Friday, April 30, 2010

1 Nephi 1

But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

Rain falls in every life. I'm grateful for the sheltering arms and loving support of God when it rains. He chooses to bless us in so many different ways. Sometimes those gifts are subtle and perceived only through the spirit. One key to feeling a spiritual connection to God is to meditate quietly on the good things that have come into our lives. In doing that, you may recognize some small thing that blessed your life in an unexpected way -- the confidence expressed by a sweet grandchild, an opportunity to share testimony with someone about the truth, or a glimpse of the glory of God's creation. He is always near and accessible to us. We have but to reach out to Him and experience His tender mercies.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Favorite Statements 1

There is an important concept here: patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!

- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Moroni 10

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

As I conclude my 40th reading of the Book of Mormon, I testify that I have asked God if the book is true, and God has manifested the truth of it to me by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is the word of God. My reading and study of the Book of Mormon has been the key to my witness of Jesus Christ. He lives and love us. I feel my Savior's love as I read of these ancient Americans who knew of Him and taught His truths.

22 And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.

When you have hope, there is no reason to despair. I have known people who have faced incredible tragedy in their lives but who have found a way to look forward with hope and faith and have not been miserable or despairing in any way.

23 And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.

Moroni 9

6 And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.

We all have a labor to perform. If we work to conquer Satan in our own lives and help others to overcome his temptations, we will be free to rest our souls in the kingdom of God some day.

25 My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.
26 And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the hope of glory and eternal life could "rest in your mind forever?"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Moroni 8

I love my children in a way I never imagined possible. I think of them continually and want more than anything else for them to have joy, peace, and happiness in their lives. I want them to have all of the blessings that flow from faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments. So, when I read the beginning of this tender letter from Mormon to his son Moroni, my heart responds. Mormon writes exactly what I feel.

3 I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end.

Mormon was forced to condemn the growing practice of infant baptism with these words:

10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.
11 And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.
12 But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; 

Who could believe that an innocent little child could be damned because of the absence of an earthly ordinance?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Moroni 7

3 Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.
4 And now my brethren, I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men.
5 For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.

What does it mean to be "the peaceable followers of Christ?" In this sermon of Mormon's recorded by his son, Mormon indicates that true followers of Christ are at peace with their fellow men and are full of good works. Mormon established a simple test:

13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

Any pursuit that leads to strife cannot be from God. The Savior said (3 Nephi 11):

29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

Any pursuit based on a lie cannot be from God. Moses 4:

4 And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.

Moroni 6

5 And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.

Our weekly church meetings are a safe harbor in the stormy seas of life. I look forward to that respite from the rush of every day events. When my heart is prepared, I can attend sacrament meeting and feel peace as I contemplate the sacrifice of the Savior. I feel His love as I sit quietly and take the emblems of bread and water in remembrance of Him. The pattern of our meetings is then to spend the remainder of the time speaking "with one another concerning the welfare of [our] souls." In our current ward, our gospel doctrine teacher teaches pure doctrine and always ends her lesson with her heart-felt testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel uplifted and ready to be better. What a great way to begin each week.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Moroni 5

2...that they do always remember him

In chapter 4 when the administration of the sacramental bread is recorded, it says

3...they are willing to ... always remember him

It's important to be willing, but it is also important to do. Having good intentions and good thoughts is not enough.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Moroni 4

3 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

Weekly renewal through the simple ordinance of the sacrament is such a blessing. The sacred symbols of the Lord's flesh and blood remind us to eat and drink of the Bread of Life and the Living Waters promised by Jesus Christ to the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus said to her (John 4)

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

I feel such love for Him when I reverently partake of the sacrament. I feel healed and ready to carry on.

Moroni 3

3 In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest, (or, if he be a teacher) I ordain you to be a teacher, to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen.

Men are ordained to the priesthood with a call to teach. We are all teachers. And what we are to teach is repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end in faith. The gospel really is simple.

Moroni 2

1 The words of Christ, which he spake unto his disciples, the twelve whom he had chosen, as he laid his hands upon them—
2 And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.

I'm grateful that the priesthood authority and power to convey the gift and promise of the Holy Ghost has been restored. Last weekend, I had the honor and privilege of exercising that priesthood power to confirm my sweet granddaughter a member of the church and give her the gift of the Holy Ghost. When we have received that ordinance, we have the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit as long as we live our lives in a way that qualifies us for His presence. I have felt His presence often when troubled, perplexed, or just joyful. The Savior promised his disciples in John 14

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Moroni 1

3 And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life.

How strong is my commitment to the Lord? Am I willing to sacrifice all in His service?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ether 15

Coriantumr was driven to repentance, but his wish to stop the bloodshed and save his people was ultimately frustrated not by his wish to change but by the depravity of the people. They were too far gone.

3 He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.

6 And it came to pass that the people repented not of their iniquity; and the people of Coriantumr were stirred up to anger against the people of Shiz; and the people of Shiz were stirred up to anger against the people of Coriantumr; wherefore, the people of Shiz did give battle unto the people of Coriantumr.

