The Psalm of Nephi (Part 3/6) – Always Remembering – 2 Nephi 4:20-25

You can read 2 Nephi 4:20-25 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
  • Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
  • Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
  • Nephi forsakes his sin.
  • Nephi petitions the Lord.

Always Remembering

This is the third part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read Part One – Nephi’s Grief – here. You can read Part Two – Nevertheless – here.

So – as a quick recap. First, Nephi grieved as he recognized his sin and the subsequent loss of the Spirit. Nephi’s sorrowing was poignant and genuine, but he didn’t allow himself to wallow in it. Instead, he stated: Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

The shift – from feeling grief to remembering God, was critical. Satan can tempt us to self-loathe and even self destruct when we feel the grief and sadness that accompanies sin. He wants us to forget about our Savior.

Isn’t that interesting. It is what we covenant to do. Always remembering Him, I’m finding, is so much more than some chore or commandment. It’s the secret! It’s the secret to repentance, joy, and hope in life.

This is what Nephi does next. He goes from grieving his sin to remembering God, to rejoicing in Him.

Nephi stated: I know in whom I have trusted.…Let’s see who that is.

Verse 20 – Support, Guidance, Preservation

“My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.” – 2 Nephi 4:20

Nephi took the time to remember that God supported him. We have the record. It may be an abridgment, but we have enough to know that indeed, God supported Nephi, Lehi, and their entire family.

The Lord led Nephi’s family through the wilderness with the Liahona.

Not only that, but we know that Nephi was preserved when they were traveling on the water. First of all, the Lord taught Nephi how to build a boat. Then, the Lord preserved them, even when Nephi’s brothers started getting naughty.

Verse 21 – Filled with Love

“He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.” – 2 Nephi 4:21

Nephi remembered a time when the Lord’s love so filled him, his flesh was consumed. I have a few ideas on when this could have happened, but I’m not completely sure. Maybe when Nephi saw the vision of the tree of life? Maybe when he was with his brothers and shocked them.

The real point is, Nephi’s spiritual experiences were also physical experiences. He knows God’s love – not only in his mind and heart, but even physically.

Nephi took the time to remember these experiences here.

Verse 22 – Confounded Enemies

“He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.” – 2 Nephi 4:22

Nephi remembered a time when the Lord confounded his enemies (his brothers!) – and caused them to shake. We can recall this as well – when Nephi was commanded to build a boat, his brothers argued with him and tried to cast him into the sea. The Lord filled Nephi with power, commanded Nephi to stretch forth his hand, and when Nephi did, his brothers quaked before him.

During this prayer, the Psalm of Nephi, Nephi took the time to remember when the Lord empowered him against his enemies. (Not only is this a good experience for Nephi to remember, but it has direct application to the problem that Nephi was facing. Nephi didn’t need to get so angry or worry about his brothers. The Lord would protect Nephi as long as Nephi continued to be faithful and quality for the companionship of the Spirit.)

Verse 23-25 – Listened to Prayers, Gave Revelations

“Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.” – 2 Nephi 4:23-25

In these verses, Nephi recalled the times that he prayed to God, how the Lord listened to him, and then how the Lord answered his prayers. The Lord revealed to Nephi. The Lord sent angels to teach Nephi. And Nephi is reminding himself of these experiences.

Application

Okay…so as I write this, I’m thinking about the act of remembering. Nephi is remembering specific experiences he has had with the Lord.

I think that I have made a mistake when it comes to remembering the Savior. There is a primary song that sometimes plays through my head during the sacrament:

“It shouldn’t be hard to sit very still
And think about Jesus, His cross on the Hill;
And all that He suffered and did for me;
It should’t be hard to sit quietly.
It shouldn’t be hard, even though I am small,
To think about Jesus, not hard at all.” – To Think About Jesus

When I think of “always remembering Him.” I think of this – thinking about Christ’s life, His suffering, His death. I think of remembering that He created this earth. I think of remembering what I have read in the scriptures.

Those aren’t bad to think about. But they are abstract. And, you know…I’m not sure it is always a strong enough experience to really change my heart when I’m sorrowing as Nephi sorrowed.

When Nephi remembered the Savior, he didn’t think abstractly about the Savior. He thought of his own personal spiritual experiences. He remembered the interactions he had with the Savior and His spirit.

Perhaps it is helpful for you (and for me) to take a moment right now to do that. Think of a spiritual experience that you have had in the past. Think of the circumstances. Think of your pleading. Think of His help. Think of how you felt. Maybe even take a moment to write down as much as you can about the experience.

I’ll share a simple one. This is recent. In the summer and into the fall, I was having heart issues. To make matters worse, I’m also having issues with my insurance provider. Back in October, my cardiologist ordered an angiogram. It was scheduled for a Wednesday morning.

I arrived at the hospital, fasted, at Six AM. I checked in and sat down. Situation normal. About fifteen minutes later, one of the hospital staff called my name. She explained that the insurance had not approved the procedure! She asked if I knew. I told her I had no idea. That this was the first I had heard about it.

She kindly explained that sometimes mistakes are made. She told me to keep waiting, as she tried to get in touch with my insurance company and the doctor’s office.

So I waited.

I had to wait a while because it was so early – neither the insurance company nor the doctors offices were open yet.

I waited. And for the most part I waited patiently. But inwardly, I was frustrated. The heart situation was stressful enough, why did the insurance have to be a bother? Why couldn’t this be easier??? Why did the Lord let this happen? You have to understand, at the time, my family and I were already under great stress. This just threw me over the edge.

Of course, I knew that it was asinine for me to blame God. I also knew that I needed to trust Him. I said a silent prayer to apologize, then started looking up funny memes to put me in a better mood.

Eventually, it was discovered that the doctors office would have to try again to get the insurance company to approve the procedure, but that would take at least another day. I explained to the hospital staff that I was having chest pain. She immediately talked to my physician, and it was decided to admit me through the ER.

I had the angiogram.

After the procedure, my doctor chatted with me for a moment. It was disconcerting because he came to a conclusion that seemed so far off from the problem. To his credit – I had been under the care of the Nurse Practitioner. This time I didn’t get angry with God. I just knew that I needed to be my own advocate with the doctor, and that if necessary I would simply get a second opinion.

At 11AM, about ten minutes after the short chat with the doctor, my nurse practitioner happened to walk by. A rep had brought some free lunch to the cath lab, and so they called my NP to come by and get some – even though he was at the offices in the next building. I smiled at him, and when he recognized me, he stopped to chat.

I told him the results – that the angio is normal. “Great!” he said. “You’re heart is healthy, and the problem is electrical. Maybe it is just a pacemaker you need!”

