Wednesday, December 15, 2010

1 Nephi 14 - Bible + Book of Mormon = Good

The prophecies in these chapters are beautiful.  They feel good.  Towards the end of this chapter, Nephi is told that he shall not write the remainder of the things which he has seen, but that one of the Apostles of the Lamb of God shall write them.  Hopefully this sounds familiar, but if not, verse 27 leaves no room to err.  The Apostle's name would be John.  Let me think for a moment, where was it again that I've read about the end of the world and the events preceding Christ's second coming?  I believe that would be the Book of Revelation, written by the Apostle John.

Let us also reflect on some of the teachings of the preceding chapters - that many of the plain and precious truths and covenants contained in the record of the Jews (Bible) would be lost.

So - for events concerning the end of the world, we turn to the Bible.  For a more clear and all-encompassing collection of the doctrines of Christ's Gospel (faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, endure...), we turn to the Book of Mormon.  For a more detailed description of the life of Christ, we turn to the Bible.  For a second testament of His life, we open the Book of Mormon.  And so on, and so forth.

What I mean to suggest by all this is that BOTH are very desirable.  Both have much to offer us.  We need these two testimonies as one in our hands, as prophesied would be the case in Ezekiel 37:15-17.  One supports the other.  What a blessing to have such access to the precious word of God.  May we all be overcome with gratitude in so much that we take advantage of these wonderful blessings. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1 Nephi 13 - Blessed to have the Book of Mormon

Truth and Covenants are what I like from this chapter.  In verse 23 we learn that a book that will procede from the mouth of the Jews will containt the covenants of the Lord.  This book will also contain the fulness of the Gospel of the Lord (v.24).  What is a famous book that was written by the Jews?  Good question right?  We'd call that book the Bible; the writings of which at one point contained both the covenants, and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And it was pure (v.25)

Unfortunately we go on to learn that after it left the hands of Christ's Apostles, many "parts which are plain and most precious" were taken away, "and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away."  And because of all this, "an exceedingly great many do stumble."(v.29).  Tragic.  Then in v. 35 we learn that Christ will manifest himself to the seed of Nephi.  The seed of Nephi will be the writers of the remaining portion of the Book of Mormon, and they, with Nephi, will write things that are "plain and precious", as instructed by the Lord.  Therefore, the Book of Mormon contains plain and precious truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and also the covenants of the Lord.  The Bible, well, the Bible just contains less of these plain and precious truths.  By this we might say that we are extremely blessed to have the Book of Mormon.  Of course we are immensely blessed to have the Bible as well - a book with much detail of the teachings and life of our Savior, and an account of the events pertaining to His Atonement.  For both these precious books we are immensely blessed.

But a thorough reading of 2 Nephi 31, or 3 Nephi 27, among many other chapters, gives us much clarification on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the principles and ordinances (covenants!) pertaining to it.   All I'm trying to say is that the Book of Mormon is incredible and has helped me to understand SO many things and has brought me SO much peace and happiness and I LOVE it.  It has what you need and what I need.  It contains the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Reading it makes your life better.  It is full of beautiful prophecies and truth.  You will know exactly how to follow Christ.  You will know it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost.  Please read it!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

1 Nephi 12 - What matters most?

Great and Spacious Building = Vain Imaginations/Pride of the children of men.  What is a "vain imagination?"  It sounds like a bad band.  Here's a definition I found of VAIN: without real significance, value, or importance; baseless or worthless.  Imagination is perhaps more plain.  So vain imagination.  A dream.  A worthless, insignificant wish.  I'm sure we could go on.  And this large and spacious building Nephi saw in dream, was a representation of vain imaginations.  Clearly I am intrigued by this phrase.  It is connected to "the Pride of the children of men."  No doubt.  Again, what is vain imagination?  The image it represents is destroyed in proceeding chapters.  I want to know.

While I'm sure we could create a great list on the chalkboard of things that could be considered vain imaginations, I'm just going to say that they are surely ALL around us.  Its as if things in the world today are vain imaginations.  Frivolous things, of no consequence or contribution.  Worldly pleasures that bring us temporary gratification, but vanish away, or keep us coming back again and again, taking us away from more important things.  

The excellent phrase "good, better, best" comes to mind. What are our goals in life?  What is important?  Are we spending too much time in the "not urgent, not important" quadrant?  Believe me, I am guilty as charged.  But this verse - verse 18 - very much caught my attention.  So I say, let us dispose of our vain imaginations.  Let us focus on the things that matter most.  May we not be caught away in foolishness that contributes little to nothing in our eternal progression.  Things that likely even stop, or damn us, from progressing.  Even regressing!  If that should be the case, we are blessed to have the principle of Repentance.  But I will not get into that right now.  

The simple principles of the gospel, along with prayer, scripture study, and church attendance will bring the Spirit of the Holy Ghost into our lives in greater abundance, and help us to see clearly through all the vain imaginations the wold throws at us.  We will be more able to stay on a productive and righteous path.  May the Lord bless us in doing so.  
-Excellent talk by Elder Bednar on this topic.  
-President Packer has been in the news lately.  Here's another "controversial" quote from his library: "That is your fate in this generation. You are living in that great and spacious building."  How about that.  Please read the rest HERE.  It is an excellent article.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

1 Nephi 11 - Answers to Prayers

 It is extremely difficult to choose one thing from each of these chapters.  There is so much to learn from this book. 