How could a people who had been so blessed become so cold that they would fight until every last one of them was dead? This kind of downward spiral is hard for me to imagine, but people in our time have determined to slaughter innocents in the name of what they consider to be a higher cause. Satan is stirring up the hearts of people to anger so that they accept that killing others is acceptable and even righteous. We need to look to the Savior and pray for his swift return in glory to bring an end to evil and a return to peace.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ether 14

1 And now there began to be a great curse upon all the land because of the iniquity of the people, in which, if a man should lay his tool or his sword upon his shelf, or upon the place whither he would keep it, behold, upon the morrow, he could not find it, so great was the curse upon the land.
2 Wherefore every man did cleave unto that which was his own, with his hands, and would not borrow neither would he lend; and every man kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defense of his property and his own life and of his wives and children.

When moral character disintegrates far enough, no law enforcement or government can make any difference.

Ether 13

2 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof

This land -- the Americas -- is meant to be a choice place where the New Jerusalem will be built. Jesus Christ is the god of this land and we are meant to serve him. If we fail to serve the god who blessed us with this place and the freedom and bounty we enjoy, then we deserve to be swept off just as the Jaredites were.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ether 12

2 And Ether was a prophet of the Lord; wherefore Ether came forth in the days of Coriantumr, and began to prophesy unto the people, for he could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him.
3 For he did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled—
4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

When our life is imbued with the Spirit of the Lord, we can't be restrained from sharing what we know to be true. Associating with recent converts is the most invigorating experience because they love the gospel. It reminds us of why we accepted baptism and made the covenants we have made.

The gospel is an anchor to my soul and blesses me with hope that things will be good after trials. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

In Christ, all things are possible. The children's song "Jesus Loves Me" includes the phrase "we are weak, but He is strong." In Jacob 4, we read

7 Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ether 11

The Lord repeatedly sent messengers -- prophets -- to the Jaredites to warn them to repent or be destroyed. They ignored the warning or persecuted the messengers.

20 And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their utter destruction;
21 And that the Lord God would send or bring forth another people to possess the land, by his power, after the manner by which he brought their fathers.
22 And they did reject all the words of the prophets

Words of warning from a loving Lord had no effect on them except to anger them. The one reference in this chapter to repentance notes a different source:

7 And they hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord, because of their wicked combinations; wherefore, there began to be wars and contentions in all the land, and also many famines and pestilences, insomuch that there was a great destruction, such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth; and all this came to pass in the days of Shiblom.
8 And the people began to repent of their iniquity; and inasmuch as they did the Lord did have mercy on them.

People of faith hearken to the prophets and apostles and follow the teachings of Jesus. They repent because they love God. Those whose hearts are hard are condemned to learn the hard lessons that flow from the consequences of their own choices.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ether 10

3 And his eldest son, whose name was Shez, did rebel against him; nevertheless, Shez was smitten by the hand of a robber, because of his exceeding riches, which brought peace again unto his father.

My heart aches for parents who experience tremendous pain as they see the troubled lives of rebellious children. How tragic is it when peace comes to a parent when their child is taken?

11 And he did do justice unto the people, but not unto himself because of his many whoredoms; wherefore he was cut off from the presence of the Lord.
I have often heard someone say that someone is a "good man" because he was just and kind in ways that people could observe publicly, but underneath that public veneer of respectability there was corruption and lasciviousness. Character and integrity matter. What we do when no one is watching is more important in some ways than the actions everyone can observe.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ether 9

35 And it came to pass that when they had humbled themselves sufficiently before the Lord he did send rain upon the face of the earth; and the people began to revive again, and there began to be fruit in the north countries, and in all the countries round about. And the Lord did show forth his power unto them in preserving them from famine.

Pride can dry up the well-spring of revelation in our lives and create a drought of the Spirit and a famine that leaves us empty. The Old Testament prophet Amos prophesied (Amos 8):

11  Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

That famine doesn't happen because the word of the Lord is not spoken but because we won't hear it. If we are humble, the windows of heaven can open and we can feast on the bread of life and quench our souls with living water.  He will preserve us from famine.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ether 8

Moroni describes the beginning of the secret combinations that led to the destruction of the Jaredites and also of Moroni's own people. A secret combination is not just a club with a secret handshake. This is organized criminal activity. The members swear to protect each other from prosecution for their wickedness and keep each other's criminal deeds secret. Their purpose is to get power.

We clearly have these in our day. Organizations like Al Qaeda and its cousins seem obvious. What is concerning is that there are certainly secret combinations among us.

Moroni gives this warning to us:

23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.
24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.
25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ether 7

8 And it came to pass that Shule . . . waxed strong, and became mighty as to the strength of a man; and he was also mighty in judgment.

How can we become "mighty in judgment?" Shule exercised good judgment by listening to the prophets and by keeping the commandments of God. If we do the same, we will be "mighty in judgment" and make decisions that will bless our lives and the lives of those we love just as Shule was a blessing to his family and people.

Psalm 119
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.

