"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." - Matthew 6:21

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."   - Matthew 6:21
This is a journal of my thoughts and impressions while reading the scriptures. There is no particular format or order. Please feel free to comment.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Be strong and of a good courage

Amidst all the history and difficult to understand passages in the Old Testament, there are some very nice messages, some great pearls of wisdom and inspiration. Here is one of them that has inspired me and is applicable to all of life:

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

- Joshua 1:6-9

I can't think of a better message for our journey here on earth than to remember that God is with us wherever we go.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Conversion of Zeezrom

If Zeezrom can do it, anyone can.

This is a great story of how a wicked man's heart was pierced and how he found his way to turn back to the Lord. To be as calloused and cold-hearted as the scriptures describe Zeezrom, and then be able to turn away from wickedness and promote the cause of good, shows the great power of repentance. It gives all of us hope that no matter our sins, we can return to God's favor.

Zeezrom, a lawyer representing the cause of the wicked people in the land of Ammonihah, was known to "stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that [he] might have more employ, that [he] might get money", and was described as "a man who was expert in the devices of the devil, that he might destroy that which was good". He was hired to accuse and convict Amulek and Alma who were preaching repentance among the people of Ammonihah.

In this effort, Zeezrom offered Amulek some money (six onties of silver) if he would deny the existence of a Supreme Being. Amulek refused to do so, and revealed Zeezrom's true intent saying "thou hadst it in thy heart to retain them from me; and it was only thy desire that I should deny the true and living God, that thou mightest have cause to destroy me."

Amulek then took the opportunity to explain and bear a powerful witness of the existence of God and the resurrection of all men. Zeezrom and others were astonished at his words, and then we begin to see a change in Zeezrom's heart.

Then Alma joined in with his witness and began "to establish the words of Amulek, and to explain things beyond, or to unfold the scriptures beyond that which Amulek had done." Alma told Zeezrom that they knew what he was doing, following the plan of the devil, in trying to deceive them.

At this, "Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced more and more of the power of God...And Zeezrom began to inquire of them diligently, that he might know more concerning the kingdom of God."

His heart being pierced by the truth, Zeezrom acknowledged the "blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell."

Seeking restitution is not always easy as is shown in the case of Zeezrom: "He began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time forth; but they reviled him, saying: Art thou also possessed with the devil? And they spit upon him, and cast him out from among them, and also all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek; and they cast them out, and sent men to cast stones at them."

So great was his suffering from the pain of his sins that Zeezrom came down with a burning fever "for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat."

Alma and Amulek came to him upon his request, and he asked that they would heal him. And here we see the great healing power and miracle of repentance:

"Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?

And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.

Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed.

And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words.

And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.

And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom.

And Alma baptized Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people."

The repentance of Zeezrom shows us that no matter how hard or wicked we are, anyone can find peace in returning to the Lord. It shows that even after suffering great misery we can come to great joy and be restored to happiness in the Lord, if we are willing to pay the price.

Quotes taken from the Book of Alma, chapters 10-15

Monday, April 19, 2010

Alma: "I wish from the inmost part of my heart..."

When someone lets you know of their deepest, inner-most wish, you tend to take notice. Alma was speaking to a group of people who needed to turn to the Lord, but his words seem directed to any of us who read them. I felt this sincere wish speaking to me:

And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words...that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;
Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest. - Alma 13:27-29

Alma was a man who had experienced both sides of the fence, who knew both sin and righteousness, both great joy and exquisite pain. He was a man of God who has tried to show us the way.

I believe that if we could grant Alma his wish in our own lives, we will have found the key of how to make it through the challenges of this life, and cause to expect great joy in the next.

How many times have I, as a father, felt this way when giving advice or gospel instruction to my kids? Many. Alma even offers his wish "with great anxiety even unto pain". Wow - he must have really felt this deep in his soul. So should we.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Joy of Easter

I love reading with my family from the many scriptural passages for Easter, reflecting on all that the Lord has done for us. Here are some of my favorite scriptural passages concerning the Lord's atonement and resurrection:

His Atonement and Suffering
[Jesus] fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. - Matt. 26:39

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. - Luke 22:43-42

His Sacrifice on the Cross
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. - Luke 23:34,38

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? - Matt 27:46-47

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. - Luke 23:46

His Resurrection and the Tomb
And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. - Luke 24:2-7

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?
She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. - John 20:11-17

Visits of the Resurrected Lord
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. - Luke 24:36-43

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. - Acts 1:4-11

And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying: Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did 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.
And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him. - 3 Nephi 11:8-17

The Easter Message and Core of His Gospel
I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. - John 11:24-25

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3: 16

But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord. - Helaman 14: 17

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. - John 20:31

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Alma's Questions

In chapter 5, Alma asks 42 questions for his people to consider. They had fallen away from many of the core spiritual reasons they were a part of God's church and into iniquity. His questions were intended to spark them on to greater spirituality and repentance.

There are a lot of great questions for any of us to consider and answer ourselves. Certainly, we have not strayed so far as many of these people had, yet how much do we need to try to come closer to the Lord? Our answers might say a lot about where we are in our own spirituality. They sure have made me reflect on a few things.

