mentioned in this chapter?

In verse 4 we read, “Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.”  Nephi delights in proving the words of Isaiah are true about the coming of Christ.

We read the words of the Savior in Matthew 18:16, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”  It is easier for man to believe our words if we have a witness of two or more.  Sometimes my daughter will ask me a question and then turn to her dad and ask the same question.  If she gets the same response, she believes it, but if she only asked me, she would doubt that I was telling the truth.

The witnesses Nephi mentions in this chapter, are Jacob, himself (Nephi), and Isaiah.  Nephi uses the words of Jacob and Isaiah to prove his testimony of the Savior’s coming was truth.  We have many additional witnesses that the Savior came to the Earth.  The prophets words were fulfilled as prophesied.  I am grateful for the witnesses we have today that the Savior will return.  What a wonderful blessing we have to look forward to.

Make “happy” lists

Three of the many things that make me happy are when my family/loved ones are happy, good memories (looking at journals and pictures), and when I realize that I know something (spiritual or secular).

Nephi delights in proving the coming of Christ, in covenants of the Lord made to their fathers, in the Lord’s grace, justice power and mercy in the great plan of deliverance,and in proving we can only be saved through Christ.

My “happy” list is personal and makes me feel good, where Nephi’s “happy” list focuses on the things which bring eternal happiness to all men.  I am happy to know the Savior came and gave his life through the atonement and crucifixion, that I may be forgiven, resurrected and able to see and live with my Father in Heaven again.  Nephi’s “happy” list definitely makes me happy as well.

The Isaiah matching game

In the Bible Dictionary, under “Isaiah” we read, “The reader today has no greater written commentary and guide to understanding Isaiah than the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. As one understands these works better he will understand Isaiah better, and as one understands Isaiah better, he more fully comprehends the mission of the Savior, and the meaning of the covenant that was placed upon Abraham and his seed by which all the families of the earth would be blessed.”  

I have often heard people say that they skim or skip the words of Isaiah because they are difficult to understand.  I have been likely to do that in the past as well.  However, the more I read through the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenant, the easier it is to apply the words of Isaiah to my life.  I have noticed how the translation of certain phrases in the Book of Mormon, give real meaning to his words, where the phrase in the Bible may seem more confusing or even contradictory to the principle being taught.  I am glad to have a pure translation found in the Book of Mormon.  I know that we can better understand the Savior’s mission and the meaning of the Abrahamic Covenant through Isaiah’s words.  A better understanding of the Savior’s mission will bless me to know why I’m here, where I am going and how and why I want to be there.

The next 13 chapters of 2 Nephi, can all be compared to chapters in Isaiah.  We are not expected to understand every word of scripture, so I will try my best to get what I need out of them. “And now I write some of the words of Isaiah, that whoso of my people shall see these words may lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men. Now these are the words, and ye may liken them unto you and unto all men (v. 8 ).”  These words are written so that we can have joy.

Some of the things to look forward to in the following chapters are:

  1. Amoz is Isaiah’s father (2 Nephi 12:1)
  2. Uzziah is a king in Isaiah’s day (2 Nephi 16:1)
  3. Jesus christ is the subject of most of Isaiah’s prophecies (BD- Isaiah)
  4. 740-701 BC are the years Isaiah lived (BD- Isaiah)
  5. Jesus said “Great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1-3)
  6. Nephi said his “soul delighteth in his [Isaiah’s] words” (2 Nephi 11:2).

I am grateful to Isaiah for his willingness to record his testimony for me and my family.

2 Nephi, Chapter 9 (Part 2)

“The Ten Woes”

Jacob uses the word “wo” ten times in verses 27 to 39.  Verse 27 says, “But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!”  I know that I stand firm in the gospel because the idea that I could ever deny what I know now to be true, seems impossible.  I have never understood my friends and family, who take part in the covenants of baptism and those made in the temple and then deny them by leaving the church or taking part in those actions that are so obviously wrong to me.  I am sad for them, because I know that the judgement will be harder on them because they have denied the truth they have been shown.

What would the Lord have us do with our riches?  The Lord wants us to give our treasures to the poor and needy, not treasure them up for ourselves (v. 30).