Ezekiel 20
11 And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ether 6

One of the consistent messages in the scriptures is that political, secular power concentrated in the hands of one man "leadeth into captivity." The Old Testament is full of stories of the impact of unrighteous kings on the people as a whole. The history of the ancient world (I'm reading one now written by Susan Wise Bauer -- fascinating) has the same pattern we see in the scriptures. Men consolidate power in their hands and some use that power to defend the people and work for the good and prosperity of all, but most use it for their own aggrandizement. The Lord said through the prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 121): 

39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Orihah was the first king of the Jaredite people when they reached the new world. He was selected by the people. He remembered his father and uncle and he remembered the goodness the Lord had shown them.

30 And it came to pass that Orihah did walk humbly before the Lord, and did remember how great things the Lord had done for his father, and also taught his people how great things the Lord had done for their fathers.

We need to teach our children what great things the Lord has done for us. They need to hear our testimonies and hear of our spiritual experiences and the blessings we have received from God. If they don't hear it from us, how will they know?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ether 5

2 And behold, ye may be privileged that ye may show the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work;
3 And unto three shall they be shown by the power of God; wherefore they shall know of a surety that these things are true.

The testimony of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon endured in spite of persecution and the weaknesses of the three men. All three of the witnesses to the plates fell out with the prophet Joseph Smith, but all of them maintained the truthfulness of their testimony to the end of their lives. If their experience were not true, why would they continue to testify to its truthfulness long after they had anything to gain by doing so. It is true.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ether 4

17 Therefore, when ye shall receive this record ye may know that the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land.

Isaiah prophesied that in the last days a marvelous work and a wonder would come forth. The Book of Mormon and the restoration of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith was the beginning of all the prophecy of John and other ancient prophets regarding the end of times.

Ether 3

3 . . .these many years we have been in the wilderness

The sublime experience of the brother of Jared when he saw Jesus Christ and had so much revealed to him was not the beginning of his experience. They had been many years in the wilderness. His faith had been tried over a period of years during which he had learned to call upon the Lord and to trust in and follow Him. The reward for enduring in faith is the know the Lord in such a way that we cannot be kept from His presence.

The 93rd section of the Doctrine and Covenants begins this way:

1 VERILY, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;
2 And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ether 2

Moroni's purpose in adding the Book of Ether to his father's record is stated clearly in chapter 2. He inserts his editorial comment in the story of Jared and his brother and warns that those who dwell in the promised land (this land in the Americas) must serve the god of this land who is Jesus Christ.

11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.

After this explanation, Moroni returns to Jared and his people. They were led to the shore of the ocean where they remained for four years. There immediate problems with the confusion in Babel solved, they apparently found a place of plenty and peace and settled in to enjoy themselves. But where the brother and Jared received great promises before "because this long time ye have cried unto me," he now has the experience where God "chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord." This chastening went on for three hours.

When we face crises, most people turn to God in prayer, pleading for relief from suffering, fear, and want. But when we are blessed with plenty, we sometimes forget to thank God and continue to call on Him. There may be no atheists in foxholes, but there are many in palaces.

After humbling himself, the brother of Jared received and followed instructions to build barges of unique design as shown him through revelation. There were two issues with the barges -- they were closed so Jared asked God how they were supposed to get air and light in their passage over the seas. God told him directly how to solve the problem of air circulation. But then instead of just giving the brother of Jared the answer to his concern about light, God asked him to come up with a solution. "
Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?" (v. 25)

One of the great spiritual experiences of all recorded scripture occurred as the brother of Jared worked on this question. We need to use the mind God has given us and pray and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as we face problems. As we struggle to come up with solutions to problems we face, our spirits stretch and grow. Our capacity to receive revelation expands. God asked the brother of Jared to come up with a solution to the problem of darkness in the barges so that he could grow.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ether 1

I'm fascinated by the Book of Ether. Moroni inserted this in the abridgment his father began and that he completed. Moroni was alone -- the last of his people. In his isolation and loneliness, why did he choose to add this to the record? Why did the people of our day need this?

And the Book of Ether is unique. Many new names appear here that are found no where else in the Book of Mormon record. Their politics and culture are markedly different. Through repeated readings of the Book of Mormon, I find the Book of Ether to be peculiar and believe it is a testimony to the truthfulness of the record as a whole.

The first chapter sets forth the genealogy of Ether who wrote the record. That's unique in the Book of Mormon, also. There isn't another place where a long family history is set forth. Ether was a descendant of Jared who with his brother and their friends and families left Babel when God confused the languages of the people. Jared appears to have been a righteous man, but it's interesting that he defers to his brother in spiritual things. He asks his brother to approach the Lord for guidance. Jared's brother never has a name in the Book of Mormon other than "the brother of Jared." That's another interesting and unique thing.

Jared and his brother go to the Lord repeatedly for help. After obtaining several promises from God, the brother of Jared receives instruction to go with Jared and their friends and family and they will be led by God to a promised land.

43 And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation. And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth. And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me.

God tells the brother of Jared that he obtained this blessing "because this long time ye have cried unto me." Sometimes we have to exercise faith and patience in seeking blessings from the Lord. We have to wait on Him. We have to believe that His timing is right and continue to petition Him. A central message of the Book of Ether which begins with this last verse in chapter 1 is that faith precedes miracles.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mormon 9

What is the role of doubt in our lives? Everyone has questions about truth and the meaning of things. But three times in what Moroni thought would be his final words he admonishes us not to doubt. I think this doubt is that doubt that leads us from truth -- an unwillingness to trust in God and in His timing, to be patient as we wait for all to be revealed.

