In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we find an account of Jesus being tempted by the devil while fasting in the wilderness. The scene parallels, in at least two significant ways, Nephi’s vision of the tree of life.
Jesus is tempted by the devil, which correlates with the mists of darkness that Nephi saw in his vision. The only way through the mists of darkness, or these temptations, is to continually hold fast to the iron rod, or word of God.Read Full Post
A friend of mine who recently retired is building a home and called me recently to ask for my favorite scripture. He is collecting favorite scriptures from all of his friends and family and writing them on the beams throughout his home. Cool idea.
He’s going to make some kind of record of it so he can show you where in the home your scripture is when you come to visit.
I have a lot of favorite scriptures for various reasons but to only have ONE… I dreaded the task of narrowing it down. I had a list of top contenders and finally settled on Alma 26:16.
“Therefore, let us glory,
yea, we will glory in the Lord;
yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full;
yea, we will praise our God forever.
Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord?
Yea, who can say too much of his great power,
and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men?
Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.”
I love the Book of Mormon for innumerable reasons and I love this verse, especially the final line. No words can really do justice to how we feel about God and what he means to us. All we can do is glory and rejoice and we can never over-do it.
Number two on my list was Revelation 7:17:
“For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
One of my go-to apps is the Bible app by YouVersion which offers a myriad of different Bible translations. Among my favorites for personal reading are the NASB, NIV, and the CEV for kids.
Today I came across another version I had missed before called the EasyEnglish Bible 2018. One of the first chapters I read when testing a new translation is Romans 14. I like this chapter for a number of reasons and the KJV version is pretty tough for me to understand so I like seeing how others have translated it.
I think of this chapter as the keystone for resolving the discord between those that profess different dietary choices such as vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, carnivores, etc.
I think that this is a chapter for everyone because the principles taught here go far beyond how we treat people that eat differently than we do.Read Full Post
There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning [Jesus]; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.”John 7:12 NASB
It is always interesting to see how people reacted to Jesus and what their opinions were. Even with Jesus himself, a crowd of people could look at him, listen to him, and still come to two completely different opinions about him.
“How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”John 7:14 NASB
That which comes by revelation is often valued less by the world than that which comes from the teachings of mortal men and their institutions.
“You have a demon!”John 7:19 NASB
A modern version I hear of this rather pathetic non-argument is “You’re a racist!” or “You’re a Nazi!”
If Jesus was such a controversial figure, then how can anyone else ever not be controversial? Perhaps by simply being quiet, drawing no attention to oneself, and never making a stand for anything at all.
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.2 Timothy 3:12 NASB
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.
If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.Matthew 18:8-9 NASB
This week we have been studying Matthew 18 in Come Follow Me and I have had a few discussions with family members about these verses and the weight of the implications that Christ is getting at here are very challenging.
Imagine for a moment cutting off your own hand or foot; imagine plucking out one of your eyes. Can you imagine the pain and the horror? Think of how losing a key part of your body will affect the rest of your life.Read Full Post
I’m not sure if anyone has made this connection before, but in studying Matthew 4, I noticed that there were some pretty striking similarities to what Jesus went through in the desert and the vision that Lehi and Nephi had.
Both accounts begin in the wilderness.
- Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness… (Matt 4:1)
- I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary wilderness. And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him. And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. (1 Nephi 8:4-5)
Hunger and Fruit
In the desert, Jesus has fasted for 40 days and nights while in Lehi’s vision, he tastes the fruit of the tree after several hours (not days). This contrast between extreme hunger and the vivid description of tasting the fruit is striking.Read Full Post
- Good works are not substitutes for grace, they are expressions of obedience that foreshadow the disposition of the converted.
- “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;” – Ephesians 5:1 NASB
- Sunday is just another day of the week, the Sabbath must be created, a sign between us and God.
- Prayer is a union of minds, we can unite with God or others around us.
- Key terms from the sermon on the mount:
- Meek = mild = non-violent
- Blessed = happy and prosperous
- Merciful = compassionate = a heart easily moved by the suffering or distress of others
- Pure = clean = free from foreign matter
- Peace = freedom from conflict
- We come unto Christ by drawing near to him, not in physical, but dispositional proximity.
- The word brass in Hebrew is nachosheth which means copper.
- Brass items in scripture include:
- Moses’ serpent
- Laban’s plates
- Temple basin on the back of 12 oxen
- Solomon’s 2 pillars
- Brass items in scripture include:
- “If there were no Book of Mormon, the promised gathering of Israel would not occur.” – Pres. Nelson
- The meaning of the tree in Nephi’s vision (the love of God) was the same as what he already knew about God, that he “loveth his children.” The answer didn’t deliver new information in that regard, but it allowed him to see what he already knew in a greater context. (Knowing is one thing, understanding the meaning is another).
