Friday, February 22, 2019

Ask, Seek, Knock.

It has been said that we should pray as if everything depended upon the Lord and then get up and work as if everything depends upon ourselves.

How do I pray? Do I expect to ask God to give me things? Afterall, we have been promised, "Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." These statements can be found in the New Testament in Luke 11, and Matthew 7, in the Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 14, and in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 4

Notice the action words! Ask. Seek. Knock. 

As I read Ether 6:4 (And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of afood, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and bwhatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them—and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.) my mind is alive with thoughts. I recognize many important lessons that I can learn from this account.

The brother of Jared had recently molten stones out of rock that the Lord willingly touched in order for the people to have light in their ships, but it didn't just happen. Time, thought, hard work, humility and faith were all part of the process.

  • The brother of Jared didn't just find a pile of clear stones. He asked God in prayer what they should do so they wouldn't have to travel in darkness.
  • Jesus answered by asking for a suggestion: "What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?" Ether 2:23  
  • After he worked to acquire these clear stones he prayed again. So humble and meek in the way he presented them, proposing that the Lord could touch them and by His power they would give light. 
Now, back to chapter 6. This group of faithful followers of Jesus Christ left the Tower of Babel and have been guided to a wilderness by the sea where they have lived for four years. The Lord has told them by revelation that He will take them to a promised land. But

  • He doesn't do everything for them. 
  • They are expected to gather and prepare food
  • Gather animals; flocks and herds to take with them.
  • They brought bees! 
  • They find and gather food for the animals.
  • The build the ships. 
  • They have families with babies and children who need all of the special care children require.
My thoughts go to Noah in Genesis 7
  • He built the Ark- a huge ship that must carry his family and MANY animals.
  • He worked hard to teach the people- who mocked him.
  • He had a family
  • Animals. He must have searched and worked and prayed in order to find and be certain that he had found all of the animals the Lord required him to bring. Yes, of course I believe that God could guide the animals to Noah. And that possibly happened to an extent. But, we know that The Lord usually expects us to work and gain experience. 
And how about the "Fowls of the Air"? Even the birds who are provided for have to work.
  • Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 
  • The Lord feeds them, but...
  • They get up early
  • They search for what they need.
God loves us in a way we cannot comprehend. He wants us to have all that he has. He desires and has promised that He will open, find and give ALL. 

How valuable, though, is an answer if we don't know the question? If a child didn't ask what is two plus two, does four mean anything to them? 

Our questions are important to our Heavenly Father. How wonderful that we have scripture, personal revelation, a living prophet and apostles to guide us in finding the answers we seek. We can even ask Him what questions to ask. A few times I have received answers to my prayers while I'm praying, but more often the answers come later. The answers come while I read the scriptures, while I listen to the prophet speak or a talk from general conference. Most often, the answers come while I think about them, after I've read, listened to or studied. Sometimes the wait is long but waiting on the Lord is also an action word!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Nephi's Bow Breaks

Lehi and his family are still traveling in the wilderness. They've been walking for a long time and their journey is difficult. All of the other bows have lost their spring and Nephi's bow breaks. They are unsure of how they will be able to feed their families and the group is overcome with discouragement. 
Everyone is obviously very worried. They are all complaining and placing the blame on Nephi. I can imagine Nephi being just as worried as the others but facing it a little differently. I picture him praying about the dilemma, maybe something like this, "Dear Heavenly Father, thank Thee for taking care of us in the wilderness all this time. We have a problem right now. None of our bows are working and our families are hungry. Please help me know what I can do in order to get food for our families."

And then he might have had an idea that didn't feel spiritual, it just felt like an idea. So he went into the forest and found some branches. one for a bow and one for an arrow. He put them together and then asked his father where he should go to find food.

I used to wonder if Nephi was being a little proud by taking his bow to his father. But my thoughts have changed. If I were in this situation, I might have been a little embarrassed of my homemade bow and arrow, wondering if it worked well enough to kill an animal. Is it dorky for me to think this will work? But he knows that his Father Lehi is a prophet and can receive revelation from God for the whole family. I believe that may have taken more humility than I ever considered before.