21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.

If we trust in Christ, what we ask of the Father in righteousness will be given to us. And this promise is to everyone.

25 And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.

Exercising faith in Jesus will lead to testimony of the truth, and he will confirm his words to us himself.

27 O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.

The continuous exercise of faith and trust in the Lord will lead to salvation.

To have doubts is perhaps the prelude to faith. The person struggling with doubt learns to exercise trust and prove the truth. We just have to have the courage to keep doubting until we receive the witness that all seekers of truth can obtain. Jesus will confirm all of his words to those who persist in faith.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mormon 8

Moroni intended to close the record with this chapter as he was alone and had no ore to make plates to expand the record. He doesn't quite end the record (he adds the book of Ether and then appends 10 chapters of his own writing), but Mormon 8 is written as his summary. He speaks directly to the latter day recipients of the record, including its translator. 

35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

The principal thing that he condemns in our day is the love of things rather than people.

37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

The epistle of James supports Moroni's appeal to care for others as the essence of the gospel (James 1):

27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Moroni asks us some questions:

Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Have I hidden my faith and buried my testimony? Have I been in situations where I could have boldly declared my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ but have quietly demurred and left unsaid what the spirit prompted me to say?

Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies? Are we so attached to the things of the world that we are willing to sell ourselves for them and be miserable? Moroni says that we do it because we need the "praise of the world." We need others to think highly of us for reasons that have nothing to do with righteousness or integrity.

Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not? If pure religion is service to our fellow men in the pure love of Christ, we should all be living a lot simpler lives.

Why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mormon 7

The last words of the prophet Mormon who was now almost 80 years old and had seen nothing but upheaval, carnage, and death for essentially his entire life are a direct appeal to our day. They are a call to repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Savior.

7 And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world

I looked for definitions of the word "redeem." Included are some of the following:

Literally "to buy back." The act of buying back lands after a mortgage foreclosure, tax foreclosure, or other execution sale. We have sold ourselves for things that have no eternal significance. When we repent, Jesus buys us back - he pays the price for our sins to recover us from Satan.

To liberate by payment of a ransom. This is another way to say that Jesus has the power to free us from the bondage of sin. This can happen in this life as we turn to Him. He can relieve us and release us from things like addiction.

To save, rescue

To clear, release from debt or blame

To clear (someone else) of wrongdoing, especially by standing as an equivalent.

I'm grateful beyond words for a Redeemer. I love Him.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mormon 6

I counted 23 Nephite generals, each of whom commanded 10,000 men. After the final climactic battle with the Lamanites, all but 24 had fallen except for the few who had escaped to the south or had defected to the Lamanites. So, when the aged prophet Mormon survived to write a few last lines and hand over the plates to his son Moroni, he had witnessed the slaughter of 230,000 men with their wives and children. His soulful lament is one of the most touching things in the scriptures:

16 And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people, and I cried:
17 O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!
18 Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss.
19 O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!
20 But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.
21 And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you.
22 O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you. But behold, ye are gone, and the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy.

President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote the following in 1988 (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Power of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Jun 1988, 2):

Let me tell you of a letter which we received some years ago. A man wrote, saying, “I am in a federal prison. I recently came across a copy of the Book of Mormon in the prison library. I have read it, and when I read Mormon’s lamentation over his fallen people—‘O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen’ (Morm. 6:17, 18)—I felt that Mormon was talking to me. Can I get a copy of that book?”

We sent him a copy. Some time later, he walked into my office a changed man. He was touched by the spirit of the Book of Mormon and today is a successful man, rehabilitated, earning a living honestly for himself and his family.

Such is the power of this great book in the lives of those who read it prayerfully.

Brothers and sisters, without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you previously have read it, there will come into your hearts an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.

I share President Hinckley's testimony. The Book of Mormon message has changed my life.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I just love this picture of my grandson. Shouldn't we all have the capacity to feel this kind of joy? Love you Gavin.

Mormon 5

21 And also the Lord will remember the prayers of the righteous, which have been put up unto him for them.

23 Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll?

Our prayers on behalf of others we love are heard and remembered. We are in His hands and He has power to save. I trust in Him. He is my Lord and my Redeemer.

What a wonderful day

Our dear friend Stephanie went to the temple for her own endowment yesterday. Janet and I were able to be there with her. What a sweet privilege. There were other wonderful people from the Silsbee Ward with her who have been our friends the past 10 years. Oh, how we miss them all.

Now, that's a great day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mormon 4

The conclusion of the Book of Mormon saga is simultaneously depressing and hopeful. This people that had been so favored by the Lord and just a few generations before had enjoyed the personal visit of the resurrected Christ followed by an era of peace that lasted more than 100 years, now descends into complete depravity. When society spirals down to a state where everyone "delights in bloodshed," the end cannot be far away. Nevertheless, there is a future, and we are the recipients of this marvelous record that Mormon and others preserved and Joseph Smith translated. It is a warning to us in our day, and there is the hope that we will heed its warning, repent, and avoid the same end the Nephites suffered.

