Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Promised Land

1 Nephi 13

I was raised to love this country, America, the land of the free. As I have grown and come to learn and observe, I have often had my doubts about the destiny of this country. In my studies of history and politics, and as I read the news and hear the stories of vulgarity, crime, and violence, I wonder if this country really is the promised land.

And then I remember that in the 1820s a young boy by the name of Joseph Smith received a vision from God on American soil. There is no other place on this earth where the gospel could have been restored. I firmly believe that. If the state of this nation is less than perfect, if the leaders of our nation are corrupt and selfish, it does not change the fact that this nation was lifted up by the hand of God to be the place where He could restore His gospel and bestow His power once again to man.

Even in the current political climate, I feel a current of freedom running through the veins of this great country. There is still freedom here. There are still liberties which few people enjoy as fully as we do. Certainly there are problems, and weaknesses, but I prefer freedom in a weak country to captivity in a strong one.

I feel blessed to have been born into this great country, and I want to do my part to keep it strong. Our freedom is our greatest asset in this country. May we always cherish it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Behold the world and the wisdom thereof

1 Nephi 11:35

Is the world so smart?

I have found recently that there is a significant difference between the opinion of the “world” collectively – media, etc. and the opinion of the majority of the individuals of the world.

As individuals, we seem to want the same things – we want to raise strong children who will be strong adults. But most of us are not willing to fight against the “wisdom” of the world. We either ignorantly believe that our children will not be affected by all the opinions and attitudes of the world, or we apathetically decide that “everyone is entitled to their opinion” – which is true, but we use this as a ridiculous excuse to refrain from expressing our own standards and morals to our children.

The wisdom of the world is not the wisdom we should be teaching our children. We have to teach them the wisdom of God, and we have to do it before they get caught up in believing the wisdom of the world.

In the Book of Mormon the angel tells Nephi that the great and spacious building of Lehi’s vision (see 1 Nephi 8) was the pride of the world “and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great.”

The wisdom of the world will fail, and when it does, the fall will be “exceedingly great.”

I do not know the meaning of all things

1 Nephi 11:16-17

I love Nephi’s humility when he is speaking with the angel at the beginning of his vision of Christ’s birth and life. The angel asks Nephi if he knows the condescension of God (1 Nephi 11:16) and Nephi responds that he knows that God loves His children, but that he doesn’t understand the meaning of everything.

There are two important parts of this statement. Even though Nephi admits that he doesn’t understand everything, he holds to his testimony of the love of God. You don’t have to understand all the principles of the gospel to have a testimony of some of the more simple truths, like the truth that God loves us!

I know that God loves me. I am His daughter and I know that He wants me to return to live with Him again. I am very aware of my ignorance and lack of understanding of gospel principles, but I strive each day to learn more, and I pray for the help of the Lord to enlighten my heart and mind to more truth. I don’t have to be weak in the testimony that I do have, just because I don’t know everything. There is nothing arrogant about being confident in your testimony. There is always something more to learn, but I will hold on fervently to the things that I already know, and I will build on that foundation – line upon line, precept on precept!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Study and Meditation

Visions from God usually are given when the receiver has been studying scripture and pondering on the principles found therein. Meditation and study is one of the keys to receiving revelation. Those quiet moments can be hard to find, especially as a wife and mother, but they are even the most important to us. Women with responsibilities over children have some of the greatest need for constant direction and revelation from God. These precious sprits have been entrusted to us to guide and to raise up to the Lord. I need constant guidance from the Lord to know how to deal with my children and teach and guide them. I need to be taught and led myself in the correct way to govern my household. There is so much I don’t understand about teaching my children. I falter every day in leading them and guiding them in righteousness. I lose my temper, my patience, and my charity. I need to spend more time loving and teaching and less time scolding and lecturing.

As I study and pray, I know that the Lord will reveal to me the best ways to approach my family, but I must make time for that divine communion every day. I cannot let Satan in my home, and the best way to keep him out is to consistently commune with my Heavenly Father and beg for His help and guidance and especially for His spirit to grace our home.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Enduring Trials with Faith

1 Nephi 1-5

Lehi left his home and all his worldly possessions to follow the Lord’s commandments. Am I willing to give up everything I have to follow when the Lord leads? Lehi had been following the commandments and listening to the prophets. He was probably not participating in the apostasy going on in Jerusalem. I imagine that he was trying hard to lead his family in love and righteousness and that he was heeding the prophets’ counsel of the days. 1 Nephi 1:4 says that there were “many prophets” in Jerusalem at the time of Lehi. Lehi prayed to receive a confirmation of what the prophets were preaching – that is when Lehi became a prophet himself. Nephi followed the same pattern. He prayed to receive a confirmation of what the prophet was teaching, and then received his own revelation.

We can follow the examples of Lehi and Nephi by listening to the prophets and praying to receive a confirmation of the counsel that they give us. In Lehi’s prayer he also “prayed in behalf of his people.” We should remember to pray for the welfare of the souls of those who may be in spiritual trouble.

Laman and Lemuel did not have faith in the words of their father. I wonder if perhaps they did somewhat believe the “many prophets” who preceded their father, and then when their own father started saying the same things as the other prophets, their wavering faith was completely extinguished and instead of asking the Lord for their own personal witness of the truthfulness of their father’s words, they murmured and rebelled.

Nephi, on the other hand, had continuing faith in the Lord and prayed to receive a personal confirmation of his father’s words. He was blessed for his faith and was given a personal testimony of the prophesies and visions of his father. Nephi would continue this pattern throughout his life.

God directs His Church through revelation

1 Nephi 1-5

Revelation is the way God communicates with His children on this earth. Both Lehi in Jerusalem and Joseph Smith in America were faced with religious tumult in the community. In both instances religious people believed that they were still being righteous and following God’s word, but in both instances, neither society was actually living the complete doctrine of the gospel. In order to preserve the righteous, God reveals Himself to righteous men who have a sincere desire to follow Him and learn the true doctrine. Lehi and Joseph Smith did not want to know what the world thought of the truths of the gospel. They wanted to know the actual truths of the gospel, and they wanted to live those teachings, and teach them to others.

After reading the book he received in his vision, Lehi proclaimed “…thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish.” (1 Nephi 1:14) When we come to the Lord to seek wisdom and understanding, He will not leave us to perish.

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