His response was exactly what I had been expecting! I felt comforted. As I reflected on this experience, I realized had my angio been performed as scheduled, then I wouldn’t have seen my NP – I would have been out of the cath lab long before 11 AM.

I recognized the tender mercy. Not only was I getting a procedure that I needed performed to help the doctors discover my condition, but the Lord was also throwing in a tender mercy – I would be able to chat with my NP, who was updated on my whole history.

I knew that the doctor would have come to the same conclusion later, but it would have been after I went home. The Lord spared me from stress (and finding a new doctor). I recognized that the Lord really loves us and is involved in the details of our lives. We just need to trust Him.

***Now***

The point of sharing this experience didn’t have to do with the experience. Instead, it was about the act of remembering. As I wrote that experience down – and really remembered as many details as possible – I was reminded of the great love that Heavenly Father has for me. I was reminded of the miracles and grace that I experience in my daily life. My love grew for Him as I remembered His love for me.

Remembering the Savior and the experiences we have with Him helps us to feel hopeful and happy! It changes our moods. It reinforces the good experiences we felt originally.

I’m so grateful for Nephi’s example. When we are experiencing sorrow – whether it is from our own sin or from other thing that has happened to us, we can choose to remember in whom we have trusted. We can choose to remember our Lord specifically. We can think of the experiences we have had where we have felt his love, his guidance, his protection, etc. We can let those experiences re-root themselves in our souls. As we do so, the joy and love of Christ fills our hearts – immediately. No longer do we droop in sin, but we will begin to feel the joy that comes from rejoicing.

Delight – 2 Nephi 4:15-16

You can read 2 Nephi 4:15-16 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi writes the things of the soul and the scriptures on the small plates.
  • His soul delights in the scriptures.
  • His heart ponders the scriptures.
  • He writes the scriptures for the learning and profit of his children.
  • His soul delights in the things of the Lord.
  • He continually ponders on the things that he has seen and heard.

Delight

We learn a little bit about Nephi and what he likes in these verses:

“And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.

Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.” – 2 Nephi 4:15-16

Nephi likes the scriptures. He likes pondering the scriptures, writing them, and teaching his children. Nephi soul delights in the things of the Lord. His likes pondering them continually.

I don’t think that Nephi is bragging here. (In fact, this is actually an interlude to a frustration that he has with himself. He loves the Lord, He loves the truth. He loves the principles of the gospel. He writes about them. He has been taught by God. He teaches his children…YET he struggles! We will talk about this next time.) For now, I just want to think about these things that Nephi likes and learn from them.

A Different Direction

You know, when I started this blog post, I thought that I’d go through this list of things that we could learn about Nephi, the things of the Lord, pondering, etc. At first, my intentions were going to be really scripture-y and impressive.

But, this is my actual scripture study, so I sincerely try to follow the Spirit as best as I can. Usually, it means real “scripture-y” scripture study. I love that. I really do love diving deep into the scriptures and learning what I can. I love pondering the things of the Lord.

I mean, I’ve been looking forward to these verses for a while! Because, like Nephi, I really like pondering the scriptures.

But…that’s not what’s happening for me today. The Spirit seems to be pointing me elsewhere.

Sharing Time

Okay. This is a personal blog. I’m going to be personal. You have been warned in advance.

I write these blogs a few months before they actually publish. So I’m writing on October 19th. Since September 27th, I have been experiencing heart attack symptoms, but no heart attack (I’ve gone to the ER, etc.) I have been seeing my cardiologist, and now I have an appointment to see an EP (Electrophysiologist – who specializes in the electrical workings of the heart). I have some electrical heart problems. I don’t want to get into that right now.

The point is – since late September/early October, I’ve been basically sitting around all day. Any time I’m getting too much activity, and my heart rate goes up, I start to have really acute and painful chest pain, jaw pain, left arm pain, neck pain, indigestion, palpitations, etc. It’s actually a little scary.

I don’t know what is going on exactly, but I know that I have to remain somewhat inactive until my doctors can sort everything out – which I also feel comforted – will be soon.

Anyway!

Having these kinds of physical experiences can be alarming. They also give you the chance to really think about what is important.

Life really is precious. Most likely I’ll be getting a pacemaker or something that can help my heart. And then, I’ll be fine. But I realize that if it wasn’t for these modern times or technology, I wouldn’t have much time left on earth.

The fact is, none of us know how much time we have left on earth. I am truly grateful for this health scare because it has given me the chance to really think.

And here I am, studying the scriptures today. I know that very soon, my heart will be rectified. And even now, before it is rectified – I don’t want to waste a single precious day of my life.

Prioritizing

So how do we do that? How do we live our lives in a way that we don’t waste them? Do we “live every day like it’s our last?”

Probably not quite that. Usually people say that, or shout “YOLO!” to excuse bad behavior. (Think: eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!). So – we want to be aware of our mortality, and take advantage of our living days. But we don’t want to take it to an extreme that we are wasting this precious life on bad decisions.

So – then on the other hand – we have a lot of people who are “putting off” living life. Maybe it’s because we have to earn a living. Maybe we “put off” life because we have chores to do. Maybe we just end up putting off life because we are distracted by the crazy pace of this world. No matter the reason, it seems that when we put off living our lives, we don’t feel all that happy.

Now, I am willing to guess that most of us have some days where we shout “YOLO!” and then do something crazy. (My teenage years!) I also think that many of us lack the motivation to act, promising ourselves that we will “start tomorrow.” Often, we bounce between the two. But the real goal is to live with purpose. To me (and for the purpose of this blog), this means that we will have the right amount of chores (we need to live) and also activities that nourish us.

ANYWAY! You get the idea. I don’t need to get into all of that here. It’s just background and set up.

The thing that is hard for us to do is prioritize. We have chores we need to do. That’s a part of life. And there is value in it. Additionally, there is so much that can pass us by if we aren’t willing to love life enough to get after it.

I don’t know how to help you prioritize, but maybe just start with a clean slate.

My life is a clean slate right now.

My family and I intend to move off of the mainland soon. We have no home. We have no beds, shelves, or furniture of any kind. We have no dishes, cutlery, towels. We have no winter coats, we have small wardrobes. Our family of six can fit everything we own into the back of an SUV with room to spare.

Our living conditions felt extreme enough, but now, I don’t have any obligations because of my heart. I sit and stitch and watch Netflix. I have time to think.

Soon, I’ll have a new lease on life with my heart. Soon, we’ll have a home and stability. And I’m so grateful for this chance I have to think of what will fill my slate before it gets overloaded with junk.