Mormon makes this intriguing statement:

5 But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished

There are cases in the scriptures where God seals the heavens so that there is famine, or sends natural calamities like earthquakes or storms. These kinds of events try the souls of men. But it is also true that the wicked prey upon the wicked. Righteous acts of kindness and charity obviously can't be "punishment" for anyone. So, we generally reap what we sow -- wickedness plagues the wicked. Unfortunately, rain falls on the righteous as well, and evil acts impact them as well.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mormon 3

What great patience and love the Father has for us. Mormon lamented in chapter 2 that the day of grace had passed for the Nephites and that they were in open rebellion against God. And yet, in this chapter, God calls for His children to come home again with a promise to spare them if they will just repent.

2 And it came to pass that the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people—Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared.
3 And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain; and they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God.

At this point, Mormon is 50 years old and has been serving as a military general for 34 years in a period where there was almost continuous warfare. He must have been exhausted from the fighting and depressed by the wickedness of the people. He reached a point where he refused to lead them at all.

11 And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination.
12 Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.

We love our children in spite of their choices and the mess they sometimes make of their lives. We love them with all our heart and we pour out our souls in prayer for them. But I do it faith, with hope that the day will come for each that they will come to Christ with full hearts and know of His goodness and mercy. This is my prayer for all.

Mormon and his son are amazing tragic figures. This great prophet Mormon abridged the records and passed them to his son knowing that they were meant for us. His call to us to repent and to prepare for judgment is the call that his own people ignored, and they were destroyed. I pray we listen individually and as a people, repent, and lean on the Lord for our help and our salvation.

20 And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all. And for this cause I write unto you, that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, yea, every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam; and ye must stand to be judged of your works, whether they be good or evil;
21 And also that ye may believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, which ye shall have among you; and also that the Jews, the covenant people of the Lord, shall have other witness besides him whom they saw and heard, that Jesus, whom they slew, was the very Christ and the very God.
22 And I would that I could persuade all ye ends of the earth to repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mormon 2

13 But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.
14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.
15 And it came to pass that my sorrow did return unto me again, and I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually; for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus three hundred and forty and four years had passed away.

Godly sorrow is different from the sorrow we so often see in the world. Sports stars, political figures, and other celebrated individuals hold press conferences to announce their regret for their behavior, but it often rings hollow. It's one thing to be sorrowful that one has offended God and family. It is entirely different to be sorry that one has been caught red-handed. Godly sorrow brings the penitent to Christ with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and results in change. Paul wrote to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 7):

10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Mormon says that "the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually." When is someone so far gone that their day of grace has passed? Only the Lord can determine that. I can understand Mormon's despair. In this one chapter he becomes a Nephite general at 16 years of age and fights in wars for the next 23 years until they sign a treaty dividing the land. I suppose after 23 years of service and effort on behalf of your people, you might be able to judge them passed their day of grace. Nevertheless, in reading on in the record, it is apparent that he didn't give up on them. He continued to serve - taught his son and undoubtedly others. And he loved the people in spite of their wickedness. Mormon's tone is sorrowful, not angry.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mormon 1

13 But wickedness did prevail upon the face of the whole land, insomuch that the Lord did take away his beloved disciples, and the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people.
14 And there were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.
15 And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.

We know very little about Mormon's family except that his father's name was also Mormon. I would guess that his parents were good people because they seemed to be familiar with Ammoron who was the keeper of the sacred records. Nevertheless, Mormon grew up in a time when wickedness prevailed. Our own children are growing up in a world where good is called evil, and evil is called good. They are subjected to every kind of moral relativism designed by Satan to weaken and ultimately destroy them. And yet, I see so many young people who fearlessly stand apart from these things and say no to the enticements of the world. It is possible, as Mormon's life demonstrates, to be righteous and follow the Savior in any age.

Monday, February 22, 2010

4 Nephi 1

4 Nephi is a single chapter that describes the blessed state of the people after the visit of the resurrected Christ. They are described in the following way:
  1. There were no contentions or disputations among them
  2. Every man dealt justly
  3. They shared of their temporal goods willingly
  4. There were no poor
  5. There were no slaves or bondmen
  6. All partook equally of spiritual things
  7. They fasted and prayed often
  8. They met together often to pray together and to hear the word of God
  9. There were mighty miracles performed among them
This condition of peace and harmony was brought about

15 . . . because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.

The gospel is the one path to unity and harmony. As people look to Christ and live His teachings, they see one another as brother and sister. There is no need for treaties and negotiations for people to live in peace. They live in peace one with another because they love God and they love one another. Following the Savior will bring peace, love, and harmony to a family in the same way it does to a nation.

3 Nephi 29-30

I tried to post over the weekend from Janet's new smart phone, but it was a little more complicated than I could manage.

The last two chapters of the book of third Nephi are just 11 verses. Chapter 29 is Mormon's prediction that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a sign that the Lord has started to gather Israel and fulfill His covenants. I have been reading a biography of the prophet Joseph Smith, and something occurred to me as I read about his associates. The Book of Mormon had a profound effect on many of them. Even those who developed differences with Joseph and left the church retained their faith in and their testimony of the Book of Mormon. It is a powerful additional witness of the divinity and reality of Jesus Christ. It is the source of my testimony of the gospel as well.

