What are we?

This blog is devoted to people like us who need a daily spiritual outlet and motivation to keep up with our personal scripture study.
Join us as we begin and discuss the Book of Mormon daily--an online Institute class of sorts!

We welcome your comments, your experiences, and your thoughts.

Monday, November 30, 2009

3 Nephi Ch. 27

Read it HERE.

Summary: Jesus commands them to call the Church in his name—His mission and atoning sacrifice constitute his gospel—Men are commanded to repent and be baptized that they may be sanctified by the Holy Ghost—They are to be even as Jesus is. Between A.D. 34 and 35

I loved this chapter. The disciples are busy ministering throughout the land, and are working hard to be of one purpose and one heart. There have arisen some disputations among the people concerning what to call the church. The disciples ask Christ, who appears to them and simply reminds them that they have taken upon them His name, and that since this is His church it should be named accordingly.

Then, as a reminder, Christ goes through a brief synopsis of the gospel and the plan of salvation--in order to re-emphasize what His church is about. It is a great summary, and it is also a little lengthy to just copy on this post, but it is worth a read:

13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.

18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.

19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

This is what we believe! We follow Christ. We live as best as we possibly can, and when we make mistakes, we repent. Christ sacrificed for us--not just us as a whole, but each one of us--so we could have this ability. He wants us to use the power of repentence so we can experience eternal exaltation. That will be worth anything we need to go through in this life.

I was recently talking to an older friend of mine who has five children. Her youngest son left the church for a time during his teenage years, and maybe even into his twenties, but he finally returned. During the years he was wayward, she spent countless hours fasting and praying for his welfare. She often would have friends say to her that at least she had four children who were faithful in the church.

This comment would make her sad. No matter how exceptional her other children were, that joy did not take away from the profound sorrow she experienced for her youngest one.

I think this is the same way Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ feel about those who know what they must do to return to them, but choose to disregard that great sacrifice. They are mindful of us, of each of us. Our difficulties do not go unnoticed. All we need to do is put our faith in Christ and follow Him. As difficult as this can be sometimes, it is not as difficult as it will be if we choose to not follow Christ and lose all the blessings He wants to give us.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

3 Nephi 23

Jesus tells the people that "great are the words of Isaiah" and "all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake." When the Saviour emphasizes something like this we know that it is important. Reading Isaiah is tough sometimes, but I think if we open our hearts we'll find insights we previously missed. Also, sometimes you just need a good interpreter. There are a bunch of books out there that explain Isaiah in easier terms. Someday I think I would like to buy one of them and really attempt a serious study of Isaiah.

Then the Saviour asks to review their records. He reads them and asks where they recorded the prophecies of Samuel. They sheepishly admit that it hasn't been recorded and promise to recitify that. I like this little story because it shows 1. that very righteous men can overlook important things, and 2. that we need to be mindful that we are recording important things in our lives. I have a blog, a pregnancy journal, and an actual bound journal that unfortunately I don't write in very often. With all of those journals, I think I stil let things fall through the cracks sometimes, especially spiritual experiences because they are too personal to write about on my blog and don't make it to any other journals. I challenge us to all do better at recording those special moments in our lives, both temporal and spiritual.


Monday, November 16, 2009

3 Nephi Ch. 21

Read it HERE.

Summary: Israel shall be gathered when the Book of Mormon comes forth—The Gentiles shall be established as a free people in America—They shall be saved if they believe and obey; otherwise they shall be cut off and destroyed—Israel shall build the New Jerusalem, and the lost tribes shall return. [A.D. 34]

Jesus told the Nephites He would give them a sign (3 Nephi 21:1) so they would know when the gathering of Israel had begun. He then foretold the Restoration of the gospel, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the establishment of a free nation in America, and thetaking of the gospel to their seed (see vs. 1–7). He called the Restoration of the latter days “a great and a marvelous work” (see v. 9).

The way Jesus says something in verse 6 was very interesting to me:

"6 For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel;" (emphasis mine.)

Why is this an important blessing? Where is the benefit in actually being numbered among the people of God?

Verse 11 mentions God's people again as the "people who are of the covenant." What covenant is this, and why is it important? The covenant Jesus is talking about here is the Abrahamic Covenant.

Among the promises made to Abraham were the following:

~ His posterity would be numerous (see Genesis 17:5–6; Abraham 2:9; 3:14).

~ His seed, or descendants, would receive the gospel and bear the priesthood (see Abraham 2:9).
~ Through the ministry of his seed, "all the families of the earth [would] be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal" (Abraham 2:11).

A person can receive all the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant—even if he or she is not a literal descendant of Abraham—by obeying the laws and ordinances of the gospel (see Galatians 3:26–29; 4:1–7; D&C 84:33–40).

