Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ponderize D&C 89:18-21 (15-21 May 16)

 18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
 19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
 20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
 21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.  
D&C 89:18-21

When I read the promise of the Word of Wisdom I tend to take the pragmatic view:  Can you run and not be weary?  If not, then perhaps you need to check your obedience to the Word of Wisdom.   However it goes deeper than that.  
In years past the Mormons where held up as having better health than the average American.  This is no longer the case.  We are not singled out as having better health as a people than any other group.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is that most of the people in the United States have come to the realization that smoking is bad for you and it causes cancer and heart disease.  Many people in the US have stopped smoking.  This has narrowed the gap.   Unfortunately the standard American diet has also become the standard for the LDS community.   This poor diet is known to be the primary cause of the increase in obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.   The majority of LDS members in the developed world have chosen to disregard verses 10-17 of this “principle with promise”.   Simply applying the principles in these verses would reduce the instance of these preventable diseases.    Who is the destroying angel in our day?  Just as there were plagues in Egypt called down by Moses, so too there are plagues in our day.  These plagues are causing unnecessary disease and death.  We think the benefits of the word of wisdom are limited to preventing lung cancer from not smoking.  However, it is more than that.  If we seek to obey all of the Word of Wisdom we will be spared from a whole list of chronic (yet preventable) illnesses. 

Quote:  
The Word of Wisdom was “given for a principle with promise” (D&C 89:3). That word principle in the revelation is a very important one. A principle is an enduring truth, a law,a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor.  (Boyd K. Packer, “The Word of Wisdom, The Principle and the Promises”, April 1996)

Cross References:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
2 Timothy 3:1-7
D&C 93:35
Alma 7:23
D&C 104:17
Genesis 9:3-4
Abraham 4:29
1 Timothy 4:3
Daniel 1:8, 15-21
D&C 59:16-20
D&C 49:18
Romans 14:23
D&C 42:43
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Leviticus 11:43-44

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ponderize Mosiah 2:20-22 (8-14 May 2016)


     20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
     21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

     22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.  Mosiah 2:20-22

My Thoughts
The first question that comes to my mind is what does it mean to be an unprofitable servant?  The thing we have a hard time remembering is that our Heavenly Father has given us more than we can ever repay.  He did this because he loves us and he wants us to become like him.   The gift of His Son exceeds all that we can ever give back to Him.  He simply asks us to love him and keep his commandments.   That is why it is critical for us to overcome pride.  Pride is enmity toward God.  It is the power by which Satan rules over us.  When we have pride our will is in competition with God’s will and we stop seeking what he wants for us and start seeking what we want.  At that point it doesn’t really matter what that other thing is because when we are placing our will above God’s will we are on the road to sin.  The natural man will not choose do follow God because the natural man is an enemy to God.  So, the path that Christ showed us is the path of prosperity.  It is the path of safety.  And while we can never do enough in this life to repay Him, we can certainly please him by keeping his commandments.  We obey Him because we love Him.  

Quote
President Joseph F. Smith said, “I believe, that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today is the sin of ingratitude, the want of acknowledgment, on their part, of God and his right to govern and control. We see a man raised up with extraordinary gifts, or with great intelligence, and he is instrumental in developing some great principle. He and the world ascribe this great genius and wisdom to himself. He attributes his success to his own energies, labor and mental capacity. He does not acknowledge the hand of God in anything connected with his success, but ignores him altogether and takes the honor to himself; this will apply to almost all the world. In all great modern discoveries in science, in the arts, in mechanics, and in all the material advancement of our age, the world says, ‘We have done it.’ The individual says, ‘I have done it,’ and he gives no honor and credit to God. Now, I read in the revelations through Joseph Smith, the prophet, that because of this, God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge his hand in all things.” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, pp. 270–71.)

Cross References

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ponderize Alma 7:11-12 (1-7 May 2016)

 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.  Alma 7:11-12

My Thoughts:
This scripture created more questions in my mind than answers.  For example:
  • Why was it necessary that Christ suffer for our pains and afflictions.  Wasn't it enough to suffer for our sins?
  • How could he have suffered for our sickness? Is this just talking about spiritual sickest, or physical sickness also?  If all things are spiritual, then maybe it doesn’t matter, because in God’s eyes they are the same.  
  • Was it necessary for Christ to come and take upon him our infirmities so that he could be filled with mercy? Was he not full of mercy before?  
  • How does our own personal suffering help us know how to succor others? 