Then I thought of things from Lehi's point of view, as a parent and a leader. His son is trying to fix a pretty bad situation with his family. He's doing something that maybe I as a parent should be doing myself. I think I would be humbled and maybe even a little embarrassed by this.

I'm sure Lehi went to the Lord with a lot of humility to ask for direction for where Nephi should go to hunt. And also for forgiveness for my negativity, complaining, and pride.

I'm absolutely certain that Nephi was just as concerned and upset by the dire situation they were in as the others were. But he tried to do something about it and with the help of the Lord he was able to make a difference.

I hope that instead of complaining, criticizing, and blaming, I will get on my knees and ask, "What can I do to help this situation?"

Traveling Jewelry Kit

My youngest is about to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and she wanted to find a way to take her jewelry with her in a way that will keep it nice and untangled. Years ago my older daughter made me a kit to put things in and it inspired us to make something similar for Denise's small things.
We use this one as a knitting travel kit.
It holds needles and other small tools needed for knitting.
 This is what we came up with for jewelry.
With button/ribbon closure
Earrings in flannel and rings and necklaces in zipbags.

A silk envelope for anything special.

snap enclosure (velcro will work well here but we were concerned about the silk with velro)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Doctrine, Principles and Application

Mike and I have recently been talking a lot about Doctrine, Principles and Application. It is such an interesting topic and helps with all kinds of Gospel study and understanding the scriptures. I love to study these things and I remembered at one time seeing a very succinct definition of each of them and have been searching for these definitions.

I finally thought to ask my gospel scholar sister what her thoughts were on the topic. Of course she had something and it is exactly what I was looking for. It has perfect definitions from Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
From Elder David E. Bednar, “Increase in Learning”, Deseret Book, 2011; “Act in Doctrine”, Deseret Book, 2012; and “Teach Them to Understand”, Ricks College Education Week, June 4, 1998.

Using the Framework:
“The framework of doctrines, principles, and applications is a flexible tool that can be used to enhance our gospel learning. Please do not view and use the framework as a rigid set of definitions or as a formula that leads to “correct” answers about which applications and principles are associated with particular gospel doctrines. No definitive list exists that correctly identifies and classifies all gospel doctrines and principles. The purpose of the framework is for you to explore, to experiment, and to exercise faith in the Lord as you learn for yourself “the doctrine of the kingdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:77) and come to “know of the true points of [the Savior’s] doctrine” (3 Nephi 21:6) by asking questions and searching for answers.”

Doctrines: “A gospel doctrine is a truth of salvation revealed by a loving Heavenly Father. Gospel doctrines are eternal, do not change, and pertain to the eternal progression and exaltation of Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters. Gospel doctrines answer the question of “why?” For example, the doctrine of the plan of happiness answers the question of why we are here upon the earth. Basic gospel doctrines are the spiritual foundation for all that we learn, teach, and do—and a vital source of power and strength as we strive to become what the Lord would have us become.”

Principles: “A gospel principle is a doctrinally-based guideline for the righteous exercise of moral agency. Principles provide direction. Correct principles always are based upon and arise from doctrines, do not change, and answer the question of “what?” Many principles can grow out of and be associated with a single doctrine. For example, the doctrine of the plan of happiness gives rise to such principles as obedience, service, and progression. A principle is not a behavior or a specific action. Rather, principles provide basic guidelines for behavior and action.”

Applications: “Applications are the actual behaviors, action steps, practices, or procedures by which gospel doctrines and principles are enacted in our lives. Whereas doctrines and principles do not change, applications appropriately can vary according to needs and circumstances. Applications answer the question of “how?””
“Our tendency as members of the Church is to focus on applications. But as we learn to ask ourselves, “What doctrines and principles, if understood, would help with this challenge?” we come to realize that the answers always are in the doctrines and principles of the gospel.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

I will Go and Do

Nephi has just been praying and received his own verification from God that this journey is right and that his father is a prophet when he returns and receives a new assignment from his father.

He and his brothers must return to Jerusalem and get the brass plates from Laban, the keeper of the records. These plates are like a metal book and contain a history of Lehi's family going back to Adam. 

Nephi says he will do what the Lord asks because he knows that whatever the Lord asks of us He will also prepare a way for our success, so that we can accomplish what He wants us to do. Nephi and his brothers try three different methods of getting the plates from Laban, learning that even when God asks us to do something, He won't necessarily make it easy for us. Sometimes there are things we must learn and experiences we need in order to have the courage and faith to do whatever is required. 
After two failures Nephi's brothers want to give up. It's just too hard, maybe even impossible they think. Complaining that Laban can command an army of fifty and slay them. Nephi's faith here is something to be sought after. He says, "Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?"

He quotes scripture to them about Moses escaping the Egyptian army. Moses and the children of Israel escape on dry ground, but the armies of Pharoah were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea. Sometimes the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes.

Nephi was guided to Laban and after being required to kill him he was able to get the plates with the help of Laban's servant Zoram. Zoram was afraid but when Nephi gave an oath that he would be safe, Zoram trusted him and gave his own oath that he would come along.

An oath was enough. Are we as good as our word? 

"I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents..."

If you have ever read the Book of Mormon you are likely familiar with those eight words written by Nephi in about 600 B.C.. They are the first words of chapter one.
Follow this link 1 Nephi 1 to read it yourself on the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Lehi went to the Lord in prayer showing us how to pray. In verse 5 we see that he was praying in behalf of his people and then after seeing a glorious vision in which he sees both God the Father and His son Jesus Christ he teaches us even further by rejoicing in the grandeur of Almighty God. Do we sometimes forget how great and marvelous the Lord is, do we forget his power and goodness. To hear Lehi praising God and recognizing his glory is a good reminder for me when I pray.

In chapter 2 when Lehi is directed by the Lord to take his family and leave Jerusalem; he is obedient immediately and takes his family into the wilderness. They leave everything except what they can use on the journey. And Go. I hope that when the Lord asks me to do something I will not question and just go.

I have often tried to picture myself in this situation and I think, "sure, I would go." And then I find myself questioning or complaining about a calling or assignment I'm given in my ward or stake. If I think I will do the big hard things then I better show myself and God that I will do the small hard things.

The small things add up. Sister Kelly Ann Eyring wife of current president of BYUI recently spoke at a devotional there. She talked about a man who decided that he wouldn't only pick up the pennies and other change he found on the ground but he would keep an accounting of them. Over the course of several years, he had collected thousands of dollars found on the ground as lost change.

How many blessings will we recognize in our lives if we start writing down the times we respond to a prompting, fill an assignment or otherwise follow the guidance of the Lord willingly?

Nephi sought verification from God as he followed his father and received his own inspiration through the Holy Spirit. He wasn't questioning or doubting his father, he was seeking his own confirmation and because of his faith he was given what he sought.

I want to detour here for a minute and remember that it's important and even encouraged for us to receive our own confirmation of things we are asked to do by our leaders. There are two things I am certain of:
1. Our leaders are called of God and they can and do receive revelation and inspiration about the callings and assignments they ask us to fill.
2. We have the right and privilege to receive our own inspiration, revelation and confirmation about the callings and assignments we are given.

A few days into their journey, Lehi stops to build an alter and thank the Lord. Even in the midst of my trials I can stop and thank God, knowing that whatever it is I am going through, He will help me through it and make me stronger because of it.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Daily Study of The Book of Mormon

President Russell M. Nelson Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has challenged the women of the church to set a goal to read the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ cover to cover by the end of the year 2018.

I normally read one chapter of the Book of Mormon every day but it tends to be at the end of the day without much effort. It's time for me to take the Prophet's challenge and really study this wonderful book of scripture. 

I hope you'll join me each day in not only learning about an historic group of people who left their home in Jerusalem because of religious persecution and became two great nations in a land of promise, but also in building your testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. Almost every page of The Book of Mormon testifies and teaches of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Redeemer of the world. 

Like the Bible this book is scripture and when reading scripture with a prayer in your heart you will receive promptings from the Lord through the power of the Holy Ghost.  

I love The Book of Mormon, I have read it many times and each time I spend time really studying in this book I learn something; about the Lord Jesus Christ, about myself, and about how to face my own challenges and life experiences.