(information found here.)

But so what? We could live our lives, having no knowledge of the Church, have our work done for us after we have passed on, and accept the Gospel in the next life, right? Why is being numbered among God's people in this life such an important blessing?

I believe it is because making and keeping covenants with God serves as a compass in this life. We have the way back to our Father in Heaven laid out for us; all we need to do is follow Christ. He led the way. When we are active among God's people, He will bless us with His spirit. This spirit will guide us through the difficult or confusing parts of this life.

Our mortal lives will be better. We will find it easier to endure. We will experience more joy and greater perspective. These are some of the blessings that are waiting for us right now.

One final quote from President Hinkley on the blessings and responsibilities we have as members of Christ's church:

"Do we really comprehend, do we understand the tremendous significance of that which we have? . . .

“We of this generation are the end harvest of all that has gone before. It is not enough to simply be known as a member of this Church. A solemn obligation rests upon us. Let us face it and work at it. “We must live as true followers of the Christ, with charity toward all, returning good for evil, teaching by example the ways of the Lord, and accomplishing the vast service He has outlined for us" (in Conference Report, Apr. 2004, 84–85; or Ensign, May 2004, 83–84).


Sunday, November 15, 2009

3 Nephi 20

Summary: Jesus provides bread and wine miraculously and again administers the sacrament unto them—The remnant of Jacob shall come to the knowledge of the Lord their God and shall inherit the Americas—Jesus is the prophet like unto Moses, and the Nephites are children of the prophets—Others of the Lord’s people shall be gathered to Jerusalem. [A.D. 34]

This chapter starts with Jesus administering the sacrament--first to his disciples, then to the multitude. We see the miraculous power of Jesus:
6 Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude;
7 But he truly agave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink.

Can you imagine being present for this incredible event? Jesus Christ himself institutes and administers the sacrament. The sacrament is truly a reminder that He is always with us, that He died for us, that He loves us, and that we can be forgiven of our sins. I seldom think about this when I am in churh, partaking of the sacrament. I get so focused on Brooklynn, or my mind wanders to other things. But just taking the time now to think about what an incredible blessing the partaking of the sacrament actually is has completely changed my perspective, and I hope I can have a very different, more meaningful experience in church today. And as I said before--can you imagine being present for this event? What an incredible experience that would be.

23 Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
24 Verily I say unto you, yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me.
25 And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

How incredible would it be to witness the fulfilling of things prophesied for more than 600 years? I can just imagine the incredible, overwhelming feeling. The Spirit would testify to us that all of this is true, and we would stand in the Lord's presence, listening to Him, learning from Him. I imagine that the love He has for each of us would be felt individually and more powerfully than we could ever imagine.Jesus goes on to talk about the many prophecies that have been and will be fulfilled. But what I felt the strongest in this chapter was the magnitude of being a witness to all of this and being in our Savior's presence. What an incredible moment that will be when we all first experience it for ourselves. May we continue to strive to be worthy of such a great blessing!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

3 Nephi Chapter 16

Jesus will visit others of the lost sheep of Israel—In the latter days the gospel will go to the Gentiles and then to the house of Israel—The Lord’s people shall see eye to eye when he brings again Zion. [A.D. 34]

Right off, in verse one, Jesus says, "And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have aother sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister".

I automatically think of the isles of the sea. In Hawaii, there are stories about the God "Lono", who is associated with the clouds, harvest and peace. The stories tell that Lono left with a promise to return.  It is not widely acknowledged that this could indeed be our Savior, but among the saints on the islands, it is a very real possibility.

It makes me wonder where He is talking about and if these "other sheep" kept a record of his visits...?

Christ goes on to explain the promises of the gathering of Israel by the Gentiles. He also explains how the Gentiles are blessed when they believe on His name but  if the gentiles  "shall asin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be blifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and cmurders, and dpriestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall ereject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them."

This makes me just a little bit nervous because of the way our country is going. God is slowly (or quickly depending on how you view it) trying to be taken out of the foundation of our country.

Again, I love this part of the scriptures. There is nothing that compares to the words of our Savior! 

3 Nephi Ch. 15

Read it HERE.

Summary: Jesus announces that the law of Moses is fulfilled in him—The Nephites are the other sheep of whom he spake in Jerusalem—Because of iniquity the Lord’s people in Jerusalem do not know of the scattered sheep of Israel. [A.D. 34]

Jesus Christ tells the Nephites some important things in this chapter: of note was that the Law of Moses has been fulfilled by Him.

Verse 2: "And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new."