Here are some of his best questions that most of us should try to answer:

I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God?

Have ye received his image in your countenances?

Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you?

Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption braised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

Can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

Can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?

Can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?

Do ye suppose that [you] can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white?

If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God?

Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble?

That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?

Are ye stripped of pride?

[Are ye] stripped of envy?

..are [ye] the sheep of the good shepherd?

Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself?
I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true.

And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
They are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit...

Alma says, or better, asks it like it is. I would say that if we can honestly answer these questions in a positive way, we pretty much have the test of this earth life wrapped up, wouldn't you?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"That they could bear up their burdens with ease"

Sometimes when we turn to the Lord in the midst of our trials, he helps us not by removing the burden, but by strengthening our back and shoulders so that the burden seems light. As Alma and his people sought relief and assistance from the Lord in their faithfulness, their burdens were made light - not removed, at least for a while, but made light.

"And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." - Mosiah 24:15

It can be a tough pill to swallow in having to accept that our burdens may not be removed, perhaps ever in this life, but that relief can come through the Lord making us stronger and more able to deal with them. We are promised that by becoming stronger, physically and spiritually, by developing more patience, and by putting our trust on the Lord, we will be able to bear the burdens, and we will, eventually, be delivered.

"And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage." - Mosiah 24:16

There once was a boy who responded to a question about the burden of carrying his brother on his back, answering, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother." His burden must have been lightened by the love he had for his brother. Likewise, our burdens can be lightened by the love we have for our brother, Jesus Christ.

"Turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart"

That has got to be the key to all success in this life - turning to the Lord with full purpose of heart.

Such was the message given by King Limhi while speaking to his people after Ammon and others came and offered help in being freed from the bondage of the Lamanites. The people had fallen into wickedness and were overtaken by the Lamanites, being subjected to them in work and grievous taxes. But hope had arrived, and the key to their relief was given: Turn to the Lord.

"But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage." - Mosiah 7:33

It is a simple and beautiful message, but one which sometimes seems hard to absorb and follow. Can I be freed from the bondage of my trials by turning to the Lord?

It's worth a try.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

King Benjamin Speaks

King Benjamin was one of the great leaders of the Nephite people, who through words and example, offered much to them and to us. I wonder how it would have been to have such a good man to act as both a religious and political leader. Such men have been few through the annals of history. We have many examples of good men today that lead in either a religious or political capacity. But here was a good man leading well in both roles.

I love reading through the first 5 chapters of Mosiah, and have received a lot of inspiration from King Benjamin's words. Here are a few selections of his words that I treasure.

He bore testimony, to his sons, and to us, of the truthfulness of the scriptures: "O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true. And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true; and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes. And now, my sons, I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers." Mosiah 1:6-7

He taught by example the value of giving service to others, and thus to God: "Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?" - Mosiah 2:16-18

He taught us how to be happy: "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it." - Mosiah 2:41

He taught us how to have a relationship with God: "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." - Mosiah 3:19

He taught the way of faithful and repentant living, which will bring us joy: "And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel. And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true." - Mosiah 4:11-12

He taught us to do as much as we are able, according to our strenth, to win the prize: "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. - Mosiah 4:27

He taught that we are the spiritual children of Christ and it is His name we have taken upon us: "And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ." - Mosiah 5:7-9

King Benjamin was a worthy man to follow.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"How beautiful are they"

In chapter 18 of Mosiah we read of how Alma, newly repentant from being a priest of the wicked King Noah, begins his ministry and assists the conversion of many souls. He gathered his followers at a special place, the waters of Mormon, a place that would be remembered as beautiful to those that "came to the knowledge of their Redeemer".

I'm sure the place was in a beautiful physical setting, and having a "fountain of pure water" would have made a nice oasis. But the beauty of the place became greater when enhanced by the great spiritual concersions and baptisms that occurred there. About 450 people were to receive spiritual blessings through preaching and baptism in this beautiful place.

"And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever." - Mosiah 18:30

It makes me think of the beautiful places I've been to - those that have special spiritual meaning to me. Some of those places are holy temples, some are in nature, some are other random places. Their location or actual physical beauty is not as important as what has happened to me there. The following places have special meaning to me for the spiritual beauty that came to me there:

The St. George Temple - The temple of my youth, where I toured an open house, waived a handerchief of hosannah at the rededication, had a sunrise youth fireside, went through for my endowments, performed baptisms for the dead, both as a baptizer and a baptizee, and in the rose garden on the grounds began my spiritual relationship with my eternal love, DeNeise.

The Salt Lake Temple - For many special visits to the grounds and visitors centers, but mostly because of the most beautiful event in my life, my marriage and sealing to my beautiful DeNeise.

The Provo Temple - Where I came to a greater depth of spiritual understanding in the beginning of my mission while at the MTC, and on the grounds to the east, both garden and hillside, where I have had many special personal times of prayer, soul-searching and scripture reading.