I need to prioritize now before my life just starts filling up and I find myself crushed by the “junk” of life.

So back to the scriptures

So…back to the scripture. We read what Nephi loves. And I feel the Spirit guiding me to ponder – what do I love? What do I delight in?

I have discovered that the things I like can be boiled down to a few topics:

Creating. Learning. Loving. Living.

Creating

I delight in creating. Creating can be done in so many ways – the arts, movement, a dish, a garden. Creating brings me joy, and in a way I think that I could argue every topic (creating, learning, loving, and living) are just different ways to create…But we’ll just go with this for now.

If I have a blank slate that needs to be filled with only the essential, then creating would be one of the first things to be included.

 

superstar medallion quilt
I love to quilt. I love color. I love cutting up fabric to sew it back together and make a quilt. Oh – and besides – quilting is a great way to not only create, but serve. Who doesn’t love a quilt??? Each measurement, cut, and stitch is done with love.
velma
Writing. Here is a picture of an illustration for a book I wrote for my kids.
the messiah
Singing in choirs. I’m not a soloist, but I like to sing praises to God – and the Messiah is my all time favorite.
stitching
Stitching! I love embroidery. I love wool. And I LOVE the beautiful materials for embroidery – hand dyed silk, cotton, wool. So much joy in this!!!
log cabin
Color. This is part of why I love quilting. I just love playing with color.
drawing
Drawing. This is the sketch for the cat that I painted above.
granny sqaures
Crochet – again it’s all about fun colors and keeping my hands busy. Well, and making.
coneflower
See how pretty!!!
clair de lune
I love playing the piano as well. It quiets everything down in my mind.

Learning

I also love learning. Really, I do. My heart skips a beat when I have an epiphany. (hmmm…really need to get the heart metaphors figured out these days!) In all seriousness, life is richer when we obtain more knowledge. Knowledge of God is eternal life. And God – He is in everything. I love, love, love to learn. And I know that it can be done in a myriad of ways.

 

nature journal
Hiking, observing, drawing, and identifying are things I really like to do to learn. These practices have helped me to enjoy every place I’ve lived. Pictured above: A little wildflower called Globemallow – in Phoenix, AZ.
homeschool prep
This is what homeschool prep looked like one year. I love the whole process – finding books, buying books, and then piling them up. Of course, best of all, is actually reading them with my kids and learning! I have learned so much while homeschooling my kiddos.
provo temple spire
The temple is a place of learning. This is the Provo City Temple.
gilbert temple side
I’ve been fortunate to live in various places throughout the country that have had temples relatively close by (the farthest I’ve lived from a temple was 238 miles – a four-ish hour drive). What I’ve learned through regular temple attendance cannot be quantified.
sleeping baby monk seal
Learning through observation in the various places we’ve lived included moments like these – seeing a baby monk seal snoozing.
aristotle
Aristotle – not that I know much about this guy…but I admire his dedication to knowledge.

Loving

This might be a strange “topic,” but one of the things I delight in the most is the act of delighting. Not sure if that makes sense!

I delight in loving experiences, family, friends, and life.

 

rose hips2
Rose hips collected after a hike. I love rose hips. I don’t know why. They are beautiful. There isn’t really a time when I hike or walk that I don’t find something to put in my pocket. Even though I don’t end up doing much with these collections (seeds, shells, leaves, etc), I think the very act makes me love everything even more.
hornstra farms ice cream
I love this boy. I love ice cream. I love experiences like these. I love Hornstra Farms in Norwell, Massachusetts. (Trust me – AMAZING). And taking the time to delight in my love for my son, ice cream, and Hornstra farms increases the delight!
Christmas Goodies
An important aspect of loving – is serving. Here is a plate of Christmas goodies we delivered one year. I also delight in goodies. So baking and then taking goodies to loved ones is a double delight.
christmas
I delight in being a mother. I really love creating moments like this for my kiddos. Isn’t this just magical?
basil and parm
There is nothing more delightful than parmesan cheese and basil…the possibilities AND DELIGHT are endless. Better yet – invite loved ones over and enjoy an amazing meal together. (Yes…I have Italian blood).
bake sale with chase
Not only are there cookies and one of my children in this photo, but I was able to delight in the delight of my children. My daughter, Sasquatch, is a business minded mini-entrepreneur. We had a bake sale one day (success!), and she was so happy. It took time and effort from me and everyone else in the family, but the rewards far exceeded the cost.
grand canyon and fam
I love delighting in this earth with my loved ones. I love showing them the things I love. Exponential delight.
tiger and panda
I love seeing my kids develop loving relationships with each other. These two fill my heart with joy. This pic is at least 10 years old. They grow too fast! My heart delights in the love they have for each other.
Rex
This is my youngest after he ate ice cream for the first time. I love showing my love by spending time with my children. And look how I was rewarded!
me and sasquatch
Me and my little Sasquatch. The days when she snuggles on my lap and sucks her “thumby” are long gone. But I delighted in simple moments like these. And I’m grateful that I have been blessed with so many of them.
halloween
A bunch of happy kids on halloween. I love them. And I love being able to love them! There is so much love in this world around us. I prefer love and beauty.

Living

The other things that I delight in are what I include in the “living” category. They are the things that we do that help us enjoy life. They are the things that we do that are worth every breath and heartbeat. I want so much of this in my life. I want to be sure that the non-living idols and distractions of our time are not sneakily sucking my life away from me.

the beach
My soul delights in the beach. Sunrises. Sunsets. Ocean spray. Sea shells.
walking in midway
My soul delights in summer days. This was in Midway, Utah – one of my favorite places on earth.  I loved walking through town and seeing swatches of flowers along fence posts.
sunflower blooming
My soul delights in the small miracles we pas every single day. Here is a series of pictures of a sunflower getting ready to bloom.
purple mustard
My soul delights in beauty. Instead of seeing random weeds, I choose to see purple mustard blooming in open fields. I love to bend down, inspect, and glory in the simple blessings God has given us. I’m not always the best at this, but I’ve learned that it makes all of life more glorious.
oak leaves
My soul delights in leaves, seasons, nature. I thank my Heavenly Father that He has instilled in me a need for movement. These leaves were collected on one of my many walks when we lived in Park City. Walking is kind of a secret to life. Walking makes this world a delight.
hiking with family
My soul delights in exploring the world around us. My family and I took a hike one summer evening in Moab, Utah.
hiking
Even hiking in the desert can be a delight!
collected leaves
My soul delights in color! Look at the treasures I found while on a run – when we lived in Massachusetts. Red Oak leaves, Orange and scarlet maple leaves, neon yellow gingko leaves, and a dark green sassafras leaf.
clover in a crack
My soul delights in noticing the small and simple things. My soul delights in the perfect imperfections. My soul delights in a plucky clover growing in the crack of a brick path.
blue flax and sweetvetch
My soul delights in wildflowers. You can find them anywhere – in fields, on roadsides, and in yards that have been fertilized and treated. They are in cities, on mountains, in forests, and on beaches. This is a picture of blue flax and sweet vetch. If you aren’t careful, you might run right past them. Or, if you choose to delight in them, you can find them even on the most difficult path.
baking
My soul delights in cannoli.
as seen on the run
My soul delights in short runs, long runs, fast runs, slow runs. Running – putting foot to ground – can be like a prayer. It’s especially rewarding when you can run in places like this.
Playing in the Ocean
My soul delights in the example set by our children. Look at how unabashed they are in life! Sometimes I forget to splash the water, move my body, laugh, and smile. But children remind us to live in the present and delight in life, itself.

