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.