Verse 1 is a perfect pattern for receiving personal revelation.  And we all need personal revelation.  This repeats a pattern we have seen several times already from Nephi - asking to know for himself! (see CH 2 and CH 10).  He always does this!  How does it start in verse 1...After I had desired to know...believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me...I sat pondering in mine heart.  And then... He has an incredible vision!  A seriously incredible vision.  Possibly one of the greatest visions recorded. 

So what did Nephi do to receive such a thing?  It started with desire.  It was important to him.  He also believed the Lord would give him what he desired.  Belief is connected to faith, though faith is something much more than mere belief.  Finally, Nephi pondered.  Oh how important this step is to receiving guidance from on high.  Moroni's promise at the end of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:3-5) exhorts us to ponder on the mercy of the Lord.  That promise is a perfect example of what we see here.  Moroni also reminds us that in order to receive an answer, we must have a sincere heart (desire), real intent (intention to act upon an answer, which will be apparent if we truly desire the thing), and faith in Christ (stems from belief).  Ask (pray) with these characteristics, having pondered on them, then ponder some more in the spirit of prayer.  This an excellent formula, if you want to call it that, for receiving answers to prayers.  I'm not going to guarantee you will receive a vision like that of Nephi's, but you will dramatically increase the likelihood of you having some kind of revelatory experience. 

If you don't know Book of Mormon is true, apply this pattern.  But you have to be willing to act upon an answer.  I have applied this pattern myself in different situations, and I know it works.  God answers in His own way, in His own time, but He does answer.  To quote another excellent verse from chapter 11, "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do no know the meaning of all things."  Our Heavenly Father does love us, and is anxious to give us personal revelation to guide us in our lives.  I bear testimony of this. 

Excellent Talk on Personal Revelation

Saturday, November 6, 2010

1 Nephi 10 - God Calls Prophets

This chapter talks about some things we may or may not be familiar with.  But they are quite important whether we think them to be or not.  Important things are important, and I have an interest in being informed about important things.  When we're talking about things of a Godly nature, the way we come to know of these important things is through PROPHETS.  We have books like the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and others because of prophets.

Chapter 10 teaches of Christ - that He will come into the world, and that we can rely on Him always, among other things.  Verse 5 tells of more of prophets, and how many have prophesied of the coming and Atonement of Jesus Christ for years.  The prophecies we learn about in this chapter are not exactly mind blowing (actually they are).  They parallel many of those we read in the Bible.  We know of them because God loves us and wants us to know of these important things, and makes them known to us through prophets.  As we also learn in verse 18, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  If He called prophets then, surely He would call them now.  I know God loves me, and I know He wants me to succeed.  I know He calls prophets to guide me, and you, and all His children through life.

If this all sounds to be somewhat of a "mystery" to you, follow the counsel given in verse 19.  Diligently seek, and you shall find, and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, through the Holy Ghost, which comes by Faith in Christ (see v.17).  I PROMISE!  There is an order to all these things, and our Heavenly Father is eager to reveal this order to us, that we might follow it back to His presence.  He reveals it through prophets and the power of the Holy Ghost. Find out!

Also in regards to verse 17, see the post for 1 Nephi 2, which backs up Nephi's desire to know for himself, which is what I invite everyone to do for themselves.

What on earth is a Prophet?? Regard this fine gentleman expound.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

1 Nephi 9 - For a wise purpose

Sometimes its hard to pull something especially earth shattering from a short chapter like this.  There are a few alleys I could dive into, but for simplicity's sake, and will try to remain plain.

This is a small observation and perhaps of little consequence.  Just a fast thought from my mind.  Nephi has to make 2 sets of plates.  One to record the ministries of his people, and one to record the more historical/secular dealings.  And I admire that he did that.  It would have been much easier to just put it all in one.  One great big record of his people.  But the Lord asked for 2, so of course Nephi does it.  He doesn't try to cut corners, or weasel around it.  What a good example.  The Lord asks many things of us.  The long term benefit of Nephi making two records is very significant to us having the Book of Mormon.  Perhaps Nephi knew this, perhaps not.  In any case, its likely we don't often realize what the affects of the things the Lord asks of us might be.  Often times we must act in faith, believing and trusting that the Lord has a "wise purpose" in mind, which he always does.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

1 Nephi 8 - Choose the Right!

So first off, this chalk drawing of the tree of life is AWESOME!  It was created by some missionaries in Russia maybe, but I'm not positive.  Sidewalk proselyting. 

So the Tree of Life.  What on Earth does one say about the Tree of Life?!  We could do an insight-a-day on this chapter for a year.  I would invite all to prayerfully read and ponder this chapter repeatedly and search for whatever insights the Lord might have for you.

I'm going to keep this simple.  One of my favorite lines in this chapter comes from verse 33.  It speaks of those who have held fast to the Iron Rod, and partaken of the fruit of the Tree of Life.  Those in the great and spacious building point "the finger of scorn" at them.  Many who have partaken of the fruit are ashamed because of these mockings.  But many were not ashamed.  They paid no mind.  As the last line of verse 33 says, "but we heeded them not."  I always picture this line looking a little more like "but we heeded them not!!."  This inspires me.  Of course we will experience persecution for what is right.  Of course there will always be opposition (see 2 Nephi 2:11).  There has to be.  But we don't have to let it bother us!  We can stand for what is right and heed not the fingers of scorn pointed our way.  Someone famous once said something to the tune of the only power people have over us is the power we give them (clearly I don't remember who said it).  We have a choice to let others judgments affect us.  May we all choose to choose right, and  heed not those who mock and persecute us for our righteousness.  And receive the blessings of the Lord for doing so.

 Excellent talk on Lehi's Dream from the August Ensign.