"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.

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.