Saturday, July 25, 2009

Always At Our Side

Jacob 3:1 – 2
“BUT behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause.....
“O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.

"Our Heavenly Father is a powerful, moving, directing being. While we may, at times, bear burdens of sorrow, pain, and grief; while we may struggle to understand trials of faith we are called to pass through; while life may seem dark and dreary—through faith, we have absolute confidence that a loving Heavenly Father is at our side."
—Joseph B. Wirthlin, Ensign, Nov. 2002

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bind up the Testimony

2 Nephi 18:16
“Bind up the testimony…..”
I remember reading this scripture when I visited the island of Malta several years ago - I don’t know whether because I was in a place where there was so much ancient history, including temples which are older than the pyramids in Egypt – but when I read the words, “bind up the testimony” I thought about mummies.

In order to stop the body decaying once someone had died, the Egyptians discovered a way to defeat this process by drying it out, using basically salt and bicarbonate of soda, so that bacteria and fungi couldn’t grow, then they embalmed the body and wrapped it in bandages.

It seems to me that there are some similarities to ‘binding up our testimony’. The object being to protect it from decay, to preserve it, but unlike mummification not just to preserve and protect, but to foster growth. The way that we ‘bind’ our testimony is through performing good works, following the example of the Saviour who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), This can be likened to wrapping our testimony in bandages. But this is not enough, as without the preparatory use of chemicals decay still occurs, albeit at a slower rate. I liken this to ‘faith’; all the good work in the world will have little effect until our motive is our faith in Christ. Faith is the foundation, Christ is our Example, when coupled with Good Works our testimonies are protected from decay.

A bit of a ramble I know for just a few words of scripture, but I hope you are able to glean something from what I have shared:)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Loving Others

Alma 31:34 - 35
"O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
"Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.

Spencer W Kimball:
“We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve.”
(Ensign, Aug. 1979)

What an honour it is be able to do as the Saviour would do, to love as He would love, and to serve as He would serve. What a difference is made when we follow in His footsteps and reach out.... for “their souls are precious”.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Good Heart and Hand

Alma 37:34:
“Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.”

Joseph Smith:
"All I can offer the world is a good heart and a good hand".
(History of the Church, vol. 5, page 498)
I love the meekness Joseph Smith possesses - “All I can offer…”,- what an example he sets for us. I hope that at the centre of our good works will be meekness, and that we will be able to rest in the Lord will be ours.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Spiritual Snoozing

President Ezra Taft Benson, said as he spoke to regional representatives of the Church in 1977, while he was president of the Council of the Twelve Apostles:

"Do you know what peace and prosperity can do to a people—It can put them to sleep. The Book of Mormon warned us of how the devil, in the last days, would lead us away carefully down to hell.

"The Lord has on the earth some potential spiritual giants whom He saved for some six thousand years to help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly, and the devil is trying to put them to sleep. The devil knows that he probably won't be too successful in getting them to commit many great and malignant sins of commission. So he puts them into a deep sleep, like Gulliver, while he strands them with little sins of omission. And what good is a sleepy, neutralized, lukewarm giant as a leader?

"We have too many potential spiritual giants who should be more vigorously lifting their homes, the kingdom, and the country. We have many who feel they are good men, but they need to be good for something—stronger patriarchs, courageous missionaries, valiant genealogists and temple workers, dedicated patriots, devoted quorum members. In short, we must be shaken and awakened from a spiritual snooze."

Given a choice (and maybe we were given such a choice long before we came to earth), who wouldn't choose ease and affluence rather than pain and suffering? It sounds so attractive, so generous of the Lord. And all we have to do is keep the commandments, using our affluence to build the kingdom of God and serve others. Why is that so difficult? Because ease and affluence tend toward self-indulgence and self-importance. We can become spiritually flabby and casual in our prayers because we seem to need nothing, indifferent to the needs of others because we do not know how it feels to go without. Not liking to be reminded that others have needs, we remove ourselves from the inner city of life to the "quiet hedonism of suburbia," both temporally and spiritually. We can gorge ourselves with temporal things to the point of spiritual death.

Alma provides the answer to where the spiritual 'smelling salts' can be obtained to bring us back to a conscious state:

"Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; ..." (Alma 5:7).

A love for, and a relationship with the Saviour is what gives us life. As we come closer to Him through studying the scriptures and prayer we will be snoozing no longer.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Times in Which We Live

"Now, brothers and sisters, we must do our duty, whatever that duty might be. Peace may be denied for a season. Some of our liberties may be curtailed. We may be inconvenienced. We may even be called on to suffer in one way or another. But God our Eternal Father will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to Him. He has declared, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12). Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God.

Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all. He has said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us.

