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Summer Reading Challenge - Day 6-13

Hey everyone!  I hop you have all been reading faithfully.  I have been reading.... just not blogging.  First, I went camping 5 days and didn't have access to posting my thoughts.  Second, it's taken me 3 days to clean up and catch up on stuff around the home.  Thus today, I will post brief thoughts on all the chapters I've read in the past 8 days.  Then I hope to stay on target for the rest of the summer.

1 Nephi 16

Sometimes I wish I had Liahona… something I could hold right in my hands that would point me where to go, and what to do.  I know, that's why we have the scriptures and the Holy Ghost. But still. It would be cool.

Moving on.....

Shout out to food storage and emergency prep in verse 11!

Moving on again....

Nephi breaks his bow while hunting. Here is the message: "Be a problem solver, not a problem maker." 

Laman and Lemuel were so not problem solvers. They resolve buckled at the least resistance. They lost their strings and whined. Problem makers.

Nephi, on the other hand was a problem solver.  He  breaks his bow and makes a new one out of wood. Problem solver.

Verse 29 is one my favorite verses: ...And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things."  The verse has a dual meaning. First, I often feel like I am a small cog in a big machine. This verse reminds me that, as small as I am, through me He can do great things.  Second, it reminds me that even the small things in life can be seen as great things when I look at them in the proper perspective.

2 Nephi 1

Lehi talks in verses 6 & 7 about how this land is consecrated, and that none shall come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.

I LOVE verse 15. It is so sweet and tender. It shows that you cannot help but love the Lord when you have a strong testimony in Him and of Him.

I also love verse 21.  So many times we focus on how hard life is, and we tell each other we are special and things will be ok if we just believe.  It is true, but I'm also a fan of quit your whining and get to work. Stand up and be men, and women. Take your thumb out of your mouth. Do you job. Accept your call. Get to work. Be determined to rise above and to succeed.  Sounds a little harsh, I know.

There are times when we are wounded and need to recover with care, but much, if not most, of life is work. We can find joy in it and purpose in it- but it requires great effort and consistency. The Lord has a work and a glory, why should we expect any different from us?

That's what Lehi is telling his sons. Awake! Shake off your chains. Be obedient. Be men! (and women!)

2 Nephi 2

This is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon.  It breaks down the elements of agency, and the choices that are laid before us. It is educational and empowering.

Agency is one of my favorite topics. WE have been given the power to choose for ourselves (16). We are taught what it right and let free to pick our paths (26).

"What is to be is up to me."

We have the power to direct our paths, to create in ourselves the kind of people we want to be.  As much as we sometimes would like to, we cannot blame our personal and spiritual conditions on anyone else but ourselves.

There is freedom in choice, but there is also responsibility. We are free to choose our attitudes, our paths- but we are not free to choose the consequences of those choices.  That is why God has taught us sufficiently between right and wrong,  good and bad, eternal life or eternal misery.  Having that knowledge gives purpose and direction to our choices. It holds us accountable.

When we stand before the Lord at judgment day, we will not be standing next to our spouse, friends, or even enemies. There will be no one to point the finger at but ourselves.  What I am to be is up to me.

Verse 26, Lehi explains that we become "free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon." 

It us truly and entirely up to us whether we choose liberty and eternal life, or captivity and death (27.)  It is also completely up to us to choose liberty or captivity in all the moments that make up our lives.

2 Nephi 3

I love reading about the prophecies of our time. This chapter is particularly cool because Lehi (who has prophesied of our time) is teaching his son, Joseph about his namesake, Joseph of Old, and sharing the latter-day prophesy of another who shall carry the same name (Joseph Smith.)

How cool is that?

In verse 13 is says, "and out of weakness he shall be made strong."  I think that's a principle that applies  each of us.  We cannot be made strong, unless we are weak to begin with.  

Sometimes I can get down on myself, wishing I were better…  smarter…  more.  Then I read this and I am reminded that it's ok that I'm not everything I want to be yet. I'm not supposed to be perfect yet. It is out of my weakness that He will make me strong. All I need to do is take one step at a time in the right direction, and He will bless me with the improvements and strength I need.

2 Nephi 4

It is a little sad to read of Lehi's passing. How sad it must have been for them. Lehi was the glue that kept the family together. He was the patriarch, able and willing to bestow upon them blessings and promises before he died.

And now, Nephi is left as the patriarch- even though he is not the oldest. Obviously, that didn't sit well with Laman.

This chapter humanizes Nephi. He had faith, but he also struggled with temptations and self-doubt.  What a tormented man!  I know how he feels. I have faith. I love the scriptures and the things of God. I love to teach, to learn, and to testify. But, oh, how I struggle with temptations and doubt.  I so want to be good, to be better. And yet, I am not. Even last night I argued with my son- something I do not like to do. But I let pride and impatience get the best of me, and I was unfair and unkind.

O wretched woman that I am!  I felt so bad! 