I realize that this isn’t all that scripture-y of a post. But, it is just what I needed. I’m having trouble – sitting and not letting my heart get too tired out – it’s boring! It makes me feel like I’m wasting my life away. When I start to feel down about it, I feel tempted to think that God has abandoned me (to an extent).

The Lord, though He hasn’t delivered me, hasn’t abandoned me either. In today’s scripture study, I was reminded of what I love. I was reminded of what I like to do.

I feel inspired on what I can do now (there ARE things I can do now) AND how I ought to fill my life when I can again do the things that I would like to do.

***
This is one of the purposes of the scriptures – to help us, guide us, and comfort us during our afflictions. The scriptures have been a way that the Lord speaks to me – time and time again. I’m sure it would have been interesting to dive deep into what these scriptures in 2 Nephi 4:15-16 mean, but it was more meaningful to do as the Spirit prompted.

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey today.

True Prosperity – 2 Nephi 4:1-4

You can read 2 Nephi 4:1-4 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Lehi finishes speaking to Joseph and now, shortly before his death, blesses his grandchildren – the sons an daughters of Laman.
  • Lehi reminds them of the promise that the Lord has made concerning the promised land: if they keep the commandments, they will prosper in the land. If not, they will be cut off from God’s presence.

True Prosperity

In this chapter, Lehi recites a promise given to him:

“For the Lord God hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” – 2 Nephi 4:4

I grew up a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I have heard this promise repeated over the years. Or, I think that I’ve actually only heard part of it repeated over the years. In my mind, the beginning of this promised is often emphasized: If we will keep God’s commandments, then we shall prosper in the land.

Often, I feel that this promise is interpreted as, if we keep the commandments, then will will prosper in a material way. I don’t know. I don’t want to speak for everyone. But I know that there have been times when people who are faithful but who aren’t prospering financially feel frustrated. Why aren’t they prospering if they keep the commandments?

To add to the confusion that can sometimes come, when reading the Book of Mormon, we know that when the people – in general – were righteous, they did prosper materially. They made more money, their crops did better, they became wealthy.

Of course, then, came a problem. Their prosperity seemed to blind them from God and His commandments, and they became proud. Their pride and sin would last for a while – seemingly without consequence. But, eventually their pride would hit a critical point where they would self-destruct. (Or they were weakened to the point that destruction from an outside source was significantly easier).

These patterns in the Book of Mormon seem to affirm the idea that when God says “ye shall prosper in the land.”

gilbert temple side

And yet, there is something that is bothering me about this interpretation. I suppose that I’ve already illustrated the potential problem. If this promise is all about material prosperity, then it gives way to pride. Not only do we see this in the Book of Mormon, but I think that if we closely look inward, we may see it in ourselves, too.

One – When we go through financial struggles, do we think why am I having this struggle, when I’m righteous? I pay my tithing!

Two – When we see others who are not seemingly righteous do we end up wondering how they have been financially blessed even though they aren’t keeping God’s commandments?

Three – When we see others who are poor but seemingly righteous, do we feel smug, thinking that they must be committing some kind of sin, otherwise God wouldn’t let them suffer in such a way?

Al of these scenarios may be traced back to the incorrect interpretation of Lehi’s prophecy.

Sedona AZ

Now, I don’t think that we need to ignore this warning. I don’t think that God is lying. He is neither promoting nor justifying the sin of pride. So – we need to take a closer look at the warning.

One – Keep My Commandments

So, first and foremost, we must keep the commandments. Which means that, even if prosperity can often tempt us into pride, we are not justified in being prideful. That is breaking a commandment!

Of course, Satan wants our failure. It shouldn’t come as a shock that he would tempt us to misuse that with which God blessed us.

I think that it is okay for us to desire a measure of temporal blessings. We need to stay alive!!!! We have basic biological needs – food, clothing, and shelter. It is a part of our life on earth to obtain these needs and help others to do so, too.

Not only that, but I think that this promise offers us comfort. We can trust the Lord. If we will keep the commandments, then we will be taken care of. It reminds me of what the Lord said in the New Testament:

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:25-33

It’s not that if we are keeping the commandments everything will be easy. Instead, the Lord is imploring us to trust in Him. We shouldn’t set our hearts on riches. That leads us away from God. Instead, we need to 1) Love Him and 2) Love each other. And He assures us that as we do so, our very real temporal needs will be met.

Two – Ye Shall Prosper in the Land

I don’t want to dwell more on this, but I would ask what is true prosperity? What is true wealth? Is it having a lot of money, a big house, fancy cars, nice jewelry?

Is it health?

Is it loving relationships?

Is it a testimony in the true and living Christ?

Is it having a Book of Mormon?!

Is it peace and contentment – no matter our circumstances?

I’ll let you think of your own answers, but I will share one thought. I’ve had my own financial struggles. Very difficult financial struggles, despite doing all I can to keep the Lord’s commandments with exactness. During these times of financial stress, I woke up one morning, and realized I have everything I need. I am so abundantly blessed. I have a husband that loves me, and I love him. I KNOW THAT THIS IS A BLESSING!!!!!! I was in a terrible relationship in the past, and yet Heavenly Father saw fit to bless me by delivering me from the one that would have destroyed me. I have lived as a working single mom. I understand the pain of betrayal and loneliness.

This knowledge was not lost on me as I looked at my husband that morning. Though we very little by way of material blessings, I truly had everything I needed. I realized that my wealth exceeded my expectations. I have a family that I love and they love me.

So…What is prosperity??? Are we prosperous without knowing it???