May the God of heaven, the Almighty, bless us, help us, as we walk our various ways in the uncertain days that lie ahead. May we look to Him with unfailing faith. May we worthily place our reliance on His Beloved Son who is our great Redeemer, whether it be in life or in death, is my prayer in His holy name, even the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

(Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Times in Which We Live,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 72)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Father's Love

I was touched by this story I read in “The Incomparable Christ” by Vaughn J Featherstone:
Voris Tenney, a former mission president and descendant of Jacob Hamblin, told us the following experience as related by Jacob Hamblin, I believe:

‘A little girl, a daughter of a family crossing the plains, had one precious possession that she loved with all her heart. It was a stick doll. The mother had made a little dress bonnet for it. She held it to her bosom, she cradled and cuddled it constantly. One morning before the wagons began to move, the little girl played with her doll, then she put it to sleep in a little bed of pine branches and leaves. She forgot the doll as the wagons rolled westward. That night she cried uncontrollably. The father came back to her. He took her in his arms and kissed her and loved her and said, “Don’t worry, honey; I will go back and get your doll.” He left immediately and walked the 15 miles back to retrieve her doll and then returned the 15 miles and arrived back to the wagon train just before dawn. He presented his daughter with her doll and prepared to “move out” with the rest of the wagon train.’

The greatness in that story comes as you ponder the situation. Here was a man, a real pioneer, who would have worked and walked almost to exhaustion every single day. When we become exhausted and fatigue takes over, our bodies plead for rest. Mentally we waver; we lack enthusiasm, strength and commitment; we need rest.

The doll was of little economic value – a substitute could have been made. A great deal of justifiable rationalization could have been considered. How deep is the love of a sweet, gentle father who would walk thirty miles when he was exhausted to soothe his brokenhearted little daughter! This is one of the sweet stories of sacrifice that will never make it into the popular history books where great and mighty deeds are recorded. But I promise you it will be emblazoned in gold on Judgment Day, and a little girl who grew up will never forget a father’s love for her.
Moroni 7:47:
“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Relief from Trial

I am so grateful that the Atonement covers the “suffering pains and affliction and temptations of every kind;….” and that “he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy…, the he may know how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:11-12). There is a principle in these verses that sometimes we miss, or don’t understand. We take upon ourselves the infirmities of others that our bowels may be filled with mercy. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt 5:7). What a beautiful promise! We also learn how to succour and to have our bowels filled with mercy.

As we walk through life, we influence many people don’t we? We model what they see every day. A slightly dishonest act, and unkind word, a loss of temper, an impatient reply, a profane outburst, a white lie, a thoughtless act – all provide the image of what we really are. The reverse is also true. Every sweet and tender act we perform – our happy and buoyant spirit; the way we treat our children, spouse, family, friends; the daily service we perform – all provide the beholder with an image of us.

It’s a wonderful goal in life to improve our personal life, to strengthen our virtues, to overcome our weaknesses, and to be ever growing upward to Christ’s standards. There is a consequence for good or bad in everything we do. More than likely there will be at least one more trial in life, one more opportunity left to prove who we really are and what kind of impact we have had on others. President Harold B. Lee stated that we would be tested every month of our lives. As we are able to modify our perspective of “tests” when they come, we meet them knowing that we will be the beneficiaries in some way.

Someone once said: “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” And sometimes we feel alone when adversity comes. We might even see those who we thought were dear friends avoid or abandon us, therefore, we may suffer in silence and endure alone. Oliver Goldsmith said: “The greatest object in the universe, is a good person struggling with adversity; yet there is still greater, which is the good person that comes to relieve it. (‘The Vicar of Wakefield’.)

The wonderful and comforting thing about the Atonement is that we need not feel that we suffer alone or that we are ever abandoned if we live right. The Saviour has felt all of our pains, worries, sufferings, trials, and will never leave us. He did more good than any other. He exemplified greater humility, more tenderness, and deeper charity than anyone who ever lived. He alone understands the fullness of the trials we face, and He alone will stand to comfort, bless and abide with us in our darkest hours. He is the light of the world, and may we look forward to another day in which we can worship Him, by remembering him and by loving each other.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock

"The Savior said:
‘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—
‘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.
‘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—
‘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"
(3 Nephi 14: 24–27).

“It is interesting to notice that the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew against both houses! Living the gospel does not mean that we will everlastingly escape adversity. Rather, it means that we will be prepared to face and endure adversity more confidently.”

Rafael E. Pino, "Faith in Adversity", Ensign, May 2009, 42

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More Precious Than Gold

1 Peter 1:7 – 9
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

Elder Robert D. Hales said, “Each of us must go through certain experiences to become more like our Savior. In the school of mortality, the tutor is often pain and tribulation, but the lessons are meant to refine and bless us and strengthen us, not to destroy us”
(Ensign, May 2003, 17).