Quote:
Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us.There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see  Alma 34:14)  He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  (Elder David A. Bednar, "Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease”, April 2014 General Conference) 

Cross References:

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ponderize D&C 109:22 (24-30 April 2016)

22 And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them;   D&C 109:22

As I pondered this scripture I thought about how the temple arms us with power.  It caused me to reflect on the incredible blessings that we are promised in the temple.  Last week I had the opportunity to go and do the initiatory ordinance for some family names.  I made it a point to listen carefully to the blessings we have been promised.  If that were all of the blessings we were promised by temple attendance, that would be incredible in itself.  However, we are promised much more.  The sealing ordinance provides blessings that are beyond our compression to grasp their significance in our eternal destiny.  While there are temporal blessings of protection that come from temple service, it is the knowledge of who we are and who we serve that gives us a glimpse into His power that He shares with us through His priesthood.   

Quote: 

In modern revelations the Lord refers to temples as houses “built unto my name”  (D&C 105:33 see also  D&C 109:2–5, 124:39) In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith petitioned the Father “that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them”  (D&C 109:22) He also asked for a blessing “over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house”  (v. 26) And as the Lord appeared in and accepted the Kirtland Temple as His house, He declared, “For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house”  (D&C 110:7)
These scriptures help us understand that the process of taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ that is commenced in the waters of baptism is continued and enlarged in the house of the Lord. As we stand in the waters of baptism, we look to the temple. As we partake of the sacrament, we look to the temple. We pledge to always remember the Savior and to keep His commandments as preparation to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple and receive the highest blessings available through the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, in the ordinances of the holy temple we more completely and fully take upon us the name of Jesus Christ.  (Elder David A. Bednar, "Honorably Hold a Name and Standing”, April 1997 General Conference) 

Cross References

Ponderize Isaiah 58:13-14 (17-23 April 2016)

13 ¶If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.  Isaiah 58:13-14

I am pondering this scripture because of the phrase about the sabbath being a delight.  I have always thought that if we obeyed the law of the sabbath, then we would find delight in the sabbath.  But now that I think about this scripture in more depth and read it carefully, it says for us to “call the sabbath a delight”.  Calling the sabbath a delight is part of the commandment, not part of the blessing.  Often our church callings make the sabbath as much of a day of work as it is a day of rest.  So, the command is to find delight in doing the work of the Lord on his holy day and putting aside our own pleasure. When we do that, then we delight ourselves in the Lord and we are blessed.  When you think of it in this context, then you begin to see that the day to rest from our labors (D&C 59:10) is not a day for us to do our own pleasure by laying around all day, but rather it is a day to turn from our personal labors and focus on doing the work of the Lord.  

Quote:
     Not pursuing your “own pleasure” on the Sabbath requires self-discipline. You may have to deny yourself of something you might like. If you choose to delight yourself in the Lord, you will not permit yourself to treat it as any other day. Routine and recreational activities can be done some other time.
     Think of this: In paying tithing, we return one-tenth of our increase to the Lord. In keeping the Sabbath holy, we reserve one day in seven as His. So it is our privilege to consecrate both money and time to Him who lends us life each day.22 [See  Mosiah 2:21
     Faith in God engenders a love for the Sabbath; faith in the Sabbath engenders a love for God. A sacred Sabbath truly is a delight.  (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “The Sabbath is a Delight”, April 2015 General Conference) 

Cross References

Ponderize D&C 84:19-22 (10-16 April 2016)

 19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
 20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
 21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
 22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
D&C 84:19-22

My Thoughts: 
The mysteries of the kingdom is the knowledge of God.  Why is this a mystery?  If we look at the world today, most people do not have an understanding of who God really is.  Without this, how can people come to know and worship him?  To most of the world the knowledge of God is a mystery.  We come to know God through the power of the priesthood and by participating in the ordinances of the priesthood.  What do the ordinances do?  They allow us to overcome physical and spiritual death and receive salvation and exaltation.  
I have always  thought that the word “live" in verse 22 was speaking of physical death or that we needed the authority of the priesthood to see God while in mortality.  However, as I pondered this scripture another thought came to me.  What if this statement about seeing God is not limited to this life?  What if the scripture is referring to spiritual death?  When you consider it in that context, you begin to understand the scripture a bit better, because without the priesthood and the ordinances of God we are cut of from his presence.  Hence, we die spiritually.  