- Lehi: “[the fruit] was desirable above all other fruit” – 1 Ne. 8:12
- Nephi: [the tree] is the most desirable above all things.” – 1 Ne. 11:22
- “My joy is more full because of the success of my brethren.” – Alma 29:14
There are 3 things that Jesus taught that enable one to build upon what he called his “rock.”
Building upon his rock is critical to find safety from the floods and winds that cause one to fall and be received into “the gates of hell.” (3 Nephi 11:39-40,14:27,18:13)
The fact that Jesus mentions building upon his rock 3 times in his visit to the ancient American survivors soon after his resurrection should catch our attention. The number 3 is associated with themes such as divine influence or emphasis and structure. When things come in threes, take note because something important is being shared!
1. The Rock of His Doctrine
The first way to build upon the rock of Christ is mentioned in 3 Nephi 11 and is part of the first things that he taught the gathered survivors in Bountiful. Jesus expresses his concern about disputations and contention (3 Nephi 11:29-30) among the people and desires to abolish it by clearly defining what his doctrine is and mentions the phrase “my doctrine” 8 times and “this is my doctrine” 4 times.Read Full Post
The following is reposted from JRGanymede.com
The Lovely One brought up the idea that Jacob getting the birthright from Isaac by deception was a type of us and Christ. We inherit all that our father hath by assuming our older brother’s identity just like Isaac. Of course what Jacob did was squirrelly and we were discussing whether even the unsavory could be types of Christ. So I brought up Laban. He is a type of Christ too, though wicked.
Bing! The light bulb went on.Read Full Post
I understand that there are legitimate situations where people suffer from post-traumatic stress or any other psychological issues. Then there are people that are perfectly fine but equate the discomfort they feel in the presence of alternative opinions with the pain of legitimate mental anguish. Whenever I see people in the latter category say that they have been “triggered” I think of the following things:
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” (Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride)
“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. […] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him…” (Acts 7:54,57-58)
And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear. (1 Nephi 16:1)
“Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal. […] Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker.” (2 Nephi 9:39-40)
It is interesting to note how people react to certain ideas and the level of drama that is exhibited by many. I feel like I see a trend today where, for lack of a counterargument, the people that are in error are the ones that exhibit the wildest reactions to ideas that they do not favor. Little children do this quite often, we call it a “tantrum.”Read Full Post
I had a moment of insight a few days ago with a friend of mine that was and is going through some hard times. He was telling me about a fast he was engaged in and several experiences where he had run his mouth in a manner that had caused a great deal of contention and conflict.
I couldn’t believe that he would say such things and then act somewhat surprised when people retaliated against him. I told my friend that “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) I then asked my friend if he knew what the word “fast” meant in Hebrew and he said that he did not. The word is tsuwm, and it means “to cover over (the mouth).” (Strongs)
When you fast your mouth is “covered” in the sense that you are restricting whatRead Full Post
We talk a lot about receiving and following revelation, but I’ve learned in my experience that the process itself is not as simple at it may first seem. There are real dangers involved because not all revelation that crosses our path comes from God.
The word revelation in Greek is apokalupsis and means “disclosure:–appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation.” The English word revelation comes to us from the French revelare around the 1300s and means to “unveil, uncover, lay bare.”  In its plainest sense, when revelation is happening, we are basically seeing something that was unseen before.
The trick is determining what exactly we are looking at, its source, and what we should do with it, if anything. If we simply swallow any new information without vetting it first, we are going to have potentially disastrous problems.Read Full Post
Zeal isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I think it tends to amplify our actions whether they are misguided or on point. Sometimes we can focus too much on the letter that we miss the spirit, or the weightier matters. Those are some the lessons reflected on in this great video from the Messages of Christ YouTube Channel.
I love the story of Elisha and the servant when they were surrounded by the Aramean army.
Early the next morning, when the servant of the man of God arose and went out, he saw the force with its horses and chariots surrounding the city. “Alas!” he said to Elisha. “What shall we do, my lord?” Elisha answered, “Do not be afraid. Our side outnumbers theirs.” Then he prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes, that he may see.” And the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw that the mountainside was filled with fiery chariots and horses around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17 NASB)
When we can know and see what God knows and sees, we can change. I believe that this is where true repentance leads. I think that we can have a twisted idea of what repentance really is. We think it is just feeling bad about something, saying we’re sorry, confessing if needed, and then trying hard to never do it again. The Bible dictionary defines repentance as:
The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world.