Alma 36:3
“….I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”

Sometimes it’s hard to keep that at the forefront of our minds, and to have an eternal perspective when you are ‘in’ the trial, but remember the end result is always joy when you allow Him, “whom having not seen, ye love”, to support you.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Loving & Giving, Giving & Loving

“It is appropriate to note the ways in which the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth can be crucial in the living of our daily lives in this tiny sliver of time that we call mortality.

First, service to others deepens and sweetens this life while we are preparing to live in a better world. It is by serving that we learn how to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves. In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves!

Not only do we “find” ourselves in terms of acknowledging divine guidance in our lives, but the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!

George McDonald observed that “it is by loving and not by being loved that one can come nearest to the soul of another.” Of course, we all need to be loved, but we must be giving and not always receiving if we want to have the wholeness of our lives and a reinforced sense of purpose.”
(“The Abundant Life”, Spencer W Kimball, Ensign Oct 1985 & July 1978)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What Could Be Our Greatest Friend??

2 Nephi 2:1 – 2:
“AND now, Jacob, I speak unto you: …. behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.
“Nevertheless, Jacob, my first–born in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain."

Spencer W. Kimball
"Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long- suffering, and self-mastery."
(Faith Precedes the Miracle)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chairty & Service

Moroni 7:47 - 48
“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”

Derek A. Cuthbert:"Service changes people. It refines, purifies, gives a finer perspective, and brings out the best in each one of us. It gets us looking outward instead of inward. Righteous service is the expression of true charity, such as the Savior showed."
(Ensign, May 1990)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Liberty and the Spirit

In 1 Nephi 13, Nephi sees the discovery and colonisation of America, and tells us of a remarkable, divine involvement in this process. The following are descriptions of the Lord’s part in the establishment of America:

A. (13:11,14) He disperses the Lamanites
B. (13:12) He inspires Columbus
C. (13:13) He inspires other Gentiles
D. (13:13) His Spirit helps the Gentiles prosper
E. (13:16-19) God helps them win the Revolutionary War
F. (13:30) They are lifted by the power of God above all other nations.

Orson Pratt spoke of an even more dramatic divine involvement in the journeys of Columbus:

In those early and perilous times, our men were few, and our resources limited. Poverty was among the most potent enemies we had to encounter; yet our arms were successful; and it may not be amiss to ask here, by whose power victory so often perched on our banner? It was by the agency of that same angel of God that appeared unto Joseph Smith, and revealed to him the history of the early inhabitants of this country, whose mounds, bones and remains of towns, cities and fortifications speak from the dust in the ears of the living with the voice of undeniable truth. This same angel presides over the destinies of America, and feels a lively interest in all our doings. He was in the camp of Washington; and, by an invisible hand, led on our fathers to conquest and victory; and all this to open and prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere, for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of the world.

This same angel was with Columbus, and gave him deep impressions, by dreams and by visions, respecting this New World. Trammelled by poverty and by an unpopular cause, yet his persevering and unyielding heart would not allow an obstacle in his way too great for him to overcome; and the angel of God helped him was with him on the stormy deep, calmed and troubled elements, and guided his frail vessel to the desired haven. Under the guardianship of this same angel, or Prince of America, have the United States grown, increased, and flourished, like the sturdy oak by the rivers of water.
(Journal of Discourses, Vol.6, p.368, Orson Hyde, July 4, 1854).

Just as the Lord guided Columbus to discover a land where the Gospel could grow, so will the Spirit guide us as we seek to cultivate environments that bring about change, and foster love, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”
(2 Corinthians 3:17).

I hope you have a wonderful day.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fire for the Deed

Columbus, in a letter to the Spanish hierarchy, wrote:
'Our Lord unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed. Those who heard of my emprise called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed. But who can doubt but that the Holy Ghost inspired me?'
(quoted in Mark E. Petersen, The Great Prologue, Deseret Book Co., 1975, p.26).

This reminded me of Nephi’s example:
1 Nephi 3:5 - 7
“And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.
“Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
When we have confidence in God, we have that fire which drives us to accomplish His will, even against opposition – and that is how we build up the kingdom, and ourselves.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This Spiritual Food

Melvin J. Ballard:
"...There is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load being lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food".
(Crusader for Righteousness)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lot's Problem

I've been thinking about Lot and the difference between him and Abram who lived in the same place until they decided they needed to separate, and how some of the trials that came to Lot were as a result of his initial decision, of where to place his tent:

Genesis 13:12:
“Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.”

‘..toward Sodom’ – whilst he was outside of the city of Sodom he was still pointing towards it. There are some things that we have to turn our back on completely, not dabbling or entertaining them, providing environments where they can be cultivated. Our lives will be influenced by the decisions we make, and the situations we place ourselves in, for the bad, but also THANKFULLY for the good:)
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