Mormon calls on all Gentiles to repent, to come to Christ, to be baptized, to be filled with the Holy Ghost, and to be numbered with the house of Israel.

Friday, February 19, 2010

3 Nephi 28

"The Frozen Man," by James Taylor

Last thing I remember is the freezing cold
Water reaching up just to swallow me whole
Ice in the rigging and howling wind
Shock to my body as we tumbled in
Then my brothers and the others are lost at sea
I alone am returned to tell thee
Hidden in ice for a century
To walk the world again
Lord have mercy on the frozen man

Next words that were spoken to me
Nurse asked me what my name might be
She was all in white at the foot of my bed
I said angel of mercy I'm alive or am I dead
My name is William James McPhee
I was born in 1823
Raised in Liverpool by the sea
But that ain't who I am
Lord have mercy on the frozen man

It took a lot of money to start my heart
To peg my leg and to buy my eye
The newspapers call me the state of the art
And the children, when they see me, cry
I thought it would be nice just to visit my grave
See what kind of tombstone I might have
I saw my wife and my daughter and it seemed so strange
Both of them dead and gone from extreme old age
See here, when I die make sure I'm gone
Don't leave 'em nothing to work on
You can raise your arm, you can wiggle your hand(unlike mysef)
And you can wave goodbye to the frozen man

I know what it means to freeze to death
To lose a little life with every breath
To say goodbye to life on earth
To come around again
Lord have mercy on the frozen man
Lord have mercy on the frozen man

So, perhaps you are wondering why I reproduced the lyrics of this pop song here. As I was reading about the 3 Nephite disciples who made the choice to remain on earth until the Second Coming of the Savior and preach the gospel, I thought of this song. How hard would it be to live to an extreme old age long after loved ones and friends had all gone on to their reward? The natural course of life is to live and then die -- to return to that God who gave us life. The promise of the restored gospel and the sealing power of the temple is that we return also to those we love. We can become part of a great celestial family and return to those we miss or have longed to meet.

I admire the courage of the three to desire to bring souls to Christ for as long as the earth should last in its current state, but my heart aches for them as I think about their long separation from loved ones and friends.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

3 Nephi 27

1 And it came to pass that as the disciples of Jesus were journeying and were preaching the things which they had both heard and seen, and were baptizing in the name of Jesus, it came to pass that the disciples were gathered together and were united in mighty prayer and fasting.
2 And Jesus again showed himself unto them, for they were praying unto the Father in his name; and Jesus came and stood in the midst of them, and said unto them: What will ye that I shall give unto you?

There is power in the united prayers of believers. When we combine our faith and unite in prayer and fasting, Jesus will enter among us. We call down His Spirit into the midst of us. I have been in some meetings and especially in the House of the Lord when I have clearly felt His presence as a group of saints has "gathered together and were united in mighty prayer."

In this chapter, Jesus defines the gospel -- the good news. It is that He suffered for all who will repent of their sins, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure in faith to the end of their lives. Jesus gives this promise:

16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.

3 Nephi 26

8 And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken.
9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.
10 And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.

The heavens are open. Those who believe the things they have been given in the scriptures are promised more. There are things that we do not understand, but as we apply the principles of the gospel in faith, those things can be made clear to us. What is intriguing is that we don't even know what "greater things" have been withheld. But the promise is clear that if we believe what we have been given that "greater things" will be revealed.

3 Nephi 25

The Savior gave the Nephites scripture they didn't have -- the words of Malachi. This same message was given to Joseph Smith. The centrality of the keys of the sealing power restored by Elijah the Prophet to Joseph Smith in 1836 is evident in the repitition of this brief passage of scripture in multiple places in the standard works. 

2 But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings

I'm grateful for the healing power of the Savior of the world, the Son of the Almighty Father. When I look up at a soaring hawk, I think of this image of the Son of Righteousness rising up above all things. He can see over all and knows our needs and is prepared to provide comfort to all who believe in Him.

Monday, February 15, 2010

3 Nephi 24

The Savior wanted to make sure that the Nephites had the words of Malachi. Why?

2 But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

The call to prepare to meet God is stated beautifully here. In the refining process, the silvermaker uses heat to burn away impurities until the silver is pure. As we experience trials and tests of our faith, the dross is gradually refined away until our faith in Jesus Christ is pure. We no longer need to look at others who disregard His will and think as some have:

14 Ye have said: It is vain to serve God, and what doth it profit that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts?
15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.