So, when I read Nephi's words, I feel connected with him. We read all the wonderful things about him, but it is obvious here that he had his own struggles, that he have into his pride and/or temptations now and again.

Some people have very serious sins they are dealing with. How wretched they must feel at times!  But, the same hope and the same joy that Nephi felt can be felt by them.

Nephi knew to not wallow in the waste of self-pity.  He said, "I know in whom I have trusted." (15)  His testimony of and faith in God transcended his mortal weaknesses.

He knew God was with him, helping him, loving him, forgiving him, protecting him, hearing him, speaking to him, teaching him and showing him the miracle of the Savior's life and Atonement.

Those things brought Nephi such great motivation and strength. "Awake my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart..."

2 Nephi 5

Love verses 10 and 11 and 17:The Lord was with and they prospered- but by the work of their own hands. They didn't wait for a handout.  They didn't blame the Lord because they had to work.  They knew the importance and value in it.  I think that's lost somewhat in today's world.

An industrious people are a happy people.

2 Nephi 6

Twice here, in vv 7 and 13, it speaks of not being ashamed because of our faith. To this President Benson said, "Let us never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16). Let us never be afraid to do what is right. Let us trust in God and keep His commandments...I know, and so do you who have testimonies of the divinity of this work, that without God's help we cannot succeed, but with His help we can accomplish anything He asks us to do."

We are a peculiar people- very different from the world. We stand out because of our faith and our standards. Some I know tend to downplay their beliefs as not to offend their non-member friends. Others are simply embarrassed by the gospel. 

2 Nephi 7

Verses 1-3, which Isaiah quoting the Lord.  Verses 4-1, which is Isaiah speaking.

Verses 1-3 rang so true that I had goose bumps as I read.  It is the Lord, our Savior, saying to us: I haven't turned you away. You have turned me away. And though I have the power to deliver, I cannot, if you don't want to be delivered.

His plea was so poignant, His sorrow so real.

 "Have I put thee away, or have I cast thee off forever?"  Am I the one who sent you away? 
"Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves."  No, you chose sin over me.  You left me.
"Wherefore, when I came, there was no man; when I called, yea, there was none to answer." I am actively seeking you out, but you are not there.
"O, Israel, is my hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem, or have I no power to deliver?" I have the power to redeem you, but only if you choose me.

The Lord then speaks in vv 2-3 about his power.

These verses are filled with so much angst and love and sorrow. He loves us so very much. The Savior gave all the He was, is, and has, just to give us the chance to benefit from His sacrifice. He has done His part, and now all He can do is watch some of us accept His gift and redemption, and, painfully, watch many others simply turn Him away.

It must be so hard for Him to watch us hurt ourselves. To me, the sweet love and concern of the Savior is here in these first three verses as I have never read them before. And it truly brought tears to my eyes.

Verses 4-9 seem to have double meaning- which Isaiah did in much of his writing. First, it can be read as a prophesy of the last days of the Savior. The way He taught, was obedient and was beaten.  It could also be read as Isaiah speaking about himself and his calling and experience as a prophet.

Verses 10-11 have a great message about people who 'walk in the light' of their own fire. Meaning, they lean on their own understanding, and not the understanding or light of God.

We know that the Savior is the light of the world, and it is only His light that illuminates the way to eternal life.

2 Nephi 8

I really enjoyed this chapter. It was a great reminder for me to not put so much stock into what others think of me, bad or good. It's my relationship with the Lord that counts.

Earthly  things will fade, be His things last forever. He is the one that comforteth me.  What a sweet sentiment. Heaven knows there are times when I truly need comforting!

It motivates me to Awake stand up. To arouse my senses to the things of eternity, to refocus my priorities, to keep my eternal perspective in check. Not easy to do all the time.

2 Nephi 9

Even in these first 26 verses we read about the Fall, the adversary, Judgment, the two deaths, The Atonement, resurrection, the Spirit World, justice and mercy!  It's kind of like a Gospel Principles Class on spiritual steroids!

Jacob was so full of faith and knowledge. I love reading his teachings. He lays it out so plainly, so logically. He must have gleaned some of that from his brother, Nephi.

What I love is that this chapter makes it clear that there was a PLAN from the foundation of the world. The Fall (wasn't a trip- but a purposeful choice) was necessary, and brought 2 deaths, spiritual (being away from the presence of God) and physical.  The Savior saved us from both through His Atonement (spiritual rebirth) and resurrection (physical 'rebirth'). We will see God in our flesh, and be judged, and will be found lacking. The Savior will intercede for us. Thus, justice and mercy are both met and we will be free to become like Him.  Amazing!!
Perhaps one of the most important words in the first half of this chapter is found in verse 21: "And he cometh into the world that he may save all men IF they will hearken unto his voice..."

The Plan is laid out and has been put into action. The Fall has taken place, the Atonement has been fulfilled. It truly rests upon us, and our choice to believe, have faith, and follow Him.  We can have all that He has IF we have perfect faith in Him.  It is our choice.


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