Some of the people were a little confused. However, their hearts were ready to accept new doctrine, so Christ went on to explain that He fulfilled the law, but that the covenant was not entirely fulfilled (vs. 8). The institute manual does a good job of explaining what this means. It is a little lengthy but full of good information and clarification:

"Jesus said that "old things had passed away and that all things had become new” (3 Nephi 15:3). Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained: “It is crucial to understand that the law of Moses was overlaid upon, and thereby included, many basic parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which had existed before it. It was never intended to be something apart or separated from, and certainly not something antagonistic to, the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . Its purpose was never to have been different from the higher law. Both were to bring people to Christ” (Christ and the New Covenant, 147). Thus Jesus could say, “For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me” (3 Nephi 15:8).

"What did Jesus mean when He said, “The covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled”? (3 Nephi 15:8). Jehovah made a covenant with Abraham anciently. Abraham was promised (1) eternal posterity, (2) a land that would eventually be the celestial kingdom, and (3) God’s priesthood power. These promises were also made to Abraham’s descendants (see D&C 132:30–31) and will be fulfilled in the future.

Finally, another powerful part of this chapter was Christ's explanation of the people in Jerusalem. He said that they were too hard hearted, so He could only tell them that He had other people. He said that because of their iniquity, they did not know of the people in the Americas. He also says this:

20 And verily, I say unto you again that the other tribes hath the Father separated from them; and it is because of their iniquity that they know not of them.

There are people all over the world, and Heavenly Father is mindful of each one of them. My last thought from the institute manual is especially powerful. It discusses Christ's analogy of being a shepherd to His sheep--or his people.

"One day a missionary, meeting a shepherd on one of the wildest parts of the Lebanon, asked him various questions about his sheep, and among others if he counted them every night. On answering that he did not, he was asked how he knew if they were all there or not. His reply
was, ‘Master, if you were to put a cloth over my eyes, and bring me any sheep and only let me put my hands on its face, I could tell in a moment if it was mine or not’” (George M. Mackie, Bible Manners and Customs [n.d.], 33, 35).

Jesus Christ does know us. He cares for us, guides us, comforts us. We just need to trust Him and follow Him in return, and we will always be fed.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

3 Nephi 11

So this chapter is pretty much the culmination of all that the previous six hundred years of Nephites had been looking forward to. The Nephites are gathered around the temple (we're not told why, but I assume Christ picked this time to come because so many of them were gathered there). They hear a voice that is indiscernable but after it speaks twice more, they finally understand it: Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.

This chapter always brings me to tears as I imagine what it must have felt like to have been there. These people had just gone through one of the most traumatic things that has happened on the earth. Their world was literally torn apart and many of the people they knew had been killed. But they had also all heard the voice of Christ during the darkness. I can't even imagine the joy they must have felt to actually see Him.

I think the order of events here is interesting. It gives insights into what Christ finds most important:

1. He testifies of himself.

2. He invites everyone to come and feel his wounds so that they can know for themselves that he is Jesus Christ.

3. He calls forth Nephi, the prophet and head of the people, and gives him authority and direction to baptize. Then he does the same with the 12 disciples.

4. He instructs them to all repent and be baptized because it is necessary for salvation.

5. He directs them to go forth and declare this to the rest of the people.

It seems almost so simple, doesn't it? He gives them authority, some direction, and then tells them to go share with others. That's what he does today too. These 19-year-old boys that we send on missions have had a lifetime to learn about the gospel (some of them), but they are still relatively new and untrained in the gospel. Then they are given the Melichizedek Priesthood, set apart as missionaries, and sent out into the world to teach others. I think the most important thing to remember that even if all we have is a simple testimony of Christ, we can and should share that with others. People through the ages have probably wondered so many times why Christians are so anxious to share their faith with everyone else. I think it's because when we know Christ, we just can't help but want to share, and that's the same for Mormons and other Christians everywhere.

Well, I diverged a little from my original goal, but I really enjoyed this chapter and love reading it over and over. I'm so glad we have this record of Christ visiting his disciples in America and I know if we study his words, we can only grown closer to him.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

3 Nephi Chapter 10

There is silence in the land for many hours - The voice of Christ promises to gather his people as a hen gathereth her chickens - The more righteous part of the people had been preserved.

Christ promises to gather his people as a hen gathereth her chickens.  "How oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.(v.4)"  "How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.(v.5)" "...how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.(v.6)"  I think this goes right along with what Elise said yesterday. Isn't this exactly how we feel about our own children? Aren't we quite the mother hens and would love nothing more than for our children to just come to us and let us nourish, protect, teach and love them?! I love this analogy.