Quote: 
     The Book of Mormon teaches that those who diligently seek shall have “the mysteries of God … unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (1 Ne. 10:19; see also 1 Cor. 2:4–16; Alma 18:35; D&C 121:26.) The prophet Jacob declared the impossibility of uninspired man’s understanding God: “No man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.” (Jacob 4:8.)
     The Lord’s prescribed methods of acquiring sacred knowledge are very different from the methods used by those who acquire learning exclusively by study. For example, a frequent technique of scholarship is debate or adversarial discussion, a method with which I have had considerable personal experience. But the Lord has instructed us in ancient and modern scriptures that we should not contend over the points of his doctrine. (See 3 Ne. 11:28–30; D&C 10:63.) Those who teach the gospel are instructed not to preach with “wrath” or “strife” (D&C 60:14; see also 2 Tim. 2:23–25), but in “mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:41), “reviling not against revilers” (D&C 19:30). Similarly, techniques devised for adversary debate or to search out differences and work out compromises are not effective in acquiring gospel knowledge. Gospel truths and testimony are received from the Holy Ghost through reverent personal study and quiet contemplation.
     In the scriptures, the Lord has specified how we learn by faith. We must be humble, cultivate faith, repent of our sins, serve our fellowmen, and keep the commandments of God. (See Ether 12:27; D&C 1:28; D&C 12:8; D&C 50:28; D&C 63:23; D&C 136:32–33.) As the Book of Mormon says, “Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God.” (Alma 26:22.) (Dallin H. Oaks, “Alternative Voices”, April 1989 LDS General Conference) 

Cross References

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ponderize D&C 46:8-9 (3 - 9 April 2016)

 8 Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;  
9 For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.  D&C 46:8-9 
     As I listened to general conference in April, I was impressed by Elder Holland's use of this scripture, so I decided to spend the week pondering its meaning.   One of the first questions that came to my mind was how does seeking the best gifts prevent us from being deceived?  Then I remembered the scripture in 1 Corinthians 12:31 that we should “covet earnestly the best gifts”.  Satan has greater power to deceive us when we turn from seeking Christ and start seeking things of this world.  When Paul uses the word “covet” (meaning to yearn, crave, or have one’s heart set upon) he gives us excellent counsel.  In my mind the word covet is a more powerful word that to simply seek.  Coveting involves the heart.  When we love Christ and keep his commandments, the the signs will follow those that believe (D&C 63:9).  Then we can receive the benefit of the sign and we will remember why it is given (to build our faith) and not simply to satisfy our idle curiosity.  Remember that at testimony of the Book of Mormon comes when we have “real intent” (Moroni 10:4), or the intent to act.  The same thing happens when seek Christ with the intent to love Him and keep his commandments, the signs strengthen our testimony and we continue to draw closer to Him.   

Quote
When there was a controversy in the early Church regarding who was entitled to heaven’s blessings and who wasn’t, the Lord declared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Verily I say unto you, [the gifts of God] are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep … my commandments, and [for them] that seeketh so to do.”  Boy, aren’t we all thankful for that added provision “and … seeketh so to do”! That has been a lifesaver because sometimes that is all we can offer! We take some solace in the fact that if God were to reward only the perfectly faithful, He wouldn’t have much of a distribution list.
Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, who cherish Christlike virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to help you keep going. If you fall, summon His strength. Call out like Alma, “O Jesus, … have mercy on me.”  He will help you get back up. He will help you repent, repair, fix whatever you have to fix, and keep going. Soon enough you will have the success you seek.  (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Tomorrow the Lord will Do Wonders Among You. April 2016 LDS General Conference) 

Cross References

1 Corinthians 12:31
D&C 20:37
John 5:30
Alma 32:17
Matthew 12:39
Alma 30:42
D&C 63:7-9
Matthew 24:24
Mark 13:22


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ponderize D&C 18:34-36 (27 Mar - 2 April)

    34 These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man;
    35 For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them;
     36 Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.                                               
                                                                                                    D&C 18:34-36

Several years ago someone read this scripture to me and then said that if you want to talk to God then you should pray.  If you want to hear him speak, then read your scriptures.   This advice has helped me multiple times in my life.  When I am desperately seeking inspiration for some specific guidance, then I immediately think about scripture study.  There have been many times as I have been reading and pondering my scriptures that unrelated insight about a problem that I have been working on is given to me.  This type of preparation for revelation is not unusual.  See Doctrine and Covenants 138:1-2, as well as the experiences of Joseph Smith in JS-History 1:11-12.  