Dandelions

Three – Not Keep My Commandments

This is pretty self explanatory since we already discussed keeping the commandments. But let’s remind ourselves:

One – Love God

Two – Love One Another

We have other commandments too, but they all fall under these two basic commandments. Are we living the laws that the Lord has given us? Are we living the law of sacrifice, chastity, the gospel, etc.? Are we cultivating faith, hope, and charity? Do we live the higher law that the Lord taught both in the New Testament and to the Nephites in 3 Nephi?

Are we listening to the whisperings of the Spirit?

If not, then….

Four – Ye Shall be Cut off from God’s Presence

Okay. This stands out to me. The warning does not say that if we keep the commandments, we’ll prosper and if we don’t keep the commandments, then we won’t prosper.

If so, then we could make the assumptions as stated above about material prosperity and righteousness.

Instead, God says, that if we keep the commandments, we’ll prosper, and that if we don’t keep the commandments, we’ll be cut off from His presence.

That’s different.

That means that maybe we can keep God’s commandments, be poor, but still have the constant companionship of His Spirit.

It also means that maybe we can break God’s commandments, and be rich; however, we will not have His Spirit, His happiness, His contentment or joy with us.

Perhaps by thinking about this aspect of the warning and promise, we can better understand what God means by “prosperity.”

field and hose.jpg

***

I need to end this. I don’t have a firm conclusion on anything, but that actually happens a lot when I study the scriptures. This concept will, no doubt, percolate in my mind and spirit for a while. This will give way to more studying and a better understanding of what God desires.

What I know right now is that I do want prosperity – as God defines and gives it. I’m grateful for the blessings that I already enjoy. I do not want to be cut off from the Lord or His Spirit. I’m grateful for the promises of God, and that we can learn about them in the scriptures.

Opposing Forces: God and Satan (1/2) – 2 Nephi 2:14-18

You can read 2 Nephi 2:14-18 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Lehi, shortly before his death, teaches Jacob.
  • There is a God.
  • He has created all things: heaven and earth, all things in them, and things both to act and things to be acted upon.
  • To bring about God’s eternal purposes, He allowed for opposition.
  • Likewise, to bring about His eternal purposes, He gave us agency. But we really couldn’t act for ourselves if we didn’t have choices.
  • An angel of God, according to the the scriptures that Lehi had read (Isaiah!), had fallen from heaven and became a devil.
  • This devil sought that which was evil before God. (This was the purpose of his being thrust out of Heaven.)
  • Because of the fall from heaven, the devil became miserable forever and sought the misery of all mankind. He wanted to destroy God’s work and glory.
  • The devil, therefore, tempted Eve by lying to her about the effects of partaking of the forbidden fruit.

Opposing Forces: Heavenly Father and Satan

So, last time, we pondered the concept of opposition. You can read it here.

We live in a world full of opposing forces – day and night, sleep and wake, high tide and low tide, summer and winter, north pole and south pole, etc. These opposing forces also include good and evil. And the ultimate examples of opposition in all things are God and the devil.

Today, we will study the verses above to learn more about God.

There is A God

First and foremost, we have to understand that there is a God. This is the basis of it all. If there was no God, then there would be no devil. There would be nothing. None of this would matter. But there is a God.

We have the witness of the prophets, the world around us, and the Holy Ghost that tells us there is a God.

He Hath Created All things

The God we believe in created all things – the Heavens, the earth, everything in the earth, and all of the things on the earth.

Columbine Flower

Look Up

Heber Valley Golden Hour

Late Summer Sunflower

IMG_8960

IMG_9136-2

Quick note: I’m constantly amazed and filled with hope when I contemplate that the God we believe in created the earth. Look around – look at the sweeping views or look at the tiniest details and ponder the fact that these are God’s creations.

Included in Gods creations: each of us!!!

birthday

What a comfort it is to know that the ruling force of this entire universe is the God that created us and He loves us.

Let’s think about that a second more. Our Heavenly Father, the ruler of this universe, governs with faith, hope, charity, benevolence, justice, patience, and mercy. His is a nature of happiness. I know that there are more qualities that can describe our God, but when we think of our Heavenly Father we ought to keep these traits in mind. We will be studying the devil next – and he also has a host of qualities. We will contrast those traits with Heavenly Father’s.

For now, though, take a moment to think of Heavenly Father, and the way He governs and guides.

The Lord Gave Us Agency

Lehi teaches:

“Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” – 2 Nephi 2:16

When I think of the many things that God has done – the creation of the earth, for example – the thing that I find most amazing is that He gave each of us the gift of agency. He created this earth, the solar systems, the galaxies. He created our bodies, our organs, our tissues, our cells. He has infinite understanding – from the most massive concepts (like the universe) to the smallest concepts (sub-atomic).

He did all of this work, and then He gave us agency.

He lets us choose our own paths, attitudes, decisions – even if we mess everything up.

Now, in order for the agency to have any kind of effect on our lives, then Heavenly Father also had to allow for the forces that opposed His good ones. Meaning He had to allow another being to reign with qualities that included doubt, despair, pride, hate, injustice, impatience, and cruelty. Heavenly Father had to allow another – whose nature was that of misery.

So he did. And we will study this being in the next blog post.

But for now, so that we don’t end on such a depressing note, we can remember the Lord. We can remember that He is a force and power available to us, if we will use our agency to choose Him.

the-second-coming-39618-gallery

Redemption Comes Through Christ—Part Four: A Sacrifice for Sin – 2 Nephi 2:5-9

You can read 2 Nephi 2:5-9 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Lehi, before his death, preaches to Jacob a final time.
  • People are instructed sufficiently to know good from evil.
  • We have the law.
  • The law justifies no one, in fact because of the law we are cut off – from God.
  • We are also cut off from God spiritually and will be miserable forever.
  • BUT, redemption comes through the Holy Messiah
  • Christ offers Himself as a sacrifice for sin to answer the ends of the law.
  • If we will come unto Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit, then His sacrifice will answer the ends of the law – and we will not be subject to misery or death.
  • It is important that everyone on this earth knows this message. No one can dwell in the presence of God, save it is through Christ – His merits, mercy, and grace. He laid down His life and took it again to bring pass the resurrection of the dead.
  • He will also stand an intercessor between us and God – saving us.

Redemption Comes Through Christ – A Sacrifice for Sin

So, today we are continuing our study of 2 Nephi 2:5-9 – Redemption Cometh through Christ. In Part One, we studied the law. In Part two, we studied Redemption. In Part three, we studied Christ’s grace and truth. Today, we are studying a sacrifice for Sin. I know that there have already been a lot of “parts” in studying this small selection of verses, but I really feel like there is something important for to learn here, so…onward!