The fruit of repentance is change; a deep, fundamental and complete change influenced by direct experience with God. You see things differently because you have beenRead Full Post
We live in a world with billions of people and each one of us has ideas on how things should be. Whether it is how governments should operate to where the family should eat for dinner, we all have different ideas. When it comes to religion, things can get very contentious even to the point of violence.
If you have found your place within a religious tradition that claims to have been influenced or even initiated by deity you probably feel that you are in the right on many things. Where we have a reality that involves many people and groups claiming to be God’s people and doing his work, we also see the need for at least tolerating each other’s presence as a start.
Once we’ve done that, how do we then move forward? How do we interact with people who contend with us, or those that were once united with us and then depart? What about those that are among us thatRead Full Post
Jesus once told a parable about two debtors. The first debtor owed the king 10,000 talents, but when the time came to pay up, he didn’t have the ability to. The king commanded that this debtor’s whole family and property were to be sold to pay the debt. But when the servant pleaded for more time to pay, the king had compassion and forgave the entire debt. Nice king.
A little later, this same debtor went out to find a man who owed him money. He took him by the throat and demanded payment for the 100 pence he was owed. This man begged for more time to pay but was instead thrown into prison.
Well the king found out about all this and wasn’t too happy, he delivered this debtor over to “tormenters” until he was able to pay everything he owed.
So that’s the story, but it doesn’t really hit home unless you have an idea of what kinds of monetary sums we are dealing with here.
The second debtor owed the first one 100 pence. Back then, 1 pence was about a day’s wage or roughly $180 in today’s dollarsRead Full Post
Alma the younger had an incredible conversion experience that has parallels to Saul of Tarsus’ conversion in a couple of interesting ways. Both involved a heavenly messenger appearing while they were traveling about, and they both told slightly different versions of their stories at a later time. I compare this to my own personal experiences and Joseph Smith’s various first vision accounts.
Saul’s experience was first told this way:
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. (Acts 9:4-8)
Later, when he is recounting his experience to King Agrippa there are some slight differences:
And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. (Acts 22:6-10)
Both accounts start out almost exactly the same but the second account adds “of Nazareth” to Jesus’ quote and excludes Read Full Post
It’s happened to me several times, in fact, the first 17 years of my life were lived without any real sense of the presence of God; at least that was my perception at the time.
Time went on, and God did manifest himself to me many times and in many ways. Some of these experiences were subtle and sublime, while others sound like something you’d read about in the scriptures. But then something unexpected happens…
Life was at times like a sailboat on a vast ocean, the wind filled my sails and pushed me forward with purpose and vision. Then, for no apparent reason, the wind ceases and there is a perfect calm. Often it isn’t this sudden, the winds fade slowly, almost imperceptibly, until the profound stillness dominates the scene.
I’ve noticed that God appears to leave me alone at certain points in my life. Alone to the degree that there seems to be nothing I can do to bridge the gap and I find myself in a void. Prayers feel unheard and questions begin to enter the mind. What happened, where did he go? Did I offend him in some way, is there something I’m doing wrong? I tend to look inward during these times and take an inventory of my life.
While such a practice can be healthy, it can also turn to doubt, fear, confusion, disaffection, anger, and apostasy. I think that it is common for many to reach this state of windless waters and abandon ship thinking all is lost.
Like I said, I didn’t always know there was a God, but I do now. Yet I’ve felt a little hurt at times where I’ve been in these situations where I’ve felt like I needed answers and the heavens were quiet. I know that the heavens must hear me, but I don’t know why there is no perceptible reply.
What I’ve wanted to know is “why,” why this abandonment? I’ve been in this most recent void for a while now, surviving on rations of remembrance and continuing my pursuit of faith through exploration and just living life.
It is through that continued exploration that I think I found my answer. A thought hit me while ponderingRead Full Post
But as it is written:
“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,”
this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. Among human beings, who knows what pertains to a person except the spirit of the person that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.
Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone.
For “who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
We all are familiar with the acronym that poses the thoughtful question “What Would Jesus Do?”
But in pondering Matthew 25:37-40, another question came to mind, “What if They Were Jesus?”
In certain situations, it is certainly profitable to wonder what actions might be taken by the Savior if he were in your shoes.
But there is a profoundly different feeling when you look at any person and wonder how you might treat them in that moment if they were, in fact, Jesus. After a while, maybe we could learn that people have value regardless of who we try to project onto them.
We might consider that every person was once a small, perfect baby that some joyful mother looked upon with hope and love. Nobody ever looks into the eyes of a smiling baby and sees a homeless man, or some jerk neighbor or the weird quiet guy who sits in the back row at church; but that is who we see.
What if we learned to see differently? What if we learned to see that original light of purity in all souls and could help bring it back to the surface with something as simple as kindness?