Quote:
     We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them. [See  Doctrine and Covenants 18:34-36] Make them an integral part of everyday life. If you want your children to recognize, understand, and act on the promptings of the Spirit, you must study the scriptures with them.
      Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it! (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Make the Exercise of Faith your First Priority”.  October 2014 General Conference) 

Cross References:



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ponderize 2 Nephi 32:3-4 (20-26 Mar 2016)

3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. 4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.    2 Nephi 32:3-4 

After pondering this scripture the thought came to me that the voice of angels, the voice of the Holy Ghost, and the voice of Christ all sound the same and can be accessed in the same way.  It is through the scriptures.  There are some who think that “knocking” only involves praying.  While that is certainly a part of it, this scripture seems clear that we must "feast upon the words of Christ”.  When we are asked to knock, he is asking us to read our scriptures. 

The “words of Christ” are the scriptures and include both the standard works as well as the words of the words of the living prophets (D&C 68:4).  The meaning of verse 4 becomes more clear when you read the story in 1 Nephi 15:2-10.  Laman and Lemuel could not understand the things that their father had told them.  Why?  First, they didn’t inquire of the Lord.  Second, their hearts were hard.  Third, they didn’t look to the Lord as they ought.   They seemed to expect an answer to their questions without following the pattern of revelation.  This pattern of revelation begins with one very important element.  That is faith.  You must have faith, or firmly believe that the last phrase of verse 3 is true.  That is, “the words of Christ will tell you all things what you should do.”

When come to believe that the Holy Ghost has the power to tell us what we should do, and that we are entitled to the revelation within our stewardship, then we will be able to hear the words of Christ and we will know what we should do.  Many of our challenges with person revelation come because we do not understand the process.  Have faith, study the scriptures, pray, listen, and then act.    

Quote
     We need not live in fear of the future. We have every reason to rejoice and little reason to fear. If we follow the promptings of the Spirit, we will be safe, whatever the future holds. We will be shown what to do.     Christ promised that “the Father, [would send] another Comforter, … (John 14:16)     
     I fear this supernal gift is being obscured by programs and activities and schedules and so many meetings. There are so many places to go, so many things to do in this noisy world. We can be too busy to pay attention to the promptings of the Spirit. 
   The voice of the Spirit is a still, small voice—a voice that is felt rather than heard. It is a spiritual voice that comes into the mind as a thought put into your heart. (Boyd K. Packer, “The Cloven Tongues of Fire”, LDS General Conference April 2000)

Cross References
2 Nephi 9:51

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ponderize Moroni 6:4 (13-19 Mar 2016)

 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.  Moroni 6:4

This scripture helps us remember our responsibility to new members of the church.   Here are some thoughts I gleaned from this scripture.
  • Keep a record of them so we will remember them.  How can we help those we are not aware of?
  • Help them be nourished by the good word of God.   This means that we must teach the word of God, not the philosophies of men.  
  • Help them stay on the path.  Encourage them,  watch over them, and serve them.  
  • Pray for them and help them remember to pray.  
  • Rely upon Christ to help them grow in the faith.  
The phrase “author and finisher of their faith” reminds us that he is both the beginning and the end of their faith.  It is his plan of happiness and he also enabled the plan by doing his part and finishing His Father’s work.   (Reference D&C 88:106)   Think of finishing in terms of one who completes or perfects the work.  

This scripture reminds me of the quote we have all heard many times by President Gordon B. Hinkley. 

Quote: Gordon B. Hinkley
     “There is absolutely no point in doing missionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort. The two must be inseparable. … It is an absolute imperative that we look after those who have become a part of us. To paraphrase the Savior, what shall it profit a missionary if he baptize the whole world unless those baptized remain in the Church? (Mark 8:36). …
     I have said before, and I repeat it, that every new convert needs three things:
1. A friend in the Church to whom he can constantly turn, who will walk beside him, who will answer his questions, who will understand his problems.
2. An assignment. Activity is the genius of this Church. It is the process by which we grow. Faith and love for the Lord are like the muscle of my arm. If I use them, they grow stronger. If I put them in a sling, they become weaker. Every convert deserves a responsibility. The bishop may feel that he is not qualified for responsibility. Take a chance on him. Think of the risk the Lord took when He called you. …
3. Every convert must be ‘nourished by the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4). It is imperative that he or she become affiliated with a priesthood quorum or the Relief Society, the Young Women, the Young Men, the Sunday School, or the Primary. He or she must be encouraged to come to sacrament meeting to partake of the sacrament, to renew the covenants made at the time of baptism. …

     “I am convinced that we will lose but very, very few of those who come into the Church if we take better care of them” (Gordon B. Hinkley, “Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 107–9).

Cross References: