Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer Book of Mormon Challenge - 2 Nephi through Jarom

Here are my thoughts on all the chapters I read over the past week.  Hope you are keeping up with me.

2 Nephi 27

Don’t you just love the stark difference between the learned and the wise.

I’ve heard that one difference between a smart man and a wise man is their motivation and intention.  I am sure that there are many people much smarter than me, but, I know I can be wise.

I would much rather be a wise person who didn't know a lot, that an extremely intelligent person who causes damage with their perceived knowledge.

2 Nephi 28

Verse 32:  . . . for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long...

 I love that! Despite all the things the Savior knows the people will do during these last days, He still is merciful, and lovingly offers the saving effects of the atonement to them… to us.

It talks about appreciating scriptures too.  It's exciting to know that we have His word, now, and that He will continue to teach us and inspire us line upon line.

He wants us to learn. He wants us to understand. He wants us to know WHY we are here and WHAT we can do now to experience the greatest degree of growth and joy.

He wants us to have His perspective and characteristics.

And He is here, now, offering all of that to anyone--ANYONE--who is willing to listen and partake!

2 Nephi 29

He is the same yesterday, today and forever--across the globe and across time.

Sadly, there are many who don't want more of Him.  I am simply amazed by that!

Of the Book of Mormon Ezra Taft Benson said;  The Book of Mormon was written for us today. God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessing today  Those people never had the book - - it was meant for us. Mormon, the ancient prophet after who the book is named, abridged centuries of records. God, who knows the end from the beginning, told him what to include in his abridgment that we need for our day.

God hand-picked, out of centuries of writing and prophecies- ever one of the 6,604 verses in the Book of Mormon because HE wanted us to have each of those verses, every word, to read today. 

It wasn't Mormon who chose, but God.

Read it, share it, testify of it.  We are to flood the world with it.

We will get rejected, for sure.

But, for the few that won't reject us, they will be eternally grateful.

2 Nephi 30

You've heard the saying "Knowledge is power."  The end of this chapter testifies to the deep truth of that saying.

In that day (the Millennium)all things shall be made known. Knowledge will freely be available. It is this knowledge that will give the animals the ability to live peacefully with people. It is this knowledge that will bind Satan.


Joseph Smith once said that a man is saved no faster than he has knowledge.

Knowledge has the power to open our eyes, change our perspective, change our character, change our behavior, bind Satan, and lead us to salvation.

For me, that makes me so want more knowledge!

I think that's one of the reasons why I love my scripture study. So much knowledge in there, and even more that the Spirit gives me as I study and pray.

2 Nephi 31

Verse 3: ...for He speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding...

Verse 10: And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?

Verse 12: ...follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

So many see following Jesus as merely 'accepting' or acknowledging Him as their Savior--but it is more. We need to do as He did, and He lived His Father's will and kept His commandments.

Disciples do.

I love that Nephi finished the chapter with his testimony of following the example of the Savior and enduring to the end.

I am not sure there is an example of a more powerful teaching companionship than in this chapter, where God, the Savior, and a prophet of old are the teachers, and we--you and are—are the students they are teaching.

It isn't a story of someone else's conversion (like Enos, Alma the Younger, King Lamoni). This is our story--our conversion. 

They are speaking to us.

And what will we do with it?

2 Nephi 32

This chapter says some pretty powerful things about the Holy Ghost, angels and prayer, but what caught my eye was verse four and my new favorite word: "IF"

In bold letters I have written below this verse, "It is our responsibility!"  We can have it all, IF we choose to.  We can have knowledge, IF we choose to.


In verse four Nephi states very clearly that if we don't understand the words he spake, it was only because we asked not.  We didn't put in the effort; we didn't try.  It is on our shoulders.

It comes down to a simple choice, and yet, so many will not make that choice. So much so that it causes Nephi to mourn (vs 7) because they men choose not to believe and they don't search for knowledge, nor understand it when it is given them so plainly

It's up to us. Do we want it or not?

2 Nephi 33

This chapter is his final farewell, and what a beautiful one it is.

He speaks of the thing of greatest import: The power of the Holy Ghost, the truthfulness of the scriptures which he has written, charity and his intentions, the necessity to believe in Jesus Christ and judgment.

I love the very last sentence, for it really sums up who Nephi was at the core: for thus hath the Lord commended me, and I must obey. Amen.

That's Nephi's bottom line: obedience. He didn't merely act obedient, he was an obedient man.

Ezra Taft Benson once said, "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power."

Jacob 1

Jacob was a no-frills kinda guy. He was given a responsibility, and he took it (vs 8), and beyond that, made sure he had the proper authority (17-18) he went out working as hard as he could (19) to fulfill his duty.

He didn't complain; he worked. I admire that. You get a calling, you accept it and serve. It's how we learn, grow and share.  It's how we show our love for Him and gratitude.

Jacob 2

Pride is the root of all evil. Isn't that what they say?  It has the power to blind the eyes, harden the heart, and destroy the soul.  And yet, it is probably the most wide-spread sin. Jacob makes it very clear here that it's to be purged.

I love how the Lord cares for His daughters. His love and esteem for them is obvious, especially in this chapter. I love Him even more for that.

Jacob 3

This is like a family proclamation for the Nephites.  
The key is to stay pure in heart and look to God. Twice Jacob speaks of firmness of mind.  That, to me, means that made a cognitive and purposeful choice to believe. We Decided we will believe, and stick with it, and we'll be blessed.  I've always said that faith it a choice. And it's a choice that opens us up to so many blessings.

Jacob 4

This is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon.

I love Jacob's humility. And I dearly love his knowledge, understanding, and love for Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father that is shown in these verses.

Verse 4, of course, is a favorite of mine, as it is of most I am sure.

In verse 11 he speaks of us being presented to God, having faith and a good hope. But here he specifies what we should have hope in: Glory in Christ. And for them specifically, glory in Christ before he manifests himself in the flesh.

This verse also tells me that when we die there is a first judgment where we will be present unto God.  The righteous will be presented as the first-fruits of Christ. The wicked will be presented as not.

This first initial judgment makes sense, as we know that it will be the first-fruits of Christ that will come forth on the morning of the First Resurrection with Him. Reason calls for a judgment, or presentation, before God of our worthiness or standing in Christ.

Jacob 5

The Allegory of the Olive Tree depicts the gathering, scattering and final gathering of Israel.

What touched me as I read these verses was how much the Lord loves his Olive Tree- us.  He planned, worked, pruned and nourished- all so that He could save the tree.  He stated more than once, "It grievest me that I may lose this tree."

Saving Israel isn't a casual undertaking.  The Lord put his best servant (Joseph Smith) to work in the field.  Then, in verse 15, He says, "Let U go down..."  He worked in the vineyard with His own hands.
The Lord, our Savior, loves Israel- the blessed nation.  He loves us so much that He came down, in the flesh, to live among us, teach us, be an example to us, and ultimately sacrifice Himself for us.

As I read, I realize the tender love Heavenly Father and the Savior have for me. The work, the planning, the sorrow and the He experiences as He goes about His work and His glory is real.
The only thing that can stop us is ourselves.

It's interesting what we get out of the scriptures at different times in our lives.

Repeatedly the Lord is clear how much He finds joy in our success. It is also very clear that we really are His work and His glory, for he repeatedly says, "for mine own purpose,' or 'unto mine own self,' etc.

I also love how the word WE and US is used. We, down here, are not alone in this work of gathering Israel--missionary work. He is laboring beside us, preparing people, inspiring people, and leading us to where we need to be to plant seeds and reap the harvest.

It's not an easy work. There is a lot of rejection in missionary work. In verse 70 is tells how the Lord sent out his servants, and they came back with only a few.  But, it is the work we've been called to--and we will be blessed for doing it (verse 75.)

Elder Dean L Larson said: "You have come to the earth when the foundation has been laid for this great work. The gospel has been restored for the last time. The Church has been established in almost every part of the world. The stage has been set for the final dramatic scenes to be enacted. You will be the principle players. You are among the last laborers in the vineyard. This is the yoke that is set upon your necks. This is the service for which you are chosen."

We have a responsibility and a calling, and He is depending on Us to step up and do all that we can to spread the gospel and bring His children home.
Jacob 6
I will be out of town this week. I'm still reading, but my posting here will be sparse!

I have grown to love Jacob, and will miss his love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, as is apparent in verse 4.  He truly understood the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel and the nature of God and our Savior.

Jacob 7

Sherem--the first true anti-Christ of the Book of Mormon. How would you like that as your legacy?

It was interesting to note in verse 4 that he was extremely intelligent, having a perfect knowledge of language and, it seems, the psychology of people. I always tell me kids that they have gifts, but that they should use their powers for good.

Sherem didn't.

Enos

I love his story!

I love how he had so much faith in God that when the Lord told Enos he was forgiven; Enos believed him; for he knew God could not lie.

Jarom
There were wars and missionary work happening.

It's hard for me to grasp what it really might have been like for them in their daily lives. I hope someday I'll be able to catch a glimpse of it. Until then, it is enough for me to understand the lessons they are trying to teach me: Be obedient and be prepared! (verse 9)

Omni


What joy they must have felt when they discovered the people of Zarahemla!  Can you imagine?  They thought they were alone in this great land, then to discover another people.

I wonder what the blending of cultures and beliefs were like.  What an awesome experience!

I love verse 26, where Amaleki pleads with us to come unto Christ. Isn't that the message of the entire Book of Mormon. It is the message, in fact, of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It permeates every nook and cranny of our religion, in every time and in every place.

Come unto Him.

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