What an awful time in the scriptures. Loved ones and friends and a government have been destroyed! Without knowing what blessings will come next (which we do, because we know this story) they must feel incredibly lost! I know I would! I'm not a big fan of darkness anyhow and this would send me into some sort of confusion and possibly even incomparable fear. Do you think they are scared that the quakes and destructions aren't really over? What about being a mother during this time, trying to care for her children in impenetrate darkness! Or what about being pregnant?!  I'm sure there were women in these circumstances.

It is explained that "it was the more righteous part of the people who were saved, and it was they who received the prophets and stoned them not; and it was they who had not shed the blood of the saints, who were spared-(v12)". Doesn't sounds like it would have been that difficult to be the more righteous part of the people. I guess we may be surprised to know just how unrighteous  the people were!

Then, in verse 14 there is a message directed to the readers about these things were repeatedly prophesied of by the prophets, Zenos, Zenock, and their "father" Jacob. 

It  is also mentioned that those who had been spared, "did have great favors shown unto them, and great blessings poured out upon their heads, insomuch  that soon after the ascension of Christ into heaven he did truly manifest himself unto them-" My absolute favorite part of the Book of Mormon!  I imagine that this is what it will be like when Christ  returns! This is what it is all about!

Monday, November 2, 2009

3 Nephi Ch. 9

Read it HERE.

Summary: In the darkness the voice of Christ proclaims the destruction of many people and cities for their wickedness—He also proclaims his divinity, announces that the law of Moses is fulfilled, and invites men to come unto him and be saved. [A.D. 34]

This chapter is an interesting summary of what happenes to those who choose wickedness, and what the rest of us need to do to be saved. The first thing Christ says to these people is this:

2 Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall arepent; for the devil blaugheth, and his angels rejoice, because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people; and it is because of their iniquity and abominations that they are fallen!

Considering the destruction the people listening have witnessed, this would be a sobering reminder.

Christ goes on to explain how many of the cities were destroyed (fire, earthquakes, etc.), and then tells the people why they were saved and what they need to do now. We know that after Christ comes to visit the people, there is a period of great peace. This is the beginning

13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

Christ also explains that the law of Moses has now been fulfilled (by his own sacrifice) and that instead of blood sacrifices, the people need to sacrifice in this manner:

20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Essentially we are asked to make the same sacrifices today. In order to draw closer to Christ and our Heavenly Father, we must "sacrifice" some temporal things, or things having to do with the desires of our natural man. Pornography, laziness, ingratitude, these are all sins having to do with our temporal desires. The more we sacrifice these things to know God, the more we want to sacrifice these things and the less of a sacrifice it feels.

The other thing that hit home for me in this chapter is that when Christ asks the people to come unto Him, He is not doing it to be important. He is pleading with the people. He says his arm of mercy is extended, that He will receive whoever will come, and whoever does come will be blessed. (vs. 14).

I am only in the beginning stages of parenthood, but I feel like I understand this a little more each day. This is the same thing I tell my children (and will tell them for the rest of their lives).

Come to me. I will help you! You do not have to do this on your own. Look at all your frustration! If you would listen to me, you would have an easier time. If you are hurt, come into my arms. I will help you heal. If you are angry, come to me and I will help you to calm down. Trust me. I love you. I will help you. All you need to do is come.

This is the message I give to my children all the time. This is the message our Heavenly Father gives to us. This is what Christ is asking the people to do. What a beautiful reminder.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

3 Nephi 8

Summary: Tempests, earthquakes, fires, whirlwinds, and physical upheavals attest the crucifixion of Christ—Many people are destroyed—Darkness covers the land for three days—Those who remain bemoan their fate. [A.D. 34]

This chapter is about all of the destruction upon the face of the earth, in the Americas, that follows the death of Christ. Even though they knew that this was coming, because they had seen the signs, many people were still not ready for it. I can imagine that, even though this is something we have learned about our entire lives, it will probably feel so surreal when it actually happens. I am sure that is how it was for them as well. One thing that is still hard for me to grasp is the idea of not being afraid. The thought of having to endure so many terrifying events scares me. But I think the comfort comes from knowing that the Lord would not leave us unprotected. He will provide a way for us to endure it if we are righteous. God has a plan. We just have to trust in that plan and know that everything will work for our good. I think the most important principle in this chapter is in the last verse:
O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned the prophets, and cast them out; then would our mothers and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared, and not have been buried up in that great city Moronihah.
How many times have the leaders of the church told us this very thing? Do not procrastinate the day of our repentence. One day, we will run out of tomorrows. We need to live righteously everyday. We need to treasure each moment we have with our families. We need to constantly strive to choose the right. We do not want to be like those people in this chapter. We want to be ready to meet Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when the time comes. That is the lesson I feel that this chapter is trying to teach.