We know and trust that by living in peace now according to His teachings, we are preparing for an eternity where God can make us His and bring us home to be with those we love.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

3 Nephi 23

1 And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.

So many have stopped reading the Book of Mormon on repeated attempts when they arrived at the "Isaiah chapters" in 2 Nephi. Or they have skipped those chapters altogether. Isn't it remarkable that Isaiah is quoted so often by these ancient American prophets? And then, in 3 Nephi, the Savior Himself directs us to "search these things . . . for great are the words of Isaiah." I don't understand all of the words of Isaiah, but over almost 40 readings of the Book of Mormon and several readings of Isaiah in the King James version of the Old Testament, I have come to love these beautiful words. He truly testified of Christ long before His coming. My heart burns when I read (Isaiah 53),

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

3 Nephi 22

13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

As a parent, I want the blessings of God for my children - for all of them. Father in Heaven wants peace and happiness for all of His children. How I hope for the day when all of my children are taught of the Lord and have great peace.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

3 Nephi 21

A dominating theme of the Book of Mormon is the restoration of Israel. In our day, the House of Israel are those who believe in Jesus Christ and in the true doctrine.

6 For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel;

22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;

As we repent and hearken to the words of Christ, we become part of the Abrahamic covenant and regardless of actual lineage are part of the House of Israel. Believers become heirs to the promises given to Abraham and his descendants and also assume the obligation given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that through them and their children all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

Friday, February 12, 2010

3 Nephi 20

7 But he truly gave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink.
8 And he said unto them: He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.
9 Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit; and they did cry out with one voice, and gave glory to Jesus, whom they both saw and heard.

Each person who worthily and reverently partakes of the sacrament does so "to his soul" with the promise that we will afterward "never hunger or thirst, but shall be filled." The way that this ordinance results in us being filled is through the Holy Ghost. We eat the Bread of Life and drink of Living Waters, of which these emblems are only symbols. This coming Sunday, I will eat and drink to my soul and remember Him.

25 And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

What a wonderful proclamation this is: "ye are the children of the prophets." It is a call for the Nephites and for us to rise to our potential as children of the covenant and heirs to the promise given to Abraham. We have the truth, the holy priesthood, and the blessings of the temple. We are called to be instruments in God's hands to share those blessings with all the earth.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

3 Nephi 19

1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ascended into heaven, the multitude did disperse, and every man did take his wife and his children and did return to his own home.
2 And it was noised abroad among the people immediately, before it was yet dark, that the multitude had seen Jesus, and that he had ministered unto them, and that he would also show himself on the morrow unto the multitude.
3 Yea, and even all the night it was noised abroad concerning Jesus; and insomuch did they send forth unto the people that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude.

24 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.

This chapter describes one of the great manifestations of God to man recorded in the scriptures. The key to what Jesus was able to show the people and to what they experienced was desire. The people were so excited and filled with love for God and man that they went out through the night to tell everyone they could about the appearance of Christ and His appointed return. They were "filled with desire." That intense desire is what makes our own prayers and participation in church meetings and conferences meaningful. The direction we have from Jesus is to seek Him. Knowing Him requires desire on our part that drives us to action. That is faith.

"It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal." - Helen Keller

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

3 Nephi 18

3 And when the Disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the Disciples and commanded that they should eat.
4 And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude.

We follow this same pattern in the church today. The priesthood holders pass the sacrament to the presiding officer first and then to the congregation. 

6 And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you.
7 And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.

The weekly ordinance of the sacrament reminds us of Him. We remember His sacrifice and commit anew to follow Him and keep His commandments. His promise that we can always have His Spirit to be with us. I trust in that promise. I love the simple symbolism of the sacrament.

4. The bread and water represent
His sacrifice for sin;
Ye Saints, partake and testify
Ye do remember him.

31243, Hymns, We’ll Sing All Hail to Jesus’ Name, no. 182
Text: Richard Alldridge, 1815–1896
Music: Joseph Coslett, 1850–1910

18 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
19 Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
20 And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
21 Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.

I believe in the power of prayer. It connects us with the Divine. It softens hearts and opens our minds to the spirit of revelation. It heals our hearts and opens our souls not just to God but to others. It's hard to kneel together as a family and pray and not feel love for one another. And I believe that as we invite the Spirit into our lives through prayer, we protect ourselves and our families from temptation that would lead some to misery.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

3 Nephi 17

1 Behold, now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked round about again on the multitude, and he said unto them: Behold, my time is at hand.
2 I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.
3 Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.

Our understanding of the scriptures or of the words of the living prophets and apostles in General Conference is limited. We sometimes are not prepared to hear and understand all that God would have us know. Even in sacrament meeting or Sunday School or other church meetings, we are not always prepared to hear the word of the Lord. Has anyone been bored by a speaker or a lesson?

The Savior gives direction to the Nephites that we can apply. In the privacy of our homes, we can ponder the things we have heard and read, and we can ask our Father in Heaven to understanding. In that way, our minds can be prepared for the time when His Spirit will come to us. Imagine what would happen if we were to follow this instruction and if our minds were fully prepared for sacrament meeting this Sunday. The speaker wouldn't matter because we would be ready to hear the voice of the Lord spoken to our mind and heart.

3 Nephi 16

11 And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them.

God remembers. We can sometimes feel forgotten or abandoned, but God remembers. In the day of our trouble, He remembers and is there. His invitation is simple (Doc. & Cov. 88):

63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
64 Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you;

Sunday, February 7, 2010

3 Nephi 15

9 Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.