We read:

“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” – 2 Nephi 2:7

It has been established that there is a law that governs heaven. Because of this law, and because of the effects of the law, we are cut off. As fallen men and women, we sin and are therefore unworthy to be in God’s presence.

What’s the big deal with that? Well, God is light, life, happiness. So, when we are shut out from His presence – we experience darkness, death, and misery. Yikes. We need some way for our sins to be paid in order to have any kind of hope.

Enter Christ. It also been established that Christ—full of grace and truth—offers us redemption. As Lehi taught: he offered Himself a sacrifice for sin to answer the law,. How is this done???

It is done through Christ’s Sacrifice.

Jesus Praying in Gethsemane
Jesus Praying in Gethsemane (Christ in Gethsemane), by Harry Anderson
Jesus Is Condemned Before Pilate
Jesus is condemned before Pilate. (The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Video)
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Christ on the Cross
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The Resurrected Savior

The Bible Dictionary helps us to understand the significance of Christ’s sacrifice.

Atonement – The word describes the setting “at one” of those who have been estranged and denotes the reconciliation of man to God. Sin is the cause of the estrangement, and therefore the purpose of atonement is to correct or overcome the consequences of sin. From the time of Adam to the death of Jesus Christ, true believers were instructed to offer animal sacrifices to the Lord. These sacrifices were symbolic of the forthcoming death of Jesus Christ and were done by faith in Him (Moses 5:5–8).

Jesus Christ, as the Only Begotten Son of God and the only sinless person to live on this earth, was the only one capable of making an atonement for mankind. By His selection and foreordination in the Grand Council before the world was formed, His divine Sonship, His sinless life, the shedding of His blood in the garden of Gethsemane, His death on the cross and subsequent bodily resurrection from the grave, He made a perfect atonement for all mankind. All are covered unconditionally as pertaining to the Fall of Adam. Hence, all shall rise from the dead with immortal bodies because of Jesus’ Atonement. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22), and all little children are innocent at birth. The Atonement is conditional, however, so far as each person’s individual sins are concerned, and touches every one to the degree that he has faith in Jesus Christ, repents of his sins, and obeys the gospel. The services of the Day of Atonement foreshadowed the atoning work of Christ (Lev. 4; 23:26–32; Heb. 9). The scriptures point out that no law, ordinance, or sacrifice would be satisfactory if it were not for the Atonement of Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:1–9; 2 Ne. 9:5–24; Mosiah 13:27–32).

Sin is lawlessness (1 Jn. 3:4); it is a refusal on men’s part to submit to the law of God (Rom. 8:7). By transgression man loses control over his own will and becomes the slave of sin (Rom. 7:14) and so incurs the penalty of spiritual death, which is alienation from God (Rom. 6:23). The Atonement of Jesus Christ redeems all mankind from the Fall of Adam and causes all to be answerable for their own manner of life. This means of atonement is provided by the Father (John 3:16–17) and is offered in the life and person of His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:19).” – Bible Dictionary: Atonement

I don’t think that I could say much to explain this any better than the above. However, there is a scripture that keeps coming to mind:

“Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” – Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19

We need to repent – we will be learning more about this next time. We need to turn to the Savior and accept the atonement and sacrifice that He did perform in order for it to take effect in our lives. He will not force Himself on us. If we do accept His Atonement, then we will not suffer as He did. We will receive mercy. We will have light, life, and joy.

What does this mean for you and for me?

If you read this blog regularly, then you might already be pretty familiar with the basic tenets and doctrines of Christianity – namely that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us, we are fallen creatures, and the Atonement performed by Jesus Christ can save us. We are probably also somewhat familiar with the principles and ordinances required in order for us to be redeemed.

The thing is, these truths are deeply personal, yet I’m feeling unsatisfied because this post feels kind of philosophical and impersonal. So – how do I impart some of the personal into this post???

I keep thinking about that law. Yes, I believe in Christ, but let’s take Him out of the equation for a moment. Without Christ, then I’m a fallen creature. Without Christ, we don’t have the creation of the earth. Christ is the light. He is the bread of life. He is the water of life. He is life. He is Hope. He is salvation. He is joy.

Without Christ, then there is none of this:

Cascade SpringsFour Corners Areafriendshalloweenme and sasquatchPhoenix Temple Blue SkyPink RosePlaying in the OceanRexRex and ClydeSasquatchtiger and pandawhite plumeria

If we take Christ out of the equation, we take every good thing out of the equation.

Thankfully, Christ isn’t “out” of the equation. He is the linchpin of it. Christ offered Himself a sacrifice for Sin to answer the ends of the law – the law that, because of our natures and propensity for sin, would mean everlasting death and misery for us. When we think about this in the context of the beauty, joy, light, life we get to experience here, now, I feel so much gratitude.

I feel like I’m still not expressing what I want to say. Right now, this moment, as you read this, do you realize the blessing that Christ has been in your life? Regardless of your faith in Him – regardless of your past, present, or future choices, He has given so much. He has created this earth.

I know for myself, I tend to forget how much mercy and joy He is offering to me right now. I tend to think of the Atonement and its application in my life as this “far off” thing – that one day I’ll be judged; that Christ’s Atonement covers my sins so one day I can return to Him. I tend to forget that His Atonement, His sacrifice for sin, is blessing me RIGHT NOW! Even though I’m often oblivious, Christ is the reason for everything that is good in my life. I can’t imagine how bleak my existence would be without Him. Without Him there would be no existence.

I’m so grateful for our Redeemer – who offered Himself a sacrifice for sin. The ends of the law have been answered, and we can have hope, light, peace, life, and joy.

Redemption Comes through Christ – Part Three: Grace and Truth – 2 Nephi 2:5-9

You can read 2 Nephi 2:5-9 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Lehi, before his death, preaches to Jacob a final time.
  • People are instructed sufficiently to know good from evil.
  • We have the law.
  • The law justifies no one, in fact because of the law we are cut off – from God.
  • We are also cut off from God spiritually and will be miserable forever.
  • BUT, redemption comes through the Holy Messiah
  • Christ offers Himself as a sacrifice for sin to answer the ends of the law.
  • If we will come unto Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit, then His sacrifice will answer the ends of the law – and we will not be subject to misery or death.
  • It is important that everyone on this earth knows this message. No one can dwell in the presence of God, save it is through Christ – His merits, mercy, and grace. He laid down His life and took it again to bring pass the resurrection of the dead.
  • He will also stand an intercessor between us and God – saving us.

Redemption Comes through Christ: Grace and Truth

So, today we are continuing our study of 2 Nephi 2:5-9 – Redemption Cometh through Christ. In Part One, we studied the law. In Part two, we studied Redemption. Today, we are studying more about the Savior, the author of our Redemption.

Lehi taught:

“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.” – 2 Nephi 2:6

I know that there is so much more to get through in this chapter, and that I could just skip ahead, but I am feeling drawn to the characteristics that Lehi used to describe the Holy Messiah. We will study that today, and hopefully it will give us more insight to our redemption and our relationship with the Savior.

Holy Messiah

First of all, the title that Lehi used to describe the Savior here was “Holy Messiah.” Let’s study that for a moment.

Time for the trusty dictionary:

Holy: (adjective)
1 :exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness

2 : divine

3 : devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity

4 a :having a divine quality

b :venerated as or as if sacred” – Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: Holy

I know it might be tedious to you, but I can’t even estimate how grateful I am for a dictionary. Yes, I know what holy means, but for some reason, it always helps me to look these words up in the dictionary and get a much firmer grasp on what it is I’m studying.

As we read through these definitions, we see that the Savior absolutely qualifies. He is exalted and worthy of complete devotion. He is perfect in goodness and righteousness. He is divine. He is devoted entirely to the work of His father. He is sacred and divine.

I suppose that we need to understand that Christ wasn’t just any old messiah. He was the Holy Messiah. He is the only one that would be capable of performing the redemption of souls.

The Bible dictionary can help us to better understand the title: Messiah:

“An Aramaic word meaning “the anointed.” … Used as the title of an office, it denotes the King and Deliverer whose coming the Jews were eagerly expecting. In the New Testament the deliverer is called the Christ, which is the Greek equivalent of Messiah, and Jesus the Messiah is called Jesus the Christ, Jesus Christ, or Christ Jesus.” – Bible Dictionary: Messiah

So, the Savior, Jesus Christ, will offer up a redemption. He was holy, perfect, righteous, and was anointed by God to do this work.

Grace

Now, onto grace. Let’s look that up in the dictionary:

Grace:
1a : unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b : a virtue coming from God
c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

2a : APPROVAL, FAVOR
stayed in his good graces
b archaic : MERCY, PARDON
c : a special favor : PRIVILEGE
each in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage
— Rudyard Kipling
d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
e : a temporary exemption : REPRIEVE” – Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary: Grace

There are more definitions for the word grace, but I don’t want to bog this post down any more. The thing for us to realize is that the Savior, this perfect being who was anointed by God to deliver us, is full of grace. He is full of mercy, favor, kindness, clemency.

This is interesting to the think about. His work would be to perform the Atonement. And one of Christ’s characteristics is grace. I would think that He would have needed to develop this characteristic in order for Him to do His work.

And you know, I think it also applies to each of us, too. I want to follow the example of the Savior in my life – in fulfilling my role and purpose on this earth. And I’m finally beginning to see that many of my personality traits are tailored to help me to do the work that I was sent here to do. God really knows each of us. He will enable us to fulfill the measures of our personal creation.

So, in order to fulfill the role of Holy Messiah – and to redeem us – the Lord was blessed with the divine quality of grace. And we are the beneficiaries of this amazing trait!

Truth

This time a definition that comes from the scriptures (it is my favorite definition of truth!)

“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;” – Doctrine and Covenants 93:24

We live in a time when truth is often disputed. Many of the contemporary philosophical movements claim that there is no such thing as truth. Of course, this definition is problematic to the philosophy itself. (Is saying there is no truth a truth, then?!) Really, this is a rabbit hole that I don’t have the time to go down right now. But understanding truth can get confusing. Thankfully, we have the words of the Lord, and He teaches it perfectly. Truth is an eternal knowledge of everything.

The Holy Messiah is full of this eternal knowledge! We can trust Him. We don’t have to put our trust in people – whose perspectives are finite. We have an infinite, omniscient, and omnipotent being in whom we can trust.

I suppose that this quality helped Christ redeem us because He was able to see what needed to be done and how He would need to do it. Jesus wasn’t deceived by the Devil when He was fasting. This is because He was full of truth. The Savior didn’t give in to Peter’s persuasion to stay protected from the harm that would be fall Him. Instead, the Savior had a true understanding of the importance and scope of His work.

And it is through His qualities of grace and truth that He performed His work.

As I write this, of course, I’m really curious to learn more about grace and truth, but the Spiritual impressions I’m feeling are imploring me to ponder something different.

Application Time!!!

I keep thinking about the fact that the Savior was like many of us:

“And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.

And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;

And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;” – Doctrine and Covenants 93:11-13

The Savior wasn’t born ready to perform the work of the Atonement. He wasn’t ready to perform the work of the Atonement when He was 2, 12, or 22. It wasn’t until Christ was about 30 that He began His ministry and then about 33 years old when He died.

It took Him time to cultivate the knowledge, experiences, and traits He would need to perform His work on this earth.

In this way, the Savior is like us. It takes us time to learn. It takes iterations of experience to really develop any good quality. I don’t mean to demean the Savior. He is absolutely divine, and I don’t mean to say that He is “like us” in a way that belittles Him. But we have learned that He had to learn and develop in order to do the work He was sent to do. It’s simply the way that things work – line upon line, precept upon precept.

I don’t know what His childhood was like. I don’t know the experiences He had. I don’t know the tutelage He underwent. But I do know that when it was time for Him to begin His ministry, He was ready.

And I keep thinking about application to my own life. We each have our own work to do. We have our own missions to fulfill. I suppose we will each need to do as the Savior did – continue from grace to grace. We need to learn and develop until we are capable of doing it the work that God has in store for us.

snake creek

We are like rivers. We are made and meant “to flow.” There are times in life when “rain” is plentiful and the waters are rushing and flowing. Those are joyful, beautiful times when our lives and our environments have partnered up in such a way that we are doing exactly what we were created to do.

There are also dry times in our lives, when we don’t really resemble a river as much as we do a “river bed.” Dry. Parched. Waiting.

river bed
Dry Creek Bed

Still others, maybe we have plenty of water, but something is stopping the flow. We are dammed. We can’t flow. We are instead overwhelmed by the water we do have, but nothing to do with it.

And what does this have to do with the Savior – who is full of Grace and truth??? I know that I had a point…

I think that we have to understand what will bring us water and flow in our lives. I think that we are sometimes drawn to those very concepts we need to learn and characteristics that we need to develop. When we do, we don’t feel parched. We don’t feel stagnate. We feel saturated with promise and purpose.