Pihea Vista, Kaua'i - One of the most physically beautiful places I've been to on earth, a view above the Kalalau Valley on the NaPali Coast. My love for Hawaii is no secret, but the cause for my love of that place is much more than appreciating the physical beauty and fun that is there. It is deeply spiritual for me, and in this spot I experienced a brief yet powerful combination of the wonder of both physical and spiritual beauty.

The Provo River Trail - On this trail along the beautiful river in Provo Canyon I have had many talks with God and spiritual epiphanies.

The coast at Pacific Grove, CA - Remembered as a place of spiritual yearnings and prayer before I got married, it is also a beautiful place where I feel at one with the ocean. My spirit connects strongly with water, and I spent hours doing so here.

The Lulea LDS chapel, Sweden - Within these walls I felt a deep love from my Savior at the beginning of my mission, while participating in a confirmation ordinance for a convert. I felt his arms around my shoulders, assuring me that he was with me, that I was where I should be and doing what I should be.

The sauna in Brother Wallgren's house, Gubbangen, Sweden - A place of fervent prayer, where I learned to develop faith and become a better missionary.

There are many other places that could be named, but these I have mentioned are very special to me.

How beautiful are they.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Moroni's Last Words

I love to read the last chapter in the Book of Mormon. All of Moroni 10 has many great messages, including the powerful promise of how to know the truth of the Book of Mormon and of all things.

But the sciptural passage I like best, not only in this chapter, but in all the scriptures, is found in verses 32-33. These are Moroni's final words of encouragment, exortation and instruction. They come from the heart and soul of a man who knew God and was a great spiritual leader, but who also had lost his family, his home, his people and all hope of a good future existence.

It's kind of like a loving father giving his last, dying words to his posterity; the message he most wanted them to remember and follow. The pure simplicty of his final message was "come unto Christ", and the words that follow are a wonderful testament to this man and his God, our God:

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot."

Really, this message is the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and is our reason for striving for something better. It's the purpose of our life on earth and how we can return to God, encapsulated into two great verses. Because of these words, I look up to Moroni as a great spiritual hero and leader. Appropriately, we all look up to him every time we see the top of an LDS temple spire.

As he bid us farewell in the last verse of the book, he looked to the time when he would be "brought forth triumphant through the air".

And, that's exactly where he is.

Friday, January 8, 2010

"...but may Christ lift thee up"

This one hit me pretty strongly this morning. Sometimes I get mired in the concerns over the challenges of my life, and wondering whether my efforts for good and for seeking to cause improvements are having any affect. But I found in Moroni, chapter 9, a wonderful encouragement to keep my chin up and keep trying.

This chapter was actually written by Mormon, as a letter to his son Moroni. When I think the weight of my problems is heavy, they are dashed when I reflect on the weight of the great wickedness that Mormon witnessed and dealt with among his people, as he describes here.

But despite all that, this great man of God had enough spiritual strength to lift himself and his son up in going forward. Regarding our efforts in trying to overcome a problem or to help others improve, which efforts often seem to fall flat, Mormon encourages:

"And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to blabor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God." - Moroni 9:6

And then, his encouragement becomes a prayer calling upon the strength of our Savior to bolster us further into hope and grace:

"My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.
And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen." - Moroni 9:25,26

So despite how hard and bad it all sometimes seems, "may Christ lift thee up."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thoughts on the Sacrament Prayers - Moroni, Chapters 4 and 5

For many, the following two passages of scripture are heard more than any other. They are the sacramental prayers, given weekly by men with priesthood authority. I have heard, read and listened to many dissections of these prayers in Sunday School lessons and church talks so many times, that it is interesting that I received new insight into their meaning and simplicity when I recently read them.

The Sacrament Prayer on the Bread reads:

"O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen." - Moroni 4:3

The Sacrament Prayer on the Water(Wine) reads:

"O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen." - Moroni 5:2

When you look at the two prayers together, you notice that much of the verbiage is the same in both. The main differences are that the bread is to help us remember his body, or his life, and what he accomplished with it during his mortal ministry. He himself said that he was the "Bread of Life". With that, and because of that, we are to take upon us his name (be Christians) and keep the commandments which he gave us. These are all things that refer to our living Savior - his body.

In the prayer for the water, the main emphasis is for us to remember his blood that was shed for us, which is a reference to his death and atonement. This is the central focus of his gospel, what makes him the Savior, and how we can come back to live with him and the Father. It is all made possible to us because of his blood.

Of course, there are other very important elements to these prayers, but I found an important treasure in focusing on the key reasons that we were given these prayers: To remember all that was done and made available to us through his body and his blood.

One of the Best Promises in the Scriptures

Moroni 7 is a great chapter, with many scriptural treasures. One of my favorite verses in all of the scriptures is found in this chapter - verse 33 (See also Moroni 10:23).

"And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me."

It is a promise that can give us hope in being able to accomplish anything that we are trying to do that is good. The Lord wants us to succeed, to be good, happy, and fulfilled. He wants us to come back to him and promises to help us do that.

This is a true scripture treasure, a promise of faith, hope and strength.