Enduring faithfully to the end of our lives isn't just about keeping commandments. No one can do that perfectly. That is why we need a Savior. But if we follow His light and do the best that we can, He has promised eternal life.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

3 Nephi 14

24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

In this familiar parable, the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew on the man whose house was built on a rock, just the same way it did for the man who built on a foundation of sand. Having faith in Jesus Christ and being founded on the rock of our Redeemer does not provide insurance against trial and adversity. But it does give us the wherewithal to withstand every trial and overcome every adversity.

3 Nephi 13

A relationship with the Savior is manifest in our private lives. He used the same phrase repeatedly to explain prayer, fasting, and charitable giving. In each case He said "thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." We all know people who make a great show of piousness -- conspicuous religiosity. God wants our hearts and hands, not an act or a show.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

3 Nephi 12

3 Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

To be humble is one requirement to obtain the kingdom of heaven, but that humility has to lead us to Him. The Lord said in other words in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith (Doc. and Cov. 56):

18 But blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs.

A pure heart that is broken and a spirit that is contrite prepares us to see and become part of the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

3 Nephi 11

There is so much to say about this chapter that I can't include it all here.

I notice that the people were gathered at the temple in the land Bountiful when the Savior of the world appeared to them. The temple is a place for Christ to be revealed to every believing heart. I love going to the temple and seeing the words "Holiness to the Lord, The House of the Lord" above the door.

5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.

The Holy Spirit spoke to the people, but they did not understand until they listened with their hearts and lifted their eyes from the mundane and worldly and focused on heaven. We have to lift our thoughts and focus our attention on the divine if we hope to hear the voice of the Lord.

15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and adid feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.

The people had a direct personal experience and went "one by one." Our experience coming to know the Savior is individual and personal. We only come to know Him "one by one."

29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

There are those who want to take issue with the doctrine or with latter-day saints, but there is no room for contention in the hearts of those who truly believe. We can have honest dialog with those who oppose the truth, but when we argue or fight with others, the Spirit departs. In my experience, arguing never converts, and trashing someone else's faith never leads them to Christ.

35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.

I have felt this "fire" of the Holy Ghost. I know there is a God and that Jesus Christ lives and is my Savior - my Redeemer.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

3 Nephi 10

1 And now behold, it came to pass that all the people of the land did hear these sayings, and did witness of it. And after these sayings there was silence in the land for the space of many hours;
2 For so great was the astonishment of the people that they did cease lamenting and howling for the loss of their kindred which had been slain; therefore there was silence in all the land for the space of many hours.

What did they think about in the darkness and silence? How was their terror replaced with wonder?

And then in the darkness came the word of the Lord pleading with them and expressing His deep love for His children and His desire for the peace and happiness -- His desire to shelter and protect them if they will just come to Him. Let's come to Him and find rest to our souls.

4 O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.
5 And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.
6 O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

3 Nephi 8-9

3 Nephi 8
Mormon testifies that "we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record—for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity." (8:1) In the next verse, however, he says of the record:

2 And now it came to pass, if there was no mistake made by this man in the reckoning of our time, the thirty and third year had passed away;

The truth of the record is not in dates or places or some historical or geographical accuracy. The truth is in the testimony of Jesus Christ. It is true because those who kept the record were inspired by God and were attempting to live according to His teachings and keep His commandments. They were "cleansed every whit from [their] iniquity" through faith and repentance. 

3 Nephi 9

13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

I'm so grateful that God is merciful and that he extends the invitation to come unto Him and be healed. All of us make mistakes. Even those we think are "righteous" are only righteous in some relative sense -- relative to those who are less righteous. The Savior taught that we should strive, but that we cannot ever call ourselves "good" in the sense that God is good (Matt. 19). We have to keep the commandments on rely on His merits and mercy. Then we have the promise of eternal life through Him.

16  And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Friday, January 29, 2010

3 Nephi 7

20 And the people saw it, and did witness of it, and were angry with him because of his power; and he did also do many more miracles, in the sight of the people, in the name of Jesus.
21 And it came to pass that the thirty and first year did pass away, and there were but few who were converted unto the Lord; but as many as were converted did truly signify unto the people that they had been visited by the power and Spirit of God, which was in Jesus Christ, in whom they believed.

It's tempting to think that if only people could see the hand of God in some miraculous way they would accept the truth. I have wished for that in the lives of my own family from time to time. But miracles of that type don't convert. The witness of the Holy Ghost, spirit to spirit, is what changes hearts and minds. When someone is "visited by the power and Spirit of God" and comes to know that Jesus Christ is their savior, there is change. They repent and turn to God.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

3 Nephi 6

4 And they began again to prosper and to wax great; and the twenty and sixth and seventh years passed away, and there was great aorder in the land; and they had formed their laws according to equity and justice.
5 And now there was nothing in all the land to hinder the people from prospering continually, except they should fall into transgression.

In the span of less than 5 years, the affairs of the people altered radically. They went from "great order" and general prosperity because of their righteousness to the church being broken up in all the land. A large group of people

17....were in a state of awful wickedness.
18 Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did wilfully rebel against God.

An outgrowth of the pride that was among them, was that they "set at defiance the law and the rights of their country." (v. 30) I pray that those who choose right are still more numerous than those who choose to defy the laws that bless us with liberty.