The Lord, at some point or another, developed the qualities of grace and truth. And because of this discipline was able to perform the work of the Atonement. I have no doubt that fulfilling His mission on earth brought Him much joy. It also brought joy to the rest of humankind. Likewise, we can develop the qualities we need to do the work we are meant to do. As we do so, we will feel joy. And, our work will reach others and bless them, too. We can be the water that flows – nourishing the life around us and eventually contributing to the vast oceans.

I’m sorry if this post kind of jumped around, but I want to say that I feel hope. We can get the waters “turned on” in our lives by looking to develop the traits that we need. Additionally, when we feel blocked up, we can pray for ways to break up the dams and obstacles that block our rivers from flowing.

There is so much to learn from the scriptures – both the universal concepts and the personal applications. I love them.

Redemption Comes through Christ – Part Two: Redemption – 2 Nephi 2:5-9

You can read 2 Nephi 2:5-9 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Lehi, before his death, preaches to Jacob a final time.
  • People are instructed sufficiently to know good from evil.
  • We have the law.
  • The law justifies no one, in fact because of the law we are cut off – from God.
  • We are also cut off from God spiritually and will be miserable forever.
  • BUT, redemption comes through the Holy Messiah
  • Christ offers Himself as a sacrifice for sin to answer the ends of the law.
  • If we will come unto Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit, then His sacrifice will answer the ends of the law – and we will not be subject to misery or death.
  • It is important that everyone on this earth knows this message. No one can dwell in the presence of God, save it is through Christ – His merits, mercy, and grace. He laid down His life and took it again to bring pass the resurrection of the dead.
  • He will also stand an intercessor between us and God – saving us.

Redemption Comes through Christ: Part Two – Redemption

In Part One, we studied the law. You can read it here. Because we have the law, because we know good from evil, and because we are fallen beings we are cut off. We perish physically, and we perish spiritually – being cut off from that which is good. We will be miserable forever.

Yikes.

We know that this all started in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. They sought progression and knowledge, and were beguiled by Satan who said that partaking of this tree would help them to progress and gain knowledge without any negative consequences.

Heavenly Father understood that Adam and Eve would need to make this choice: to live with Him forever in a blissful state in the garden of Eden – never progressing…Or for them to leave His presence, gain knowledge, be tested and tried. This choice wasn’t a trick.

Because Heavenly Father knew we would need to become mortal in order to continue our progression, the Atonement was planned from the beginning—before the world was created, before Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden, before that serpent beguiled Eve. We learn in the scriptures that Jesus was chosen to be a Redeemer and a Savior since before the world began. Jesus Himself proclaimed:

“Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.” – Ether 3:14

So – back to the law and to misery. I would imagine that when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, then when they faced God and learned that indeed they would die – just as He said; I imagine when they learned that they would be cast out of His presence – His light, His life, His love, and banished into the lone and dreary world…I would imagine they felt miserable, sad, and hopeless. What was that knowledge worth if they would never have God in their lives???

Of course, this wasn’t the plan. And offering up a Savior to redeem Adam and Eve and the rest of humankind from death and sin wasn’t some knee-jerk, last-ditch reaction to the choice made in Eden. It was planned from the beginning.

Yes, for a moment I’m sure that the hearts of Adam and Eve were filled with misery and dread. And then, the Father offered them a Savior.

As Lehi taught:

“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.” – 2 Nephi 2:6

So – because of the law, no flesh is justified. We are all “defective” in a way – mortal, carnal, sensual, devilish. And the law states that we must be whole, holy, spiritual, and perfect in order to dwell with God. This is simply impossible. We need a redeemer. We learn the meaning of “redeem” in the dictionary:

Redeem:
1 a : to buy back: Repurchase
b : to get or win back

2 : to free from what distresses or harms us: such as
a :to free from captivity by payment of ransom
b :to extricate from help or overcome something detrimental
c :to release from blame or debt : Clear
d :to free from the consequences of sin

3 : to change for the better : Reform

4 : Repair, Restore

5 a : to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby
b (1) :to remove the obligation by payment
(2) :to exchange for something of value
c : to make good : fulfill

6 a : to atone for : Expiate
b (1) :to offset the bad effect of
(2) :to make worthwhile : retrieve” – Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary: Redeem

This is what the Lord does for us. He redeems us. He buys us back – from the throes of Satan to the peace of God. He frees us from what distresses us by the payment of an infinite ransom. He extricates us from something a little more than detrimental (death and hell!). He releases us from blame and debt. He clears our names. He frees us from the consequences of sin.

The Lord changes us for the better.

The Lord repairs us. He restores us.

The Lord frees us from a “lien,” and makes us good.

The Lord atones for us, offsets our bad value, and makes us worthwhile.

Jesus Christ Christus

The Lord truly is our Redeemer. Lehi, calls Him “the Holy Messiah,” He is the One who was anointed before the foundation of the world to perform the holy work of Salvation.

We will continue to study this more, but what a joy it is to know that we aren’t consigned to a state of endless misery. Right now, we are living in these fleshy tabernacles – susceptible to sin, pain, and misery. I mean, I’m sitting on my bed wearing compression stockings because I have faulty veins that throb and give me pain. I am frustrated with myself because despite the knowledge that I have, I’m not as healthy as I should be, and I must suffer because of some of these decisions coupled with hereditary and mortal problems.

Each morning, I must plead with Heavenly Father and pray to realign myself with Him and His will.

I’m a natural person, always veering off course. Always trying to stave off spiritual entropy.

And this is just me. There are so many other people suffering more – because of natural problems, their own sins, or the sins of others. This life is a vale of tears. This is a lone and dreary world that we traverse.

Yet, because of the redemption offered to us through the Holy Messiah, we don’t need to droop in misery and sin. We can rejoice! We have hope!!!

***

I mean, really think about it for a second. Everything that I know and have experienced is within the context of this fallen, imperfect world. I haven’t lived in Eden. Don’t get me wrong, there is so much beauty, so much joy in this world…

western mountain bluebird

As much as I try to wrap my head around the idea of hope, I realize I really can’t contemplate it. I can’t contemplate what another world will be like. It will be so completely different than what we are experiencing now. It is difficult to imagine what it would be like to live in a world without the “thorns in the flesh” that bother us every day and night.

But that is what Christ offers us. Through His redemption, He offers us peace and rest from everything that wearies us. Though I can’t fully imagine it, the mere idea gives me joy. I’m so grateful to know that we have a Redeemer.

We will study more about Him and this redemption in the next part.