What is the difference between a person who is deaf or blind and a person who “will not hear” or “will not see”?  Someone who is deaf can listen with their heart, but if they do not, they are  choosing not to listen.  Those who are blind can also see with their heart, and if they will not see, they are choosing to ignore God.  The spirit will always find the best way for us to hear or see the messages from God (v. 31-32).

Who are the “uncircumcised of heart”?  The footnote for the phrase “uncircumcised of heart” refers to Romans 2:29.  This scripture says, “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”  Those who praise of men are proud and do not give credit to God, who gives us all that we have.  They are too proud to keep covenants of God in their hearts.  They may live the letter of God’s law by doing what is asked of them, but they do not keep the laws in their hearts (v. 33).

What does it mean to “perish”, “die”, or be “thrust down to hell”?  It is a reference to spiritual death where we are separated from God.  In D&C 19:15-28, we learn that if we choose not to accept the Savior’s atonement we suffer as He did.  On a different note, the scriptures tell us that those who kill another with the intention to kill are worthy of death in the physical sense as well (Romans 1:32).

Verse 38 reads, “And, in fine, wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins.”  I think to see God’s face, in sin, would provide the most ashamed feeling possible. To know that He knows exactly what we’ve done and to know that He is perfect, would be awful.  “Wo” would be a good word to describe that felling of shame and sorrow that would bring.

When is wisdom foolishness?

President Hinckley’s six “B’s” were introduced to the youth of the church just after I graduated from Laurels into Relief Society.  I did not come to know them as well as those who were a few years younger than me.  They are Be grateful, Be smart, Be clean, Be true, Be humble, Be prayerful.  According to President Hinckley, an education helps us in the competitive workplace of the world.  Our worth in the world depends on the education we have and so we should sacrifice whatever is necessary, so that we can gain more knowledge.  But we must also remember the words of Jacob, when we are seeking knowledge.

“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish (v. 28).”  Jacob says the danger in great learning is letting ourselves feel like we know more or better than God.

What is the difference between learning and wisdom?  God is wise because he is all knowing.  God knows what is best for us.  Being learned is knowing what you’ve been taught, but doesn’t guarantee truth and does not mean it’s always what is best.  If because we are learned, we think we are wiser than our parents, leaders, or even God,than we are not.  As soon as we think we are wise, we have undoubtedly become the opposite.  Our parents, leaders and God have other experiences and knowledge that we don’t have.

“But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God (v. 29)”  According to Jacob, in order to be wise, we must listen to the counsels of God.  We can listen to his counsels by reading scriptures, attending church, reading church magazines, having family home evening, and so much more.  We can be wise by following what we learn in the gospel, because it is truth and is from God.

“Something to S.M.I.L.E. about”

In verse 39 Jacob writes, “O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.”

“S.M.I.L.E.” stands for “spiritually-minded is life eternal.”  This acronym was created by members of a youth council.  They told the youth ‘You smile when you are happy, and there is not other way to eternal happiness than being spiritually minded’.  To be spiritually minded is to remember the bigger picture, which is the plan of Salvation or the plan of Happiness.  If we are spiritually minded we keep the greater goal in sight, which makes life easier to live and the choices we will make when thinking of the eternal goals, lead to eternal life.  We must remember to listen to the spirit, pray, read the scriptures, and decide now what not to do and what to do so that when we are faced with decisions in every-day life, it will be easier to make the right choice.

“Carnally minded” is thinking of worldly things or things of the flesh.  Being “carnally minded” pushes the spirit away and leads to spiritual death.  We need to evaluate our lives and get rid of the things of the flesh, so that we can be more spiritually minded.

Who is the keeper of the gate?

Putting my name in place of brethren, makes verses 40 and 41 more personal to me.

“O, my beloved [Mary], give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.

“O then, my beloved [Mary], come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.”

 I think the gate is the judgement, since that is what we must go through to get to the kingdom of God.  The Savior is the judge (“keeper of the gate”) and it is only through His Atonement and following the paths that He laid before us, that we can enter into God’s presence.

How do we spend our money and time?

“Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness (v. 51).”

I try hard to use my money for the things of worth.  We do not have much, so there is a lot of thought put into what we spend it on.  I cannot say the same for how I spend my time.  I’m sure there are some things in my daily life that I need to evaluate and decide if they are of real worth.  Do these things really enrich my life and bring me closer to God?  If I truly feasted on the things that will continue forever, such as knowledge and relationships, I would truly delight in the fatness that would come of it.


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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