Tuesday, September 1, 2015

1 Timothy 2

(August 12, 2015)
                One thing that I really struggle with in my life is maintaining an appropriate level of gratitude for the Lord.  I don’t know if we can ever reach the point where we are as thankful as we should be towards Him (probably not), but it is frustrating when after all that He is done for me there are so many times when I will get discouraged when instead I should be grateful.

                Everything is to be received in thanksgiving.  Not just the good things, but the things that are hurtful or unfair.  All of it is something to be grateful for, for all of it is a gift from our Father for our good.  It is so dreadfully hard to remember that at times, as the pressure mounts and I find myself being deliberately hurt again and again, but it doesn’t make it any less true just because it is difficult.

2 Nephi 32-33

(August 12, 2015)
                Once again, I was drawn to the absolute language of this chapter.  The words of Christ will tell you all things that you should do.  Now what this doesn’t mean is being unwilling to get out of bed in the morning until we received inspiration to do so.  We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation, and denying that makes us lazy and unprofitable servants (or more so than we already are).

                But we have guidance from the words of Christ as to the principles, and those principles are universal.  There is not one set of rules by which you operate under while you are a missionary and another set while you are a college student.  There is not one set of rules you operate under while married, and another when you are divorced.  There isn’t one set of principles you operate under on Sunday, and another at your job on Monday.

                The key to all of this is that the words of Christ will tell you all things you must do, meaning that the words of Christ must inform all aspects of your life.  Absent that, we are placing an area of our life as more important than the commandments of God, and that is essentially idolatry.

1 Timothy 1

(August 11, 2015)
                There is a part of each of us, I suppose, that wants to ignore the truth that we are all sinners and equally condemned under the law.  Whether we see those who we believe to be more righteous (and thus condemn ourselves – and, by implication, limit the power of the Atonement) or whether we see those we believe to be more wicked (and thus condemn them – and, by implication, limit the power of the Atonement) we are seemingly built to want to ignore this powerful truth.

                But that is something that comes from the natural man.  Instead we must recognize that the law must and does yield to Christ through the mechanism of the Atonement.  We are all equally sinners, and we are all equally saved if, and only if, we surrender our wills to Christ and accept the Salvation He has already completed on our behalf.

                Comparisons become meaningless in the light of truths of that sort.

2 Nephi 30-31

(August 11, 2015)
                The language of this chapter couldn’t be clearer.  All that matters is repentance.  Not capacity, not opportunity, not charisma or contacts.  Not even worthiness (for we are all unworthy).  Only repentance.

                If we repent, we are part of the covenant.  If we don’t repent, we will be cast off.  It is that simple.  It is that which can give us the perfect brightness of hope, because while we have no control over the mechanisms which can bring us to God, He has given us perfect control over our portion of those mechanisms.  Repent and be saved – it really is that simple.

1 Thessalonians 5; 2 Thessalonians 1-3

(August 10, 2015)
                We are given instruction here of what to do when we are faced with unreasonable men.  We are not to fight them, but rather to turn to the Lord to fight our battles for us.  We are to pray for protection from unreasonable men.

                This is ever so difficult to do, and the reason it is so difficult is because we know that it is entirely possible that the Lord will not intervene to protect us from unreasonable men.  It may be that either (a) they aren’t as unreasonable as we thought, and we are the ones who are really unreasonable, or (b) we need to learn patience or some other virtue.  Instead of taking that chance, we want to intervene in our own behalf and protect ourselves.

                I faced a situations where I was hurt by the unreasonableness of another.  The right answer, for a number of reasons, was to stay silent and accept these unreasonable actions even though they worked to create a large amount of unjustified pain in my life.  I prayed for protection and, in the end, the protection did not come.

                But what did come was a closer relationship with the Lord.  My desperation before and my pain after compelled me to turn to the Lord to deal with them.  I almost certainly could have defended myself against their unreasonable actions, but by so doing I would have missed the blessings that have come to me from going through the pain of the consequences for what they have done.  And I know, in the end, I will be blessed for my efforts to do the right thing.

2 Nephi 29

(August 10, 2015)
                It is difficult to accept or understand the statement that the Lord has not forgotten His people – nor will He.  When that statement is viewed in light of the catastrophes of the 20th Century, it is almost inconceivable that it could be true.  Can we imagine for ourselves that the Lord has not forgotten the Jews even during the Holocaust?

                Yet, as difficult as it may be to wrap our minds around that truth, it is nonetheless the truth.  The Lord has not turned His back on the Jews, and even during such desperate times He still watched out for them and worked to bless them.

                The reason this is important to know is because we will find ourselves in painful situations where we will be tempted to believe that the Lord has forgotten us.  By remembering the truth – that He has not forgotten His promises to people in more desperate circumstances than ours – we will find ourselves empowered to bear our burdens with patience and hope in the Lord. 

1 Thessalonians 2-4

(August 9, 2015)
                It is a hard truth to accept, but a truth nonetheless, that it is impossible to despise anyone (even someone whose unrighteousness seemingly goes beyond the pale and even when that unrighteousness is directed towards you and even when you are hurt desperately by that unrighteousness) without sinning.  We may never despise anyone without likewise despising God, because God created the one we despise, loves the one we despise, and the Atonement was performed to save the one we despise.

                By despising our enemy, we inevitably deny the Atonement.